Solomon is sitting down with his son and explaining to him how he can have the good life now. This is not to say that Solomon is saying that his son will never have troubles in life by doing what he says. In fact, Solomon said with certainty that calamity, distress, and disaster will come (1:27). In the second chapter, Solomon continued to instruct his son by telling him that he needs to put forth effort to attain wisdom. Wisdom will not land on us magically. We must put ourselves in a learning posture, humbling ourselves to that we are reading to listen. We must also work at finding godly wisdom by praying for wisdom (James 1:5), be pleasing to God (Ecclesiastes 2:26), and read and study God’s word (Proverbs 2:6). As we move into chapter 3 of the Proverbs, we will see that Solomon is still instructing his son on how to obtain wisdom and how to have the good life now.
1. Trust in the Lord (3:5-8; 3:26-27)
In the first four verses of chapter 3 Solomon reminds his son that the instructions he is giving him are for his own good. We are studying these teachings because these are practical ways to improve your life now.
“Keep my commands in your heart for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity” (3:1-2). Solomon instructs further that keeping love and faithfulness around our necks will cause us to “win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man” (3:4). These commands are good for us in every aspect of our living. We will have favor with God, which is the most important thing to acquire in this world. But the wisdom of God not only helps us spiritually, but also for our daily dealings with people. We will win favor and have a good reputation with others by following these teachings. We will also have a longer, better life by obeying God. So how can we have favor with God and humanity? How can we have a good reputation with God and among people? How can we have the good life now?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (3:5). Notice what Solomon means by “trusting in the Lord with all of your heart.” I think if I were to ask each person here, we would all think that we are trusting in the Lord with all of our hearts. But let’s put ourselves to the test. Do you rely upon your own knowledge when making decisions? Do you do what you think is best when any minor or major decision or circumstance arises? If we are relying upon our own understanding, then we are not trusting in the Lord. How many times we make a decision based upon what we think is best rather than what God declares is best! The scriptures teach us not to put our trust in wealth but to seek first the kingdom of God. But how many times we make a decision simply based upon financial needs! We are doing what we think is best rather than what God said is the best course of action.
“In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight” (3:6). Every decision is to bring God the glory. Every act should reflect our utter and complete dependence on God. Our actions often reflect our complete dependence upon ourselves. We are not going to be living the good life now and not be having favor with God and humanity when we are trying to control our own lives rather than giving God full control. Turn your life over to God and he will take your life down the right road. We, based on our own wisdom, take our lives down the wrong roads and cause more problems and distresses in life because we are not fully relying on the Lord. Solomon knows why we have trouble handing our lives over to God and he points it out in the next sentence.
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (3:7-8). We are wise in our own eyes. Notice that relying on our own knowledge is the opposite of fearing the Lord. Remember that Solomon counseled at the beginning of this discussion with his son that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
Now let us ask the important question: how does one rely on God’s wisdom and not our own wisdom when it comes to making decisions and dealing with life’s circumstances? Nowhere do the Proverbs nor the rest of the scriptures suggest that giving our lives to God means taking a “hands-off” approach. How many times people will simply declare that they have prayed to God to show them which way to go, doing nothing else, until something happens! This does not make any sense, yet Christians do this all time! What do you think if I woke up this morning and prayed to God in my weakness: should I go to church services or not go to church services? I go out to the car and there is a nail in the tire, or my child is sick, or the power goes out. Am I supposed to think that God gave me the sign to stay home? You would tell me that God wants me to go to services. How do you know that? You know that because the scriptures say so.
When you ask of God about a particular direction in life or a decision to make, how do you know if God is directing the circumstance or Satan is? Disaster struck Job severely. He could have believed that God was telling him to change his life, get a new occupation, and move to a new place to start over. But none of that was true for it was Satan. The only way we know after praying to God to help us make the right decisions is to constantly consult the word of God. Too often we are making signs out of nothing. And if we are receiving a sign, how do we know whether it is from God or from Satan? From reading the book of Job I think we could argue that Satan is telling us something more than God is trying to tell us something. There is only one way God has given us to know what we ought to do and it is the word of God. Now let me be clear, I am not in the extreme camp that says that God is not working in our lives today. I absolutely believe God is involved in the affairs of this world and is working in our lives. If God was not active in our lives, then there would be no purpose for prayer. However, where do the scriptures teach that after offering prayers, we are to stop and do nothing? Pray to God for the things you need and ask God for help, then turn to His words to find guidance. This is what Solomon told his son in Proverbs 2:6, “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
2. Give It All To God (3:9-10)
“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”
Solomon tells his son that he must give everything to the Lord first. This is another important way that we show that we are trusting in the Lord with all of our heart. Many times we give God our leftovers financially, emotionally, and physically. We give God time only when we have time. We serve God only when we feel like doing something. We give financially only when we have had a good month or have paid all the bills. Honoring the Lord is a call to make sacrifices in this life. We may not able to do all that we want to do. We will not be able to comfortable in every aspect of life if we are going to be honoring God. We are only honoring ourselves when we are concerned about our needs first. The scriptures repeatedly tell us that God will take care of us if we will give to him first. But we do not trust in the Lord with all of our hearts, so we do not act upon it. Notice that Solomon tells his son that if he will give to God the first and the best financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, God will give back and take care of us in every way. Paul teaches the same thing in 2 Corinthians 9:6-9. We have the tendency to bristle against these passages, yet the reason is because we do not want to put that much trust in the Lord to take care of us. We think that we are the ones who create our own wealth, we are in charge of our wealth, and we must use our wealth to take care of ourselves. But this is “leaning on our own understanding” and being “wise in our own eyes.”
3. Pay the Price For Wisdom (3:13-18; 4:5-9; 8:10-11; 8:18-21)
In our last lesson we saw Solomon counseling his son to acquire wisdom while wisdom is crying out in the streets. When disaster strikes it will be too late to seek wisdom. Solomon now shows his son the value of wisdom.
“Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed” (3:13-18). Wisdom is more profitable for you in this life than silver and gold. Wisdom is more precious than rare gems. Wisdom will bring riches, honor, and peace. The very thing that people are seeking after are found in the wisdom of the Lord. But no one is looking in the right place. To drive home the point, he says this to his son again a little later.
“Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her” (8:10-11). Then wisdom speaks for herself again, encouraging people to seek after her:
“With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity. My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, bestowing wealth on those who love me and making their treasuries full” (8:18-21).
Wisdom is worth anything you can give to attain it. This language shows how little we value wisdom. We think wealth, success, honor, and peace are more important to acquire. But wisdom is speaking telling us that she is the most important because through her these things are attained. Therefore, Solomon tells his son:
“Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding” (4:7). Wisdom is not for free. You and I have to work for it. We will have to make sacrifices to attain it. You and I have to spend time praying, spend reading the word of God, spend time studying the word of God, and make effort to be found pleasing to God. You can pay a little now and have the peace that comes with wisdom, or you can pay a lot later when you go through calamity without wisdom.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (4:23). As we try to live righteous lives we must keep watch over our hearts. Our hearts can become infiltrated with the pleasures and desires of the world and we forget to seek wisdom.
- Trust in the Lord with all of your heart. Turn to God for every decision that we make so that we lead lives that glorify God. We will be pleasing to God when we are consulting the word of God for guidance in our decision-making.
- Give it all to God. Everything we have has been given to us from God. We must accept this to be true, sacrifice everything, and give to the Lord first. Only then will we find ourselves pleasing to God and acquire wisdom.
- Pay the price for wisdom. We will have to give up our comforts, time, desires, and wealth to find wisdom. But it is worth it. Get to know God and he will change your life.