“Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, and the years of your life will be many. I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble. Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go;
”Keep her, for she is your life. Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; Turn away from it and pass on. For they do not sleep unless they have done evil; and their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall.
”For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble” (Proverbs 4:10-19).
These are the words of King Solomon. He was the third King of Israel and the son of David. It is unknown how old Solomon was when he began to reign, but he wanted to be wise in his kingship. The only way that Solomon could achieve this was through the help of God. In 1 Kings 3:9 he asked, “Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” This was pleasing to God and because Solomon asked for an understanding heart rather than a long life or great riches, God granted him his request.
With the exception of Jesus Christ, Solomon is the wisest man who ever lived. He is also possibly the richest man who ever lived. It was because of these riches that Solomon also made some foolish decisions. Solomon loved many foreign women and they turned his heart to other gods. Even though Solomon ruled with great wisdom, he also had an understanding of both a wise way and a foolish or evil way.
Solomon addresses his son in the above text. He encourages him to receive his word. If his son receives the word, then his years can be many. Solomon is teaching about the way of wisdom. He understands this path and the benefit of it. He can KNOW that this is the best path because he has insight into the path of evil. The path of evil must be avoided for the path of righteousness. In the path of righteousness, the way is clearer. Solomon says that the steps will not be hindered and one can run without stumbling. This path is to be held securely for it is a path of safety. It is a path of light. It shines bright every day. One can see where they are going.
The path of evil is the contrast. Solomon says do not walk on this path. Not only does he suggest not to walk on this path, he says to avoid and turn away from it. Don’t even come close to entering this way. This is a path that is full of wickedness and evil. Those who are on this path are full of sin and tempting others to sin with them. The sinner is encouraging others to follow along with them as though the majority adds justification to the path. On this path independent thinking is not required. Followers are welcome. This is a path that once taken is hard to find a different way. It is a path of darkness where stumbling is the norm. What makes one to stumble is unrecognizable for the path is dark.
Like Solomon, we love our children as well. We want them to find the path of righteousness. We want what is best and right for them every step of their lives. As parents, we try to teach them to know and respect the difference between right and wrong, to be kind to others and to strive to serve God. It is the experience and knowledge of a parent that helps to guide their own children in hopes that they will not make the same mistakes — the mistakes of evil where darkness and stumbling is the norm. The way of wisdom is the only way in life that gives light to our path.
It is my prayer that you walk in the path of righteousness. It is my prayer that you are teaching your children which way to go. The way of sight and vision is not the way of darkness. The way of righteousness is a path that is full of light. God is light (1 John 1:5). God will direct the steps of the righteous. However, where there is darkness, God cannot be found. No darkness can be found in God (1 John 1:5). May you be walking in the light and teaching your children the path of righteousness.
Scott is the minister at the Elm Grove Church of Christ. Meeting times are Sunday at 9:30 a.m. for Bible class and 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. for worship. Mid-week Bible study is on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. All are invited. Please visit our website at elmgrovechurchofchrist.org. He invites any questions or comments and would love to sit down and study. He can be reached at the Elm Grove Church of Christ, 740-493-2451.