3. For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. 4 He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. 5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. 6 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. 7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. 8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. 9 She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.
Solomon here claims our attention as a teacher of youth, on account of his own godly education by such a father. He was a tender child (1 Chron. xxii. 5: xxix. 1), well-beloved, as an only son. The more dearly he was loved, the more carefully was he taught. Thus we are brought into the family of “the man after God’s heart,” to hear him “commanding his child” in the fear and service Of the Lord. (Comp. also 1 Kings, ii. 2-4; 1 Chron. xxii. 6-16; xxviii. 9, 10, 20. Comp. Gen. xviii. 19. Deut. vi. 7.) A special mercy is it to us, if we can tell of an Abraham or a David—of a Lois or an Eunice, having taught and bound us to the ways of God! (2 Tim. i. 5; iii. 14, 15.) Parents remember, a child untaught will be a living shame. (Chap. xxix. 15.) Training discipline, not foolish indulgence, is the truest evidence of affection to our tender and beloved ones. (Chap. xiii. 24; with 1, Kings, i. 6.)
But let us examine this beautiful specimen of parental instruction. Observe the anxiety for his son’s heart-religion. Let thine heart retain my words. Often (and this is a comfort to a weak memory) words may be lost to the memory, yet practically retained in the heart. This heart-keeping is the path of life (Verse 13; vi. 23; viii. 34, 35. Isa. lv. 3. Zech. iii. 7), without which all is dead. Observe again, the extreme earnestness of the exhortation. Many a parent, like Augustine’s father, insists—‘Get wealth, worldly honour, or wisdom.’ This godly parent inculcates “line upon line”— Get heavenly wisdom; get it with all thy getting-at any cost and pains (Chap. xxiii. 23. Comp. 1, Kings, x. 1; Matt. xii. 42), as the principal thing; and when thou, hast got it–forget it not—decline not from it—forsake it not-love–embrace–exalt–her. Such a keeping is she for thy soul! (Chap. 10-18.) Such a treasure for thy happiness! Such a promoting honour even in this life! Such an ornament of grace in the Church! Such, a crown of glory in heaven! This is not the style of a cold pleader, enforcing with decent seriousness some unimportant truth. It is the father, feeling that his child’s soul is perishing, unless it be taught and led in wisdom’s ways. Parents! do we know this stirring concern, anxiously looking out for the first dawn of light upon our child’s soul? Do we eagerly point out to him wisdom as the principal thing, to be gotten first (Matt. vi. 33.) Is it our own first choice, infinitely above this world’s glitter (1 Kings, iii. 5-12. Phil. iii. 7, 8); not only important, but all-important? It can have no place, if it has not the first place. If it be anything, it will be everything. Earthly wisdom may be “a goodly pearl.” But this “wisdom from above is the pearl of great price;” worth getting. Indeed; but only to be got, by “selling all that we have, to buy it.” (Matthew xiii. 45, 46).
(Charles Bridges) Commentary on Chap. IV. verses 3-9.