What does Proverbs 4:3 mean?
ESV: When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
NIV: For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother.
NASB: When I was a son to my father, Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother,
CSB: When I was a son with my father, tender and precious to my mother,
NLT: For I, too, was once my father’s son, tenderly loved as my mother’s only child.
KJV: For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.
NKJV: When I was my father’s son, Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother,
Verse Commentary:
This suggests Solomon was once an only child. Or, at least, that he benefitted from one-on-one time with his parents. He was David's son, and Bathsheba was his mother. Later, he had three brothers. First Chronicles 3:1–9 lists David's sons. Verse 5 gives the names of the sons who were born to him and Bathsheba. They were Shimea, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon. Scripture does not always list children in their birth order, and often omits names entirely. The fact that Solomon is listed last as a child of David and Bathsheba might simply be for emphasis, not necessarily that he was the last one born, especially given what we read in 2 Samuel 12. Either way, it seems Solomon enjoyed a special place in his parents' love that afforded him exposure to the kind of teaching that would make him wise.

Parents should not become so busy that they have little or no time to devote to the spiritual training of their children. Those who teach their children well will be remembered fondly by their children when their children are adults. Joseph and Mary likely spent quality time with the boy Jesus, because Luke 2:52 tells us "Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man."
Verse Context:
Proverbs 4:1–9 looks back on Solomon's childhood and the wise instruction he received from his father David. He rehearses that instruction and passes it along to his young students. Echoing David, Solomon credits wisdom with the power to protect, honor, and grace the life of whoever acquires it. ''Wisdom,'' used in these passages, means the ability to act according to godly knowledge.
Chapter Summary:
Common for the first nine chapters of Proverbs, Solomon urges his sons—possibly also other students—to listen to his words. He recalls his early years, when he heard some of these words from his father, David. Wisdom is upheld as the most beneficial thing a person can acquire in life. It brings honor and safety. In contrast, the wicked are perpetual wrongdoers whose goal is to lead others astray. They live for wickedness and violence, and they stumble in the darkness. Solomon urges his sons not to deviate from the path of godly wisdom, either ''to the right or to the left.''
Chapter Context:
The first nine chapters of the book of Proverbs focus on extolling the value of godly wisdom. In this chapter King Solomon continues to pass along this message to his son. His advice to his sons—possibly also meaning his students—in chapter 4 is similar to what he says in Proverbs 1:8–9; 2:1–6; 3:1–2, 21–26; 5:1–2; 6:20–22; 7:1–3, 24; and 8:22–36. The words of this chapter are partly taken from advice Solomon recalls hearing from his own father, David.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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