Lord, as I walk with You day by day, allow the years of my life to be many (10).
Read Proverbs 4:10–27
10 Listen, my son, accept what I say,
and the years of your life will be many.
11 I instruct you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
guard it well, for it is your life.
14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
or walk in the way of evildoers.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
turn from it and go on your way.
16 For they cannot rest until they do evil;
they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.
17 They eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.
18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble.
20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life: Such a Way, as gives us breath; Such a Truth, as ends all strife; Such a Life, as killeth death” (George Herbert, 1593—1633).
Today’s passage falls into two sections; verses 18 and 19 are a swing-door
between them, pointing in both directions. Verses 10–17 contrast the way of wisdom with the way of evil-doers. Verses 20–27 focus on following the right path with my whole being.
I focus first on the “travel” and “journey” words in this passage. They remind me that following this fatherly instruction, being a disciple of Jesus Christ, is a practical, daily matter of stepping out wherever my obligations take me; it is not a philosophy, an ideology, or a set of beliefs reserved for Sunday and recited in creeds. What is my status in this journey? Am I running, walking, plodding, stumbling, swerving…? Is there any crookedness in my life that I need to turn away from? Is there some ball and
chain which is holding me back, hampering me (12)? Joseph had a moment when he had to flee to save his honor (Gen. 39:12); are there some invitations which I, too, must at all costs avoid? Verses 18 and 19 contrast steadily growing brightness with steadily deepening darkness (dawn and sunset in temperate latitudes do not happen suddenly). I relish and cherish the wonderful promise of verse 18, remembering that it does not express every contingency about my possible path (e.g., Psalm 88 ends in darkness for the
writer’s inner circle).
Turning to verses 20–27, I focus on the “body” words—ear, sight, heart, body, mouth, lips, gaze, feet, swerve (27a)—and the vigorous verbs which testify to “dogged attentiveness to familiar truths” (Derek Kidner, Proverbs, 68). Am I a person whose guarded heart (23) is in complete control of all my bodily members, so that I am an integrated, coordinated disciple in the way of wisdom and the path of Jesus Christ?
Listen to or sing S.S. Wesley’s song, “Lead me, Lord, lead me in Thy righteousness.”
Lord, because Your words are like health to my body (22), pour them into my spirit so that health in both realms may be mine.
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