Proverbs 4:3-4, “For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.”
Every time I read the Book of Proverbs my mind is stirred to some advice I received early in my life. The man who shared his study with me said, “Always keep in mind when reading through the Proverbs that there is an older man, who has gained an abundance of knowledge, who wants to share that wisdom with a younger man who has no idea how ignorant he really is.”
In the verse previously cited, we read where Solomon confesses that he, himself was young once. Solomon remembers those times when his father, David, shared his wisdom with him. And now, at the time this verse was written, Solomon (the older man) has this longing desire to share the same with his son (the younger man). This transition of knowledge can easily be compared to parents and children; Older preachers and younger; Older disciples and younger; and even friends. As I ponder these verses, the advice of my parents and fathers in the ministry becomes more important because:
(1) They were once young themselves! When Solomon tells his son about his youth, he is basically saying, “I’ve been where you are”. I remember many times as a child my daddy saying something very similar. I would doubt my daddy’s advice, but it would end up, more times than not that he was spot on. Why? Because he had been exactly where I was. Experience may not be the greatest teacher, but it’s a good one.
(2) The same source of wisdom for them is the same for us! David’s source of wisdom was the same source for Solomon, and was also the same for Solomon’s son. David, Solomon’s father, “taught” him to “Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.” It’s very important for us to always remember that this wisdom comes from the Lord. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” The wisdom of the Lord is found in the Bible; in the Gospel; and can be received from those who have spent time with the Lord. When we are blessed to receive wisdom, we should first be thankful to God.
(3) The same wisdom and discretion that helped our forefathers will help us today because the troubles we face today are like the troubles others have faced in times past! Even though we live in a continual changing world, the wisdom of our unchangeable God will consistently save us from the temporal troubles of this world if the hearer will take heed. So much peace is lost by not believing in God’s ways and trying to do things our way. Solomon was told, “keep my commandments, and live”.
(4) The failures of the old can be a great lesson for the young! Solomon, throughout the Book of Proverbs, will warn the hearer of the tricks of the deceptive world. The reason he knew, he had been deceived a few times himself. Since “man at his best state is altogether vanity” (Ps 39:5) we all will make mistakes in our lives. The reason Solomon knows the ins and outs of “the strange woman” is that he had fallen to her tricks before. Solomon could tell the hearer about the consequences of his failures. When we are warned of certain things by those that are older than us, it may just be that they had failed to something similar themselves and want to help us from falling into the same.
Brothers and sisters, as we all grow older, and hopefully wiser, let us remember those who took time out of their life to help us and be motivated to gently and charitably share what the Lord has taught us with others. I’m thankful to God for blessing me with a godly mother and father, as well as precious fathers in the ministry. I trust the Lord that blessed them to help me will bless me to help when, and every time, an opportunity arises.