When we look around today, whether at our politicians, judges, doctors, entertainers, sports personalities, whether we look at parents, grandparents and children, we can’t help but cry out that there is a great need for wisdom, and lots of it too in our society. Look at it:
A shortage of wisdom is destroying lives: whether young or old, rich or poor, powerful or powerless, educated or uneducated so we recognize that the absence of wisdom is making total fools out of those who you will expect to be wise when it comes to decision-making. In the US, girls are called bunnies and what happens? They begin to act like bunnies!
A shortage of wisdom is causing relationships: to be built on sand therefore marriages are easily destroyed, families are thrown into confusion, friendships are lost, but most frightening of all, precious souls are daily being doomed to an eternity of darkness because of the lack of wisdom.
The Church Is Not Immune
The sad thing is that it is not happening only in the world.
It is happening in the church too where the church is inculcating the ungodly lifestyle of the world into its life.
For example, preachers are watering down the Word, competing with each other for the biggest building or the largest audience, no matter how costly and unaffordable it is; in other situations, taking each other or, churches taking pastors to court or vice versa.
The Christian Is Not Immune
The reality is that the Christian is supposed to be armed with wisdom, no matter how much schooling, or not, that Christian has. But it is not so. Today, we have tons and tons of Christians going through life without realizing or acknowledging the truth; they ignore the fact that because time is fleeting and the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-17), we must make the best use of the little time that has been allotted us.
Just look around. Just look around anywhere, at any society on the face of this planet. Whether Christians or not, today, too many are wasting both their time and their lives by failing to exercise wisdom in their daily lives.
But the Bible has so much wisdom to offer us; the Bible dispenses tools of wisdom to anyone who’s ready to accept and use those tools.
And it is nowhere more so than in the Book of Proverbs. The fact is, the Book of Proverbs is very appropriate for us if we want to gain wisdom and be well equipped in our pilgrimage through this world.
Overview of Chapters 1-3:
This morning by way of looking at verses 1-3, I want us to look at Proverbs 3:5-6.
While I’d like to break the entire chapter down into segments so that you can have a bird’s eye view, an overview and a context for this sermon,
I’d first like to summarize chapters 1 and 2 for your benefit.
First in Proverbs 1, we are presented with the theme of the entire Book, which is found in 1:7
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
This is where it all starts, The fear of the Lord. If you don’t fear God, if you don’t have awe or reverence for God, you are a fool. And aren’t we seeing that today? They say quit smoking yet they go ahead and legalize marijuana. They say low childbirth yet they go ahead and embrace homo-sexualism, abortion. They see guns being used more frequently than not to kill and yet they can’t bring about legislation to curb gun violence. Our foolishness is rising to heights that are incredibly unknown all because we are looking for the right to do wrong.
Second, in Proverbs 2 we find Solomon, as a father, encouraging his son. Thus he tells his son to:
Diligently seek after wisdom (Proverbs 2:1-4), and to
Appreciate the benefits of diligently seeking wisdom (Proverbs 2:5-22)
Third, when we look at the entire chapter 3, we can tell that it talks about the rewards gained when one has and exercises wisdom.
Chapter 3 actually appeals to sons (i.e. children) to pay heed to God’s Word and to focus on wisdom,
Pointing out that this is so necessary, especially if one is to receive God’s blessings.
Throughout, the teaching and the message being sent is that it is very profitable to honour and serve God.
So in this chapter, we discover Solomon steadfastly imparting wisdom to his son. He presents his son with:
Six positive ways to attain a wonderful and good life (Proverbs 3:1-12)
Praise and illustrations of wisdom (Proverbs 3:13-24)
Six negatives to avoid in order to have a wise life (Proverbs 3:25-35)
Let us first go through verses 1-4.
Proverbs 3:1 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
The word “forget” implies prior knowledge. It means the child has been taught the Law, the Word of God. The question is whether the child stored the lesson in the head or in the heart.
You know, if the Word is in the head, it will be forgotten. In other words, if your knowledge of the Word goes as far as intellect, you will forget what you’ve been taught or read. However, if the Word is stored in the heart, it is easily remembered. Why?
Because in the heart, it has become a part of the soul, a part of the whole being.
Proverbs 3:2for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
When you keep God’s Word, God Himself will reward you according to His grace.
Moreover, the “long life” will spill over into eternity; after all, you fear the Lord!
You know, as the Creator, God is the source of life, peace and good. After He had created all things, He said, “It is good.”
Proverbs 3:3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
If He is a good God and all that He created was good, then He wants us to harbour only good, not evil so He says Let not mercy and truth forsake thee
Fact is, the virtues of mercy and blessings resulting from truthfulness come from God alone (v.2) and as His children, we shouldn’t lose these.
Moreover, if we don’t have such virtues, how then can we give away what we don’t have?
In addition, lacking these virtues could lead us to start a life of sin.
So mercy and truth and such virtues are to become a part of us and should be evident on the outside in the way we behave. What is on the outside is the proof of what is on the inside.
You see, the verse also says “bind them about thy neck”
Some people like to adorn themselves with necklaces, jewelry, etc but God is saying rather, we should wear mercy and truth. Isn’t that what 1 Peter 3:3-4 says? Let me read it, 1 Peter 3:3-4
3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
Proverbs 3:4so shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
How can one get God’s favour? Do you see how? So many times when you meet the charisprobra and greet them their response, if it is not “I’m highly favoured,” is “I’m blessed.” You don’t get God’s favour by being emotional or always going to church just to seek what you can get from Him. No.
So then, how do you get God’s favour? Well, look with me at verses 1 and 3 where lies the answer. When you:
v.1 …, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments When you:
v.3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
Now let us look at Proverbs 3:5-6 and my outline we will take us through 4 points, as follows:
Focus On the Lord
Focus Not On Self
Beware of Your Paths
Be Aware of His Path
Parents, I want you to note these verses carefully, very, very carefully. Why?
Simply because these two verses together are one of the most precious gift that any of you could give to your child(ren), or to a young person, or to a friend or to share with another.
It is a gift that speaks of the future and who it is that holds the future
It is also a gift that talks about God’s deep love and His way of handling our lives.
1. Focus On the Lord (a)
Proverbs 3:55“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart ;and lean not unto thine own understanding; 6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
These are two short and simple verses yet incredibly powerful. To the extent possible, let us pick them apart word by word. Shall we? We will start with the word “trust”.
Trust #1 – Batach
The word “trust” has different meanings in the ancient Hebrew text. In this passage it comes from the word “batach.”
Batach means to have confidence in the Lord.
It is also defined as having security in God.
Batach or trust in this sense means that:
Inwardly, you have that assurance, that conviction that God will do whatever He’s promised as long as you acknowledge Him. Acknowledge Him as what? As God!
Trust #2 – Chacah
The Book of Numbers talks about multiple cities of refuge. So what does that have to do with “trust”?
Well, these were cities that were established according to God’s command.
Now in these cities, people who had accidentally committed major crimes like murder could walk about freely without fear of retribution from a mob or from the relatives of the victim or the deceased.
But to be able to walk around freely, you must first be able to escape to the city of refuge. So while in the city of refuge, the alleged culprit fully trusted in the Lord that no harm would befall him until the case was addressed.
So they walked about in total freedom.
This kind of trust means fleeing to God for protection and having total assurance that His protection was fully guaranteed so it is a chacah kind of trust.
Trust #3 – Yachal
Do you remember Isaiah 40:31? We a studied it a couple of weeks ago and learnt a few things about waiting. It says what, but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Yachal is also ancient Hebrew and from it is derived another form of the word trust
Yachal means to patiently wait on the Lord.
Remember how we learnt last week that patience and waiting are twin virtues
If you have yachal trust, it means you have strength and ability to endure without quitting.
It means you are patient and all your hope is in the Lord.
So, how do you obtain this kind of trust?
When you spend time in prayer and meditating on God’s Word. When you fellowship with other Bible-believing believers who encourage you in the Lord. When your trust is placed in no other but in the Lord.
1. Focus On the Lord (b)
Proverbs 3:5aTrust in the Lord with all thine heart
So it all starts with trust, trust in the Lord. It is the first lesson to be learnt by all
Trust implies a relationship with someone or several others and having faith, confidence in them
Any real relationship has to start with some level of trust.
If there is no trust, there won’t be any relationship
If there is no trust, there won’t be any marriage
If there is no trust, there won’t be any commitment
If there is no trust, there won’t be any walking together
Two can’t walk together unless they be agreed (Amos 3:3)
If there is no trust, none of these will endure.
The presence of trust is the only way a friendship, a relationship, a marriage will work out.
But as Christians, it is not simply a case of trusting just anybody
It is trusting in the Lord
Not in yourself, your ancestry, your pedigree, or your education
Not in the best, the holiest, the most powerful, highest office
Not in anyone’s strength, wisdom, wealth, property
Not in any connections that you may have to others
Not in any political affiliation or contacts
Not in any privileges due to race, name, fame
Not in any works of righteousness that you may have done
It is trusting in the Lord
It is also not just a matter of trusting the Lord
It is trusting in the Lord with all your heart
“…with all your heart” means:
to trust Him without doubt, fear, or distrust;
Trust in Jehovah the Father, as the Creator, the God of nature and providence
Trust in Jehovah the Son, for protection in His blood that was shed on Calvary
Trust in Jehovah the Spirit, who baptized us into the body of Christ and trust Him to carry on quickening us until His work of grace is finished
So in effect, Solomon is saying trust in God the Father, Son, and Spirit, “with all thine heart”
Romans 10:10 says For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Do you trust in God’s power for protection and preservation? Do you really?
2. Focus Not On Self
Proverbs 3:5band lean not unto thine own understanding.
“Lean not” You can call this a command, instruction, direction from God
Just as He told Adam and Eve “thou shalt not eat of it” (Genesis 2:17).
Why? Because it was destructive. Similarly, leaning on our own understanding in life is destructive.
In the matters of life we must submit and get the understanding that comes from God (Proverbs 4:7).
What are you leaning on?
Some choose to lean on their senses
Some choose to lean on their knowledge and experience
Some choose to lean on science
Some choose to lean on technology
Some choose to lean on their studies
Some choose to lean on politicians
Some choose to lean on entertainers
Some choose to lean on sports personalities
Some choose to lean on pleasure, enjoyment
Some choose to lean on work and position
Some choose to lean on what they have been told
Some choose to lean on their understanding and that’s why it says lean not unto thine own understanding.
Our understanding of this world is from what we have been told, led to believe is true, and what we have seen with the normal senses.
But God is asking us to not trust only those senses, but to lean to Him and trust Him beyond what we have been told, what we have seen, heard, experienced, acquired. If not, we will believe the big bang; we will believe that we are descended from apes, from animals so we will act like bunnies. Some already are, sadly.
If you do indeed trust in God, you will not lean on your own understanding and because God who fashioned us knows us more than we do ourselves, He adds And lean not on your own understanding
Lean not – it also means avoid self-reliance. Why?
Because man’s understanding is twisted and darkened by sin
Man is still in the dark ages. We are not as enlightened as we think. Just look at the evil being perpetrated all over the planet, from the individual level to organizational levels, to entire nations!
By the way, this admonition not to lean on your own understanding does not mean that we are not to use our own understanding.
We have to understand the processes in our world in order to make plans in life, and of course whatever we do, we have to use discretion.
When in school, we have to study. At work, we have to understand the requirements and expectations of us.
We have to use legitimate means in the pursuit of our objectives and goals
We have to plan our future, have RRSPs, make a will, plan to leave an inheritance to our children
However, whatever it is that we do, we must first seek God’s face, seek His guidance, seek His wisdom.
And further, we are to depend upon Him and His direction because He makes all things work together and we can do all things through Him, Christ, who gives us strength.
Beloved, verse 5 should remind you of Joshua 1:9
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
If you’ve committed all to God, you walk with joy; if not, you have to beware which paths you take, as v.6 admonishes us. Let us look at it now and as we do, notice every word used.
3. Beware of Your Paths
Proverbs 3:6aIn all thy ways acknowledge him
Yes, trust in Him at all times and acknowledge Him in times of trouble, stress, discomfort, affliction, pain, loss.
Even if you find yourself in darkness and you are uncomfortable
Even if your ways are difficult, full of thorns, persecutions, ups-and-downs
Even if you face temptation, treachery, whatever, you must still acknowledge Him
Acknowledge and trust in Jehovah the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. So then you may be wondering, “Pastor
What’s the result of waiting on Him with all your heart?
What’s the result of casting all your cares upon Him?
What’s the result of submitting all to Him?
What’s the result of trusting Him with all your heart?
What’s the result of acknowledging Him in all your ways?
The result is simple: and He shall direct thy paths. So he is saying, ‘be aware of His directions, His path’.
4. Be Aware of His Path
Proverbs 3:5bAnd He shall direct your paths –
First, it says paths, which is the plural, not singular.
Don’t think God is looking only at one of your situations. No! He’s looking at all. It says paths!
But God has one path; we, on the other hand, have many paths, good and bad ones.
When the good one doesn’t work, we turn to the scheming, evil ones, don’t we?
God Himself shall make your paths straight, or He will level your paths, removing all obstacles out of the way.
Look at all the potholes in Ottawa; it is pothole season and everywhere you turn, potholes.
You just had surgery and have to drive around Ottawa then bump, bump, bump! You feel the painful and treacherous impact of potholes! You even feel the impact in your wallet!
And, I might add, no sooner has the city filled one pothole than 3 more surfaces!
So God says He Himself will fill your potholes, direct your paths. Not an angel. He Himself will. He will indeed direct your paths. With God, no potholes and bumps. No unnecessary detours. Smooth driving all the way!
Loot at Psalm 84:12, which says O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.
You see, all your paths, when under God’s direction, will prosper and come to a successful end.
Isn’t that something? When you trust Him, He makes your paths straight and fills them with blessings.
God is a covenant-keeping God and here in Proverbs 3:5 He is binding Himself by a covenant
He is saying He Himself will cut a straight path for you
No bends, no twists and no turns. No, no, no. Straight, direct path, just like driving down a highway.
And in a straight path, you can see clearly straight ahead of you and also see plainly where you are going.
Hallelujah! What a God, a mighty God that we serve! Two short verses but vivid reminders of what the Lord has in store for those who love Him and are willing to wait on Him and His time. Glory! As the Lord wills, we will finish off this sermon at our Bible Study. Shall we please pray.