Proverbs 4

The Word Made Fresh

1Listen to your father’s instructions, children,
and pay close attention so that you will have understanding.
2I give you good rules to follow.
Don’t turn away from them.
3When I was with my father as his young son,
I was my mother’s favorite.
4My father taught me, saying,
“Hang onto my words with all your heart.
5Get wisdom and insight. Do not turn away from
the things I teach you.
6Don’t forsake wisdom, and wisdom will not forsake you,
Love wisdom, and she will protect you.
7The beginning of wisdom is this: get it!
And whatever else you get, get insight.
8Let wisdom be your greatest prize, she will exalt you.
She will honor you if you embrace her.
9She will place on your head a beautiful garland
and bestow on you a beautiful crown.
10Listen, my child, and accept my words,
and your life will be greatly lengthened.
11I have taught you the way of wisdom
and have lead you in the good paths.
12Your steps will not be hampered when you walk,
and if you run you will not stumble.
13Take hold of good teachings and don’t let them go.
Guard wisdom, for she is your life.
14Don’t go down the path of the wicked.
Never follow the example of evildoers.
15Avoid them. Don’t follow them.
Turn away from them and be on your own way.
16They cannot sleep at night unless they have done evil.
They lie awake in their beds if they haven’t made someone stumble.
17They dine on wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.
18Good people are like the rising of the sun,
growing brighter and brighter until the day is full.
19The wicked walk in a dark way,
and can’t see what they’re stumbling over.
20So, my child, listen to what I’m telling you.
Remember the wisdom I am departing to you.
21Don’t let my teachings disappear from your sight;
keep them in your heart.
22For they are life to those who find them
and a healing balm to everyone who follows them.
23Guard your heart with all diligence,
for from the heart flows the springs of life.
24Put devious speech far away from you;
and lying talk even farther away.
25Keep your eyes forward,
and constantly watch the way before you.
26Keep your feet on the straight path
and you will always be true.
27Don’t lean to the right or to the left,
and keep away from evil.


1-9: Another summons to listen to the wisdom of parents who were of course taught by their parents. There is an unspoken expectation (which will be spoken before the book is done) that one of the duties of parenthood is to “train up your child in the way they should go.”

10-19: The perils of wickedness are compared to the benefits of righteousness. Underlying the comparison is the concern that one’s children keep good company.

20-27: The parent gives more admonitions to the child to pay attention. The rewards of listening and learning are clearly spelled out.


The truth of the advice given here is visible all around us in every group of people we encounter.