TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEARTProverbs 3:1-3:35
Key Verse: 3:5-6
Sometimes we feel that we walk our way without a roadmap and we become anxious and tired due to uncertainty in many ways. People say the only certain thing in this world is uncertainty so we should tolerate it. How can we make our life successful and fruitful? What do we need in this journey of life? It is wisdom. Through this passage, we can learn the excellent way of living a successful life.
Part1. Trust in the LORD with all your heart
Look at verse 1-2. Solomon instructed his son the way of blessed life. "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" Solomon strongly commanded "do not forget and keep the commands in your heart." The son could forget the teaching when his heart is occupied with what he likes or concerns in his day to day life. Why is it so important to remember his teaching and keep the commands? It is because they can prolong his life and bring him prosperity. Life belongs to the LORD. People want to enjoy long life through healthy food, proper medication and good health care. As you know that man is physical and spiritual being created to serve clear mission. Living a long life without bearing clear mission is not what God desires. When we have his words in our hearts, he promises our physical well-beings and prosperity in our mission. So, we can see that the quality of our life can be excellent before his eyes when we struggle with keeping his words in our hearts.
Verses 3-4 "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." Favour and good names are what people desire same as long life and prosperity. People like good name so parents try to give children good names. Here we clearly learn that good name is not just before man but before both God and man. Though people try to have good names in the sight of men, it can be nothing before God. While living as a child of God in this world, there are times that we have to give up peopleâ€™s good reputation to have reputation from God. We may have inner conflicts between what people think about my action and what God thinks about it. So, sometimes our decision of faith before God may disappoint people around us. For example, when Mary decided to accept Godâ€™s plan, she might lose her good reputation from parents, friends, most of all her husband Joseph. But we all know how good her name has been before God and men since then. Another example is Eric Liddell, Scottish athlete who won the gold medal in 400 meter at the 1924 Olympic games in Paris. Actually, his favorite event was 100 meter. However, he refused to run for it because it was held on Sunday. His decision could disappoint his country people who eagerly waited for his victory. But he ran for 400 meters held on a weekday. On the morning of the final game, he received a note from one of his team members. It was a bible verse "He that honours me I will honour." Finally, he ran the race and won the gold medal with the Olympic and world records. He ran for God and God made him win.
Solomon teaches more clearly about the secret of having favor and good names before God and man. That is love and faithfulness. V3 "Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart." Love and faithfulness are very important elements in our mutual relationship with God as is required in married couples. God showed his love and faithfulness to us although we are sinful. He also demanded on us love and faithfulness to him. We should love and be faithful to God. Jesus also said to Smyrna church "Be faithful, even to the point of deathâ€¦." We may serve God with undying love and faithfulness so that we may have favour and good name, very good name before God and man.
Look at verse 5-6. "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." This verse shows a sharp contrast between trust in God and lean on my own understanding. Our own understanding comes from our own experience and calculating mind, which root is unbelief. There are examples of people who depended on their own understanding rather than God. In the book of Isaiah, when Aram and Northern Israel invaded Judah, the king Ahaz was shaken. Although he was an unfaithful king, God gave him his promise to ask any sign. God wanted to help him to learn faith in God through the critical situate ion. However, he had his own plan to request a help from Assyria and refused Godâ€™s kind invitation. When the king depended on his own understanding, he had more problems in the end. In contrast to this story, David was the excellent example of the life in trusting in the LORD. He had a very deep and strong trust relationship with God. He did not depend on his own understanding but prayed and sought Godâ€™s will in his crucial times.
Verse 6 says "in all your ways acknowledge him." All your ways mean favorable and unfavorable times, sunny days and stormy days, and bright and dark times. When we acknowledge him, he will make our path straight meaning that he will direct our path. In our decision-making and seeking ways, we must acknowledge him. It is because his thought and ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 5:8-9). So proper acknowledgement to God is important. Job is the best example. He lost everything all of sudden. But at the moment of great despair and bewilderment, he acknowledged God and said "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised" (Job 1:21) Although he could not understand Godâ€™s will fully, the first thing he did was to acknowledge him. Like David and Job, we may humbly acknowledge him in any situations we are in and trust him in him who leads us in his best way.
V7-8 says "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." The source of our health body and strong bones came when fear the LORD and shun evil. In contrast, Proverb 17:22 says "a crushed spirit dries up the bones" Our condition of spirit affects our physical body. David also confessed his pain due to his sins in psalms 32 and 38 "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long." "because of your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin." Hence, we should not be wise in our own eyes and live in our own standard and excuses. This pride makes us vulnerable to other sins. Simply, we should humbly fear God and shun evil which brings us good health.
Verse 9 -10 shows how our materials can be richly blessed. Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops. The firstfruits of all your crops are very precious parts. When we offer them to God as our expression of acknowledgement to him, our barns will be filled to overflowing, and our vats will brim over with new wine.
This section taught us how to deal with our agony about our life, health, materials and finance. People worry about all these things. But Jesus said that our worry can not add a single hour to our life (Luke 12:25) What is wisdom for bringing us success in this matter? It is to keep Godâ€™s words in our hearts and trust in him and give best offering to him. It reminds us of Jesusâ€™ wonderful promise: Matthew 6:33 "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." When we seek him first, we will experience his wonderful provision as well.
Part II. Find wisdom through discipline
V11-20 shows Godâ€™s discipline and its purpose. V11 says "My Son, do not despise the LORDâ€™s discipline and do not resent his rebuke." We all know that the LORD disciplines. His discipline is also well shown in Israelitesâ€™ forty years life in the desert. Through food, water, attack of enemy problems, God repeatedly disciplined them to plant in their heart that he is the LORD and grow them in faith. His discipline is righteous and beneficial to his people who are impure and corrupted in many ways. His discipline also clearly shows that he has hope and vision for us. The process of discipline could be tough and hard. But we should not forget one thing. He is our loving father. He loves us so much that he disciplines us as earthly fathers do to their beloved children.
What does our loving heavenly father want to give us through his discipline? It is wisdom. V13 says "Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding" Through his discipline, we should learn and find wisdom and gain understanding. V14-15 describes the value of wisdom. Wisdom is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. We live in a material-oriented world. Toronto is Canadaâ€™s economic capital city with many finance and business services. Many are interested in what the most profitable item is to make us happy and productive. One bank advertises that "You are richer than you think" and encourages customers to invest more. Solomon said wisdom is most profitable and valuable. Why? Wisdom does not come alone. In her full package, there are two valuable things as well. Wisdom has long life in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.
This is what David experienced. The bible commented about his death in this way, "he died at good old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth and honor." (1 Chronicles 29:28) Solomon also experienced it. When he asked God for wisdom, God was very pleased and said "I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for--both riches and honor--so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life." (1 King 3:12-14)
So, it is true that those who seek godly wisdom earnestly, riches, honor, and life also follows.
V 17-20 describes wonderful nature of wisdom. The ways of wisdom are pleasant and peaceful and she is a tree of life. By wisdom the LORD laid the earthâ€™s foundation and set the heavens in place. by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew. This wonderful nature and characteristics of wisdom exactly portrait Jesus who is our tree of life and creator. He brings us eternal life and riches and honor to be inherited in his kingdom as Godâ€™s children. In him, we are reconciled to God in peace. In him, we become a new creation. As it is said nothing we desire can compare with her, he is the one whom we desire to know and obtain as Paul said "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippian 3:8). Hence, through godly discipline, we can truly find Jesus and learn of him. We should not despise godly discipline and resent to godly rebuke. Rather, we should humbly accept them and make effort to learn of Jesus.
Part III. The LORD will be your confidence
V 21-23 says "My son, preserve sound judgment (wisdom) and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck." As people notice what we put on, godly wisdom and discernment should be ours that they can see. Then they will also see how wonderful our life is. V 23-25 "Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked." You will have safe journey of life. People have fear of sudden disaster. But the wise do not worry about it because they know God protects them. V26 says "for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared." This verse reminds us of Davidâ€™s confession "The LORD is shepherd, I shall not be in want. â€¦ Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me" (Psalm 23).
"The LORD is my confidence" is the truly wonderful declaration in this world where confidence problems are prevalent. There is one syndrome called the impostor syndrome or phenomenon which is based on intense, secret feelings of fraudulence in the face of success and achievement. If people suffer from it, they believe that they donâ€™t deserve their success and they are a phony who has somehow â€˜gotten away with it.â€™ Many high-achievers experience these feelings whether they are minor or significant. They think they are not as smart as others think. They have a fear of being "found out" and difficulty taking credit for their accomplishments. They also have lack of confidence and fear of making mistakes. Hence, it indicates that our high achievement canâ€™t give us full confidence.
In contrast, those who have sound wisdom can say "the LORD is my confidence" Despite their own weakness, they find strong confidence in God who gives his wisdom, protection and safe guidance. This also shows the grace of Jesus who is Immanuel, God with us. When we have Jesus in our hearts, we have such confession that God is my confidence.
Verse 27-31 says what kind of life we should live in relation to our neighbors. When we have power to act and something to give, we should show goodness and generosity without procrastination. We should not plot harm against our trustworthy neighbors and accuse a man for no reason and envy a violent man. With our sound wisdom, we should practice goodness and kindness to our helpless neighbors and also should overcome any sinful desire to harm them. V33-35 shows the group of people who receive Godâ€™s blessing, grace and honor. They are the home of the righteous, the humble, and the wise. Their fruit of life is contrast to the wicked, proud mockers, and fools who are subjected to Godâ€™s curse, mockery and shame. Hence, we may preserve Jesus in our days and grow in his image and righteousness to receive Godâ€™s blessings.
We could think how we can make our life truly blessed before God and man. Wisdom is the key. We may put my full trust in God who gives us his wisdom and is our confidence and follow him wholeheartedly.