Day 6: Guidance
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance.
Many fathers enjoy playing ball with their sons, and our house is no exception. We are often playing catch in the front yard, basketball in the driveway, football on any spare piece of carpet, and (much to my wife’s consternation) broom hockey in the front entryway. Yet even as we play for fun, the coach in me sometimes calls, “Timeout,” to give some guidance: “Catch the ball with two hands. Follow through on your passes. That’s a double-dribble.” Guidance requires the recognition of wrong behavior and the wisdom to correct it.
“Let the wise hear and increase in learning,” writes Solomon, “and the one who understands obtain guidance” (Prov. 1:5). “The one who understands” is the man of discernment (v. 2b) and “to obtain” means “to acquire” or “to purchase at a price” (see 4:5, 7), for it takes substantial effort to make wisdom one’s own. Consider a possession you really want. You think about it and dream about it. You work, scrounge, and comparison-shop. Then you travel to the store and purchase that item to claim it as yours. Such is the effort we must make to obtain wisdom. Yet if someone watched a video of your life this past week, would it be clear that you were intentionally pursuing wisdom? Were your thoughts, desires, and actions all focused on obtaining guidance from the Lord?
“Guidance” originally referred to the ropes that sailors would pull to steer the rudder or turn the sails of a ship, thus the nautical phrase “knowing the ropes.” So dads, you must guide your children to navigate their way through complex problems—to see the end from the beginning and to know each successive step which must be taken.
Some truths, of course, are easier to teach: “Look both ways before crossing the street. Work hard; play hard. Pay off your credit cards. Choose a spouse carefully.” Yet wisdom knows the right choice to make when the rules aren’t black-and-white. You cannot prepare your child for every situation, so you must teach him how to wisely apply biblical principles. Dads, does your child know the ropes of life? Can she discern what will likely happen should she make this decision or that one?
Your child needs your guidance because he lives in a fallen world. As Solomon warns against the enticement of sinners:
My son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths, for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird, but these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives. Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors (1:15-19).
The wise person avoids trouble by refusing to associate with the wicked. One time as birds were visiting our backyard, my boys chattered excitedly about putting out a cage to catch them (as if some bird would hop into their cage and close the door on itself). Solomon tells us, “No bird is that dumb. They laugh at the fool who spreads out a net in plain sight or who sprinkles seed to set a trap.” The wicked, however, are dumber than the birds and foolishly ensnared by their own net. They “lie in wait for blood” (v. 11) until that blood becomes their own. They “ambush the innocent” (v. 18), yet are ambushed themselves in a mutual bloodbath. “Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors” (v. 19). They themselves are the ones swallowed up by death in the pit of Sheol (v. 12). Solomon warns his son: “Don’t even go down that path or experiment with sin. Take a lesson from the birds and fly from evil.” Guidance helps your child spot the fools and the Proverbs are a training manual for godly living. May “the one who understands obtain guidance.”
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I need guidance from your Word to properly lead my children away from danger and into your presence. Teach me to be a wise and loving spiritual coach in their lives. Help me to see where they need to grow and how to guide them in the right path. In your Son’s name, Amen.
LifeWork: Write down one way you will apply today’s Proverb.
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