Holding Fast to Instruction
Brian D. Dykstra, Teacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, MI.
Proverbs 4:13: “Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.”
Now that my children have grown older, they believe a vacation involves at least two, long, gruelling days of driving. Back in the simpler times, a trip to Ludington State Park along Lake Michigan’s east shore satisfied them. No trip to Ludington is complete without a hike to the lighthouse. On one these hikes, we arrived quite early in the morning. As no other vacationers were there, the volunteer stationed at the lighthouse said he would take us to the top of the lighthouse for free. A Dutch family cannot pass on such an offer.
One of our children had just become very steady walking and preferred to have both feet on the ground and navigate on his own. However, I refused to put the child down because the railing at the top did not inspire confidence. Also, if the child decided to head back down, the first few steps going down the iron spiral stairs were too tricky for a toddler. I held on tight to the child who squirmed desperately to escape. Small, wiry children can become difficult to hold when they don’t want to be held. I had horrible visions of the child catapulting himself out of my arms and over the railing. I wished the guide would cut the speech short so this stressful event could end.
Here Solomon tells his son to hold on tight to instruction. This is not easy to do. This is not the holding such as slipping something small into your pocket. That would be fine for something which is not all that valuable.
“To take fast hold” implies some courage and effort. It’s what David told Joab to do after Joab had lost a battle so Uriah would be killed. David told Joab to take hold of Rabbah by making his efforts stronger. This taking hold also involves strength. What’s being held is difficult to control. It’s a wrestling match. Muscles are strained. Fatigue sets in, yet the struggle continues. That is how Solomon wants his son to hold to the instruction he gives.
Once the son has this instruction in his grasp, he is not to let her go. It’s not the case that instruction wants to get away. She does not want to escape to find some place where she will be more appreciated. The struggle is because by nature we do not value spiritual instruction as we ought. It’s difficult to keep the long-range blessing of heaven in mind and to be patient, when the sinful world offers its pleasures immediately and, apparently, easily. It’s hard to hold tight to instruction which the world ridicules. We’ve heard it. The Bible is too outdated for today’s world. Why would you want to live your life by a book whose newest parts are nearly two thousand years old? However, God’s Spirit enlightens our hearts so we see the value of the instruction given in His Word.
The son has taken fast hold of instruction, he hasn’t let her get away and now he must keep her. He must lock her up in a place that is secure. Sometimes something is locked away securely because it is dangerous. Some waste from nuclear power plants is buried deep underground, monitored and protected because of what could happen if it fell into the wrong hands. Nor do we keep instruction locked away as we keep dangerous criminals.
This is to keep as the most protected place in a king’s castle. The greatest treasures and wealth of the kingdom were in the keep. The keep was the most secure place in the palace, guarded by the men the king trusted the most. We must keep the instruction God gives us in the same way. Spiritual instruction must be as valuable to us as crown jewels.
The instruction Solomon has in mind here is not the skills of a craftsman. It’s not the instruction given on how to take care of property or equipment. This is the spiritual instruction of living before God. We need to know His Word so we can behave ourselves as His children and show that He is our Lord.
This command includes the motivation that the son’s life is preserved. This instruction is life. The world presents many temptations to us. Fathers have experienced many temptations themselves and have heard of the spiritual struggles of others. They can pass these spiritual lessons to the next generation. Children must be taught the deceitfulness of Satan. They must see what happens when we foolishly walk the way our flesh prefers. When Satan presents sin as enjoyable and innocent enough and nobody will be hurt by it, Satan shows he is the father of the lie. Satan’s way leads to death.
Godly instruction is life, which is why it must be held so tenaciously. This does not refer to the life of the body though there are physical consequences of some sins. Obeying God can keep us from some of the physical effects of sin. This is spiritual life which is ours in Christ. It’s a life of obedience to God by which we experience fellowship with God as our Father, a Father who loves and finds pleasure in His children. We all died in Adam’s fall. In Christ we have been made alive. Christ gave His life that His elect might no longer be dead in sin but be reborn in newness of life.
May our students see the instruction given at home and in school as valuable so they keep it and experience life in Christ.