Proverbs 4:21
Do not lose sight of them; keep them within your heart.
Call to AttentionG. Lawson.Proverbs 4:20-22
Divine PrinciplesD. Thomas, D.D.Proverbs 4:20-22
Self-PreservationE. Johnson Proverbs 4:20-22
The Course of WisdomW. Clarkson Proverbs 4:20-27
The instinct of self-preservation is the very root of all our activity. "Every individual existence strives to remain what it is," and would defend its integrity from all attack.

I. THE INSTINCT IS RECOGNIZED. As it must be by all genuine teachers. It is a fact, and cannot be properly ignored; a Divine fact, and ought not to be obscured. It includes

(1) the desire to live, the sense of life's sweetness;

(2) the desire for health and happiness.

II. THE INSTINCT IS DIRECTED. It needs direction; for all instinct is in itself blind, and men, in seeking health and happiness, ignorantly and viciously purchase disease and death.

III. THERE IS NO SECRET OF SELF-PRESERVATION BUT (IN THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE SENSE) GODLINESS. This teaches the renunciation of the immediate for the further and lasting good. A paradox is here involved, a seeming contradiction containing a unity. To lose life is to gain it; to gain it, to lose it. For in true conduct there is ever a denial of the lower contained in the affirmation of the higher, and in evil conduct vice versa (compare on this section, Proverbs 3:2, 8, 13, 16; Proverbs 4:13). - J.

My son, attend to my words.
"The words of wisdom" are the vehicles of those Divine principles the reception and embodiment of which by man are essential to his well-being.


1. There must be the attentive ear.

2. There must be the steadfast look.

3. There must be the enshrining heart.


1. They are life to those who find them; they are the soul-quickening elements.

2. They are health.Life without health is scarcely worth living. These principles not only give life to the soul, but they also supply the nutriment and stimulate the activities that ensure health — health of all kinds.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

The motives that call for our attention are exceedingly powerful. It is a father that speaks. The things which are spoken are of quickening and invigorating virtue. They are life to such as find them, and health not only to the soul, but to the body; not to a particular part of it, but to all flesh. A medicine effectual to the cure of a single member might soon enrich the inventor of it. Here is a medicine for all the flesh, and yet the physician that prescribes it without reward finds so few willing to make use of it that he must proclaim its virtues again and again. Here is a physician of infinite value; attend to the directions which he gives for the management of our whole life.

(G. Lawson.)

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