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  • Dr. Stieglitz

Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 4:13

"Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life."

This is an interesting proverb because it emphasizes something in the original that is lost in the translation. Solomon gives us crucial insight into how life works. If someone has the courage to correct us or punish us, we should take this in and make sure that we don't make the same mistake again.


This is the Hebrew word hazaq which means to be strong or to strengthen. The translators felt like it would not make much sense to say, "Strengthen yourself in instruction" or “Be strong in the instruction that you received," so they translated it “Take hold of instruction.”


This is the Hebrew word musar which means discipline, chastening, correction. This gives a different spin on the verse. It is talking about where you have been rebuked, corrected, or punished for doing something wrong. It is in these areas that you must make yourself strong. Don't ignore the lessons that people have had the courage to give you. Many people will let you make mistakes over and over again with no correction until an ultimate blow. So when you have been corrected about something, make sure that you take that in and change so that that problem is no longer a problem.


This is the Hebrew word natsar which means to watch, guard, to keep. The idea is that you should make sure that you don't make the same mistake twice. God allowed you to be corrected for a reason. Tuck away the lessons of what you learn the hard way by messing up and do not forget them.


This is the Hebrew word hayay which means live, be alive, have life, life. The point of using this word seems to be that joy and sustained prosperity lie in paying attention to what you were corrected for, not in ignoring it and doing what you want. The opposite of doing what this proverb suggests is rebellion, which is death.

Solomon is saying in a very positive way: Don't be a rebel. Embrace the lessons that came from making mistakes. Don't forget where you have been corrected. As you grow up you will be collecting bits of important wisdom. Some of your most important are those places where people have corrected, rebuked, disciplined, or even punished you for doing something wrong or incorrect. Don't forget those places.

This verse suggests that, at times, we will be tempted to repeat a mistake we have already made. Don't pay dumb tax twice.

Until tomorrow,

Gil Stieglitz

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