Proverbs 4:11

ESV I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
NIV I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.
NASB I have instructed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths.
CSB I am teaching you the way of wisdom; I am guiding you on straight paths.
NLT I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths.
KJV I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.

What does Proverbs 4:11 mean?

Solomon reminds his son that he taught him the way of wisdom and led him in the paths of uprightness. Two observations are significant in this verse. First, it is important to teach others how they should live. Second, it is also important to lead by example. This statement is complicated, coming from someone like Solomon. Scripture records that he drifted from following wisdom (1 Kings 11:4), only to realize his mistakes (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Spoken to a student (Proverbs 4:1), using fatherly terminology, this might be more literally true. Even so, a good father can use his own mistakes to help a child learn what is best. Solomon's own experience might have enhanced that message, in fact (Proverbs 4:13).

The use of a "path" as a metaphor for life is used often in the Bible. A rocky, twisting, darkened road is harder to navigate, and enhances the risks of falling. Straight and clear paths are much better—this is why truth and godliness are spoken of as "paths of uprightness," and so forth.

The apostle Paul both preached and lived out godly wisdom. He reminded the Christians at Thessalonica that he and his coworkers had declared God's Word to them "in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction" (1 Thessalonians 1:5), and had modeled the Christian life among them (1 Thessalonians 5:6). As a result, the Thessalonian believers had become imitators of Paul and his teammates and "an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia" (1 Thessalonians 1:7). In his first letter to Timothy, Paul commanded Timothy to teach good doctrine and set an example for the believers "in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:11–16).
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