Yesterday we covered twenty-two verses in what almost qualified for the “list of longest posts.” Today we will cover just eight verses! Yes, it’ll be a little breather (so we can continue to digest the better-than-honey sweetness of God’s Word) but let me tell you that these eight verses are packed full of rich truth.
That said, day four is Proverbs 3:1-8…
(1) MY SON, DO NOT FORGET MY TEACHING, BUT KEEP MY COMMANDS IN YOUR HEART, (2) FOR THEY WILL PROLONG YOUR LIFE MANY YEARS AND BRING YOU PROSPERITY. (3) LET LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS NEVER LEAVE YOU; BIND THEM AROUND YOUR NECK, WRITE THEM ON THE TABLET OF YOUR HEART. (4) THEN YOU WILL WIN FAVOR AND A GOOD NAME IN THE SIGHT OF GOD AND MAN. (5) TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND LEAN NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING; (6) IN ALL YOUR WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM, AND HE WILL MAKE YOUR PATHS STRAIGHT. (7) DO NOT BE WISE IN YOUR OWN EYES; FEAR THE LORD AND SHUN EVIL. (8) THIS WILL BRING HEALTH TO YOUR BODY AND NOURISHMENT TO YOUR BONES.
PROVERBS 3:1-8, NIV84
My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. The heart, the heart. In the Bible, the heart is described as the center of thought and will, the all of a person, the attributes which make him or her him or her. The heart governs these attributes. God knows the true heart of men and women. “[F]or the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever” (1 Chronicles 28:9b, NKJV). So where does that intentional and deliberate seeking stem from? A pure heart! What is the outcome for the pure in heart? They shall see God (Matthew 5:8)! What is the purpose of pursuing the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God? To be near to Him! Prosperity can also be translated as peace. Where is peace found? In the Presence and Person of the Lord God, Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:6, Ephesians 2:14, 2 Peter 1:2-11).
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Love, what does that have to do with knowledge? When it’s the knowledge of Christ we’re talking about: EVERYTHING. Ephesians 3:17-19 (NASB) says, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God”. Our pursuit of wisdom must be rooted and grounded in love. And true and pure love. We must not be full of ourselves, but rather emptied– broken and contrite– so that we may be filled up to all the fullness of God! We cannot just “put on” the appearance of wisdom. It doesn’t work like that. We have to write it on the tablet of our hearts, meaning our inner motives must be governed by love and faithfulness for wisdom is ROOTED in such things.
Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. “Favor” can be translated as “grace” and a “good name” can be translated as “reputation”. This does NOT mean that God will approve of us the times if / when we are “Christian-y” and we will be accepted by and fit in with the world as one-of-them. A reputation which is dichotomized doesn’t hold water– it’s not true, it’s not pure. This means that before both God and the world we hold the same God-fearing, wisdom-pursuing, love-driven, good, honest, and pure reputation.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. These two verses epitomize the denial of self-confidence. There are no benefits in trusting in oneself and going against God. Once again, it’s a matter of the heart– the intentions of who we are and what we do. Later on in the Book of Proverbs we are told that the “why” of our pursuit is “so that [our] trust may be in the Lord”(Proverbs 22:19a, NASB). But didn’t we already learn that the “why” was to understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God? We did. Trusting God provides clarification about what the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God consist of. More deliberate actions and decisions. Acknowledge in this verse means seek. What “way” and “path” is this referring to? The one of victory and success which is characterized by the uprightness, blamelessness, justice, and faithfulness spoken of earlier in Proverbs (2:6-9).
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This is a continuation of the theme of the denial of self-confidence. “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23-24, NASB). Being wise in one’s own eyes is inconsistent with wisdom– it’s false, it’s sick, it’s sin tainted, and it’s haughty which is the opposite of the humble attitude of the heart indispensable to wisdom. Even more so, this verse is a explicit tie to the twofold “why”. Why do we pursue the acquisition and attainment of wisdom and understanding? (1)To obtain God’s guidance (i.e.: fear the Lord) and (2) to avoid the society and enticements of the wicked (i.e.: shun evil).
This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Psalm 32 speaks of the sorrows and sickness of the wicked in contrast to the gladness, joy, and lovingkindess which surround those who trust the Lord and are upright in heart. (Hmm, another connection between trust and the heart.) “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away though my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3-4). What wasted away, what was drained? His body and his vitality. (Remember that sin is death. “[I]t takes away the lives of those who get [the ill-gotten gain]” (Proverbs 1:19). “For [the] house [of the adulteress] leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead” (Proverbs 2:18).) Why? Because he failed to trust God. What happened once he acknowledged his sin and confessed it? God forgave him. Did he then continue to express the agonizing, body destroying, and vitality draining sorrows and sickness? No. What did he go on to express? The gladness, joy, and lovingkindess which surround those who trust the Lord and are upright in heart. That sounds healthful and nourishing to me!
God, please forgive us of our sins. Help us to deny our self-confidence. Help us to trust You and be upright in heart so much so our reputation before You and everyone at all times is that we are the God-fearing, wisdom-pursuing, love-driven, good, honest, and pure peculiar people You have called us to be!
- The heart, described in the Bible, tends to not be equated with the emotions like it is in today’s society. The emotions are more equated with the bowels (aka lower intestines) of the body.
- Second Peter 1:2-11 (NASB) goes so well with this chapter of Proverbs. “(2) Grace and peace be multiplied to you inthe knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; (3) seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. (4) For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (5) Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, (6) and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, (7) and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. (8) For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (9) For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. (10) Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; (11) for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.” What a confirmation of the truths we are encountering in our study of the Book of Proverbs!
- Keep these verses in Jeremiah tagged. We’ll come back to them as we continue with Proverbs 3.
- There is an additional connection in this Psalm with praying to God “in a time when [He] may be found” (Psalm 32:6a). See Proverbs 1:28.
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