Parenting can be a challenging occupation. Not the least of which is because children are curious. However, their curiosity can get them into trouble. They want to explore and can find themselves engaged in foolish activity that can bring harm to themselves. As Solomon addresses his children, and by extension, as God addresses His children, he wants them to understand that the choices they make can lead to great blessings or to great tragedy. Therefore, as a parent, Solomon tells his son, “I have taught you in the way of wisdom, I have led you in the right paths … [now] take firm hold of instruction and do not let go” (Proverbs 4:11, 13).
These are somber words: “do not let go.” We are often inclined to think that our choices in life are not significant. Our curiosity may get the best of us and we plunge forward not realizing that a life altering moment just occurred. Not until we are experiencing the pain of that choice do we reflect on its significance.
I am reminded of our first parents, Adam and Eve. When the serpent tempted them, he created a longing in their heart for something he convinced them was being denied them. He promised them a form of wisdom. Genesis 3:6 records for us what happened: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (emphasis added). The world was never the same again. Adam ate with her, and the world was plunged into sin, judgment, ruin, and death.
But God had spoken. He clearly warned them. His warning was a form of protection. He was seeking to protect them from experiencing something awful. As their Father, God knew that when they ate of The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would experience great pain and suffering. The pain He sought to protect them from was like the pain one experiences when burned over the majority of one’s body. He did not want His children to have such knowledge. All that was required for Adam and Eve, was to not let go of God’s instruction. But the promise of “wisdom” from the serpent was great, and their curiosity as to what lie on the other side drove them to let go of God’s instruction.
What was offered seemed so good. How did everything go so wrong? I am sure that question has plagued many people over the ages. We are often confronted with temptations that appear to be opportunities. It “feels” right, so we make a life altering decision that changes everything. It is not by accident the Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12).
Our text makes plain a truth that is not always obvious to us: our choices matter. In everything we do, we either chose to obey God or disobey Him. There is no neutrality. We choose for or against God. Solomon is pleading with his son to chose God. In effect he says, “I have taught you the right path to take, now choose that path. Take a firm hold of instruction and do not let go!”
Our Father still desires to protect us. His heart has not changed. All we have to do is to heed His words: “do not let go.”