“My son” Proverbs 3’s caring advice

Addressing someone as son, daughter, or child shows affection and caring. This passage reminds me of the Apostle John, who often used the words little children to express his love and concern for the people to whom he wrote.

In Proverbs 3, there are two parts.

The first is addressed, my son. It’s a wonderful list of instructions from the Father:

  • Don’t forget my law—a good place to start.
  • Keep my commandments.
  • Don’t let mercy and truth get away from you.
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
  • Don’t depend on your own understanding.
  • Look to God in everything you do.
  • Don’t think you’re wise.
  • Respect the Lord.
  • Reject evil.
  • Tithe.
  • Don’t resist when God brings you back into line. His correction is a sign that He loves you like a Father.

Then, there’s a list of blessings for the son (or daughter) who listens:

  • For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee (verse 2).
  • So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man (verse 4).
  • He shall direct thy paths (6). 
  • It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones (8).
  • So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine (10).

The second section of Proverbs 3 is about finding wisdom and the characteristics of wisdom. I love the way it begins: Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding (13).

Wisdom’s value is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her (14-15).

What are the benefits of wisdom?

  • Length of days
  • Riches and honour
  • pleasantness
  • peace
  • a source of life

Verse 19 begins talking about the Lord:

  • The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth;
  • by understanding hath he established the heavens.
  • By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.

Then, the Proverb swings back to advice for the son:

  • My son, let not them depart from thine eyes:
  • keep sound wisdom and discretion.
  • Be not afraid of sudden fear,
  • Don’t be afraid of the desolation of the wicked.
  • Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.
  • Devise not evil against thy neighbour.
  • Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.
  • Envy thou not the oppressor.

Again, there’s a list of blessings for obedience:

  • So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.
  • Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.
  • When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.
  • For the Lord shall be thy confidence.

Many times in the book of Proverbs, God contrasts good and bad. At the end of Chapter 3, we have three comparisons of this type.

  1. The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just (33).
  2. Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly (34).
  3. The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools (35).

What do I get out of Proverbs 3? One thing I noticed this time through this chapter was the Father-son relationship and caring advice, obviously a parallel with God and His children.

How many times do we give good advice to our own children and tell them the blessings of obedience and consequences of disobeying? I’m not sure I was good at the first part—advising them of the blessings in store if they obeyed. I often only warned them of the consequences of disobedience. But, God is the perfect Parent, and He wisely lists the joys of obedience as motivation for His children.

Two of my favorite verses—and life guiding verses—are in this passage: Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (5-6). These help me with priorities. They ground me. As a woman, I am too prone to try to figure things out, fix, and lean to mine own understanding. I love that that last phrase, direct thy paths, actually means to “make my way straight” or “straighten my way.” When things aren’t clear, when we don’t get it, He does—and He will straighten it all out if we trust in Him. It’s like releasing the reins and letting the horse take us home—only much, much better.

Have you enjoyed this affectionate chapter? Which lesson speaks to you? Please feel free to share.

How to be wise–and a few applications

Everyone old enough to read should study the biblical book of Proverbs. This is the second installment in our series. (You can read the first one, here.) As you know, the book of Proverbs is mostly written as if Wisdom is a person. She talks to Solomon and tells him how to be wise. This book of the Bible is just as valid today as it was in Solomon’s times.

Let’s open Chapter 2 and see what kind of advice we find.

I love the first part. It says that in order to have wisdom the son needs to listen, incline his ear, apply his heart, and even cry after wisdom, knowledge and understanding (verses 1-3).

It goes further. The son is to search for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding as if it were silver (money) or hidden treasure (verse 4).

The benefits of looking for wisdom: understanding and respecting the Lord, finding the knowledge of God (knowing Him), and wisdom (verse 5).

The source of wisdom is the Lord and His Word. Out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding (6).

Again, we see the benefits of wisdom:

  • God is a shield (Protector).
  • He preserves our way.
  • When you have wisdom and knowledge in your heart, you’ll have discretion, understanding, and be delivered from evil (7-11).

There are two parentheses in Proverbs 2. One describes an evil man. Wisdom will deliver us from this kind of a person. The evil man speaks perverse things, leaves the good path and walks in the ways of darkness (13). He rejoices in evil and enjoys the perversity of wicked people. His ways are crooked and perverse. It’s not a pretty picture.

The next parenthesis is a portrait of an evil woman, obviously immoral and possibly a harlot. She flatters. She has forsaken her parents’ guidelines and forgotten the covenant of her God (17). Her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life (18-19). This speaks of the moral consequences that await someone who has a relationship with a prostitute or adulteress.

Proverbs 6 describes the same scenario this way: To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent (6:24-29).

Proverbs 2 now admonishes the son to walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous (20). There’s a reward for good men.

The end of this chapter is a warning. The wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it (22).

How practical! We’ve learned the difference between evil men and women and the righteous. We’ve found out where to find wisdom—in the Bible—and its value and benefits.

May the Lord bless you, today!

A wise person hears

I began reading Proverbs again and was impressed by the purpose statement at the beginning of Chapter 1:

  • To know wisdom and instruction;
  • to perceive the words of understanding;
  • To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;
  • To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion (verses 2-4).

Wow! We could study that list for a while. How do we get wisdom, instruction, understanding, justice, judgment, equity, subtilty, knowledge, and discretion? By reading God’s Word, specifically the book of Proverbs.

Chapter 1 continues with these statements:

  • A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:
  • The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction (verses 5, 7).

Let’s pause and think about these. The wise person will listen and learn. What does he listen to? Wise counsel.

I don’t know about your life experiences, but I sometimes find it hard to listen to what someone tells me I need to do. When I take a second and ponder the advice, I understand that the statement was made with a concern for my wellbeing. It’s wise counsel. If I act on the advice, I am learning from wise counsel.

Verse 7 has a double message. The first is that respect for God is the beginning of knowledge. Do you want to be smart? Love God. Know important things? Love God. Want wisdom? Love God.

The second part makes a very strong statement: fools despise wisdom and instruction. Woah! Who doesn’t want to be taught and listen to wisdom? Who’s the person that thinks he knows it all?

A fool.

As we go through the book of Proverbs, we see many contrasts between wise and fools. And, I’m afraid all of us find ourselves more than once on the wrong side of these terms.

Wise people:                                      

  • choose to respect God        
  • dwell safely
  • quietly don’t fear evil                     

Foolish people:

  • love deception and folly
  • scorn Truth and its followers
  • hate knowledge
  • refuse wisdom and counsel
  • are fearful, distressed, and anguished
  • hate reproof
  • will reap destruction

All of this is in just the first chapter. We’ll do more studies in Proverbs in the future. What a practical book!