Lesson #5
Proverbs 4:20-23

Springs of Life

This Father-Son Discipling session uses Proverbs 4:20-23 as a basis for a Bible Study time with my son as I remember it. This is only a suggestive model. I have been very explicit for those who want to understand how to do things. Write to me if you have questions or suggestions.

1) Time
I called my son for our time together. He started to come but then stalled. After I called again, he played out some silly 'we don't have to meet' scene. I insisted we still should meet. He came. He is sensitive, and I was trying to avoid a bad scene that would discolor our time together. After I mentioned that we were almost done with chapter 4 here, he said, "Good, then we don't have to meet together anymore."

This gave me a great opportunity to teach what I learned last week. The fact is that during and after each class he likes to talk. But I still face initial reluctance or shyness. He is probably testing me on how much I really want to do it. Though, I also believe this hesiation is provoked through the distractions of the evil one. I might get discouraged, but I remind myself the same problem hits me when I go to a prayer meeting. I told my son how this is training time. When we have something good to do, we will often meet up with "I don't want to" or "I'm busy" feelings. We are not to pay attention to our feelings at that point but to do what is right. He said that he did like meeting with me.

I also told him that I wanted to regularly meet him as long as I could (I meant until he grew up and left the house). Later I would show him the difference of our time together in 4:23.

2) Review
We did very little review. We mostly talked a tiny bit about last week's two paths. I asked him whether he thought he was staying on the good path. I also reviewed what this good path was like.

3) Reading the text
I had him read the four verses.

20 My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their whole body.
23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
(Proverbs 4:20-23, NASB).

4) Pray
We prayed. He opened with a short prayer. I followed.

5) Verse 20
Learning wisdomI had him first note the way 'son' was used in this chapter. We noted the word 'son' is used in 4:1, 10, and 20. Verse 1 was the plural 'sons' while otherwise it was in singular form with the more personal 'my son.'

We then discussed how he is again focusing on the previous themes 'give attention' and 'incline.' Afterwards, I started drawing a picture of a dad. It looked pretty sad. He promptly grabbed the pen and drew his better looking dad. I explained how the dad communicated to his son. From verse 20 I had him tell me the two things that were communicated. He answered 'words' and 'sayings.' Probably both were spoken rather than written. He drew a son at my request.

            My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. (20 )

I drew an arrow heading going down from the dad to the son which stood for the wisdom being passed on. I also drew an arrow from the son to the dad. This showed the actual attention the son was giving to his dad. I explained that the dad was passing wisdom on to the son so the son would be able to have the Dad's wisdom. He then, at my request, drew a baby. This shows how the son would pass this wisdom on to other people including any children he might have.

I asked him why did the author keep saying this 'acquire wisdom' or 'listen to dad' speech over and over? I helped him to answer by explaining that a child often doesn't listen well. A parent needs to say it over and over again. I pointed out a few times during the week where he didn't pay close attention. One time was when his mom was talking to him, but because he was not being attentive, a problem developed. He lost computer privileges for a while.

6) Verse 21
I first reread the verse.
Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart. (21)

I shared how it doesn't do any good to gain wisdom but not keep it. I asked him where was he to keep this wisdom. The verse mentioned two places. As he looked and told me, I drew a picture of each - eyes and a heart.

I needed to explain about the heart. This is a key word in this section. The heart is not the organ. We talked about the heart's role in pumping oxygen and nutrition to all the parts of the body. It has a big role. If it breaks down, then the whole body freezes up and dies. The spiritual heart is not the physical heart. We did discuss this more in verse 23 but for now I just mentioned the heart as the chief source of ones desires. It is what we want to do.

8) Verse 22
For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their whole body.

I asked him if he remembered what the 'for' meant. We had discussed this earlier in verse 2 and 17. 'For' explains the reason for something. Here in this verse Health comes from wisdomit was explaining the result of keeping wisdom in our sight and in our heart. So I asked him the two results. He spotted them. (You should note that I give him easy assignments and help him more when I sense he can't quite find the answer such as in explaining the purpose for 'for.')

He found the two reasons: life and health. I wrote these two words on the note page and explained each. We had talked about life before but health was a new result. I shared how so many people had health problems because of sin. They don't eat wisely, they are anxious and worried, they fear things, sexual sins, drugs, etc.

Lack of wisdom leads to ill healthFrom here I went back to our former diagram with the dad and the son. I explained that if the dad passed on wisdom to the son and the son responded by keeping it, then he would have life and health. Life would be the greatest for him. However, next to the other diagram, I showed that there were two possible problems. I drew a very simple dad (no hair) and a simply son underneath. I showed him that sometimes dads don't pass wisdom on to their sons. My dad, I explained, was so quiet. He didn't talk to me about the most important things of life. He often wasn't around. Because of this I faced a lot of extra problems in life. I tried to emphasize the importance of our time together so that I can pass on these important insights into his life so that he will be wise, healthy and full of life.

There was a second problem. This is where the dad passes on the wisdom to the son, but the son doesn't keep it. This also is the big problem that was mentioned in verse 21. The son is inattentive. He doesn't keep the commandments right before him.

So I told him it is so important to read God's Word and pray each day. I asked him whether he was doing this, and he said he was. I asked him what he read this morning, and he told me Proverbs 6. I highly encouraged him for this. This daily reading is the way to keep God, our Heavenly Father's wisdom, right before our eyes.

To follow through our diagram, I showed what would happen if this wisdom was not being taught by dad or that the son was not keeping it in his heart. Actually, I asked him to draw what that person might look like. He drew a sad face with tears.

9) Verse 23

Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

I read this passage and pointed out this word 'heart' again. I asked him what he was suppose to do with his heart. He said watch over it with diligence. I mentioned this was not speaking of the organ heart but the soul heart - our chief love. I took this opportunity to share a basic discipleship concept.

By keeping our heart it means that we are to keep our chief desires on loving God and His Word. I asked him what he loved the most. He said God and His word. I said that was great. I knew some of his difficult times during the past weeks and mentioned one. I asked him about the time I asked him to pick up stray paper along the sidewalk.

I first asked if he knew what I expected when I asked him to pick up the paper. He said he did. So I asked him whether this meant I wanted him to pick up some litter or all of it. He knew I meant all the litter and said so. I know one time he didn't do a good job. So I said if your heart was being kept with all diligence, then he would do all that I asked. So I pointed out that even though he says he loves God and God's Word, he sometimes chooses not to follow his heart. He did not keep his heart that time.

I drew a pathway showing how if he was being motivated by loving God, then he would pick up all the trash. The wisdom to listen to his dad's words would direct his path. Afterwards he would go off and play.

Underneath, I drew another pathway of the self-heart. That heart doesn't like God. It is called the flesh. It will say, "Don't pick up the stuff. It doesn't matter." Or just pick up a little so when dad asks you whether you picked it up, then you can tell him youdid. But basically the self-heart just wants to play and was not listen to the wise words from dad or the Bible. The flesh encourages him not to listen to Dad's words. ( I used this concept to summarize the whole lesson). I told him that if he ever listens to the flesh, it will always go counter to what God wants.

Springs of LifeI closed with drawing another circle on the bottom of the note page. Inside I wrote the word 'lake'. I showed him that from this lake the springs (tiny rivers) would flow. The lake was like the heart. I told him if the lake had good fresh water like God's wisdom, the person that used the spring would drink fresh water and be healthy.

Polluted springsBut I asked him what would happen if there were some things by the lake that got into it that were not good. I asked him what might make the water unsuitable to drink. He mentioned a few pollutants. Then I asked what would happen to the person down the river that drank from that riber. He would get sick and die. He got the point that keeping the springs of life meant keeping a pure heart by reading God's Word and praying.

10) We both closed in prayer.
We both prayed and closed. He prayed super short. I then reminded him that he needed to pray about the lesson and then did so. I then closed.

9) Other important matters
He climbed on my lap and talked about different matters, though not as long as usual.

Discipling Sons
Discipling Sons
Proverbs 4:1-4
Proverbs 4:5-9
Proverbs 4:10-13
Proverbs 4:14-19
Proverbs 4:20-23
Proverbs 4:24-27
an Intro
Getting Started
Listening to Dad
Acquire Wisdom
Staying on the Path
The Two Paths
The Springs of Life
Body Participation
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