Proverbs 4

This one's for Micah, who after a recent crash on his bicycle wanted me to take a picture to send to Grampa before he'd get up. From a mom who is very thankful for the KidVantage program at Sears that replaces holey blue jeans for free if they "wear out before they grow out." 

Throughout Proverbs 4 the word picture of a path shows up: the path of righteousness/way of wisdom and the path of the wicked/way of the evil. 

From Proverbs 4:

11 I have taught you the way of wisdom;
I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
12 When you walk, your step will not be hampered;
and if you run, you will not stumble.

My attention was drawn to the word hampered. I had to check in with Webster on this one because the first thought that came to my mind was the laundry hamper. (Yes, typical Mommy moment.) And whereas there's a stinky connection between people who try to make you trip or throw nerf footballs at your bicycle spokes, hamper in this context has these ideas:

to keep from moving or acting freely; hinder (hold back, thwart progress); impede; encumber (hold back motion or action of, as with a burden; block up; burden; weigh down).

Lots of cross-references come to mind (e.g., Hebrews 12:1; I John 5:3; search of "burden" in Nehemiah, ESV), and allusions to Pilgrim's Progress with that burden, etc. The idea is clear: it's anything that gets in the way of progress or growth in your Christian life.

There are those who ...
16 ... cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;
[who] are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.
17 For they eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.
But as long as you follow the way of wisdom and the path of righteousness, passed down by parents who themselves have learned to fear the Lord (see the first verses regarding the instruction of parents: hear, give attention, etc.),
26 ...then all your ways will be sure.
And ... coming back to verse 12:
When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble.
Sure, you may still need replacement pairs of blue jeans, and you may still fall off your bike. There will still be people who try to trip you up. But God's proverbial principle here is that His wisdom will keep you from spiritual destruction as you stick to what He's taught you. His wisdom will protect you, like a body guard, along the right path. You won't be hampered, but instead you'll have so much freedom of movement as you walk, run, even "soar with wings as eagles" (Isaiah 40:31) in your relationship walk with Him.

Have fun with this one. And note, when you do get your eyes of the path and stumble, God is ready to pick you back up and restore you, cleanse the wound and set you straight again. Praise the LORD!


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