Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PRCS in Walker, MI.
Proverbs 4:1-2: “Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.”
In my previous devotion, I spoke about Solomon’s call to his children to hear him and to give their attention to him. However, before moving on to verse two, I want to take the time to make a remark or two about the very last part of verse one: “to know understanding.”
Solomon just told his children to listen to his fatherly instruction and attend to what he says that they might know understanding. Solomon is not interested in mere knowledge, the command of facts. Knowledge of many facts can make one knowledgeable, and a person who has command over a great many facts can do quite well for himself in the world, but that is far different from being wise or having understanding.
Solomon is interested in something deeper than knowing facts. Solomon’s goal in his instruction is that his children gain understanding. Understanding is knowing how what the world calls facts relate to God’s truth.
For example, it is one thing to know the various tasks performed by bees in their hive and to know how to manipulate a hive in order that it yield the most honey possible, yet still maintain the health of the bee colony. It is quite another matter to confess with the psalmist while tasting the fruit of all that work, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (cf. Ps. 19:10). The latter is a true understanding of the handiwork of God.
Also, the world possesses the knowledge of a great many facts enabling them to perform incredible things. In August of 2012, the United States was able to land the Curiosity probe in Gale crater on the surface of Mars. Technicians guided the flight of that probe for over 150 million miles and landed on an oval target not even three miles long. I can recognize the ability, talent and tremendous knowledge required to achieve this. These same intelligent people, however, then showed themselves to be fools, to lack true understanding, with the proclamation that they were now ready to explore the beautiful topography of Mars which they estimated was some two billion years old. They sinfully refuse to recognize God as Creator. If it were not for God having created all things in such an orderly and mathematically predictable fashion, NASA’s probe would never have arrived safely at its target. Yet they refuse to acknowledge their Creator. Our smallest children here have greater understanding than that.
In verse two, Solomon tells his children to hear him because he gives them good doctrine. Can you hear the apostate church and those churches which are departing from or departing even farther from the truth sigh and groan? Who is interested in doctrine any more? Has Rob Bell reached such a large audience and become so popular because he gives his followers good doctrine? Is that why he appeared in Time magazine as one of the most influential people in the world today? Preachers who give their congregations good doctrine will not preach to an audience of thousands as can be found in the mega-churches of our day. Rather, faithful pastors will be fortunate to preach to a few hundred. I cannot help but wonder how much of the true church today worships in groups of a half dozen or less.
Because God has worked in our hearts by His Spirit, we understand why it is necessary for us to hear Solomon’s good doctrine. Through good doctrine we understand the way of salvation, a way in which God is everything and man is nothing. We understand that salvation is certainly ours and cannot be lost, not because we have earned it, chosen it or met certain conditions. Our salvation is certain because it is rooted in election, an election which took place in eternity, not an election which took place because God foresaw that we would exercise faith. Election and salvation are rooted in God’s sovereign grace.
Having this good doctrine, we are commanded, “forsake ye not my law.” Many who say they are Christians do forsake that law. Much of the church world today lives in adultery because many denominations approve of divorce and remarriage. More than half of the marriages of evangelical Christians end in divorce, not much different from the world. Much of today’s church does not worship in the way God commands in His first two commandments. What about keeping the Sabbath day? That law is forsaken, too. Many congregations which used to hold worship services twice on Sunday, now have only one. What used to be the Sabbath day, has become the Sabbath hour.
The antithesis, an understanding of which helps us to keep the law and live a godly life, has become an antiquated concept as well. Common grace indeed became the bridge between the church and the world. Many live as though Jerusalem and Athens are reached by taking the same exit off the highway. It is not true, as has been claimed since Paul wrote the epistle of Romans, that the doctrine of salvation by sovereign grace is a doctrine which sets you free from sin so one can live as the world. Those who are saved by grace in Jesus Christ will flee from sin, live an antithetical life and not forsake God’s law, because God is sanctifying us.
May God use our schools to give His children understanding, to support the doctrine of our churches and instruct covenant children not to forsake God’s law.