Getting My Most Important Relationship Right
Proverbs 3:5-8,13-18,31-35 May 5 2013
The Heb. root that expresses the basic concept of wisdom (h-k-m) occurs over 300 times in the O.T. It focuses our attention on a person’s basic approach to life, the values and commitments which find expression in his or her lifestyle. In the O.T., wisdom is essentially the choice to be godly. The wise person is sensitive to God, submits to Him, and applies God’s guidelines when making daily choices.
The person who is wise will “find the knowledge of God,” because God is the source of wisdom . God provides needed perspective, so that we “will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path” .
“Wisdom literature” in the O.T., which includes Prov., Ecc., Job, and Ps. 19 , 37, 104, 107, 147, and 148, describes the way of life to be chosen by the believer.
This verse calls the fear of the Lord “the beginning of knowledge.” One rabbinic commentary on Proverbs reminds us that fear here is not dread, but “reverence of God expressed in submission to His will.” This is in fact the basic sense of “fear of the Lord” throughout the O.T., where it might often be rendered “reverential awe” or even “faith.” The commentary rightly observes, “God is the Creator of the universe and of life; it is consequently impossible to obtain an understanding of man’s place in the design and purpose of living without a humble approach to Him.”
But why is fear of God the “beginning” or starting point? Because the conviction that God is—and is to be honored—the only door that opens to true wisdom. Only when all is oriented to the Lord can true moral knowledge or wisdom be gained.
The foolish sinner is motivated to do wrong by mere things, which he or she sees as having great value. People who value things more than God’s approval find ill-gotten gain “takes away the lives of those who get it” .
The basic wisdom issues touched on in Proverbs have to do with personal relationship with God. Only if we know Him and respond to Him will the rest of the counsel in this book produce fruit.
This chapter mentions several basic principles of relationship with God. We are to trust the Lord completely, and acknowledge Him in all we do . We are to rely on God’s Word rather than our human wisdom . We are to honor God by giving generously . And we are to remember when hard times come that God loves us still and see our most difficult experiences as the disciplinary love of a Father who cares for us deeply.
In the O.T. discipline is typically painful, but it is not primarily punishment. The key Heb. word for discipline is yasar, which means to chastise, or to instruct. It does involve correction, but its goal is to make a positive contribution to a person’s training in righteousness. As these verses emphasize, yasar is exercised in a family setting. The emotion conveyed is not anger or disgust, but love and active concern. A father disciplines his child to help her grow into a praiseworthy adult. Just so God disciplines those who trust Him to help us grow toward moral and spiritual maturity. Bible history and proverbs both demonstrate that at times punishment, a “rod of correction” (Prov. 29:15 ) is the best way to show love when people will not respond to verbal guidance. The important thing to remember, as these verses emphasize, is that when God disciplines it is because of, and with a continuing attitude of, love.
1. Exhortations to obedience and faith. (Proverbs 3:5-8)
Prov. 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,And lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.8 It will be health to your flesh,
In the way of believing obedience to God’s commandments health and peace may commonly be enjoyed; and though our days may not be long upon earth, we shall live for ever in heaven. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee; God’s mercy in promising, and his truth in performing: live up to them, keep up thine interest in them, and take the comfort of them. We must trust in the Lord with all our hearts, believing he is able and wise to do what is best. Those who know themselves, find their own understandings a broken reed, which, if they lean upon, will fail. Do not design any thing but what is lawful, and beg God to direct thee in every case, though it may seem quite plain. In all our ways that prove pleasant, in which we gain our point, we must acknowledge God with thankfulness. In all our ways that prove uncomfortable, and that are hedged up with thorns, we must acknowledge him with submission. It is promised, He shall direct thy paths; so that thy way shall be safe and good, and happy at last.
2. To gain wisdom. ( Proverbs 3:13-18)
Prov. 3:13 Happy is the man who finds wisdom,And the man who gains understanding;14 For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver,
And her gain than fine gold.15 She is more precious than rubies,
And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.16 Length of days is in her right hand, In her left hand riches and honor.17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,And all her paths are peace.18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,And happy are all who retain her.
No precious jewels or earthly treasures are worthy to be compared with true wisdom, whether the concerns of time or eternity be considered. We must make wisdom our business; we must venture all in it, and be willing to part with all for it. This Wisdom is the Lord Jesus Christ and his salvation, sought and obtained by faith and prayer. Were it not for unbelief, remaining sinfulness, and carelessness, we should find all our ways pleasantness, and our paths peace, for his are so; but we too often step aside from them, to our own hurt and grief. Christ is that Wisdom, by whom the worlds were made, and still are in being; happy are those to whom he is made of God wisdom. He has wherewithal to make good all his promises.
3.The wicked and the upright. ( Proverbs 3:31-35)
Prov.3:31 Do not envy the oppressor,And choose none of his ways; 32 For the perverse person is an abomination to the Lord.But His secret counsel is with the upright.33 The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked,But He blesses the home of the just.34 Surely He scorns the scornful,But gives grace to the humble.35 The wise shall inherit glory, But shame shall be the legacy of fools.
Our business is to observe the precepts of Christ, and to copy his example; to do justice, to love mercy, and to beware of covetousness; to be ready for every good work, avoiding needless strife, and bearing evils, if possible, rather than seeking redress by law. It will be found there is little got by striving. Let us not envy prosperous oppressors; far be it from the disciples of Christ to choose any of their ways. These truths may be despised by the covetous and luxurious, but everlasting contempt will be the portion of such scorners, while Divine favour is shown to the humble believer.
The book immediately states the writer’s purpose and theme: he teaches the wisdom so the reader can develop a disciplined life, “doing what is right and just and fair” . Speaking as a father, he warns against those who will try to detour his sons into sin and warns against ignoring his advice . He carefully identifies the nature of wisdom and lists its many benefits . Wisdom is foundational to existence, providing perspective on life . So wisdom, personified as a lovely woman, is to be desired above all things .