Proverbs 4:7
The writer, here and in Proverbs 5:7 and Proverbs 7:24, addresses his audience as children, thinking of himself as a son, who had been the object of fatherly counsels and warnings in his youth. He would hand on the torch of wisdom, the tradition of piety, to the next generation.

I. PIETY SHOULD BE A FAMILY TRADITION. (Vers. 1-3.) Handed down from father to son and grandson, or from mother to daughter and grandchild, from Lois to Eunice, till it dwells in Timothy also (2 Timothy 1:5). Tradition in every form is, perhaps, the strongest governing power over the minds of men in every department of life.

II. EARLY INSTRUCTION WILL BE RETAINED, RECALLED, AND REPRODUCED. As the twig is bent, so is the tree inclined; or, as Horace says so beautifully, "The cask will long preserve the odour with which when fresh it was imbued" ('Ep.,' 1:2. 69). Every higher effort of the intellect rests on memory. Our later life is for the most part the reproduction in other forms of the deep impressions of childhood.

III. THE CONTENTS OF THIS TRADITION ARE SIMPLE, YET PROFOUND. (Vers. 4-9.) They are summed up in "the one thing needful." In opposition to the cynical maxim, "Get money, honestly if you can, but by all means get money," or the refrain of "Property, property" (Tennyson's 'Northern Farmer'), the teacher rings the exhortation out, like an old chime, "Get wisdom, get understanding."

IV. THE STYLE OR FORM OF THE TRADITION.

1. It is iterative. It may even seem to modern ears monotonous. But this form is peculiarly part of the habit of the stationary East. Thought is not so much expansive, travelling from a centre to a wide periphery; it swings, like a pendulum, between two extremes. Generally, for all, the best life wisdom must be these iterations, "Line upon line, precept upon precept" or stare super antiquas vias - a recurrence to well worn paths.

2. It has variety of expression with unbroken unity of thought.

(1) In reference to the object of pursuit. "Wisdom" is the leading word; but this is exchanged for "training" and "insight" (ver. 1); "doctrine" and "law" (ver. 2); "words" and "commandments" (ver. 4); the same word often recurs.

(2) In reference to the active effort of the mind itself. This is presented as "hearing" and "attending" (ver. 1); "not forsaking" (ver. 2); "holding fast in the heart," and "guarding" (ver. 4); "getting" and "not turning from" (ver. 5); "not forsaking" and "loving" (ver. 6); "holding her high" and "embracing her" (ver. 8); "receiving words" and "adhering to instruction" (vers. 10, 13).

(3) In reference to the accompanying promise. "Thou shalt live" (ver. 4); "She shall guard thee;" "protect thee" (ver. 6); "exalt thee; bring thee to honour" (ver. 8); "give to thy head a chaplet of delight;" "hold out to thee a splendid crown" (ver. 9); "many years of life" (ver. 10); "Thy steps shall not be hindered" (ver. 12); "Thou shalt not stumble" (ver. 12); "She is thy life" (ver. 13).

V. THE ADVANTAGES OF THIS METHOD OF TEACHING.

1. It is simple, intelligible to all.

2. Of universal adaptation. Easily remembered by the young, impossible to forget in age.

3. It admits of infinite illustration from experience. It is a sketch or outline, given to the pupil; he fills it in and colours it as life progresses. - J.







Wisdom is the principal thing.
I. IF WE CONSIDER MAN'S SPIRITUAL STATE IN THE SIGHT OF GOD.

II. IF WE CONSIDER MAN'S PRESENT HAPPINESS. The true happiness of man has its foundation in wisdom. I go on the supposition of Christ that a "man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things he possesseth." Happiness depends on the state of the mind. It is religion only which enlightens the understanding, which influences the heart, and which brings into the favour of high heaven. Man cannot be happy, because he is subject to passions and tempers which perplex and disturb him.

1. Religion brings us into a state of mind which is calculated to make us happy.

2. It gives a blessing to all around, and inspires contentment in every state.

III. IF WE CONSIDER THE IMPERISHABLE NATURE OF THIS BLESSING. True religion accompanies us in life; it lives with us in death; it goes with us into eternity.

IV. IF WE CONSIDER ITS SOVEREIGN AND PECULIAR INFLUENCE IN IMPROVING THE WORLD. This true wisdom shall one day produce such a change that heaven shall come down to earth and dwell among men.

(J. Stewart.)

A modern author says the "chief good must unite the following qualities: It must be intellectual, or adapted to the higher and nobler part of our nature; attainable by all, of whatever sex, age, or mental conformation; unimpaired by distribution; independent of the circumstances of time or place; incapable of participation to excess; composed essentially of the same elements as the good to be enjoyed in a future state."

I. "SUMMUM BONUM" DESCRIBED.

1. Consists in the possession of the highest knowledge.

2. In the application of the highest knowledge.

II. "SUMMUM BONUM" SOUGHT.

1. Attentively.

2. Constantly.

3. Lovingly.

4. Supremely.

III. "SUMMUM. BONUM" ENJOYED. It will be three things to us.

1. A guardian.

2. A patron.

3. A rewarder.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

I. WHAT THIS WISDOM IS. Sometimes the word refers to our blessed Lord Himself. It also means that religion of which the Lord Jesus Christ is the sum and substance.

1. He is a wise man who knows himself. Till a man knows God he knows not himself. God is, in that sense, a glass, in which a man sees himself, and the nearer he comes to that glass the more he discerns himself. A man knows himself when, as a law- condemned sinner, as a sin-condemned sinner, and as a self-condemned sinner, he stands before the eye of God. Then there is self-acquaintance — not till then. He now reads the hardest book in the world. There is no book so hard as the book of a man's own heart.

2. He is a wise man who draws near to God in Christ. He is a wise man who, under a sentence of condemnation as in himself deserved, can in Christ know how to meet the holy Lord God with humble confidence.

3. He is a wise man who, in the midst of the crookedness of this world, is led to walk straightly with God.

4. He is a wise man who knows how to meet the trials of life.

II. WHY IS THIS WISDOM CALLED THE PRINCIPAL THING? That is the principal thing which is the only abiding thing. True wisdom, like its source, is perennial, unchanging, everlasting. And it is the only satisfying thing. It comes from God; it leads to God. It comes from above; it leads to above. It is a principle of immortality, and it trains the soul and educates it for immortality.

III. THE EXHORTATION, "GET WISDOM." Get it; then it is to be got. It is to be got in the way of seeking. For a man to feel his lack of wisdom is the beginning of wisdom.

1. Do not mistake a counterfeit for wisdom.

2. Avoid first declensions.

3. Make a conscience of secret prayer.

4. Avoid dangerous associations.

5. Take heed as to your books.

6. Study to show religion at home as well as abroad.

7. Live upon Christ.As your soul is under the constraint of His love it weakens the world, it makes sin hateful, it raises above self, it purifies the motives, and brings a man to walk nearly, closely with God.

(J. H. Evans, M.A.)

Divine wisdom only deserves the name of wisdom.

1. Because it converseth in the highest things.

2. Because it seeks to approve itself to God.

3. Because it is both the mother and guide, or chariot-driver, of all virtue, and guides it aright.

4. It is the greatest gift God ever gave man, for it directs him to Jesus Christ, the wisdom of the Father, without whom is no salvation, and therefore no true nor lasting gain by any other wisdom. Use: To reprove such as boast much of human sciences, but make no account of heavenly wisdom.

(Francis Taylor, B. D.)

I. THE COMMENDATION OF WISDOM. By wisdom is meant Christ the Wisdom of God; and grace, which is the only wisdom in a man. This can be shown in two ways.

1. The Lord counts nothing wisdom but godliness, and this He doth everywhere style "wisdom."

2. In God's account all things are folly without grace. The heathen were the greatest artists and philosophers of the world, those that most inquired into the secrets of nature, as in Athens and Corinth, which were universities and places far more famous than any other for knowledge, tongues, and all abilities. Take the greatest statist and politician in the world, which hath also a great show and name for wisdom. Let him be without a principle of grace, and his own policies will prove his own snare. Take the greatest men in the world, and they are wise in their own conceits, yet is their life a vanity. Wisdom acts by the highest principles. According to a man's principles are the rules of his actions. These are some of the high and excellent principles that godliness lays in the soul.

(a)That the chief beauty of the creature is holiness.

(b)The happiness of the creature consists in communion with God.

(c)Sin is the greatest evil in the world.

(d)It is better to suffer than to sin.

(e)Things seen are but temporal.

II. AN EXHORTATION TO GET THIS WISDOM.

1. The excellency of grace lies in a conformity unto God.

2. From this conformity there ariseth a communion.

3. Grace fits a man for the service of God.

4. Grace turns all that a godly man enjoyeth into a blessing.

5. Grace fills the soul with all spiritual excellences.

6. Grace will preserve a man from all evil.

(William Strong.)

Essex Remembrancer.
Wealth, power, ease, pleasure, intellectual greatness are thought by different persons to be the principal thing. God says, "Wisdom is the principal thing."

I. IN WHAT DOES TRUE RELIGION CONSIST? It embraces three things — regeneration, justification, and sanctification; and secures a fourth — glorification. Regeneration is a change of heart; justification a change of state; sanctification a change of character; glorification is the union and consummation of all other changes.

II. WHY IS TRUE RELIGION THE PRINCIPAL THING?

1. Because it more exalts our nature and character than anything else can possibly do.

2. It puts man in possession of more solid and lasting enjoyment than anything else possibly can.

3. It provides for the whole scope of man's being, for soul and body, for time and eternity, for earth and heaven.

III. THE APPLICATIONS OF THE SUBJECT. Get true religion — by forsaking everything previously sought as the principal thing; by repenting of the past, by coming to Christ in faith and prayer, by seeking the aid of the Holy Spirit; by imbuing the mind with gospel truths, submitting to its doctrines and precepts, and conforming the character to all its requirements. How great the happiness of those who have true religion!

(Essex Remembrancer.)

Mankind is constantly in search after happiness; they seek it in various ways of their own contrivance.

I. TRUE RELIGION IS THE SOUNDEST WISDOM. Real religion, when it takes possession of the human bosom, always produces in its possessor a true concern for his everlasting salvation.

II. THIS WISDOM IS THE "PRINCIPAL THING," AND THEREFORE WORTHY OF OUR EARNEST PURSUIT. If a man consult his own safety and happiness he will seek it in religion. Our safety and security are only in God. Religion opens to us enjoyments not to be found elsewhere. Religion adds to every man's relative usefulness. Only that usefulness which springs from religious principles will be lasting. Religion will be found to be "the principal thing" at the hour of death and at the day of judgment.

(George Clayton.)

I. THE OBJECT THAT IS SET BEFORE US. We are to pursue "wisdom" and "understanding." These words relate to that state of the human mind, when it is brought to apprehend Divine truths, and to apply those truths to the course of human action. A wise man is one who has gained, and who has taken home to his heart, the knowledge essential to the right guidance of his steps towards heaven. A man of understanding is one whose mind has been enlightened to a clear perception of right and wrong, and who has within him those just and holy principles of the law of God which lead him to pursue the good and to avoid the evil. The object pointed out to you is, the application of the science of religion to man in his present state, leading him to the discharge of duties which he owes to God, himself, and his fellow-creatures. There is no motive like a religious motive to insure the performance of a right action. There is no law equal to the law of God as a guide to what is good, and a check to what is evil. When this law reaches the heart, and becomes the governing principle of a man's conduct, it produces effects which you will look for in vain from the purest precepts of mere morality. Knowledge enlightens a man, and so great is its influence in this way, that many at the present day are actually making it the object of idolatry. We must not mistake the character of knowledge, or overrate her influence. She does much for a nation to civilise and polish it, but she does not teach us our duty to God, nor lead us to practise it. What is human knowledge compared with the knowledge of religion? Our main object through life should be to acquaint ourselves with the things of God, and to gain for our mind that Divine illumination that shall enable us to pass in safety through the varied temptations of the present world, and to reach the happiness of the next.

II. THE SUPREME IMPORTANCE OF THIS HEAVENLY WISDOM. The hearts of the fallen race of Adam are naturally fond of sensible objects. We are like little children, pleased with trifles; baubles amuse us; when, as beings destined for eternity, we ought to be contemplating heaven's august realities. What have the men who have been most given to the things of the world gained even here by this earthliness? Surely, nothing that deserves the name of satisfaction. The possession of religion more than makes amends for whatever losses, or trials, or anxieties, we may experience in obtaining it. Religion is so incalculably important that we cannot estimate its value. It is "profitable unto all things."

III. THE DILIGENCE WITH WHICH WE SHOULD APPLY OURSELVES TO THE ATTAINMENT OF IT.

(William Curling,M.A.)

I. ITS SACRED NATURE. Even in the ordinary concerns of life we feel the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Wisdom is not limited to prudence in relation to the ordinary concerns of this life. Nor does it consist in science, however exalted its flight; nor in philosophy, however ennobling the vantage-ground on which it stands. Wisdom is the fear of God, the knowledge of God, the love of God, a right state of heart before God. The wisdom proper for man as a fallen being concerns the questions how he may obtain the favour of God, escape the punishment due to sin, obtain glory, honour, and immortality. Wisdom is connected with salvation.

II. ITS SUPREME IMPORTANCE.

1. Its superiority above all other objects to which you can possibly direct your attention. Pleasure is a great attraction to the youthful mind, but happiness is often sought where it is not to be found. That alone deserves the name of happiness which will bear reflection. Wisdom, thought of as religion, is superior to fame, or wealth, or knowledge.

2. Its beneficial effects should be considered. Observe the character thus formed; its influence on conduct and practice, and its relation to the future.

III. THE SCRIPTURAL METHOD OF OBTAINING TRUE WISDOM.

1. There must be a deep conviction of the necessity of this wisdom.

2. A diligent study of God's Word.

3. Fervent and habitual prayer.

4. A believing application to Jesus Christ.

5. Habitual retirement for meditation.

6. Practical carrying out of good principles in all the relations of life.

(J. Fletcher, M.A.)

The desire of knowledge is common to all human kind. All knowledge is worth the having, but far more desirable, and infinitely above all, is the knowledge of spiritual things. To this is given the name Wisdom.

I. IT IS POSSIBLE TO GET WISDOM. We are living in an age of weak convictions, of guesses as distinguished from beliefs, of opinions rather than established views. The most popular phase of thought in these times is known as Agnosticism. The original agnostic was Pyrrho of Ells. He was the universal sceptic, whose philosophy was merely an interrogation point. But it is possible to know respecting spiritual things. We have the faculty wherewith to apprehend them. This faculty or spiritual sense is the link binding us to God. We have it as a Divine inheritance; it belongs to us by reason of our Divine birth. We are environed by spiritual facts. I do not say that we can exhaust all or any spiritual truth.

II. IT IS OUR MAGNIFICENT PRIVILEGE AND PREROGATIVE TO INFORM OURSELVES CONCERNING SPIRITUAL THINGS. We are Divine and immortal. In reaching out for spiritual truth we give distinct evidence of our descent from God. The lowest attitude which men can assume towards truth is that of credulity. A step higher and we reach the doubters. Doubt is nobler than credulity. A sceptic is a better man than an unthinking bigot. But the sceptic is not a learned man, for true learning implies conviction. He is a half-educated man, and a little learning is ever a dangerous thing. Doubt is always something to move away from. There are two kinds of doubt as there are two twilights. The higher thing is belief. Faith is substance resting on evidence; the substance of spiritual things resting on evidence which appeals to the moral sense. The character of any man is measured by his creed.

III. IT IS OUR BOUNDEN DUTY, THEREFORE, TO HAVE SOUND CONVICTIONS AS TO SPIRITUAL TRUTH. We have no right to allow the great problems to go by default. If there is a God it behoves us to know it. How shall we get wisdom? (James 1:5). God is light; open the windows, and let God shine in. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Bow down at the mercy-seat and ask God to illuminate the dark chambers of your soul. Get wisdom from God.

(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)

I. SHOW THE NATURE OF WISDOM, WHAT IT IS, AND WHEREIN IT CONSISTS.

1. The description of its nature and causes. calls it that intellectual virtue whereby we are directed in our manners and carriage, to make choice of the right means in the prosecution of our true end. Tully describes it as ars vivendi. Aquinas as the skill of demeaning a man's self aright in practical affairs. In Proverbs 14:8, we read, "The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way." The philosophers call four of the virtues "cardinal," because all the rest turn upon them as upon their hinges. These are prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. Prudence, or wisdom, consists of three parts, A sagacity of judgment to make a true estimate of things, persons, times, and events. A presence of mind to obviate sudden accidents, to meet every emergency. Experience and observation of the most usual and probable consequences of things.

2. The several kinds and distinctions of it. One is a grace, or virtue, the other is not. There is a wisdom that cometh from above. There is a wisdom which is from beneath, earthly, sensual, devilish. There is a distinction in wisdom according to the several ends which men propose to themselves and the means whereby these several ends are to be attained; the gratifying of carnal appetite; peace and contentment of mind; or spiritual blessedness. So wisdom may be carnal policy, moral prudence, or spiritual wisdom.

3. The proper effects of wisdom. It directs to the right end, such as may be perfective of our natures. It directs to consult about the means, which must be fit and accommodate to the end, and must be honest and lawful in themselves. Two things every man should propose to himself in the management of his affairs, success and safety: in order to which he must observe four conditions — forecast and providence against want; wariness and caution against danger; order and union against opposition; sedulity and diligence against difficulties. These four seem to be recommended in Proverbs 30:24, where four living creatures are spoken of as being "exceeding wise," the ants, conies (or mice), locusts, and the spider.

4. The opposite to this virtue of wisdom, by way of excess is craft, by way of defect is folly.

II. THE NECESSITY OF WISDOM, OR THE GROUNDS OF OUR OBLIGATION TO IT. Scripture gives both precepts concerning it (such as Colossians 4:5; Ephesians 5:15); and commendations of it (as Job 28:16). It is better than riches. It is itself the greatest honour, and will be a means to advance a man in the esteem of others. It is the truest and best pleasure. It is as our life. It is necessary to the safety of our persons; and to the management of our affairs with success. Objection: Is not wisdom a gift and privilege, rather than a duty? Answer:

1. Christian wisdom, for the nature and substance of it is a duty, for the degrees a gift.

2. Moral or civil prudence is also a duty. The neglect of such abilities as are suitable to a man's station is not only a defect but a fault.Three inferences:

1. No wicked man can be truly wise.

2. Grace and holiness are the truest wisdom.

3. If wisdom be the principal thing, then let it be our principal endeavour to attain it.

(Bp. John Wilkins.)

The figure of merchandise is still maintained. Work, plan, seek, toil, are the watchwords of true zeal in this matter. It is as if the youth were face to face with many attractions — say, beauty, wealth, ease, pleasure, and the like — and whilst he is estimating their claims the father exhorts him, saying, "Get wisdom, get understanding; do not be deceived; insist upon having the brightest treasure, and on no account be victimised by men who would urge you to sacrifice future satisfaction to immediate gratification."

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Wisdom is of incomparable value, as it enables us to turn every other good to a right use.

I. THE TRUE NATURE OF WISDOM.

1. Wisdom is not synonymous with knowledge.

2. Wisdom is not merely the equivalent of prudence in relation to the ordinary concerns of life.

3. Wisdom is not identical with philosophy.

4. Wisdom consists in reverence of the Divine, in the knowledge of God, and a right state of the heart in relation to God. It is, in a word, religion. It is the choice of the highest end, pursued by the best means. It consists in discharging aright those obligations which we owe to our glorious Creator.

II. THE SUPREME IMPORTANCE OF WISDOM.

1. Remark its superiority to all other objects of human regard. True wisdom sought and won and worn appeases the hunger and thirst of the soul.

2. The beneficial results of gaining wisdom. Formation of virtuous and Christian character. Avoidance of evil. Eternal gain.

III. THE PROPER MEANS OF OBTAINING WISDOM.

(W. E. Daly, B. A.)

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY WISDOM? Cicero calls wisdom the knowledge of things Divine and human, and of their efficient causes.

II. WISDOM IS THE GUIDE TO VIRTUE. Virtue is the right discharge of our duty in every station of life. Virtue contains the whole art of right and happy living. Did learning afford no assistance to virtue; were pleasure the only benefit arising from study; it must on every account be allowed to be an amusement of the noblest kind, and every way best suited to the nature of man. He is most likely to prosper in this life whose mind is best cultivated and enlarged with the truest notions of things, and who joins to that cultivated understanding a corresponding practice, not less excelling in virtue than in knowledge. Honour, too, is a general attendant upon wisdom. Moreover, the love of wisdom and the practice of virtue, will tend above all things to lengthen our present existence.

1. God, the great Father of the world, has created you a reasonable being, and endowed you with faculties. The duty lies on you to improve and enlarge them.

2. Your parents on earth do everything to help you in getting wisdom.

3. Society has a claim upon you. Then cultivate liberal science as the handmaid of sublimer knowledge. Moral virtue and the improvement of the heart are graces which give to science its lustre, and to life its worth. They expand and enlarge the soul. Cultivate liberal science under the sanction and guidance of religion.

(W. Dodd, LL.D.)

I. AN ENCOMIUM OF WISDOM. She is commended to us as the most excellent of all things. She holds the principality amongst those virtues that ennoble, enrich, and adorn the mind of man.

II. AN EARNEST PERSUASION, backed with arguments, to endeavour the acquisition and improvement of this excellent virtue. Wisdom is an excellent, energetical virtue of the mind of man, whereby, upon a clear apprehension and right judgment of things, the whole soul is carried Out, in a well-governed order, in an earnest and constant pursuit of the most excellent attainments. There is a threefold act of wisdom.

1. To propose the most excellent end.

2. To elect the best means.

3. To engage the most earnest endeavours in the diligent use of these means.

III. WHEREIN DOES THE EXCELLENCY OF WISDOM LIE?

IV. THIS EXCELLENCY IS ATTAINABLE. It cannot be commended in vain. Man's work in the world cannot be done without wisdom. God has given man a rational soul. Wisdom may be attained by —

1. A due government of man's self.

2. A serious consideration of a man's state.

3. A diligent study of the Holy Scriptures.

(Thomas Willis, D.D.)

1. Religion is the principal thing, as it is the care of our principal part — our rational and immortal nature.

2. Wisdom is the principal thing, for this secures our principal interest.

3. Wisdom is the principal thing, as this comprises everything that is amiable, virtuous and excellent.

4. Religious wisdom is the principal thing, because, while it secures our main interest, it promotes all our subordinate interests.

5. This heavenly wisdom is the principal thing, for without it worldly wisdom will do us no good.

6. Religious wisdom is the principal thing, as it is of universal importance.

(J. Lathrop, D.D.)

1. Widely different are the effects of moral good which is the object of religion. The contemplation of an infinite Being, the study of His astonishing works and dispensations, are objects which will afford unceasing employment and satisfaction for the most exalted faculties of the sublimest genius. The constant progressive improvement of the soul in virtue and happiness, and the continual approaches to the perfection of its nature, are ends worthy the existence not only of man, but even of the highest angel.

2. Another condition requisite to constitute the sovereign good is, that it be conducive to our well being. Happiness is not made up of transient raptures. It consists in the enjoyment of permanent serenity and calm satisfaction. Of such felicity what can afford a fairer prospect than a virtuous and religious disposition? This tends to preserve the desires and passions within due subjection, to prevent them from inflaming the imagination and biasing the judgment. Such a disposition enables us to view objects in their true and proper colours, unadorned with fictitious and delusive attractions.

3. The third quality requisite to constitute the sovereign good is, that it should be suitable to all times, places, and conditions of life. Even when flesh and heart fail, when the world, with all its attractions, can no longer amuse, then will the consolations of religion and virtue still support us, and shed beams of comfort and hope to dispel the dreary shades of the dark vale of death.

4. A fourth condition implied in our idea of the sovereign good is, that it should be durable and inadmissible. The satisfactions of religion and virtue, being derived from God, are permanent and unchangeable as the source from whence they spring. Not even death, which tears us from every sublunary pleasure, can destroy these satisfactions,

(B. C. Sowden.)

(a sermon to the young): —

I. WHAT THAT WISDOM IS WHICH IS HERE SO EARNESTLY RECOMMENDED. It is twofold, viz., speculative and practical, or wisdom of mind and wisdom of conduct Speculative wisdom, or wisdom of mind, consists in the knowledge of our true happiness and the way to it. Practical wisdom, or wisdom of conduct, consists in the steady pursuit of it in the right way.

II. HOW IT IS THE PRINCIPLE THING. It is that which ought in the first and principal place to be minded, secured, and preferred before everything else; the one thing needful, in comparison of which everything else has but a very inconsiderable importance.

1. Though wisdom, as now explained, be the principal thing, it is not the only thing that deserves our regard. The very term "principal thing" implies that there are other things of a subordinate consideration that ought to be minded in a proper degree. The affairs of the present life claim some of our thoughts and time.

2. Wisdom is the principal thing, so the importance of every other thing is to be measured by its connection with, or relation to it.

III. HOW WISDOM IS TO BE ATTAINED.

1. Accustom yourselves to a habit of thinking on the best things. Wisdom begins with consideration, the want of which is the source of universal folly.

2. Would you be wise, let me beseech you to consider the importance of improving the opportunities and advantages of your present education. 3.Would you be wise indeed, you must carefully inform yourselves of the will of God and every branch of your duty from the sacred Scriptures.

4. Would you be truly wise, you must not only take care to furnish your minds with a knowledge of the Christian principles in general, but of those duties and principles in particular which will best adorn that character and station wherein you may hereafter appear in the world.

5. In order to be truly wise, you must take care to know yourselves; and particularly your constitutional sins.

6. Cultivate a sense of your constant dependence on God for everything, and acknowledge that dependence daily.

7. Think often of death.

8. Earnestly pray to God to make you wise.

(John Mason, M. A.)

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