Proverbs 3:11-25 – Living Under God’s Guidance in His World
Living Under God’s Guidance
Life is not always a bed of roses. God’s children might experience sufferings and trouble. The Lord may test His children; He might keep them on a tight rein. He may discipline them, or even punish them.
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of His reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom He loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
Also in discipline and punishment, He shows His loving guidance, because
If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
It is important to recognize that these passages show the Lord comes first, and that He actively concerns Himself with us. Also in these matter, He is the First!
Proverbs 3:11-12, Hebrews 12:4-13, James 1:1-18, Romans 8:28
Living in God’s World
Happy is the man who finds wisdom...
Again it is made clear that wisdom is not the privilege of a select few, an elite. Wisdom reaches out to all people; it has, therefore, world-wide significance.
Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gets understanding.
Wisdom brings all of human life to bloom. It enriches life, it fills it with non-material wealth which is far more valuable and far more satisfying than all material wealth together. Perhaps we may even say that wisdom opens paradise again for us. Was the tree of life not found in paradise? And is that tree not the tree of the future, pointing to the throne of God and to the new Jerusalem? Listen to the description of wisdom:
She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy.
Pay close attention to the following thought:
The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke forth, and the clouds drop down the dew.
The Book of Proverbs jumps from human life to God’s creation to His providence. It links the wisdom which governs human life with the wisdom with which God created the earth and maintains it. This link is most important. Human life and God’s creation are not two separate matters; we do not find here two kinds of wisdom. We find here the one wisdom of the one God who has bound together human life and His created world.
We discover here the created reality which is governed by God’s wisdom. In that reality fits human life which is also governed by that same wisdom. Therefore it is no surprise that we are called to listen to that wisdom, because only in that way will we begin to live a truly integrated life in this world, that is, within all of God’s created reality.
All of this is even more important in a world in which sin brought along foolishness. One of the words used for sin in Scripture may also be translated by a bad shot, or a flop. It is connected with a verb which means missing the target.
That is one of the aspects of sin: going against the nature and meaning of things; dealing with things in unnatural ways, in ways which God had not intended. Pollution and common-law relationships are such flops: misusing God’s created reality.
Read through a daily newspaper and mark every story that confirms this. You will be dismayed! But there are elements in created reality which are more stubborn and more real than things invented and tried in attitudes of disbelief and revolution. It has been attempted to replace the seven-day week by a ten-day week, but this attempt failed badly. It did not work. People became unsettled. The economic benefits aimed for did not come about, and the attempts were dropped.
God instituted marriage, and this ordinance is not readily changed. In drunken stupor, Ahasuerus demanded that Queen Vashti entertain him. She refused and he rejected her. But when he was sober, he thought of her again.
A prostitute shamelessly tells her story to a newspaper reporter. But in the middle of that newspaper report we read this remarkable paragraph: Once I really fell in love with a man. I was so madly in love that I only wanted to be alone with my white prince, and my heart’s desire was to have as many babies as possible. Yet that relationship was overshadowed by conflicts and irritations, mainly because of dissatisfaction with myself and with the position in which I found myself. That badly rattled me. I had never thought that pure love could make me adopt such an awfully traditional role.
Notice those conflicts and irritations, the dissatisfaction with the “awfully traditional role.” You discover here the pull of the reality which God created by His wisdom. This prostitute tasted some of that wisdom; she stared reality in the face. If only she had sought answers in the right direction.
Despite the destruction and disruption caused by sin, we continue to discover how wisdom and reality belong to each other.
Proverbs 3:13-20, Esther 1:1-2:1, Genesis 1 and 2 (: 9, 18-25), Revelation 2:7; 22:2, 14, Psalm 8
Living Wisely Generation after Generation – Proverbs 3:31 - 4:9
God and the Neighbour – Good and Evil (Proverbs 3:21 - 35)
This passage provides a beautiful illustration of the double love commandment. Focus on the LORD – He comes first! – and let yourself be guided by wisdom. You will notice how that benefits your relation with your neighbour. That is the thread that runs through this passage.
Wisdom guards against accidents resulting from impulsive action. Wisdom helps you to sleep peacefully. Wisdom causes you to look first around for your neighbour. You will discover the needs of the other, and you will start to help wherever you can.
You adopt a diaconal attitude over against those who need help. You should not postpone your help either. When someone finally, perhaps after much hesitation and struggle, comes to you for help, do not make him wait. Providing help may never be done from a position of power. Sensitivity prevents the emphasis of your role as rescuer.
Deal with each other in righteousness, in particular when there is a trust relationship. Do not betray that trust.
Do not hinder your neighbour by acting as a complainer or a quarreler. These proverbs admonish, Do not do that! Do not envy a man of violence. Force may impress some, some may even find its roughness and lack of couth attractive. Lamech from the family of Cain is the classic example. He portrays the man of the world who has found his niche without God and acts as if the whole world belongs to him. Mighty men, tyrants, despots, extortionists, these are all men of violence. Psalm 37 admonishes us not to envy those who in a wicked and godless manner pretend that the whole world is theirs. Look a little farther: the meek shall inherit the earth. That is what the Lord Jesus taught us in the sermon on the mount. That is what Psalm 37 already told us: The righteous shall possess the land and dwell in it for ever.
And God is enthroned above all this. He punishes and blesses, and thus makes separation, temporally as well as eternally.
Proverbs 3:21-35, Psalm 37, Matthew 5:5, Genesis 4:23-24, Romans 12:9-21; 13:8-14