Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil. Proverbs 4:26-27
Watch means to weight out or to ponder. The idea here is that someone is pondering evil and then choosing to avoid it. It means to seriously think about the path your feet are going to take - and choose to take them in a direction pleasing to the Lord. Sometimes we don't think enough about the path of our feet. We just act and go along with our lives. We don't take the time to think about where we're going - what we're doing - and where it is going to lead when things reach a conclusion.
We are told that if we will do this we will have all our ways established. Ways is "derek" which again is the Hebrew word that refers to our lifestyle - the way we're going in life. To have that way or that lifestyle established means to have it firm and fixed. It means our lifestyle is one that is upright and good. We will have a life that matters and just as important - one that will be steadfast in what pleases and honors the Lord. There is also a sense in which we are being told our lives will last - whereas the worldling and the wicked man will only be temporary.
When we look at the way of our feet, we need to know not to turn to the right or the left. This is assuming that our feet are on God's paths and ways and not our own. When we turn to the right or the left, we are choosing to depart from God's paths and walk in our own, the world's ways, or those of the devil. Which ever of these three are true, we will find ourselves in a way that is wrong - and ultimately a way that will hurt and cost us.
The only turn we should make in life is one away from evil. The word "turn" here is a Hebrew word that means to go away from something, to desert it, to quit, to keep far away. When we see evil we need to remove ourselves from it - depart - honesly - RUN! To hang around evil is to court its greater influence in our lives. When we see evil we should hide ourselves from it. The longer we remain in the presence of evil, the more likely we are to participate in it. Thus the wise man runs from evil.
Think about where you're going. It is important to do this - to consider our lives and examine them from time to time. It is too easy to begin to wander from the ways of God - too easy to take a path that leads us away from the Lord. That is why this Proverb helps us so much - it encourages us to think through where our journey reaches its destination. We think about the end of things. When we do this - we will see the wisdom of turning away from evil and keeping clear of the wicked one and his ways.
Let your eyes look directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Proverbs 4:25
Godly fathers warn their sons about distractions. It was a distraction that led to the fall of mankind. It was when Satan got the man and the woman to look at the one thing they probably should not have set in their sights that they were distracted enough to make the mistake of not just look at it - but partake of the forbidden fruit. In much the same way, our sons are being constantly given things to look at that are not wise for them to put in the path of their vision. What we look at long enough - will so fill our vision that we want to partake of it. That can get our sons in all kinds of trouble.
Dad speaks frankly with his sons, telling them to have their eyes look directly in front of them. He says this again with greater intensity telling the boys to let their gaze be fixed straight in front of them. This is important for sons because they are going to face a tremendous amount of visual stimulation from the world. We are warned against a worldliness where we live for the lust of our eyes. This warning should remind us as fathers that what our eyes see can stimulate very strong desires that cry out for fulfillment.
David had a vision of a beautiful woman bathing in front of his eyes one evening in Jerusalem. He could have looked away, but rather than do this, David fixed his gaze upon Bathsheba. Soon, looking was not enough for David - he had to have more. That look led to a horrible set of problems, beginning with adultery, and ending with a devastating set of consequences for his entire family - indeed, for all of Israel.
Oh, how we need to use such things to warn our sons against the sins of the eyes. How we need to warn them to keep their vision fixed straight in front of them. They need to have a vision that dominates their lives - and it needs to be one where they focus on Christ. Paul told us that when we gaze at Him with unveiled faces that we will be transformed into the very image that is set before our eyes. May we be diligent in encouraging our sons to have that vision be the Lord Jesus Christ!
Put away from you a deceitful mouth And put devious speech far from you. Proverbs 4:24
Any godly father who understands spiritual things knows that when urging his sons to have godly hearts, he must also address in almost the same breath how they use their mouths. Jesus taught us the truth that it is out of the mouth that we know the condition of the heart of a man. He told us that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Therefore when we take the time to examine the things that are coming out of our mouths, we will be able to better know what is lodging in our hearts.
The father frankly speaks to his sons about the need to put away a deceitful mouth and devious speech. The first term here about a deceitful mouth has to do with perversion and deceitfulness. It is a Hebrew term used to describe a person who speaks without any integrity in God's eyes. He would rather speak deceptive things than the truth, immoral things rather than moral. Scripture speaks of such a man as an evil, worthless man in Proverbs 6:12
Our society is growing more and more coarse all the time. We know and see this through the language that we hear in the public square - and from the entertainment industry. I may sound old fashioned, but I remember speaking with my mouth about how an entire theater gasped in horror when Frank Butler cursed at the end of "Gone With the Wind." It was a ground breaking moment, but unfortunately was a harbinger of things to come. Now, what that one actor said is common fare during prime time TV and is considered nothing to us today. The language that is spewed at all hours of the day should shock us, but unfortunately we just yawn at the spiritual depravity of our day and move on with life.
The only way back to a godly, moral society is to rear a generation of sons who no longer consider such things commonplace. Unfortunately for us, one of the problems is the current attitude of the church.
We have moved from a cursing society to a cursing church. The rave of the day among some of our youth is the rise of conservative, evangelical preachers who litter their sermons with language that at one time made the world gasp in theaters. This development, while seeming to be really cool to some of our youth - will only result in a continued increase in those whose mouth is revealing a heart filled with perversion. Some may balk at this assessment, but when we see that the godly father commands his son to put such a mouth away - can this be too far off from the truth?
The second command of the father is for the son to put "devious" speech far from him. "Luz" is the Hebrew word used here and it means to be crooked or perverse. The idea here is to deviate from God. When our speech deviates from God's standards and God's ways - and in all honesty, from God's Word, we are headed in a very dangerous pathway. Knowing that some will read this wondering just what good, godly speech is - and what words that we should avoid - I want to comment very pointedly about such things.
Our current crop of curse words are focused on some very interesting things. A couple of curse words deal with defacation. When we read in the Old Testament that God required Israel to take a shovel and cover up their waste - it only goes without saying that speech that uses such words on a regular basis probably ought to be buried as well. The other more common curse words seem to center around a crass way of speaking about the reproductive process. Once again it is fascinating that God's commentary about this is that the marriage bed is holy and that sexual relations between a man and woman should remain in their own bed - and not in the common conversation of society. Some will scoff at such statements - but I would argue with them as to what kind of biblical admonition encourages such speech? Paul writes to the Ephesians, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification." Wholesome words are those words that are not rotten - and since God does not encourage worldliness, but greatly discourages it in 1 John 2:15-17
- we might also do well in discouraging speech that far more resembles the world than resembles the Word.
Fathers, we need to encourage a new generation of young men who speak so as to please God in all that they say. Their hearts need to glorify God with what dwells in them - and their mouths need to reveal the godliness of their lives by speaking those words that are good for edification according to the need of the moment for those who are listening. It would bless our society to see men who once again value a common-speak that does not offend or shock - but that blesses and encourages.
Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow
the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23
The heart is the key to walking with God. When the heart is changed and sanctified, the life will be godly and will be pleasing to the Lord. But when a man's heart is not guarded and kept for the Lord, there will be problems. This is why the father who is speaking frankly with his sons, will urge them to do all that is necessary to watch over their hearts.
The word "watch" used here is the Hebrew word, "natsar" and it means to watch over something, to guard and to keep it. This word was used to describe how a person is to maintain something that is entrusted to them. Whether we truly realize it or not, God has given us our hearts. He has given us life and a direction in which it should be going. Once this wonderful gift of salvation and a new heart is ours by God's grace - it is our duty to protect it - and to make sure that we watch over what God has done in our lives. This "watching" is to be done with all diligence. The word used here is "mismar" and it means to have someone put into custody, to guard them. It speaks of things that are in a condition of being watched and controlled. What a fascinating word to use here. We are to watch our hearts and do so with a diligence that would be reminiscent of a prison - or the watch of a military unit at night. This is no casual affair, but is something that is of the utmost seriousness. God is absolutely serious about what we are doing with our hearts.
The reason for this "due diligence" over our hearts is because our hearts are vital to our spiritual lives. The father tells his son that from his heart flow the very springs of life itself. A literal way of translating this passage is to say, "from out of it are the issues of life." William Harvey, in the seventeeth century, discovered the circulation of blood in the human body. This one discovery absolutely revolutionized science and medicine. Over 2500 years before Harvey, the writer of Proverbs, inspired by the Holy Spirit, accurately spoke of how the heart was the very location where springs of life flowed out into the rest of the body. The heart pumping the blood of the body through the arteries - is the very wellspring of life for the entire body. If we watch out for the health of our heart - we are doing what must be done for a healthy body. Kill the heart - and the body will die. In a similar way, the heart is the seat of our spiritual life. Keep our hearts and we will maintain a life of holiness and godliness. Let our hearts go and we will find that the life of God will no longer flow freely through us and in us.
The godly father impresses such things on his son. He makes frank statements to his boys about the need to maintain a vital spiritual life where a heart for God is not just maintained, but is encouraged to flourish. The father who takes this job seriously will be the father who rears sons to be men of God. Dad, are you challenging your sons to maintain hearts for God and the things of God?
For they are life to those who find them And health to all their body. Proverbs 4:22
The wise father will place before his sons that fact that living according to God's ways and commands is the very best way to live. Living this way is how to experience, "Life and life abundantly" as Jesus said in John 10:10
. He will also let them know that God's ways are also the most healthy way to live for their physical bodies as well. This should be almost a "no-brainer" when we grasp that God, Who is omniscient and all-wise, would of course know the very best way for us to conduct ourselves for the most healthy and meaningful life the few years we have on this planet.
The father begins by frankly telling his son that the ways of God are life to those who find them. Jesus warned us in John that the thief, who is the devil, comes to kill, steal, and destroy. We should take note that also in 1 John we read that the world lies in the power of the evil one. Therefore it should be no surprise to us that the world and its ways are destructive to our health and well-being. To follow the world is to ultimately harm ourselves. God made the world around us to function in a certain way. To follow Him is to follow the designer and creator of all that we see and know. When God gave His Law to Israel He said something very powerful in Deuteronomy 30,
"See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity;in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply . . . I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days . . ." (Deuteronomy 30:15-16,19-20)
God made it clear to His people that His ways were best - actually they were penultimate over all other ways of living. To love, serve, and obey Him would bring them great blessing and life. Again, He tells Israel this in Deuteronomy 32:46-47 when He says, "Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even
all the words of this law. For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life."
The God who gave these very frank statements to Israel - also commanded the fathers of that nation to impress those same words upon the hearts of their sons. So all we are reading here in Proverbs is a restatement of what God has commanded previously.
The father also seeks to say to his son that obeying the Lord's commands is also "health" to the body. Here is where things get fascinating. I attended Auburn University for my undergraduate work. While there I knew a couple of brothers in Christ who endeavored to study the Scriptures and test the Old Testament dietary laws to see why God gave them. Later I also read extensive articles out of a ministry in Chicago where doctors began treating patients based upon God's dietary and cleanliness laws. Both groups adamantly stated to me that what God gave in the Old Testament is the most astounding public health system known to mankind. If these commands were followed, it would lead to a marvelously healthy society. When the Jewish slums followed these laws in Europe - the beubonic plague did not affect their populations. Another way to say this is - the commandments of God are health to our bodies.
Dads, we need to speak frankly to our sons concerning life - and what enhances and offers life to them. The world will not tell them such things, in fact, the world will tell them the opposite. We are the ones God has designed to speak such things to them. Actually, we are commanded to do so. Blessed is the son who has a wise father who will speak frankly with him about life - and life abundantly!
Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart. Proverbs 4:21
The father next reminds his sons that what is before his eyes will be what eventually dominates his choices. He reminds him to not let the sayings he gives him - and the Scripture upon which they are based to depart from his eyes. There is so much in our society that tries desperately to grab the attention of our eyes. Even though we may place the Word of God and the commandments of God before the eyes of our children, they must be warned that there will be a concerted effort to have their eyes drawn away from such things.
Think about the advertising business for a moment with me. They spend millions of dollars researching just what images have the greatest impact. Each year during the Super Bowl, companies spend over a million dollars for 30-60 seconds just to get the greatest impact upon the eyes of those who watch that event. They do it becuase they want the images and the thoughts that come with them to stick with us. And to be honest with ourselves, we have to admit that the majority of those images and messages run contrary to the Word of God. This is why we need to impress upon our sons the importance of not letting God's commandments and God's Word depart from our sight.
People ask me why I urge people to have a DAILY quiet time where they read and meditate upon God's Word. It is because when they walk out the door to begin their day, they need that word impressed and engraved upon their very souls and hearts. That is what the father says here to his son. Keep these words - these sayings - these quotations in your heart! There will be hundreds of messages a day that will run contrary to them - seeking to have us live for something that is 180 degrees counter to God's will for our lives. But do not let these images and these things dominate your sight - keep your eyes fixed on the Word of God - and the wil of God as it is expressed to you there.
Remember the number of times we are warned of the wiles of the immoral woman. Almost every time that warning includes a warning not to let ourselves be captured by her appearance. 1 John 2:15-17
warns as well that one of the things we will face consistently is a temptation to live by the lust of our eyes. Proverbs 23:26
and the verses that follow it are a similar appeal, "Give me your heart, my son, And let your eyes delight in my ways." This appeal comes moments before the father warns his son of the dangers of the immoral woman and her appeal to his eyes - and the way that alcohol appeals to the eyes as we look into glass as it is placed before us. The eyes are the portal to our souls. If we look long enough and hard enough at something it can have a powerful affect upon us. This works both ways with us. Paul told the Corinthians that as we gaze on the glory of the Lord - we can be transformed into that same glory as the Holy spirit works within us.
Dads, focus your sons on the Word - and warn them about the ways that their eyes will be used against their own best interests. Don't hide from them the way that the world will make its appeal. Call them to fix their eyes on the Word of God - so that the Word they see will move through their sight into their hearts where it will transform them more and more to God's ways and God's character. What they see will affect them. Make sure they know that in this battle for their soul, the one thing to keep before them is God's Word.
My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Proverbs 4:20
Proverbs is filled with admonitions from a father to a son. This is a large part of this book - the importance of a father teaching his children the things of God. This is something that has been lost to several generations in our country - and we can easily see the damage that results from it in multiple generations of American men.
The father speaks bold words to his son - telling him to pay attention to the word that he speaks to him. Dads, there is little that is as important as being able to speak this way to your sons. This does not happen overnight because you decide to do it. Cultivate this with your sons by spending time with them. Turn off the television and put down whatever it is that you think is so important - and build a relationship with your boys! This dad gained the ability to say such things by being a part of his son's life. Having gained that position, he speaks boldly telling his son to pay attention to his words.
Have you made it clear to your son that the things you say to him are important? This is no small matter. If a father practices neglect of his sons early, they will see no place for his words. His words are spoken so seldom that they do not matter to him. If a father plays the fool all the time his son will not take him seriously. If a father is harsh his son will reject his words because there is no love in them. But the father who consistently loves and speaks with his son - both about fun and serious things - will win his heart. When this takes place his son will know that the words of his Father truly matter - and he will pay close attention to them. This dad wants his son to truly hear - and grasp the things that he says. The idea behind paying close attention to him means to listen carefully so as to heed and obey.
He also says that his son should "incline" his ear to his father's sayings. The word incline has the idea of stretching out and extending something. It is a call for his son to stretch out his ears - to strain himself to hear what his dad is saying to him. The Hebrew word "emer" here has an interesting aspect to it. When used in its root form, this term meant a saying, but it usually also involved a quotation spoken after it. For those of us who walk with God, this is pretty amazing. It is a reminder that not only do we need to give our kids wise commands for their moral choices - but that we also need to include a quotation afterward. That quotation needs to be from the Scriptures. It is so vital that our moral statements have true moral authority. So, we quote the Word to our sons as we tell them the way that they should walk and live in life.
Men, it is so important that we speak to our sons. It is important that they hear from us the morals and the values that they should have in life. It is also important that as we share these things we let them know that our values and morals do not arise out of the ash pits of American society and the shifting sands of public or political opinion. Our valures are rooted in God's revelation of Himself in Scripture - in the Bible. They have their footings dug deep into the 10 commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and the writings of Pau, Peter, and John. This is the way to have a son who has strong values - and values that will not be blown and tossed like the waves driven by the wind. Be a strong man - speak strong things - and rear strong sons!
Do not enter the path of the wicked And do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on. For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; And they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone
stumble. Proverbs 4:14-16
Consider with me for a moment how many films glorify wicked men. There are hundreds of films that take a wicked man and glorify his life by romanicizing the things he did - and not really showing us the heart behind his actions. His riches and power are shown to us - his stuff is paraded before our eyes - but his end is often kept from us. The father in Proverbs wants to warn his son against following the lifestyle that these men lived. He does so by giving us a far more accurate description of how these evil men live and make choices.
Good advice is not to ENTER the path of the wicked. If we do not ever start on the path and lifestyle of the wicked - we will not have to worry about being a wicked or evil man. I know that sounds like "University of Duh" information, but how often do we want to just dabble - or walk a few steps in that way and then come back? The path mentioned here is from the Hebrew word "orah" and it describes the path of an individual or the course of their life. This word is used often to describe the characteristics of their lifestyle - whether they are good or evil, righteous or wicked. This means that we are not just looking at the supposed rewards this wicked man receives during his lifetime - but we are gazing deeper into the way that he lives.
The second word that is used here to describe the wicked man's choices is again one that speaks of his entire lifestyle. The second word is "derek" which means the way that he walks. This word speaks more to his daily choices - that lead towards a lifestyle. The warning here is not to "proceed" in the same daily choices that evil men make. To "proceed" here means to go straight on, to advance forward. It speaks of following a straight path that involves a way of understanding or the direction that comes from the heart. The father is warning his son that choices lead somewhere - that as a wise man said - thoughts lead to choices - and choices to habits - and habits to a lifestyle - and a lifestyle to a destiny. Don't allow the reasoning that fills the minds of evil men - to fill your mind.
The father's counsel is clear in verse 15 - avoid it - don't pass by it - and turn away from it and pass on. Avoid it means to leave it alone and neglect it. Do not pass by it means to set your life in such a way that you do not go in a direction that would come near it. The father knew that these were important things to do, but that there still would be times when his son would come into contact with it. That is why he also added the command to turn from it and pass on. This would cover those times - and remind the son that he should not linger thinking about an evil path - but move quickly from it.
Finally, the father reminds his son that evil men love their evil - and want to influence others to walk in the same way they do. He lets his son know that these men lose sleep if they are not able to do their evil. They love not only doing their evil, but helping others stumble in the same way. Romans 1
speaks of the perversion of humanity by sin in these same terms at the end of chapter one when it uses these words. ". . . and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them." (Romans 1:32
These are the ways of wicked and evil men. They have existed in the world ever since the fall - and will continue to exist until Christ comes again. Wise fathers need to warn their sons against such men - and against the paths they take in life.
Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life. Proverbs 4:13
If we want the life of God, we will have to embrace the ways in which God grants us life. The way He does this initially is by grace through the gospel of Jesus Christ. After God grants us His life this way - there are ways that we can experience and enjoy the life He provides in Jesus.
One of the ways that God continues to bless us with life is by us embracing His instruction in our lives. The word for instruction here is the Hebrew word "musar" which means instruction and discipline. Throughout proverbs this instruction and discipline comes primarily through the father and the mother in the family. They come as a teacher to their children offering them this instruction via teaching and at times the rod. Some might squirm a little when we speak of discipline, but the Scriptures are clear that God disciplines us because He loves us. Hebrews 12:5-11
is an excellent passage that might help us here in seeing how we receive life through God's instrutive discipline.
says, "You have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, "MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES." It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his
father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us
good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. "
God's instructive discipline does many things. First it reminds us that God loves us as His sons. Second, we know that God disciplines us for our good - not because He is angry and disgusted with us. Third we learn that God's discipline is done for good, that we mighy share His holiness. Without discipline we would rebel against Him - but the discipline reminds us that we are being conformed to His image - and that involves being conformed to His holiness. Lastly, His instructive discipline will yield peace in our lives. As we are conformed to His image - as we are made righteous as He is righteous - there will be great blessing - as well as great peace added to our lives.
God's instruction is not solely disciplinary - much of it is instructive as God is showing us the way to God - the things to say - the people to whom we need to minister. But for us to get the full blessings of it we will have to follow what Solomon is telling us to do here. We need to "take hold" of this instruction and "guard" it. Taking hold of instruction means that with great strength we grab it. The idea behind this word is to grab something with a powerful grip and not let go. Elsewhere in Proverbs we are told to listen intently with a view toward obedience. This is what we are being told in another way here. We have such a tendency to partially hear someting - or to hear it with no intent to obey or make what we hear an integral part of our lives. We need to latch on to whatever we are taught by the Holy Spirit - and to put a death griip on it - so it does not slip away from us.
The proverb tells us to "guard" the instruction - the teaching - the discipline that we receive from God. This is the word "natsar" that we have encountered so often in this book. It means to watch, the guard, and to keep something. It has the idea of setting a guard - a watchman - a sentry over our instruction from God. We cannot come away from this admonition without seeing clearly God is warning us NOT to forget something - NOT to let it go - NOT to let it slip away from us as we think of other things later. Our Lord knows how prone we are to be distracted and forget things. If we want life, we will have to counteract this by forcefully taking hold of the things God teaches us. Wisdom is taking what God teaches us very seriously - and taking His discipline the same way. If we do this we will be fully embracing the life that He desires to pour into our lives.
I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths. 12 When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; And if you run, you will not stumble. Proverbs 4:11-12Fathers, how well have you led and directed your sons? Would you be able to say what we have read here in Proverbs today? Would you be able to tell your sons that if they walk in your ways, they would live a godly life - one that would not hinder them from growing spiritually and one free from the stumbling blocks that often trip us up in life?
The father here who is instructing his son tells him very plainly that he has directed him in a lifestyle that values wisdom. The word for "directed" is a very visual word - describing an arrow that has been shot straight. The way that fathers are to shoot their sons into this world is on a path that highly values wisdom and God's ways. I love that he uses the phrase, "the way of wisdom." Way is the Hebrew word "derek" which refers to a lifestyle - a long journey - a manner of living. The father taught in such a way that wisdom became a lifestyle, not just a series of choices every now and then. This is how we are to educate our children. I believe in education - but not as an end in itself. Education or the acquiring of information and learning - is just a stepping stone to a greater goal. We should educate our children (and everyone for that matter) so that they take the information they receive and use it to walk in wisdom and understanding in their lives. That is how this father taught his son - and what his goal was in the end.
The second thing he says to his son is that he also led him in upright paths. Again we see a word here, paths, that tells us that this father led with a view toward having his son learn a pathway. This word refers to a track or a course. The father, by his example - led his son to know the track that leads to wisdom and godliness. He refers to it as an "upright" path. In Proverbs 2:13 the father speaks to his son about staying on the straight path - and not taking the crooked one. This upright path is one that is straight, godly, and filled with what is right. The dad took the time to teach his son godly, holy ways. He did so with such consistency in his life that his son learned these ways - not just from instruction alone. He "led" his son in these paths - meaning that he walked in front of his son - leading the way
all throughout his life. The son knew godliness not just by precept, but by example.
Here is the beauty of teaching and leading our sons in this manner. The father, in verse 12, now tells his son that there are wonderul rewards or walking in this way.
The first benefit is that when he walks, this son will not be impeded. The word here is "yatsar" and it means to be in distress or frustrated. The word indicates a frustrated anxiety in situations. The idea therefore is that the son will not face impediments that will make him filled with anxiety and frustration. This seems like a wonderful promise. But can we truly walk throughout our lives without being frustrated? That seems a little more than we can swallow, being those who have frequently experienced varying levels of frustration and anxiety in life.
God's promise here is not a lack of frustrating situations, but rather that when we walk, our steps will not be walked out in frustration. This God provides by teaching us wisdom - seeing life as He sees it. When we do this, we will begin to see all things as beneficial to us - even if they seem bad at the outset. We will find even the most difficult of moments being used by God for our good. We learn to have the same patience that our Father God has as we deal with people. Seeing life as He does makes us so much less frustrate-able. Knowing that all things work together for our good - as we are being conformed to the image and character of Jesus - makes life so very livable.
The second benefit the father tells his son that wisdom will bring is that when it comes time to run, he will not stumble. The word for "run" used here had pretty specific contexts. Men ran in battle. Men ran to the defense. Men ran to bring important messages to others. Fathers, we need to teach our sons that there are times they need to run. But we also need to train them so that when it is time to run - to battle the enemy - to defend their family, their friends, the church, their freedom - to bring the message of the gospel and of godliness - that they will not trip and fall because they are not ready. The idea here of stumbling always carried with it that one stumbled either because he was weak or because he had a stumbling block before him. This is where an education of wisdom - to help a young man establish a lifestyle is so vital. Without it he will develop habits and choices that will put stumbling blocks before him. Without it he will be weak when he needs to be strong. Without it he will fall inevitably into the two traps of manhood. He will either become a man who is domineering who lacks a servant's heart toward his wie and children - or - he will fall into passivity and not have the strength o character to lead his family and lead in situations where the world around him desperately needs a man to step up and be a man.
Fathers, an awesome task has been set before us. We are to train the next generation of men. That may seem like a daunting task - but it is one that God promises to help us and give us great grace to accomplish. There is no one, dad, who can take your place in this effort. You will be THE most effective teacher for your sons in this endeavor. Do it with all your hearts - because the blessing it will bring to your grandchildren and the world in which your son will live will be immeasurable. And beyond all this, the glory that will be brought to God for the ways that His wisdom will be displayed in your son's life and family - will adorn the gospel and the Word of God in a way that is desperately needed in our generation.