Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs
..[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 3″] 1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
2 for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.
11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.
13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
14 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called blessed.
19 The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
by understanding he established the heavens;
20 by his knowledge the deeps broke open,
and the clouds drop down the dew.
21 My son, do not lose sight of these—
keep sound wisdom and discretion,
22 and they will be life for your soul
and adornment for your neck.
23 Then you will walk on your way securely,
and your foot will not stumble.
24 If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror
or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,
26 for the Lord will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being caught.
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to do it.
28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
29 Do not plan evil against your neighbor,
who dwells trustingly beside you.
30 Do not contend with a man for no reason,
when he has done you no harm.
31 Do not envy a man of violence
and do not choose any of his ways,
32 for the devious person is an abomination to the Lord,
but the upright are in his confidence.
33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
34 Toward the scorners he is scornful,
but to the humble he gives favor.
35 The wise will inherit honor,
but fools get disgrace
(Proverbs 3:1-35 ESV)
How blessed this way of living is
Proverbs 3:19–20 “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; 20 by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew.”
In the middle of Solomon’s laying out the implications of the Gospel Centered mind in chapter thee, it is as though he stands up – unable to constrain himself – to tell his son how blessed this way of living is (vss. 13-18). Then, in two follow up verses, he explains that God is a God of wisdom. He contemplates His own steps. He does not act arbitrarily or randomly – which is evident everywhere you look in creation. The point? The God of all blessedness, the One Whom IS blessedness itself – walks in wisdom. As made in His image, we get to walk that way too – above every other creature.
Animals, do not walk in wisdom, they live by instinct.
That is not to say that certain species are not gifted with high levels of intelligence – they clearly are. But in the final analysis, they are not building nests on the basis of technological eco-forecasts. While certain behaviors are passed on from adults to offspring, that is not by means of relaying abstract thoughts through communication with complex speculations, verbal instruction and convincing arguments as humans do.
Even animals that make and use rudimentary tools do not advance in such endeavors. Your dog may dream about chasing cats, but is hardly formulating opinions on the superiority of the canine over the feline in abstract ways – writing dissertations or blogging about it. They don’t have it in them. But we do. Because we were made in God’s image.
The upshot of Solomon’s remarks here is that they are remarkably tailored to the present day context in which we live. It is no happy coincidence that Solomon uses his appeal to creation to get his point across. And we need to listen to especially in our day.
Here is a call to keep always in view
It is God who made this world in which we live – with purpose and wisdom, and that by His design it functions and exists. This is so we never cross over into existential despair. So we never fall into the fears of randomness. Never fail to see God is behind life itself, and that He remains sovereign and supreme as He moves all of history toward its final goal of all things summed up in Christ Jesus.
The knowledge that human existence is on a trajectory toward an eternal goal is vital to our living in hope and reality. The damnable horror that has sprung from a Godless, evolutionary view of man that makes him nothing more than a cosmic accident plunges the souls of men into a bottomless despair. Only the light of the Gospel as it reveals the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ can rescue us from that wretched abyss.
The last observation we need to make on this chapter comes to us by way of a closer look at vs. 28.
Proverbs 3:28 “Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.”
With good reason, many commentators link this verse with Leviticus 19:13 – “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning.” And Deuteronomy 24:15 “You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the Lord, and you be guilty of sin.”
The idea in these is mainly ethical. Workers were paid on a daily basis, not weekly or monthly. Since they depended upon the day’s wages to meet the day’s needs, timely payment was imperative. To withhold timely payment, was to sin against your neighbor’s welfare.
This is sound for us to observe in our own lives in how we pay our personal debts, as well as for corporations in how they deal with their employees. The immorality of corporations failing to be good stewards and then robbing their employees down the road of promised retirement funds and other benefits is rampant today. All this while at the same time, these same poor stewards provide the most lavish of “golden parachutes” for themselves. Do not think that God turns a blind eye to such things.
Then again, It has application when it comes to meeting the needs of those who might come to us seeking help. Being ready and willing to aide others with what God has so graciously supplied for us is a given. It is loving our neighbors as ourselves. It is living out the Gospel.
Yet, in this profound chapter, aimed at moving us toward a Gospel Centered Mind, we need to look at the thought in that context especially. In other words, in terms of our readiness to meet the deepest, most pressing need of our neighbors, with what every Christian has an inexhaustible supply of – the Gospel itself.
It seems fitting to see this exhortation in terms being at the ready to give the Gospel at every opportunity.
Christian, do not listen to the deceptions of your own hear that argue you need to be in a better mood, or have your mind in a better place. That it is inconvenient, or that you don’t have the time at that moment to do it well. You have the words of eternal life with you at all times. Seize the moment He has provided you. Don’t wait. Fulfill your ambassadorial role and tell them the good news. “Christ has come. He has died the death for sin at Calvary. Final judgment awaits us all – and might be here in a moment. Look to Christ and put your trust in Him as your sin-bearer. Today. Forsake your sin, repent and believe.” What an impact a moment can have on someone’s eternity.
“Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.”
Next week: On to Chapter Four
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Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.