2018 • Proverbs chapter 3

PROVERBS 3

1 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 peace and prosperity.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them round your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favour and a good name in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.a]">[a]

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.b]">[b]

13 Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honour.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.

19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.

21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.
28 Do not say to your neighbour, ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you’– when you already have it with you.
29 Do not plot harm against your neighbour, who lives trustfully near you.
30 Do not accuse anyone for no reason – when they have done you no harm.

31 Do not envy the violent or choose any of their ways.

32 For the Lord detests the perverse but takes the upright into his confidence.
33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous.
34 He mocks proud mockers but shows favour to the humble and oppressed.
35 The wise inherit honour, but fools get only shame.

(copied from biblegateway.com, UK version of the New International Version)

 

Proverbs 3 is a life map that we can't avoid. This pithy chapter has keys to love, life and faith that will stay our course on our walks with God.

In my regular, daily Bible reading over the past year I read through Proverbs 3, a passage I've studied and preached through many times. But during this reading, I realized that in verses 3 through 12 we have all the themes of the rest of the book, and therefore a kind of mini-guide to faithful living. There are five things that comprise a wise, godly life. They function both as means to becoming wise and godly as well as signs that you are growing into such a life:

1. Put your heart's deepest trust in God and his grace. Every day remind yourself of his unconditioned, covenantal love for you. Do not instead put your hopes in idols or in your own performance.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart (Prov 3:3-5a)

2. Submit your whole mind to the Scripture. Don't think you know better than God's word. Bring it to bear on every area of life. Become a person under authority.

Lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov 3:5b-6)

3. Be humble and teachable toward others. Be forgiving and understanding when you want to be critical of them; be ready to learn from others when they come to be critical of you.

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. (Prov 3:7-8)

4. Be generous with all your possessions, and passionate about justice. Share your time, talent, and treasure with those who have less.

Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. (Prov 3:9-10)

5. Accept and learn from difficulties and suffering. Through the gospel, recognize them as not punishment, but a way of refining you.

My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. (Prov 3:11-12)

As I meditated on these five elements--rooted in his grace, obeying and delighting in his Word, humble before other people, sacrificially generous toward our neighbor, and steadfast in trials--I thought of Jesus. The New Testament tells us that the personified 'divine wisdom' of the Old Testament is actually Jesus (Mt 11:19.) And I realized that a) he showed the ultimate trust and faithfulness to God and to us by going to the cross, b) he was saturated with and shaped by Scripture, c) he was meek and lowly in heart (Mt. 11:28-30), d) he, though rich, became poor for us, e) and he bore his suffering, for us, without complaint. We can only grow in these five areas if you know you are saved by costly grace. That keeps you from idols, from self-sufficiency and pride, from selfishness with your things, and from crumbling under troubles. Jesus is wisdom personified, and believing his gospel brings these character qualities into your life.

For a number of weeks I have been spending time praying for these five things for my family and my church leaders. There's no better way to instill these great things in your own heart, than to pray intensely for them in the lives of those you love.
 

Revd Dr Tim Keller, Redeemer Church, New York