CSBC Sunday School: Proverbs Series
Lesson #4: Proverbs 4:11-27
June 28, 2020
Resources: Phillips; Braddy; MacArthur; McCrary, B. Jennings, Explore the Bible
HOOK: (Why should we listen to this lesson?)
Central Theme: CHOOSE TO FOLLOW GOD!
Objective Statement: EVERY PERSON HAS A CHOICE TO MAKE; FOLLOW GOD OR REJECT HIM! CONSIDER THESE THREE CHOICES WHY WE SHOULD FOLLOW GOD!
Points: CHOICE #1 – THE PATH TO TAKE! CHOICE #2 – THE PATH TO AVOID! CHOICE #3 – THE RIGHT CHOICE!
- FOCUS ATTENTION: Can you remember a time when you had to make a decision and the choice seemed obvious? What made the choice appear so clear? After you made that choice was the outcome what you anticipated? We face choices every day throughout our life. Some are insignificant and just mundane. Many times we are confronted with choices that are difficult and challenging. But occasionally we have to make a decision that has a clear answer. Don’t you like it when the choice seems clear and obvious? Today in our Bible Study we are going to consider some issues that are very difficult and important. The Word of God helps us to make the obvious choice!
- CONTENT: In our passage today Solomon returned to the theme of valuing WISDOM. As he has been doing in every lesson before, he challenged his son to listen carefully to godly instruction. WHAT MOTIVATED SOLOMON TO TEACH SUCH PRINCIPLES TO HIS SON? Well, we have seen repeatedly it was done by compassion for his son. He loves his children and wants them to know it’s his desire that they enjoy a satisfying and rewarding life. Solomon had learned some of his valuable lessons from his own father, King David. His father had instructed him to seek WISDOM and embrace it as a priceless treasure. Wisdom would protect him from foolishness and give him a life of respect and honor (4:1-10). That was Solomon’s motivation to now pass along those same truths to his own son. Solomon must have listened to David’s encouragement because when God asked him to request anything he wanted, and God would give it to him, Solomon requested Wisdom rather than wealth or power (1 Kings 3:5-15). Although Solomon could point his son to the right path, he couldn’t make the decision for him regarding which road to take. So Solomon continues to appeal for his son to guard his heart and harken diligently to God’s instruction and commandments. If he heeds Solomon’s advice and obeys God’s direction, he will be WISE!
- Let’s Explore the Bible in Proverbs 4:11-27.
BOOK: (What does the Bible say?)
CHOICE #1 – THE PATH TO TAKE! (Prov. 4:11-13)
- In 4:1, Solomon again encourages his “sons” to listen to his instructions and pay attention to his insights. Solomon is continuing that theme in our text today. He tells his sons, “I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths” (vs. 11). Solomon probably could not have imagined the influence his proverbs would have for God’s people then and now. God is the one who inspires Wisdom and He expects us to apply it in our circumstances. When we trust in Him to make us wise, we rely on Him to put us on “right paths.” For Solomon, life is not a battle or a dilemma, it’s a life journey and living well involves getting on the right path. Without God’s wisdom,, we run the risk of taking a wrong detour and that’s a path that foolish people take. Along this journey,, we naturally think about the “steps” we’ll take on the way. When we follow God’s directions, we “shall not be straitened” (vs. 12), or hampered as we walk along the path of life. Believers who seek God’s wisdom have the assurance that the Lord will show us the stumbling blocks that could hinder us on our journey. The pace of our traveling may change in tempo from time to time. Verse 12a sounds more like a walk but the latter part of the verse declares, “. . . when thou runnest,” indicating that the pace can be fast and furious. Oftentimes it’s when we are running too fast, perhaps getting a little out of control, that we have experienced an embarrassing fall. But God promises that if we follow godly instruction and have His wisdom, it will prevent us from being tripped up by the circumstances of life. Rather than casually holding on to godly wisdom, we are urged to, “Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go” (vs. 13a). It will be useless to us if we never take time to consider it, listen to it, and follow it. The Bible offers us a wealth of godly wisdom and shows us how to be wise in Him. Too often, however, Bibles only gather dust as they sit idly on tables, nightstands, and shelves. The treasure of Scripture makes a difference to us when we place it in our hearts. That’s how we hold on to godly instruction. Solomon continues, “. . . keep her; for she is thy life” (vs. 13b), and he speaks to the issue of how important and valuable wisdom from God truly is. First we must be convinced of the certainty that God’s WISDOM leads to life! Then we must do our best to apprehend godly instruction from God’s Holy Word.
CHOICE #2 – THE PATH TO AVOID! (vs. 14-19)
- In stark contrast to the road that leads to life, Solomon warned his sons to “enter not into the path of the wicked” ( 14). The idea is clear from the context that a righteous person should not take one, single, step in the direction of the wicked. CAN SOMEONE PUT VERSES 14-15 IN THEIR OWN WORDS? Allow for thoughts, but the implication is, don’t start down a path that will lead you towards wickedness. Avoid it. Don’t make any overtures on that course. The idea of “pass not by it” (vs. 15), means don’t flirt with the place. Don’t let temptation lure you in; don’t even go around it. Turn around and go another direction, “and pass away” simply leaves no doubt that we’re wise when we take a detour that takes us completely away from where the wicked and evil people hang out. Flee from them! Verses 16-17 tell us how depraved these people really are. They don’t even sleep in an effort to do more wickedness and “mischief.” They think about sleeping and then realize they have an opportunity to “cause some to fall” (vs. 16), and they keep on the pursuit of dragging someone else down with them. Sounds like an addiction doesn’t it? Verse 17 tells us their entire life is spent trying to gratify their own lusts and selfish desires. Today we might say, “All they live for is to eat and drink and participate in sin.” That certainly characterizes the fool. Solomon warns his sons to not take the initial step to join them or they will stop at nothing to ruin your life. In contrast to verses 14-17, vs. 18-19 suggests a distinct difference between the “path” taken by the righteous and the “way” chosen by the wicked. Doesn’t vs. 18 sound so much more fulfilling and wonderful than the “way of the wicked” described in vs. 19? The “just” person walks in “shining light” (vs. 18); while the evil one stumbles around in total “darkness” (vs. 19). Consider these various verses that compare the life of the wicked with the life of the Christ-follower. (Have volunteers read the following passages); John 8:34-36: Slavery vs. Freedom. Romans 6:23: Death vs. Life. Prov. 4:19 and John 8:12: Darkness vs. Light. Isaiah 57:20-21 and Matthew 11:28-30: Restlessness vs. Rest. Avoid the path that leads away from God’s plan.
CHOICE #3 – THE RIGHT CHOICE! (vs. 20-27)
- Once again, Solomon urged his “son” to “attend to” godly instruction. In other words, pay attention! Don’t let these instructions go in one ear and out the other, as we are prone to say to our children. The King did not want his words of wisdom to drift away from the focus of his son. That is why he said to keep them close to your eyes, and “in the midst of thine heart” ( 21). Keep these instructions very close to your consciousness and don’t let them slip. Why? Because these are life-giving words and principles. If you securely hold fast to these truths it will bring “health to all their flesh” (vs. 22). For that reason, godly wisdom calls on believers to “keep” their hearts “with all diligence” (vs. 23). Our hearts serve as the physical, emotional, and spiritual source of our lives. Therefore, we’re wise when we discipline ourselves to watch over our hearts and guard them against unwholesome things. As the oft-quoted statement says, “Garbage IN; Garbage OUT!” If we let our hearts be filled with senseless thoughts, we will pay a price in senseless actions. We don’t often quote the founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud, but he is cited as saying, “Thoughts, are actions in rehearsal.” That’s why we should guard our heart. Issues of life flow from there!
- Verses 24-27 continues Solomon’s instructions to be careful, guarded, and disciplined in what comes out of his son’s “mouth” ( 24). Remember from Prov. 3:32, the word “froward” deals with insensitive people who say hateful and uncaring words that hurt and destroy others. Here Solomon joins that type of speech with “perverse lips” (vs. 24), which reveals the attitude of one’s heart. A real believer will not engage in such damaging speech but will only be interested in telling the truth. Deceptive words come from a heart that has not been kept with “all diligence” (vs. 23). Along with controlling our words, we’re challenged to be wise about what we do with our “eyes” (vs. 25). To look forward with our gaze and our focus speaks to the issue of moving onward with a sense of PURPOSE. A life of purpose can be sidetracked by a multitude of distractions. That is why we are encouraged to keep our eyes fixed on the path ahead of us and “look straight before” us. Since life is a journey we must consider the steps we take along our “path” (vs. 26). Therefore, we consistently pay close attention to the steps we take each day. We “ponder” where we place our “feet” because we want our steps to be “established” (vs. 26). In other words, we make certain that we plan properly. Do not get distracted by turning “to the right hand” or “to the left.” Stay on the straight path and we will not take the foolish path of “evil” (vs. 27).
LOOK: (Why is what it says important?)
- Objective Statement (Repeated): EVERY PERSON HAS A CHOICE TO MAKE; FOLLOW GOD OR REJECT HIM! CONSIDER THE THREE CHOICES WE STUDIED TODAY WHY WE SHOULD FOLLOW GOD!
- We all have to make a choice to follow God. Too many people reject that idea and chart their own path only to discover it’s a foolish thing to do. Solomon encourages his son, and all of us, to pursue the course of WISDOM and discipline ourselves to guard our hearts and minds against the humanistic choices that govern the lives of those who reject God.
- OK, so you’ve decided you really desire godly Wisdom and you want to choose to follow God wholeheartedly. WHAT STRATEGIES HAVE YOU DISCOVERED TO BE HELPFUL IN STAYING DILIGENT AND DISCIPLINED IN YOUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH? Discuss spiritual disciplines and habits that promote growth in the believer. Some of those patterns involve prayer; Scripture reading; discipleship; Church attendance; and Worship. There may be other practices that will be valuable like helping and investing in others, etc.
TOOK: (Why is it important to me? What should I do with it?)
Evaluation: This week you will be faced with all kinds of choices. Some of them are just insignificant and the answers will be clear. However, there’s one choice of ultimate significance where there’s only one good option: Will you choose to follow God with your whole heart? That is about the WISEST thing you could possibly do!
In preparation for our next Bible Study please read Proverbs 5:1-11; 15-18.