Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 7:24
"Now therefore, my sons, listen to me, and pay attention to the words of my mouth"
This is the plural form of the Hebrew word ben, which is benim. Solomon is talking not to his literal sons of which he had many, but rather he is talking to those of us who submit ourselves to his spiritual fathership. He wrote the book of Proverbs at the Holy Spirit's urging to disciple young men especially but also all others who wanted to learn to live a wise life. Sons listen to their father – if they are really sons. Solomon is speaking as a spiritual father.
listen to me
The word listen is the word shama, which means to hear. The Hebrew word and mentality was that you had not really heard if you did not do what the person talking had asked you to do – in this case especially of a spiritual father to his spiritual sons and daughters.
Solomon does not want to get done with all of this rich instruction – especially about the dangers of adultery – and have his spiritual children ignore his advice: You must do what I am telling you, he says. I do not want you to wreck your life. I do not want you to wander into the traps of foolishness and sin. Too often young folks think that things are so much different as they are growing up than when their elders grew up. And in some ways they are right, but the basic sins are still the same. The basic ways that you can mess up your life before it even gets started are the same.
pay attention to the words of my mouth
The Hebrew word that is translated attention is the word qashab, which means to incline towards, to attend to. The idea again here is that Solomon is saying: Do not miss what I have been teaching for the last seven chapters; lean into this stuff. It will allow you to avoid the basic pitfalls of early life. There is the danger of gangs or a violence-based life; there is the danger of adultery; there is the danger of debt, of laziness, of mocking, of pride; and so many others that Solomon has clearly laid out in this first seven chapters of Proverbs. At this point Solomon is saying it will take more than just a quick read through to grasp all the wisdom that has been packed in the first seven chapters. Go back, he directs, and lean into the learning of the warnings and dangers that I have included in the first seven chapters. Solomon says with this phrase: pay attention.
It is important to realize that Solomon has outlined in powerful ways the wonders of the life of wisdom and the difficulties of the life of foolishness. Foolishness confronts the young person on every side, and it seems so right. But it is not right, and it will destroy your potential. Avoid what seems right and choose what is right.
Yes, it pays to be wise. It seems like the teenager who is selfish, proud, immoral, a liar, and even a thief is having all the fun and really living life the way it should be lived. But this is all a sham. The foolish teenager is building up a life full of pain and hurt – both in themselves and in the people they are around. It is so much wiser to go past these landmines and take the straight and narrow road of righteousness. It grows brighter and brighter as you go along, and your wisdom will be shown to others.
You may feel like you are missing out. In some ways you are missing out on some things; but you always want to miss out on pain, sorrow, loss, hurt, stupid choices, bondage, guilt, and shame. See, these come with the things so many foolish teenagers go after.