“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.