“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.”
~Proverbs 3:5-6 (NRSV).
It is likely that at various times in our lives we’ve taken different approaches to God, reproaching the Spirit at times, truly worshipping via our faithful deeds at others.
The first twelve verses of Proverbs 3 refer to our appropriate approach to the Throne of Grace, particularly verse 5 and those following.
This ‘advice’ could be likened to the sort of guidance we’d give to a child who’s surely coming into God’s Presence — for which we’re all in. But the child’s not that aware yet. And neither were we aware of this fact: God is there — a prime witness to all that goes on here.
The Fear of the Lord Takes Shape
The very angle of right relationship with God — the fear of the Lord — an ongoing thread from beginning to end in Proverbs, and implicitly and explicitly from Genesis to Revelation, is continued through these initial twelve verses.
This is where it begins to take shape in the listener’s mind and heart.
We honour the Lord (verses 9-10), for instance, with the first fruits of all we produce — words, acts, income, ingenuity... everything and not a thing spared. This is good example of how our devotedness is to look; that the Lord is to be uppermost in consideration of all our decisions. This is not an easy transition to make, but it’s one that’s necessary if we’re to grow in wisdom.
This section of Proverbs is benedictory in that it would make a fine daily reading — a constant meditation of the heart cognisant of God’s continual Presence, as evidenced through the motioning of life.
This concept also enshrines — as a consequence of right, just and fair living — the idea of spiritual prosperity or “abundant welfare” (verse 2), as “long life” (a spiritual concept) is made a very real probability for the one serving Wisdom.
Approaches to ‘Discipline’
This is a bolt that no one really wants to hear, but it’s there all the same.
“My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
or be weary by his reproof,
For the Lord reproves the one he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.”
~Proverbs 3:11-12 (NRSV).
This is proof that God loves every single soul on the planet, for discipline surely means anything that comes against us as discernible pain or discomfort, which is therefore purposed as opportunities for our growth in God’s love.
This, of course, goes beyond even those things we cause against ourselves — and many are those. Most times it’s our own folly that gets us retrieving the disciplinary action of life, which is from God. But we forget too easily that the injustices that wrap themselves around us — with little or even no causation evident — are also purposed for us to grow through, and we do this through the power of God, and we can know with confidence that the purposes of those sufferings will soon be known.
Love causes this discipline. Love is behind all proper acts; goodness is in mind always, sometimes for now, other times for the future.
This is a difficult teaching. No one, I’m sure, feels entirely comfortable extricating all of life to the reality of the final day — as we see the Lord in all heaven’s glory. We all love some part of the world (for good instance, family). It’s difficult to accept, too, that everything we think of that’s happened, is happening, and will happen, is from God’s gracious hand.
But that’s life. We must take it on God’s terms or it makes no sense at all.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.