Proverbs 4:4

ESV he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.
NIV Then he taught me, and he said to me, 'Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live.
NASB He taught me and said to me, 'Let your heart take hold of my words; Keep my commandments and live;
CSB he taught me and said, "Your heart must hold on to my words. Keep my commands and live.
NLT My father taught me, 'Take my words to heart. Follow my commands, and you will live.
KJV He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.

What does Proverbs 4:4 mean?

This memory of Solomon's father, David (Proverbs 4:3), echoes many of the same statements Solomon is now making in Proverbs. David taught Solomon to retain his words in his heart and keep his commandments. The fact that David told Solomon to let his heart hold fast his words show us that intellectual knowledge of Scripture cannot by itself produce wisdom and godliness. We must love God's Word with our hearts. Even though Proverbs explains why wisdom is valuable, merely having wisdom does not guarantee a person will follow it. Solomon, himself, seems to have struggled with this (1 Kings 11:4).

First Chronicles 28:9 quotes David's counsel to Solomon prior to Solomon's construction of the temple in Jerusalem. He told Solomon, "And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind." A father can give sound advice to his son, but the best advice is exactly that. Solomon seems to have only embraced this truth after learning, through his own life, just how true it is (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
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