Proverbs 3:1-35 - Outline of Proverbs (Book Notes menu page)
Words to a Son - The Benefits of Wisdom

Proverbs chapter 3 continues the Exhortation to Sons, which started in ch. 1. Solomon records the instructions which he received from his father, in the second person, as addressed to him in his youth.
     In chapter 2, the conditional nature of the father's instruction was emphasized by the "if... then..." format (2:1-5). Several benefits of choosing to seek wisdom were given. The pursuit of wisdom draws the pursuer close to the LORD, who is the source of wisdom, and who is able to deliver those who walk with Him from the dangers inherent in following the evil ways of men, and the adulterous ways of the strange {foreign} woman.

Chapter 3 adds to the list of benefits which flow from the pursuit of wisdom. In the first 12 verses, six admonitions are presented (in the odd numbered verses). Each admonition is followed (in the even numbered verses) with the blessing which flows from heeding that admonition. The last portion of the chapter (v.13-35), expands upon, and makes practical application of, each of the admonitions and blessings.

3:1,2 - The heart observation of God's Word tends to Life.
"Let thine heart keep my commandments..." -
It must be more than a matter of duty. For if we do not serve the Lord out of love, soon we will forget {ie., cease to care for, or attend to} His ways. Psa 119:11,97-104; Ezra 7:10
"keep {HB=natsar, watch, guard}"
(This HB word is one of the possible root meanings for the name of Jesus' home town, Nazareth. A hill nearby provided a vantage point from which to "watch" for approaching enemies.) From the heart we are to be watchful to observe God's Word, as though our lives depended upon it. For they do. Our natural lives have a limited span "three score years and ten, and if by reason of strength they be four score years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away" (Psa 90:10). But for those who walk with the LORD, He adds days without number in His Presence. Joh 14:23,24
The thought, of v.1-2, is amplified later in the chapter (in 3:13-18).-
These promises belong to those who "retain" {ie., hold fast to} wisdom (v.18b). Wisdom is refered to as "she." She is to be pursued, in contrast to the strange woman who is to be avoided (2:16-19), and in comparison with the virtuous wife who can be safely trusted, and whose price is also "far above rubies" (v.15; 31:10,11).
3:3,4 - The safe keeping of God's Word tends to favor with God and man.
Don't let Mercy and Truth get loose or get free. Don't let them get away from you.
Don't lose track of them. Tie them to yourself. Engrave them upon your innermost being.
Examples of those who followed this counsel, and found favor with God and man:
The thought, of v.3-4, is amplified in 3:19-22.-
  • The LORD, by wisdom founded the earth... heavens...-
    Order in the universe rests upon God's wisdom and knowledge, by which...
  • ...the depths are broken up... the clouds drop down the dew...-
    The LORD's wisdom ensures order in the earth, the cycles of seasons and of life.
    The specific example is the cycle of ocean water, to vapor, to rain, to fill the oceans (Eccl 1:7).
  • Those who cling to God's Word find: Life and Grace {ie., favor, v.4},
    for their whole being (body and soul) will be ordered by the LORD, who orders all things aright (v.21,22).
3:5,6 - Confidence in the LORD leads in ways that are right and orderly.
Trust... - Again, it is a matter of the heart.
'Trust in the LORD' is a mindset of confident determination to follow Him, regardless of what may arise to distract or disway.
     Ravi Zacharias gave this example, in a portion of a radio message: "Hundreds or perhaps thousands of times, I have sat at a meal with someone at one of my conferences, and the person on the other side of the table has said: 'I have made a complete mess of my life. I don't know where I went wrong, or why I took that first step downward... that first drink... that first look at impure material... that first hearing of suggestive words... that first date with a strange woman...'"
     Ravi Zacharias observes that many Christians push the limits: How close to the edge of immorality can I live without going over? Whereas, if we are seeking and trusting the LORD with our whole hearts, we should draw the line as far from the edge as we possibly can. He cites the example of Daniel, who as a captive in Babylon was being prepared to serve Nebuchadnezar. He refused the rich food provided in the palace, because he wanted to obey God's Word (ie., the OT dietary laws regarding what was clean versus unclean... and what was offered to idols). Because he trusted God and obeyed His Word, Daniel avoided developing a taste for the things of Babylon. Nebuchadnezar wanted him to become Belteshazzar ('a servant of Baal'), but he was determined to 'let God be my judge' (which is the meaning of his name, Daniel).
Lean not to thine own understanding... -
It would have been easier for Daniel to accommodate himself to the situation. Many, maybe most, of the sons of Hebrew nobility, bowed down to the idol which Nebuchadnezar erected to his own self-worship. Few were willing to trust the LORD with their lives (eg., Daniel in the lion's den; his three friends in the fiery furnace).
In all thy ways acknowledge {ie., have knowledge of, know} Him.- ie., Let His ways govern your way.
The examples of Daniel and friends fit the amplification of this admonition, perfectly.
The thought, of v.5-6, is amplified in 3:23-26.-
Those, who truly trust the LORD, walk without stumbling, and pass confidently through treacherous circumstances.
3:7,8 - Deference to the LORD, rather than to fleshly devices, brings healing and health.
Be not wise in thine own eyes... -
Whatever the issue, we view it through flawed fleshly eyes. Paul quotes this verse, twice in Rom 11:25 and 12:16. In the first case, he warns Gentile believers against thinking that they are superior to the Jews, who are in temporary blindness concerning the righteousness which is in Christ. God is working His purpose. He is much wiser than you. In the second case, he warns believers against thinking that they are superior to other brothers, by reason of their gifts or position in the church (Rom 12:16 and context in 12:3-10).
Depart from evil {ie., from causing malignancy, from causing harm}...- Rom 12:17-21; 2Tim 2:19
The thought, of v.7-8, is amplified in 3:29-30.-
(In v.29, 'securely' is 'confidently', ie., your neigbor trusts that you have his best interests in view.)
The avoidance of unnecessary conflict provides relief from harmful stress, and promotes 'health' {ie. healing, medicine} even to the physical body (v.8; Jam 3:13-18).
3:9,10 - Giving to the LORD is honored {weighed out; recompensed} by the Giver of all good gifts.
Honor the LORD with thy substance {ie., with your material wealth}...-
You cannot out give Him..... Pro 19:17; Mal 3:10; Luk 6:38; 2Cor 9:7
The thought, of v.7-8, is amplified in 3:27-28.-
Application can be made to helping a neighbor, to giving to missions, to supporting the local church, to paying bills and taxes... (Rom 13:7,8; Gal 6:10).
3:11,12 - The chastening of the LORD is beneficial.
Whom the LORD loveth, He correcteth... -
Job 5:17,18; Heb 12:5-17 (Heb 12:5,6 quote Pro 3:11,12.)
...even the son in whom he delighteth {ie., whom he accepts, in whom he is well pleased...} -
Chastening produces a son in whom the father can delight (Pro 29:17); and proved the Son in whom He had always delighted (Heb 5:8,9).
Despise not {ie., do not reject, do not refuse} the chastening of the LORD... -
Notice the way in which v.11 opens: "My son..."
     This verse is found within a section of instructions and counsel addressed to sons. Each of the divisions of this section opens with: "My son..." (1:8; 2:1; 3:1). In ch. 3, it is understood that the six admonitions are addressed to "My son..."
     Why, then, should this sixth admonition receive special attention? (eg., 'My son, I call your attention to this point.')
Because the Father knows that we are prone to pride, He tenderly appeals to us individually, to receive His correction. He desires only what is best for His children. But some will refuse to listen (Pro 29:1).
The thought, of v.11-12, is amplified in 3:31-35. (v.34 is quoted in Jam 4:6; 1Pet 5:5)
  • The wise inherit glory...- Entrance into the Glory of God's Presence cannot be earned or merited, for none of us measure up to His standard of righteousness. It is a gift inherited by God's children. Birth into His family is by Grace through faith. Joh 1:12,13; Eph 2:8,9; Heb 2:9-11
  • Fools are promoted...- Shame is the reward merited by those who despise God's Wisdom. For a time, their wicked ways may seem profitable. But they will suffer an unenviable end (Psa 73:3-6,15-20).
A summarizing thought, for ch. 3 -
"Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding." (3:13)

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