Advice to Young People
1My child, listen closely
to my teachings
and learn common sense.
2My advice is useful,
so don't turn away.
3When I was still very young
and my mother's favorite child,
my father 4said to me:
“If you follow my teachings
and keep them in mind,
you will live.
As I was about to graduate from high school my mother advised me to become a teacher. “You’d be good at that,” she said. I ignored the advice. It was years later that I discovered I was not only good at teaching others, I loved doing it. I wished I had followed my mother’s advice and gotten the education that would have meant a life-long profession that I enjoyed.
How many of us have heard our parents’ advice but not followed it? Perhaps that is why the writer of Proverbs 4 begins with a forthright plea to his young son that he listen closely, learn common sense, and not turn away. Such admonitions are usually given because the propensity for doing just that is all too common. Human nature is perverse. Tell a child to go one way and he will want to go the other.
The writer of this passage admits that his own father tried to guide him in the same way. His advice was to “follow”—not just listen, but act upon the advice, and to “keep them in mind”—not just take in the knowledge, but reflect on it often. His plea is that his son will do these things and thereby, “learn common sense.” The word “learn” implies not only taking in the knowledge but putting that knowledge into practice in life.
These admonitions are not only good advice for a young man or woman. They are applicable to us all as we read and study God’s word. Our own human nature makes us want to turn away. It is all too easy for us to simply take in the words without taking them to heart, without acting upon them. Let us take this advice, ponder it and act upon it.
Our Father in Heaven, we thank you for this admonition from your word. We ask that you help us to learn common sense by studying and following your word in the Scriptures. Help us to design our lives according to it, in Jesus name. Amen