Proverbs 4:20-22

My Son, Attend to My Words


1. Solomon addresses his son.

a. Many of the exhortation and the words in this book have a fatherly tone to them. Solomon wants the best for his son’s life.

b. He is not scolding… rebuking… or angry. Rather, what he says, he says out of love for his son.

c. Solomon knows the awful consequences of folly, and doesn’t want his son to have to suffer those consequences. What father would?

d. Any father would want his child to obtain wisdom and avoid the pain, suffering, and trouble that come by folly.

e. It can be frustrating—and scary—when you know the juvenile mind set (I can handle this! It won’t happen to me!)—and when you know the life long consequences of making foolish decisions as a youth. (missing school; getting pregnant out of wedlock; drugs; alcohol…)

2. Solomon charges his son to attend to his words and incline his ears to his sayings.

a. Attend: to hear, be attentive, heed, hearken, pay attention, listen to

b. Incline: to stretch out, pitch, turn, bend

c. Both expressions amount to the same exhortation—pay attention!

3. Solomon makes this exhortation OFTEN in Proverbs.

a. 3:1

b. 5:1

c. 6:20,21

d. 7:1

e. 22:17

4. Solomon employs 3 important teaching tools in this book: repetition, repetition, and repetition!

a. As we go through the book of Proverbs, this will become more and more apparent—there is a LOT of repetition in this book… and in the Bible for that matter!

b. This technique ought to be employed by all parents—and Sunday school teachers—and all Bible teachers.

c. Important truths and exhortations NEED to be repeated—even if some folks get tired of hearing the same old thing.

5. The exhortation to incline the ear to his father’s words are nearly identical to what God says to us! (Ps. 78:1)

a. Do we incline our ears to God’s Word?

b. This implies an eagerness to hear… wanting to hear every last word He says…

c. We can either incline our ear towards the word, or turn our ears away from what we hear.

d. The difference is a hunger for the truth. Some believers are hungry… some are not. Are you? If you are not hungry, then what have you been feeding on? It’s normal for a believer to hunger for God’s Word!

e. Are you hungry? Do you incline your ear to hear God’s Word—OR has it become old hat? Same old same old?


1. Let them not depart from thine eyes…

a. This command implies that the sayings of a father COULD depart from a child’s eyes!

b. Even a child who inclines his ear and hears, CAN arrive at a point where the words he once heard and obeyed begin to DEPART…

c. This too is a truth repeated in Proverbs (3:21)

2. We too should not allow the words of our heavenly Father to depart from our eyes!

a. We should open up God’s Book before our eyes every day.

b. Do you? Are we faithful?

c. We shouldn’t let God’s word depart from our eyes for even one day!

d. We wouldn’t skip a whole day without giving our body any food. We shouldn’t skip a whole day without giving our soul any food either!

3. Rom.15:4 – whatever is written in this book was written for our learning and admonition!

a. We should never allow this book to depart from our eyes! It is just what our souls need.

b. Our eyes are bombarded with 1001 images every day.

c. Never before have human eyes had so many options to look at… so many things to read… to observe… to view…

d. But with all the videos, Internet web pages, magazines, TV shows, books, multimedia presentations, etc… there remains this command from God. “Don’t allow my words to depart from your eyes!”

e. Charles Bridges: “A neglected Bible is the melancholy proof of a heart alienated from God.”

4. Keep them in the midst of thine heart…

a. This is the more important part of the exhortation.

b. It is possible to read God’s Word, and let it go in one ear and out the other.

c. Here the author exhorts his son to hear his words and KEEP them… guard them… protect them… don’t let them slip away.

d. The object is to RETAIN the wisdom for the rest of your life!
• It is one thing to obtain godly wisdom. It is quite another thing to retain it.
• A man can absorb many words of wisdom rather quickly.
• It takes a lifetime of faithfulness to retain it… keep it.

e. They are not just to be stored in the head, but in the heart.

f. The author MAY have meant to memorize these sayings… keep them in your heart by memorizing them. (learn it by heart) Then you will always have them nearby.

g. Scripture memorization is a good practice.

h.) 4:20-21 – KEEP them in the midst of thine heart… the center of your thinking.
• This is more than keeping them in our mind intellectually. It implies that we keep them NEAR to our heart… for out of the heart are all the issues of life. (vs. 23)
• God’s wisdom is to be kept in our heart and applied to all the issues of life.
• The heart ought to be HOME for God’s wisdom. It should LIVE there… not be buried in a back closet. It should be right in the MIDST of all we think and say and do.
• Are the principles in God’s Word right in the center of all the choices you make in life? Are they right in the center of your thinking when making a decision?

i. When the Word of God is kept in our heart, it will be obvious in one’s life. God’s Word changes us.
• This was so in David’s life (Ps. 40:8).
• Lit = in the midst of my bowels.
• This was true of Christ as well! God’s law was in His heart.

j. Ps. 119:11 – Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee. It can help us have victory over sin too!

k. Our heart should be a HOME for God’s Word. (Col. 3:15-16)
• Is God’s Word at home in your heart?
• Our heart should be a sanctuary for God’s Word!
• Are you comfortable reading it? Hearing it? Talking about it?


1. They are LIFE unto those that find them…

a. 4:4 – Solomon links obedience with living—disobedience with dying.

b. 4:10 – he links obedience to a long life. (Cf. 3:1-2)

c. 4:22 – he seems to be linking obedience to a QUALITY of life… a good, healthy life.
• Life does not refer to salvation here—although one could certainly make application to salvation. (God’s wisdom is demonstrated in His plan of salvation—and those who seek it shall find and shall receive eternal life!)
• The Jews thought of life as life on earth… a long, healthy, prosperous, life on earth with the hopes of inheriting the kingdom promises.
• Solomon wanted his son to hear and obey his words so that his son might enjoy a long, healthy, prosperous, life upon earth…

2. The believer today who obeys God’s word and hides them in his heart will enjoy a superior quality of life.

a. His life will be lived in a right relationship to God.

b. Hence, no guilt… peace of mind… a level of rest in his conscience…

c. He will enjoy good relationships with other men—for when we employ the principles of God’s Word to our life, it will have a positive impact on our interpersonal relationships as well.

d. We won’t have to live in fear—fear of getting caught… (lying; stealing; cheating; gossiping; cutting corners) When we obey God, we don’t have to worry about such things.

e. We should enjoy the abundant life—full of God’s blessings and mercies!

f. John 10:10b – Christ came that we might have life and that we might have it more abundantly.
• Christ speaks here of eternal life.
• But in addition, we should have an abundant life on earth—a life full of God and full of God’s blessings.
• Christ gives us a life that is full and overflowing.
• This eternal life does not begin when we get to heaven, but begins the moment we trust Christ as Savior!
• The quality of life improves… from darkness to light! From dirty to cleansed! From condemned to forgiven! From alienated enemies of God to God’s own dear sons!

3. Has the quality of your life improved since you came to know Christ?

a. Not every believer’s life has. Some believers do NOT keep God’s Word in their hearts. They do not obey, but go off into the world of sin—and pay a dear price!

b. They have lost the joy of their salvation… their hope is dimmed… they have lost their assurance of salvation… some believers lead quite miserable lives!

c. Solomon doesn’t want that to happen to his son. He wants the BEST for his son. He wants his son to pay attention to his words, hide them in his heart—and live by them the rest of his life! (Don’t you want that for your children?)

4. Hiding His words in his heart will result in “health to all their flesh.” (vs.21)

a. Health = the term for medicine.

b. Obedience to the words of wisdom results in health to the soul and to the body. It is good for the whole person.

c. Prov. 3:8 – it shall be health to thy navel.
• In a word, humbling self, exalting and fearing God, and departing from evil is GOOD for you! (Prov. 3:7)
• It seems to point to a physical health as well as health to the soul. Spiritual health and physical health are related.
• Fear, worry, envy, hatred, anger, depression, resentment, guilt—are NOT good for you physically!
• If we don’t depart from these evils—they could kill us!
• A merry heart—a joyous heart, free from guilt and worry—is good for you like medicine! (Prov. 17:22)

d. Solomon wants the best for his children. So did John want the best for his spiritual children. (III John 2-4)
• The most important factor in enjoying an abundant, joyous, healthy, and prosperous life is to follow the words of wisdom!
• Advertisement of TV for some diet supplement: They will add years to your life… and life to your years!
• Obeying God’s words of wisdom will do that for you.