Last Sunday, we looked at Proverbs 3:5-6. Tonight, we want to continue by looking at these two verses again and finishing where we left off.
Our outline consists of 4 points.
Focus On the Lord
Focus Not On Self
Beware of Your Paths
Be Aware of His Path
I will recap everything by saying to parents, I want you to note these verses carefully, very, very carefully because these two verses, coming from the Word of God, represent one of the most precious gifts that any of you could give to your child(ren), or to a young person, or for a friend to share with another. We understand that these verses are a gift that speaks of the future and who it is that holds the future. They are also a gift that talks about God’s deep love for mankind and His way of handling our lives.
Sunday, we noted that 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 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 doomed to an eternity of darkness because of a 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 lifestyle of the world into its life. For example, we see preachers watering down the Word, competing with each other for the biggest and most elaborate building, no matter how costly or unaffordable it is, 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.
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 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 that 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:
In summarizing chapters 1 and 2 we learnt that 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. Second, in Proverbs 2 we saw Solomon who, as a father, gave some encouragement to his son. He tells his son at least two things to, and these are that his son should:
Diligently seek after wisdom (Proverbs 2:1-4), and
Appreciate the benefits that accrue from diligently seeking wisdom (Proverbs 2:5-22)
Third, we said that in chapter 3, we could tell that it talks about rewards we gain when we have and exercise wisdom. Chapter 3 actually appeals to all who pay heed to God’s Word and who dwell or focus on wisdom. This chapter also points out that this is very necessary, especially if we are to receive God’s blessings. So throughout, the teaching and the message being sent is that it is very profitable to honour and serve God.
Thus 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)
In effect, in verses 1-20 Solomon instructs that his son that wisdom is rooted in sound teaching (vv. 1-4), which is found nowhere, but in trusting in God (vv. 5-6) and that there is a reward for those who are obedient to God (vv. 7-10). Then from vv. 13-18 he says that while the process of obtaining wisdom demands chastening, it brings profound benefits, and that we can clearly see the importance of wisdom since it undergirded God’s creation (vv. 19 and 20).
In our study, we also looked at the word “trust” and we learnt a few things, including that in the Hebrew, there are some three meanings for the word “trust”: “batach,” “chacah,” and ‘Yachal.’ Quickly, let us look at them:
Trust #1 – Batach
The Hebrew word for “trust” that is used in this passage 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 other word is Chacah and we said that this kind of trust means to flee to God for protection and so it is a chacah kind of trust. And we see it used in the Book of Numbers in reference to cities of refuge. These were cities that were established by God’s command and where its occupants are people who had accidentally committed major crimes like murder. Here in such cities, they could walk 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, they must first be able to escape to the city of refuge. While in this city of refuge, the alleged culprit trusted in the Lord that no harm would befall them until their case was addressed. So they walked about in total freedom and confidence, total trust in God for their safety. No deal cutting, like we see today in our justice system could undermine that safety.
Trust #3 – Yachal
The other word is yachal and we learnt that yachal means to patiently wait on the Lord as in Isaiah 40:31, which says, 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. If you have yachal trust, it means no matter the adversity, you have strength and ability to endure without quitting. It means you are longsuffering, patient. So, how do you obtain this kind of trust? When you spend time in prayer, meditate on God’s Word and obey Him.
So what does this trusting in the Lord mean to you today? Simply, it means that when you choose to involve God in your life, first He will come into your life and be your God; He is then able to guide you and also do a few things for you, which we will be seeing later. Now, let us note this that you cannot have trust without the belief in God that He can do what He says.
This evening, a key word that we also want to look at is the word “heart” as it features prominently in the first few verses.
Three times the word “heart” is mentioned in vv. 1-5. In v.1, 3, and here in v.5. You see in the Bible, the heart often represents the will of a person or of an entire nation. For example, having been circumcised according to God’s command, the Israelites believed that they were always doing God’s will, but it was not so because God told them that they had a problem and it was an “uncircumcised in heart” (Jeremiah 9:25-26). So here in these verses, the references to the heart serve to expose man’s true nature and motivation. Jeremiah 17:9 says The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? And in Jeremiah 17:10, God says I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins. So let me ask you this evening, what has filled your heart? Is your heart clean? Because with a clean heart, we can boldly apply Proverbs 3:5-6 to the way we live, in our daily living.
Applying Proverbs 3:5-6
Now, we want to see how we can apply Proverbs 3:5-6 in our daily living. The very first thing I want to bring to your attention is Hebrews 11:6, which is a very famous and classic text; I’m sure you know it from memory, and it says:
“Without faith it is impossible to please God: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is (that God exists), and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” So now, let us embed Proverbs 3:5-6 in this verse and take it from there.
Proverbs 3:5a “Trust in the Lord with all your heart”
In order to trust someone, that person must, over time, prove himself to be worthy of your trust. He or she has to be trustworthy. In the same way, in order to trust God, one must get to know Him, including, believing that He is who He says He is. He is the Only Authority.
Tell me, will you trust a stranger with your life? It is like hitching a lift these days. Would you? This is the key to our relationship with God: to trust in Him with all of our hearts because we know Him and He is no stranger to us. We know from the New Testament (Ephesians 2) that this can only be accomplished through faith in His Son.
Proverbs 3:5b “Lean not on your own understanding”
It doesn’t mean that you are stupid when you are told not to lean on your own understanding but still you are, in comparison to God because His ways are far above our ways and His thoughts above ours, says Isaiah 55:9. God’s way is totally and far, different.
Once we know we are trusting God, we must be conscious not to trust in anything else including our own understanding and wisdom. In fact, we have to do all we can do and let God do the rest. Know that you are who God says you are but don’t think that you don’t need God. So many times people begin to depend on themselves or on others, trying to do the right thing, but yet continue to make wrong choices; some even depend on science, technology, degrees, etc. but when we trust in these other things we ignore or tend to misinterpret the messages that God is giving us and this therefore makes it easy for us to be deceived into thinking that God is leading us in a direction where we want to go when He is in fact not. So, learn to lean on His everlasting, as the hymn writer says.
Proverbs 3:6a “In all your ways acknowledge him”
It seems everybody wants to be recognized. People are doing all sorts of things just to be acknowledged: some will say they have cancer when they don’t, some will sat they are pregnant when they are not; some will say they are getting married when they are not and the list just goes on and on of what people will do to draw attention to themselves. In the same vein, many do so to cover up their need for serious help.
But as His child, you to acknowledge Him first, not yourself, as God. But you also need to acknowledge your need for help and have faith that God will take care of you. Acknowledging God also means always giving credit to God and not taking any yourself. To acknowledge is to say “Thank you.” As things go right in your life, give credit to the one who deserves it and say “Thank You, Lord”. Remember, James 1:17 says Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Amen! Even the air that we breathe is His. Amen! Or the water, food that we consume are all His. So as He opens doors and blesses us, we must be sure to give Him the glory and say “Thank You, Lord”.
Proverbs 3:6b “He will make your paths straight.”
Once we have been trusting God, not relying on ourselves, and continually acknowledging Him we will see clearly the way in which He wants us to go. He will direct our paths and help us to go in the right direction. His direction means His plans for our lives. Beloved, know that God has plans for you. This is a continual process because God has great plans for us and if we allow Him, He will direct our paths in ways that we cannot fathom, in ways that others will deem incredulous.
What does it mean to have direct, straight paths?
Now, that’s old English and commentaries say it may be unclear what it means to us today. But it is clear, as far as I’m concerned because a Hebrew word was used to describe what He will make our paths to be. However, and for the sake of clarity, I checked out a few translations for their interpretation of what this portion of the text looks like. Loot at what or how these other translations put it:
The New American Standard Bible says, “And He will make your paths straight.” Hence not only will God direct us (if we let Him), but He will direct us down straight paths.
The Bible in Basic English says, “He will make straight your footsteps.” The inference here is that when we involve God in our decisions, the decisions that we make will be good ones. Every step that we take on the path towards our destiny will be a straight or correct step. This really helps, because some might read “He shall direct thy paths” and think that they don’t have anything to do with it. Some believers think they can leave everything to God. But if you read the Bible you will learn that God has a part and we have a part; and, we can’t play God’s part. In playing our part, God will give us the wisdom we need, but ultimately, we will have to make our own decisions. Solomon’s point is that if we involve God, we will make the right ones. Isn’t that something? Isn’t that beautiful?
The Message Bible says, “He’s the one who will keep you on track.” Isn’t that what we all want? Don’t we want to know that the decisions that we are making are leading us down the right road? Well, when we acknowledge God in all our ways, He keeps us on track, because we allow Him to.
The Voice says give Him the credit for everything you accomplish, and He will smooth out and straighten the road that lies ahead.
The Easy-To-Read Version says with every step you take, think about what he wants, and he will help you go the right way.
The Amplified Bible says He will direct and make straight and plain your paths
The New Living Translation says and He will show you which path to take
And finally, the Contemporary English Version says, “He will clear the road for you to follow.” The inference here is that if we listen to God, if we apply His counsel to our lives, if we acknowledge Him in all our ways, then our path will be easier and more enjoyable.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that life in Christ is free of all challenges. You and I both know that that is not the case. What I am saying is that although life is never completely easy, when you involve God in your life (decisions and actions), then your life will most certainly be easier. Life with God is much better than life without Him!
So what does this trusting in the Lord mean to you today? Simply, it means that when you choose to involve God in your life, first He will come into your life and be your God; He is then able to guide you and also do a few things for you including:
Give us wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 says The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. James 1:5 says “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
Influence our decisions. Whatever we sow, we will reap, says the Word. Hebrews 1:1-2 says “1God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;“ The fact is that our life is a grand-sum-total of our decisions. God has set it up, so that we will all reap whatever we sow. If we sow the wind, we will reap the whirlwind, says Hosea 8:7.
Influence us to stay on the path that will lead to His best for our life. What did Mordecai state to Esther? Esther 4“13Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. “14For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
We know, according to Jeremiah 29:11 that God has plans for us and He will fulfill those plans when we involve Him in our decision-making. Even if we don’t He will fulfill His plans so we are better off having Him control everything and trusting Him and in Him.
Ease our load. Not only does God want us to make it to heaven, but He wants us to enjoy the ride. He does not want us to live a stress-riddled, obstacle filled, miserable life. When we involve Him in our decisions we free Him to help us enjoy the life Jesus died to give u!
Leads us to seek His praise (Psalm 22:26) The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. And you know that when you do so, He will inhabit your praises! Psalm 22:3. Don’t we want God enthroned on the praises of His people? Glory!
Here is a whole list of scripture references that you can write down; they let us get a better understanding of what Solomon means by He shall direct thy paths:
He divinely protects His children (Ezra 8:22)
He spoils the plans made against His children (Job 5:12)
His children experience supernatural prosperity and increase in their life
He loads His children daily with benefits (Psalm 68:19)
He leads to joy when we seek Him (Psalm 70:4)
He forgives the sins of His children (Psalm 103:3)
He heals all His children’s diseases (Psalm 103:3)
He prevents destruction from coming into His children’s life (Psalm 103:4)
He crowns His children with loving kindness and tender mercies (Psalm 103:4)
He satisfies your needs and His children desires (Psalm 103:5)
He renews the youth of His children (Psalm 103:5)
His children understand all things when they seek Him (Proverbs 28:5)
He grants His children His favour which is unmerited (Lamentations 3:25)
His children receive gifts of righteousness (Hosea 10:12)