Whenever God gives a command, He accompanies the command with a reason to obey. He never says ″what″ without saying ″why″.
In today’s passage, there are six commands. Six times the wise father directs his son, each time giving a reason to obey and showing God’s response to obedience. The commands-to continue embracing wisdom-tell us much about what the wise life involves:
- Remembering God’s authoritative commands (Proverbs 3:1).
- Practising the covenant characteristics of love and faithfulness (v. 3).
- Trusting in the Lord’s revelation and not in our own powers of understanding (v. 5), thus acknowledging His authority (v. 6).
- Revering Him and shunning the dark path (v. 7).
- Trusting the Lord and honouring Him in the giving of our wealth (v. 9).
- Recognising our need for correction and discipline, which God graciously gives in love (vv. 11-12).
The ″whys″ accompanying these commands include the promise of a long life (v. 2), a good reputation (v. 4), guidance from God (v. 6), physical nourishment (v. 8), reward for labour (v. 10), and spiritual maturity (v. 12; see also Hebrews 12:10).
Typical of wisdom literature in the Bible, these outcomes are generalisations rather than ironclad promises. Yet they are generally true-a life lived consistently by God’s Word and marked by love, faithfulness, and openness to correction is most conducive to healthy productivity.
At the same time, the presence or absence of these results cannot be taken as an absolute indicator of a person’s spiritual state or health. As Psalm 73 and the story of Job show, many will grapple with exceptions to these generalisations, raising questions like: Why do the wicked (or the fools, as Proverbs describes them) seem to do so well in life (see Psalm 73)? Why do the righteous (or the wise, according to Proverbs) suffer so appallingly (see Job)?
One answer is that the wise life pays dividends that may not always be physical or tangible; rather, the prosperity it gives is of eternal value. Wisdom results in a contentment and maturity that none can take away. Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God, is proof of that.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says we are to trust wholeheartedly in the Lord. What do you think this involves?
Reflect on what Proverbs 3:11-12 and Hebrews 12:5-6 say about God’s discipline. How can you treasure godly rebuke and correction?