Proverbs 4:20-21

My son, be attentive to my words

incline your ear to my sayings.

Let them not escape from your sight;

keep them within your heart.



  • The author seems to be addressing his son with some sense of urgency. Several times throughout this proverb, he encourages his son to “be attentive” (v. 1) and “keep hold of instruction” (v.13). 
  • He’s attempting to convince his son that this wisdom and insight is to be sought out like precious treasure and never lost or forgotten! 
  • Verse 21 refers to both the eyes and the heart. God’s instruction should be read, recited, pondered, memorized, and lived out.


    I remember many instances as a child when I came to my mother with a question or request but already knew her response in the back of my mind. These were simple questions: whether or not it was too close to dinnertime for a snack, if I could make a certain purchase, if a friend could spend the night. I could almost always guess her answer before I even asked, because I’d closely experienced her patterns of daily discipline and living and learned from the experiences of asking her previously. I knew her heart and her mind. 

    As children of God, we have access to HIS heart and mind through the Word made alive to us by the Holy Spirit! The more we come to His Word with our simple requests and small confusions, the more closely acquainted we become with His commandments and His ways. Just as a small child grows in understanding of her parents’ wisdom and ways, we have the opportunity to grow in deeper and deeper understanding of God’s character through spending time with Him, particularly in His Word. We read the Word with our eyes and trust the Holy Spirit to implant it in our hearts, for “from [the heart] flow the springs of life” (v. 23). 

    God has stores of wisdom available to us, not only practical wisdom for leading our own lives, but unique insight into His kingdom work and Christ’s ministry of reconciling the world to Himself. We need only lean in, incline our ears, and hold fast to His instruction.

Attentiveness to God’s instruction requires that we forsake the instruction of others (the ways of the world) and anything that might distract us from our Father’s Word. During Lent, as we turn away from sin and toward the cross, let us also cleanse our diet of worldly wisdom and fill our plates with God’s sayings, instructions, precepts, commandments, and teachings.


Father, increase our hunger for Your wisdom and Your ways. Make us more attentive to Your Word! May Your Holy Spirit do the work of taking what we read with our eyes and planting it securely in our hearts, that it may truly direct our lives. Thank you for giving us such unique access to your wisdom, Father God. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

- Katie Dearman