10 Listen, my son, accept what I say,
and the years of your life will be many.
11 I instruct you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.
Once again the father reiterates the importance of listening. He has much to teach his son about life; what to pursue and what to avoid. If only we had all had such fathers! Yet listening alone is useless if the son does not also accept his father’s advice. Regardless of whether your parents have prepared you for your journey, it is up to you to seek and follow advice. In any arena of life there are many who have gone before you, if you look to them for guidance you can avoid many painful lessons.
While the son is likely focused on the immediate future, the father takes the long term view. “The years of your life will be many,” he says. In other words, it is wise to consider how your present decisions will affect your future self. In all that you are tempted to pursue or avoid today, ask yourself where you would like to be tomorrow. Though the fool thinks he is acting in his own self interest, he betrays his future self to the consequences of his foolishness. Do what is best for yourself in the long term, not what you are tempted to do in the moment.
“I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.” The way of wisdom is accessible to all of us, if only we would seek it out. Whom do you follow? Straight paths are often difficult, but they are the quickest way to get where you’d like to be. Choose your paths not by difficulty, but by destination. Often shortcuts turn out to be much more complicated than anticipated, in hindsight it would have been less work to do the right thing than spend your time trying to avoid difficulty.