Hear, O My Son
Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, mI.
Proverbs 4:10: “Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.”
As Solomon continues his instruction about the benefits of wisdom, he is very concerned about his audience. He is speaking to his son, a deeply personal relationship. Solomon is not addressing a steward in his household. He is not seeking to increase the productivity of his land by passing on some agricultural insight to a husbandman. Neither is Solomon speaking to a neighbour or friend. Although these relationships can be deep, long-lasting and greatly treasured, each will soon go his own way and live a separate life.
Solomon speaks to his son, one of the closest relationships God has created, a parent to his child. Also, Solomon does not speak here to his sons as a group. This is a one on one conversation, intimate. While the son is under his father’s roof, their lives share many things. They share a great many details in their lives and relationships. A father is responsible to give his son a start in life, not just in making a living, to pay the bills; but a godly father points to the way of developing a covenant relationship with his Father in heaven.
Solomon commands his son to hear. This is already the fourth time this word has been used in Proverbs. Solomon has used synonyms as well on a few other occasions. As teachers, we are painfully aware of the different levels of hearing. There are days when our words appear to go in one ear of students and out the other. When a class is large and talkative, we can feel our presence in the classroom is not all that effective. Perhaps all the students need is a recorded message, repeated every few minutes, telling them to calm down, be quiet and concentrate on their work. That behaviour is not really hearing.
God chose the word “hear” for Solomon to use because of its implications. The hearer is intelligently engaged in the conversation. This instruction is one-on-one, not one-on-twenty-five as is often the case in a classroom where, understandably, a child’s attention can wander. Solomon has the attention of his son. As Solomon speaks to his son, they can look each other in the eye. Solomon also expects obedience from his son. His son will hear, attentively and intelligently, and then will obey.
Once the son hears the instruction, he must receive it. Solomon is not pleading with his son. He isn’t making an offer to his son, an offer which his son can take or refuse according to his whim. Solomon commands his son to receive his sayings, to take it in, in the same way we receive nourishment from good food. It is in us. It becomes part of us. It sustains us. This is Solomon’s goal for the instruction he gives.
Solomon commands his son to hear and receive his sayings. This is a broad term and can include many things. However, what has Solomon been talking about so far in Proverbs? Solomon was quite wealthy. Many people would like to have Solomon teach them about wise investing and how to make money. However, Proverbs does not pass along get-rich-quick schemes. Nor is Solomon instructing his son in posturing, how to show bravado so as not to be taken advantage of by others. We have not read about how to make sure one is not getting the short end of the stick in some deal.
Solomon gives his son the instruction he needs to view the world properly. The world is a dangerous place, filled with temptations for a young man. His son needs discretion to know good from evil. The son needs to see the ultimate end of temptation. Sin appears good. Satan deceitfully presents his way of evil as a path filled with excitement and pleasure. Solomon shows his son the real end of temptation and sin; and it is not pleasant.
Solomon’s sayings have been pointing out to his son the fear of the Lord. Jehovah is Lord. It is His right to give commandments which He demands be obeyed. The Lord has the right to tell how to behave in the various relationships in life. The Lord decrees what has true value and what will last. The son must fear Him who rules over every aspect of life. The son must know the world seeks to turn us away from God and join them in their way of sin. The world demands the son will fear public opinion and the derision they display for those who strive to lead a godly life.
Solomon has a promised benefit for his son for hearing and receiving his sayings. He speaks of a life of many years. This cannot refer to a long earthly life. Although God has given many of His saints long life, a life with many joyful days, and we can desire that God allows us to live out what we believe to be our full allotment of years, such is not always how life unfolds. We know of wicked people who have lived for many years and have enjoyed more than they could have wished. At the other end of the spectrum of life, we are sadly aware that those who love God do not always have long lives. In the summer of 2015, our denomination witnessed that God may take an eight-year-old son or a thirty-year-old father. God’s will is done.
This life of many years is found in heaven. God ultimately fulfils His promises there. There our lives will increase to the full measure of God’s blessing and fellowship. God’s people will not scarcely scrape by in heaven, carefully parcelling out meagre rations. We will not worry about having enough to see us through periods of want. God has heaped heavenly blessings and riches for His elect.
May God work by His Spirit in the hearts of His children so they hear and receive His truth, a truth which will give them a life of everlasting years in the risen and exalted Christ.