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A Father’s Instruction

Listen to my correction, my sons,
    for I speak to you as your father.[a]
    Let discernment enter your heart
    and you will grow wise with the understanding I impart.
My revelation-truth[b] is a gift to you,
    so remain faithful to my instruction.
For I, too, was once the delight of my father[c]
    and cherished by my mother—their beloved[d] child.
Then my father taught me, saying,
    “Never forget my words.
    If you do everything that I teach you, you will reign in life.”[e]
So make wisdom your quest—
    search for the revelation of life’s meaning.
    Don’t let what I say go in one ear and out the other.
Stick with wisdom and she will stick to you,
    protecting you throughout your days.
    She will rescue all those who passionately listen to her voice.[f]
Wisdom is the most valuable commodity—so buy it!
    Revelation-knowledge is what you need—so invest in it!
Wisdom will exalt you when you exalt her truth.[g]
    She will lead you to honor and favor
    when you live your life by her insights.
You will be adorned with beauty and grace,[h]
    and wisdom’s glory will wrap itself around you,[i]
    making you victorious in the race.

Two Pathways

10 My son, if you will take the time to stop and listen to me
    and embrace what I say,
    you will live a long and happy life
    full of understanding in every way.
11 I have taken you by the hand in wisdom’s ways,
    pointing you to the path of integrity.
12 Your progress will have no limits when you come along with me,
    and you will never stumble as you walk along the way.
13 So receive my correction[j] no matter how hard it is to swallow,
    for wisdom will snap you back into place—
    her words will be invigorating life to you.
14 Do not detour into darkness or even set foot on that path.
15 Stay away from it; don’t even go there!
16 For troublemakers are restless if they are not involved in evil.
    They are not satisfied until they have brought someone harm.
17 They feed on darkness and drink
    until they’re drunk on the wine of wickedness.[k]
18 But the lovers of God walk on the highway of light,[l]
    and their way shines brighter and brighter
    until the perfect day.
19 But the wicked walk in thick darkness,
    like those who travel in fog,
    and yet don’t have a clue why they keep stumbling!

Healing Words

20 Listen carefully, my dear child, to everything that I teach you,
    and pay attention to all that I have to say.
21 Fill your thoughts with my words
    until they penetrate deep into your spirit.[m]
22 Then, as you unwrap my words,[n]
    they will impart true life and radiant health
    into the very core of your being.
23 So above all, guard the affections of your heart,[o]
    for they affect all that you are.
    Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being,
    for from there flows the wellspring[p] of life.
24 Avoid dishonest speech and pretentious words.
    Be free from using perverse words no matter what!

Watch Where You’re Going

25 Set your gaze on the path before you.
    With fixed purpose, looking straight ahead,
    ignore life’s distractions.[q]
26 Watch where you’re going!
    Stick to the path of truth,
    and the road will be safe and smooth before you.
27 Don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked for even a moment
    or take the detour that leads to darkness.


  1. 4:1 Read and study this entire chapter as though it were Jesus Christ speaking to you. He is the Father of Eternity, and we are called his sons. See Isa. 9:6–7 and Rev. 21:6–7.
  2. 4:2 Literally “Torah.”
  3. 4:3 See Matt. 17:5 and John 3:35.
  4. 4:3 Or “unique.” See Luke 1–2.
  5. 4:4 The lessons of wisdom are meant to be passed on from parents to children.
  6. 4:6 It is not enough to acquire wisdom; we must love her and listen wholeheartedly to her instruction.
  7. 4:8 The Septuagint says, “Build a fort for wisdom and she will lift you high.”
  8. 4:9 Literally “She will place a garland of grace on your head and a crown of beauty upon you.” A garland and a crown are metaphors for what is awarded a victor in a race. See 1 Cor. 9:24–25.
  9. 4:9 Or “wisdom’s laurel of glory shielding you.”
  10. 4:13 Wisdom will correct us and adjust our hearts to discipline. We must embrace the corrections of wisdom in order to mature spiritually.
  11. 4:17 Or “violence.”
  12. 4:18 Or “the glow of sunlight.”
  13. 4:21 See Col. 3:16.
  14. 4:22 Or “discover my words.”
  15. 4:23 The Hebrew word levav is the most common word for “heart.” It includes our thoughts, our wills, our discernment, and our affections.
  16. 4:23 Although most translations have “the issues of life,” the Hebrew word yasa is actually “seasons,” especially springtime. Out of your heart flow the seasons of life. It is our hearts, not our ages or circumstances, that shape the seasons of our lives. If our hearts are tender to God, we can live in perpetual springtime.
  17. 4:25 Implied in the text. See Heb. 12:1–2.