Proverbs 4:13 “Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.”
Solomon would not give us this warning if he did not know how easy for us it is to let instruction from God’s word slip away. When we have had his word for a long time it is easy to take it for granted. Over time we begin to forget that its call to repentance isn’t only for the people “out there.” It is calling you and me to repentance every day. We grow weary of studying the word, weary of hearing it. Our interest wanes, our grip on its content loosens, our hands become slack, and eventually it slips away.
As you hear the word, be on your guard so that you don’t let it go! Don’t lug it around like it is only so much baggage, and your arms ache to set it down. Don’t let it go! Embrace it like a dear friend! Hold it like the one great love of your life! Grip it like the action hero clinging to the last shreds of some rope, realizing that if he lets go a hundred foot drop and hungry alligators wait for him below.
If we let go of God’s word, there is no guarantee we will get it back again. Martin Luther once warned: “Buy while the market is at your door; gather in the harvest while there is sunshine and fair weather; make use of God’s word and grace while it is there! For you should know that God’s word and grace is like a passing shower of rain which does not return where it has once been.” If we are not diligent about learning that word and teaching it to the next generation today, we have let our guard down, and it could be lost to ourselves, our children, and grandchildren who follow forever.
Holding on means only blessing. What greater blessing can we have than life itself? Sometimes when people are are passionate about some interest, or when they really love their job, they say, “It’s my life.” “Football is my life.” “Building houses is my life.” “Raising my family is my life.”
For the believer, God’s word deserves to be just such a treasure: “God’s word is my life.”
But Solomon means much more than that God’s word is a favorite hobby. It really is our life! You and I would have no spiritual existence, no spiritual life, no relationship with God, no faith in Jesus, no forgiveness of sins, no promise of heaven without the instruction of God’s word. God’s word has breathed life into these spiritual corpses. God’s word has created a living faith in these stony hearts. In the word we eat the bread of life. In it we drink the living waters by which Jesus promises us forgiveness and grants us the Spirit who sustain our life of faith in this world. Apart from his word, it is only a matter of time before faith fades and finally fails.
There is only one textbook for the kind of instruction Solomon has in mind in this proverb. It is God’s own word in the Bible. Hold on to it for dear life!