The Course of Wisdom
Proverbs 4:20-27
My son, attend to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.…

In these verses we may trace the course of wisdom from the beginning to its full development. We have -

I. ITS BEGINNING IS THE SOUL. (Ver. 20.) It commences in attention. When a man "inclines his ear unto the sayings of Wisdom," when he eagerly listens to what God says to him, when he is a disciple sitting at the feet of the great Teacher, he has taken an important step in the heavenward course. The "grace of God" is upon him (Acts 13:43).

II. ITS ESTABLISHMENT IN THE SOUL. (Ver. 21, latter clause.) When the counsels of the Wise One are once fairly and fully welcomed to the soul, so that they may be said to be "in the midst of thine heart," then it may be said that the decisive point is turned. When there is the "cherishing of a cordial attachment;" when we say, "How love I thy Law!" when our heart is given to the truth of God because given to him, the gracious Lord of truth; - then wisdom is established within our soul.

III. THE NEED FOR HOLY VIGILANCE CONCERNING ITS MAINTENANCE. (Ver. 23; see homily infra. Ver. 26, first clause.)

IV. ONE OF ITS MANIFESTATIONS. (Ver. 24.) It will show itself in clean lips; it will put far away the froward and perverse mouth. Its utterances will be pure, temperate, reverent. The child of folly is detected by his foolish, vain, culpable expressions. His "speech bewrayeth him." "By his words he is condemned." The son of wisdom is known by his blamelessness in this particular; by his words he is justified (Matthew 12:36, 37; Ephesians 4:29; James 1:26).

V. RESOLUTENESS IN THE RIGHT PATH. (Ver. 27.) There must be no "turning again to folly" (Psalm 85:8); no turning to the right or left into either main highways of vice and open sin, or any byways of error and ill-doing. Even the pleasant path that seems to skirt the King's highway so closely that at any time we may return thereto, is a danger to be avoided. The road that leads off from that highway of holiness by ever so small an angle is a road that finds its way at last to a "City of Destruction." The best preservative from the perilous wandering is here indicated; it is -

VI. STEADFAST GAZE UPON THE GOAL. (Ver. 25.) Look right on to the goal in front; be so intent on reaching that, and on attaining to the prize which awaits the winner, that there will be no temptation to depart from the straight course. We keep a straighter path by fixing our eye on the object toward which we walk than by watching the steps we take; how much more so than by looking about us on every hand! Our heavenly wisdom is to be looking "right on," "straight before us," unto Jesus, the Leader and Perfecter of the faith (Hebrews 12:2).

VII. ITS ISSUE. It issues in life and health (vers. 22, 23). Long life was promised to the wise and holy under the old dispensation; now we look confidently forward, as the issue of heavenly wisdom, to

(1) a blessed life below, of spiritual wholeness, and

(2) everlasting life beyond, where the inhabitants are never sick (Isaiah 33:24). - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.

WEB: My son, attend to my words. Turn your ear to my sayings.

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