“My son, never forget the things I’ve taught you. If you want a long and satisfying life, closely follow my instructions. Never forget to be truthful and kind. Hold these virtues tightly. Write them deep within your heart. If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself. In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success” (Proverbs 3:1-6)
Of all the chapters in the Old Testament, Proverbs 3 has to be one of the best. If you are looking for good, solid, practical advice for daily living, this chapter is a good place to find it. Proverbs 3 tells you a lot of what you need to know to find favor with God, get along with people and live a happy and successful life.
“Don’t be conceited, sure of your own wisdom. Instead, trust and reverence the Lord, and turn your back on evil; when you do that, you will be given renewed health and vitality. Honor the Lord by giving him the first part of all your income, and he will fill your barns with wheat and overflow your wine vats with the finest wines” (verses 7-10)
Solomon, the son of King David, was the man who was responsible for writing and compiling most of the book of Proverbs. It’s his work that we find here in chapter 3.
In the book of 1st Kings we’re told that the Lord gave Solomon great wisdom and understanding. This wisdom given to Solomon not only included great intelligence and technical skill but also the ability to make the right choices at the right time. His wisdom was said to be so great that men of all nations and all the kings of the earth came to hear what he had to say. It is thought by many scholars that Solomon produced the core of Proverbs during his reign as King of Israel from 971 BC to 931 B.C.
“Young man, do not resent it when God chastens and corrects you, for his punishment is proof of his love. Just as a father punishes a son he delights in to make him better, so the Lord corrects you” (verses 11-12)
The book of Proverbs (and chapter 3 in particular) is useful in dealing with a lot of practical every day things. Some of the things dealt with in the book of Proverbs includes…
- Hard work and it’s value.
- Borrowing and lending
- The dangers of sexual misconduct.
- Integrity at school or work
- Good character -how to develop it and how to recognize it in others.
- Alcoholism and it’s result.
- The value of wise counsel and how to find it.
- The great benefits of trusting in the Lord and placing Him first in all things.
You’ll find that many of these subjects are touched upon in Proverbs 3 along with advice for staying out of bad situations or dealing with them as they come up. In fact, the advice found in the book of Proverbs is so valuable that there are 35 direct quotations or allusions from it found within the New Testament.
“The man who knows right from wrong and has good judgment and common sense is happier than the man who is immensely rich! For such wisdom is far more valuable than precious jewels. Wisdom gives: a long good life, riches, honor, pleasure, peace Wisdom is a tree of life to those who eat her fruit; happy is the man who keeps on eating it.
The Lord’s wisdom founded the earth; his understanding established all the universe and space. The deep fountains of the earth were broken open by his knowledge and the skies poured down rain” (verses 13-20)
Unlike some other Old Testament books such as Jeremiah or Ezekiel, the teachings found in the book of Proverbs are not expressed in terms like “thus says the Lord” or something like that. Instead, the book of Proverbs uses general observation, comparison, personification (or the technique of giving human qualities to a place or thing), and other literary devices to drive home various points.
Because of this, it’s important to remember that the individual proverbs should not necessarily be taken as literal promises. They are better understood as general statements concerning the way things will usually turn out for us depending on the choices that we make.
“Have two goals: wisdom -that is, knowing and doing right- and common sense. Don’t let them slip away for they fill you with living energy, and are a feather in your cap. They keep you safe from defeat and disaster and from stumbling off the trail. With them on guard, you can sleep without fear; you need not be afraid of disaster or the plots of wicked men, for the Lord is with you; he protects you” (verses 21-26)
But the book of Proverbs doesn’t only tell you how to make wise choices. It also tells you where to find the source of all wisdom in the very first chapter- “How does a man become wise? The first step is to trust and reverence the Lord! Only fools refuse to be taught (1:7). You see, it’s possible to be smart but not very wise. Even though Solomon was the most brilliant guy who ever lived (see 1st Kings 3:11-12) he still recognized that true wisdom comes only from God.
“Don’t withhold repayment of your debts. Don’t say ‘some other time’ if you can pay now. Don’t plot against your neighbor; he is trusting you. Don’t get into needless fights. Don’t envy violent men. Don’t copy their ways. For such men are an abomination to the Lord, but he gives his friendship to the godly the curse of God is on the wicked, but his blessing is on the upright. The Lord mocks at mockers, but helps the humble. The wise are promoted to honor, but fools are promoted to shame!” (verses 27-35)
Instead of basing decisions on whatever “feels right” the book of Proverbs takes the opposite approach- it starts with the belief that there is a God who has answers for everyday life that He is willing to share with those who come to Him. To those who trust and reverence Him, God has rich storehouses of wisdom that he is willing to give away just for the asking.
So if you like what you’ve seen so far from the book of Proverbs, here’s a suggestion: start your day off right by reading a chapter out of Proverbs each morning. There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs so there’s always a new one for each day of the month. The chapters are pretty short and you can usually read through each one in 5 minutes or less- you can do that, right?
And what will you get in return? Well, The Doctor will now step aside and let Solomon tell you for himself…
“Every young man who listens to me and obeys my instructions will be given wisdom and good sense. Yes, if you want better insight and discernment, and are searching for them as you would for lost money or hidden treasure, then wisdom will be given you and knowledge of God himself.; you will soon learn the importance of reverence for the Lord and of trusting him. For the Lord grants wisdom. His every word is a treasure of knowledge and understanding. He gives good sense to he godly- his saints. He is their shield protecting them and guarding their pathway. He shows how to distinguish right from wrong, how to find the right decision every time. For wisdom and truth will enter the very center of your being filling your life with joy” (Proverbs 2:1-10)