William J. Stewart | Lessons from the Book of Proverbs
Solomon has been emphasizing to his son the need to pay attention to his wisdom. Every father wants his son to listen to his advice, but with Solomon, we have a special circumstance. He was not just imparting his wisdom to his son; he shared wisdom from God. Remember Solomon’s dream (1 Kings 3)and the gift of God upon him; his great wisdom.
The wise king cites the source of his wisdom in our text:
The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens; by His knowledge the depths were broken up, and clouds drop down the dew. (Proverbs 3:19-20)
Thus, what we are reading is not just the instruction of a father to his son, but the instruction of God to His people through Solomon’s pen. Therefore, let us read carefully and make proper application in our lives.
The LORD Is Your Confidence
Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught. (Proverbs 3:25-26)
James tells us that two types of wisdom exist, the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of God. Solomon refers to the former as “foolishness.” There is no security or promise of safety if we follow our own wisdom. However, if we are focused on the wisdom of God, if our lives are directed by His will, we can have assurance. Notices the promises associated with those who live God’s way:
“…life to your soul and grace to your neck…”
God is the source of life. We move and have our being because the breath of life is in us. To maximize the experience of life, it makes sense to live it God’s way. Further to that, the ultimate experience of God giving us life comes in eternity; but only the wisdom of God leads there.
“…your foot will not stumble.”
Have you ever walked a narrow path suffering from erosion? Each step must be taken carefully, lest the dirt slip out from under your feet. That is what man’s way is like. However, if we walk God’s way, no matter how narrow the path may get, we can have confidence that it will not crumble beneath our feet. God’s way is a firm foundation for us to walk upon.
“…your sleep will be sweet.”
One of the many ways God’s way differs from man’s way is the peace it gives. Paul speaks about the peace of God that surpasses understanding when we bring our concerns to God rather than stewing over them and being anxious. Anxiety and stress will deprive us of sleep, or at the very least keep us from having restful sleep. Those who submit to the will of God, who make His way their own, will lie down in peace and enjoy sweet rest.
“Do not be afraid of sudden terror…”
Choosing to serve the Lord doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen to us. We can find several examples of servants of God in the Scripture who went through extremely difficult circumstances. But, the one who puts God first in life need not fear those who might stand against us or mistreat us. Consider the disposition of the apostle Paul as he made his way to Jerusalem, knowing that troubles awaited him:
…I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 21:13)
He did not fear those who might do him harm, for he had an eternal perspective. If we are focused on what God promises His people, we too will not succumb to trouble when the wicked come our way.
Serve God & Our Fellow Man
…He scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble. The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the legacy of fools. (Proverbs 3:34-35)
The righteous and wicked are distinguished by their deeds. God’s people are to imitate the character of God. God is good, therefore we ought to do good.
“…do not withhold good…”
If know of someone who has a legitimate need, and we have the ability to minister to that need, we ought to do so. When I was a young Christian, a respected brother taught me that ability plus opportunity equals responsibility. That is the message of Solomon here.
If we have been asked for help and we have the ability to meet the need, do not send the needy away (verse 28). Take a look at James 2:14-17. It’s the same message.
“Do not devise evil against your neighbor…”
God is good, and the expectation is that His people are good also. Paul teaches us to live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18). There is an old adage which says, “Good fences make good neighbours.” what makes for even better neighbours is when we treat them as God would have us do, seeking what is in their best interest.
“Do not strive with a man without a cause…”
God’s people should not have a quarrelsome spirit. Selfish pursuits belong to the way of man, not the way of God. If our neighbour has done us no harm, why should we harm him by being contentious?
“Do not envy the oppressor…”
We should not seek to be like those who gain success by wickedness, or envy the prosperity they have built through their evil ways. Their way is a way of death and judgment.
God despises the evil man and will visit upon him His wrath. Therefore, may we follow His counsels and prosper with the blessings of God.