Proverbs 3 - Don't Ignore the Law of the LORD

INTRODUCTION: I scanned through all of the Proverbs to select one chapter, that spoke most clearly to me of our God and his benefits. It was my desire to look for Christ in the collection of writings which seems to present perhaps a more pragmatic view of God, than the praise and petition so prevalent in the Psalms, though both styles were penned under the direction of the Holy Spirit. The paraphrase of Proverbs 3 that I developed is a combination of word substitutions compared against the Hebrew terms defined in my lexicon, words and phrases borrowed from other Bible translations, and some phrase exchange of my own to use a frame of reference which may be more directly related to our times.

Before we examine Proverbs 3, some background verses on the law, and the patriarchs, may demonstrate that the law is essential to our relationship with our God. Within Christian circles, grace is often the centerpiece, with the law being considered as mainly an Old Testament stage in God's development of his plan. Since Christ fulfilled the law, and we are in Christ, and he is in us: the law should be very precious to the Christian who desires a fulfilling relationship with our unchanging God. The law is declared by scripture to be good, and as we become more like Christ, we become more like the one who could fulfill the law in every point. If we are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect; and if to stumble in one point is to be guilty of all; we must flee to Christ our rock for his righteousness which shines in blinding brilliance through the standard of the law.

So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. (Proverbs 3:4 AV)

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. (Luke 2:52 AV).


A - Genesis 26:1-5 AV

1 And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. 2 And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: 3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; 4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; 5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

COMMENTS: Verse five in the above passage speaks to us of the relationship established because of Abraham's obedience to the law, and his obedience was demonstrated centuries before God directed Moses to codify his word for those who would accept it in faith.

B - Numbers 15:16 AV

One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.

COMMENTS: God extended the blessing of the law to those who would come from outside the lineage of Israel, and accept by faith that which God has revealed as his standard.


C - 1 Kings 2:1-4 AV

1 Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, 2 I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; 3 And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself: 4 That the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.

COMMENTS: King David speaks to his son about the law of the LORD, and the promises available through faith. This is not wisdom gained by David apart from God, but rather it is God's wisdom, gained from the one described elsewhere in scripture as "the fear of Isaac". David passes not his own charge to his son, but "The charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses". Solomon passes this same message then, along to all sons who will heed it.


D - 2 Chronicles 6:16 AV

16 Now therefore, O LORD God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that which thou hast promised him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit upon the throne of Israel; yet so that thy children take heed to their way to walk in my law, as thou hast walked before me.

COMMENTS: In Solomon's prayer for dedication of the temple, he confesses before God and the assembled crowd, the promise made to his Father David, because of David's faith in God. He also restates the portion of God's word spoken to David, which applies to God's requirement for continued obedience in faith by future generations.


E - Psalms 1:1-2, 19:7, 119:34 & 119:72 AV

1:1 Blessed [is] the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

19:7 The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD [is] sure, making wise the simple.

119:34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.

119:72 The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.

COMMENTS: The four preceding selections from Psalms are closely related to concepts within Proverbs 3. By taking delight in God's law, and meditating on it continually, the believer will not follow the ways of those who scoff at God's authority, and thus remain in their sin. The testimony of God is perfect and absolutely reliable, converting our soul and giving us wisdom. So we should request of God that he give us that promised wisdom to keep his law with a heart-motivated commitment. This will become to us a more precious treasure than all imagined material riches. So then, the truly profitable instruction and counsel passed from a father to a son (or daughter) is drawn from God's wisdom, not our own. This wisdom from God applies not only to our earthly existence, but even more importantly it converts our soul in preparation for eternity. Proverbs 3 follows in paraphrase and in paragraphs with no verse numbers.


F - Proverbs 3 in paraphrase

My son, ignore not the law of the LORD, but let your heart keep those commandments: for length of days, years of life, and peace shall they add to you. Do not let his mercy and truth slip away from you: firmly bind them about your neck; write them upon the tablet of your heart: thus shall you acquire favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and do not rely on your own wisdom. In every choice and manner acknowledge him, and he will direct your path.

Put no high value on your own wisdom: fear the LORD and keep yourself separated from evil-doing. It shall be soundness of health to your flesh (as symbolized by the naval which transferred the first nourishment of life) and the marrow of your bones (which is certainly an inmost part to receive nourishment and respond in health). Honor the LORD with your wealth, and with the unreserved, first portion of all your income. Thus shall your benefit from work be abundant, and your produce will exceed your needs. My son, do not reject the chastening of the LORD, nor abhor his correction: for whom the LORD loves, he corrects; even as a father does with the son in whom he delights.

Happy is the man that finds wisdom, and the man that obtains understanding. For that gain is better than the gain of money, or even the diligent gain of much money. Highly desirable, Precious jewels are not to be compared with wisdom. Length of days is in wisdom's right hand, and in the left hand riches and honor. The ways of wisdom are the ways of pleasantness and pathways of peace. Wisdom is a tree of life for those who lay hold of it: and retaining it is happiness. The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he has established the heavens. By his knowledge the depths are broken up and the clouds drop down the dew.

My son, do not turn aside your eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: they shall be life to your soul and grace to your neck. You shall come and go on your journey of life safely, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down you shall not be afraid: when you lie down your sleep shall be sweet. Be not afraid of sudden terror, nor the destruction of the guilty when it comes. For the LORD shall be your hope, and shall guard your foot from capture.

Do not withhold good from any person when God enables your hand to accomplish it. Do not say to your neighbor, go and come again tomorrow and I will give; when you already have it to give. Do not devise evil in this way, against your neighbor, since he dwells safely near you. Do not strive with a man without cause, if he has done you no harm. Do not envy a violent man, and do not adopt any of his ways. For the obstinate and stubbornly disobedient person is an abomination to the LORD: but his counsel is with the upright. The curse of the LORD is in the house of the one who remains guilty of sin: but he blesses the habitation of the righteous. He scorns those who show scorn, but gives grace to the lowly. The wise shall inherit glorious abundance: but shame, dishonor, confusion, and ignominy shall be the exaltation of fools.

NOTE: ignominy n., -ies. 1 Great personal dishonor or humiliation. 2 Shameful or disgraceful action, conduct, or character. Lat. ignominia : in-, not nomen, name, reputation. (The American Heritage Dictionary).

Christ became of no reputation in our behalf, but those who reject him, will bear their own ignominy in the judgement.


--- Reflections in prayer ---

I come to you LORD, asking that you enable me to embrace your law, and I also ask that you enable those of my children who call upon your name, to not ignore that perfect law. Thank you for the promise of added time and peace as a benefit in this present life. Your mercy and truth when kept in my heart and displayed as an adornment in my lifestyle have already yielded favor from you and from man. LORD, keep me from pride, that I will continue to trust in you with my whole heart, and not develop dependence on my own knowledge or wisdom. In my every choice and manner I desire to acknowledge you, because I want you to direct my path.

LORD, I acknowledge that pride is an easy pitfall, so keep me from thinking more highly of myself than I ought: my choice is to fear you LORD, and to keep myself separated from all acts of evil. Thank you LORD for the physical health you have given me throughout my lifetime. Thank you also LORD for the sustained source of income you have provided, may my giving be truly unreserved and from the first supply regularly, to demonstrate my faith that you have met my needs and will be faithful to continue. Help me LORD, not to waiver in my faith when you bring about needed correction in my life, remembering that your love is perfect.

I thank you LORD that you have taught me that life consists of much more than food, clothing, and shelter. Knowledge of your word is truly more precious than material gain, even if I personally work very hard and honestly for that gain. There is absolutely nothing of exceedingly high material value which can merit comparison with wisdom from God. You alone provide lasting life, honor, and riches. You alone sustain us through the pathways of pleasantness and peace. By laying hold of your wisdom, we have obtained the tree of life. You by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding you have established the heavens. By your knowledge the depths are broken up and the clouds drop down the dew.

So I pray LORD, that I will not turn aside my eyes: but that I will keep sound wisdom and discretion: they shall be life to my soul and grace to my neck. And I shall come and go on my journey of life safely, and my foot will not stumble. When the time comes for me to go the way of all the earth in death, I shall not be afraid, but shall rest in peace. The sudden terror and destruction of the guilty by your hand is not reserved for me. For you LORD are my hope, and you shall guard my foot from capture by cleansing me of all my sin.

Remind me LORD, not to withhold good from any person when you have enabled my hand to accomplish it. With your grace, I will not say to my neighbor, go and come again tomorrow and I will give; when I already have it to give. Keep me from devising evil in this way, against my neighbor, since he dwells safely near me. Keep me from striving with any man without cause, if he has done me no harm. I shall not envy a violent man, and I shall not adopt any of his ways. For the obstinate and stubbornly disobedient person is an abomination to you LORD: but your counsel is with the upright. Your curse LORD is in the house of the one who remains guilty of sin: but you bless the habitation of those who possess your righteousness. You scorn those who show scorn, but give grace to the lowly. The wise shall inherit glorious abundance through life eternal: but shame, dishonor, confusion, and ignominy shall be the exaltation of fools. I praise you again LORD from my heart, because you have cleared me of my guilt through the blood of my Savior Christ Jesus, and blessed me with your mercy and grace! Amen.

Published 30 May 2004, first issued 12 March 2000