Proverbs 3:1-10 – Priorities, Loyalty, and Faithfulness
The Lord comes First (Proverbs 3:1-2)
A fairy tale often ends with the statement that they lived happily long ever after. The wisdom teacher, on the other hand, starts with the happiness of a long life. Listen:
My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and abundant welfare will they give you.
These verses repeat the promise which Moses had passed on to all the people of Israel in the Name of the LORD, but now these promises have a personal address. Recognize in all of this the nature of the proverbs; but do not, therefore, belittle the deep truth contained in this admonition and promise. If we acknowledge the LORD to be the First One in our life; if we reckon with Him in all aspects of our life, then we will experience how His peace will penetrate everything and will make our life full and rich in all its dimensions.
Peace – shalom. These words mean much more than the absence of war. The Bible even speaks of the shalom of war, as when David asked Uriah for a report about the success of the military campaign. Shalom – peace, that means welfare and prosperity, order and harmony. Peace is not merely a feeling; it is a particular state of affairs. Wisdom prepares the way towards such a state of shalom.
Proverbs 3:1-2, Deuteronomy 6:1-3, 2 Samuel 11:7, Luke 2:14
Loyalty and Faithfulness (Proverbs 3:3-4)
Loyalty and faithfulness are essential ingredients of wisdom. The King James Version calls these qualities mercy and truth – typical covenant words. The words loyalty and mercy indicate an attitude of solidarity in outlook and inclination, as well as in deeds. With this attitude we approach others with whom we live in close relation in our family, marriage, the church, our work.
These relationships are not governed by our own subjective self as voluntary members of a particular group. Mercy and loyalty must govern each relationship in which we live and work, expressing true Christian solidarity in an attitude of openness to the other. We will help and defend the other when necessary; we will assist and support each other.
All of this does not come about in a sudden emotional outburst, but as an expression of continual faithfulness. Faithfulness should be there all the time, without interruption – loyalty and faithfulness. Faithfulness refers to truthfulness, reliability, and enduring resolve.
To whom should this loyalty and faithfulness which is demanded from us be directed? The answer given by the Bible is perfectly clear. This double command of faithfulness points us in the very first place to the LORD and then to our neighbour. In this way, the Lord Jesus summarized the whole law according to its essence and meaning.
We must do our best to gain a good reputation and to obtain the favour of people and of God. Remember what was said about Jesus as a young boy, And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and man. It can be difficult at times to gain such favour and such a reputation with God and man. Even fellow church members may hinder you in your efforts. Catechetical students who want to do their best are often laughed at by others. Gossip about families can be hurtful. Instead, we should encourage each other to increase in stature and in favour with God and man, and in that order – God and man.
There is much apostate theology which turns everything upside down and disrupts life. Liberal theologians suggest that the second great commandment should become the first, and the first should become the second: When you love your neighbour (i.e., allow him to live his own life), then you demonstrate that you love God. However, this view is without goal and norms for the love for one’s neighbour. Only when we, first of all, love God and accept all that He says, only then do we know how to treat our neighbour in love – also when necessary by opposing him.
Loyalty and faithfulness – make sure that these two are kept together! Hang them as a necklace over your heart; wear them as a wedding ring which you will never take off your finger.
Proverbs 3:3-4, Matthew 22:37-40, Song of Songs 8:6, Luke 2:52
The LORD comes First (Proverbs 3:1-10)
Spiritual Public Health
A necessary condition for a healthy life is a living relationship with the LORD.
It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
We must trust in Him, and we must know Him. We are not talking about knowing in the sense of being aware of things, but in the sense of having experienced things. We are not concerned with knowledge that can be described statistically or stored in a computer. A young man does not develop a card system of all the qualities of his girl friend. He does not know her on the basis of all the data he has collected about her. What we are talking about here is a warm, personal knowing of the Lord as the first One in your life.
Know Him Who wanted to know us first – in Christ the Saviour! Acknowledge Him in all your ways. The automobile club is called only in case of car trouble – not so within the covenant relation with the LORD. In all your ways acknowledge Him... Do not keep anything from Him. Trust Him in all things, and fully trust yourself to Him. Trust Him in all that He says, promises, and demands. Walk with the God Who came to us in Jesus Christ (Who calls Himself the Way!). Be children of your heavenly Father. Oppose the revolutionary world which rejects the Creator of heaven and earth.
Those who follow these travel instructions will experience the truth of the promise which comes with them: "...and he will make straight your paths."
This does not guarantee that the journey will be completed without any difficulties. This proverb paints an Eastern scene: a path which needs to be straightened and stones which have to be removed. This is not a picture of a paved road with curbs and a smooth road surface. We are reminded of (well-worn) paths strewn with stones, full of dangers. Ecclesiastes can, therefore, speak about old people for whom there are terrors in the way.
Straightening such a path means removing rocks, and making it passable. That is the promise heard here: trust in the Lord in all your ways, then there will be a passable road for you. Then no insurmountable obstacles will force you off the road so that you might lose your way. Knowing Him will be like walking along a road. There certainly will be much stumbling, but you will be able to continue. The road of your life is not a dead-end road. The journey along these dangerous roads will reach its blessed destination to God’s praise.
Proverbs 3:5-8, Ecclesiastes 12:5, John 14:6
Christian Money Management
We read, Honour the Lord from your wealth... (NASB). And we might think that this proverb certainly does not apply to us – we are not rich! The Revised Standard Version translates,Honour the Lord with your substance, we might also read your possessions.
This proverb speaks of your material goods. That may be much, or very little. But no one needs to skip this proverb.
This is a remarkable verse. The previous passage spoke rather in general: acknowledge the Lord in all your ways, and that does involve many things. Indeed, many things happen in our lives; we travel along many different roads. But the details are not given; Proverbs gives a general indication: all your ways. After all, later chapters, from chapter 10 onwards, will expand on this.
We are dealing here with the introduction to Proverbs, the basic principles, the ABCs. Therefore it is remarkable that in this introduction this one aspect of our lives is highlighted: money management. And with good reasons.
The Lord knows us through and through. He knows much better than we do that you learn to know people when you ask them for their money. Your money is a touchstone to find out whether you, indeed, do acknowledge the Lord in all your ways. If your money management is okay, then more things will be all right. Money management does not stand on its own; it betrays a particular attitude to life. It shows often so clearly our loyalty and faithfulness, or our faithlessness and lack of trust. The manner in which we deal with our money so readily shows whether we want to serve the Lord only with our mouth, or also with our deeds.
In this way, the place of this proverb within this Bible book clearly shows its urgency and revealing character.
Read this proverb again, Honour the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of all your produce...
God asks that we honour Him, that we give Him a honorarium. Here is not spoken of gifts demanded under duress, and given reluctantly. The Lord does not come to take things from us – the whole earth is His, all things are His legal possessions! Giving is always giving back. Therefore we love to give to God and for His service. And we do not do that as the final financial transaction, if there is something left still; we will give of the first fruits.
He who gave us His first-born Son, asks from us our first fruits. That has been the theme of Moses’ teachings when he instructed the Israelites to give the Lord with joy and thankfulness the first fruits of the land and the tithe.
The Lord wants to be honoured by the gifts of His people. The Hebrew word for honour means making heavy, acknowledging someone’s importance. To show our awe of the Lord, of His awesome greatness and power, we bring Him our gifts for His service.
We do that with care. We give of the first fruits. Only the best will be good enough. We will be as careful as Abel who carefully selected – even twice – what he wanted to offer to the Lord; not like Cain who took whatever was nearest.
Abel wanted to honour the Lord with his gifts. Cain gave because he was forced to do it. We know that this showed an attitude to life which had terrible consequences.
The very ABCs of wisdom throw a clear light on our financial contribution to the church and everything else that is connected with that. A priority in our money management is identified here: we may never reason, first this and that for my family, myself, my hobby, my financial commitments – and perhaps I will have something left for the Lord. And that could well be $ 0.00. Those who give little out of fear that their budget will not be met, do not understand the heavenly logic which the Lord Himself teaches in this proverb, a logic of the covenant and faith. Consider what follows after the call of the Lord to honour Him with the first fruits: ...then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.
It is not the other way around! This should give us much to think about!
Proverbs 3:9-10, Deuteronomy 26, Psalm 24:1, Genesis 4:3-5 and Hebrews 11:4
Nehemiah 12:44-47, Haggai 1, Matthew 6:24; 19:16-26, Acts 20:35, 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, 1 Timothy 6:6-19