Proverbs- Session 2- 3:1-12

Session 2- Direction

Proverbs 3:1-12

Session Resources:

  • Video Summary

Subject:  Direction

Central Theme:  Direction from God

Objective Sentence:  We can receive direction from God by living out 4 imperatives.

Imperative #1- Remember God’s Wisdom.  V.1-4.

Imperative #2- Trust God’s Commands.  V.5-8.

Imperative #3- Honor God’s Possessions.  V.9-10.

Imperative #4- Accept God’s Discipline. V.11-12

 

Introduction:

Connection:

  • When was the last time you stopped and asked for directions? When was the last time you bought a paper map?
  • If you are over a certain age you may have memories of doing these things. If you are under a certain age you probably have never purchased a paper map.
  • The introduction of technology like GPS for our cars and on our phones have made getting direction pretty accessible.

Tension:

  • But the same isn’t always true with life’s decisions for many people.
  • We often struggle to know which decision to make.
  • We lack the wisdom on our own to know exactly which decision is within the will of God and what we ought to do.
  • As we study the book of Proverbs we find that this book is incredibly practical.
  • In it we find the answers to these kinds of questions.
  • How can we receive direction from God?
  • According to the principles that we’ll see in Proverbs 3, God wants to give us direction.
  • We can get direction from God for our lives. How is this possible?

Objective Sentence:  We can receive direction from God by living out 4 imperatives.

Imperative #1- Remember God’s Wisdom.  V.1-4.

My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:  (2)  For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.  Proverbs 3:1-2

Explanation:

  • When studying the Bible, we must be incredibly careful to interpret it correctly.
    • The responsibility of the reader is to understand the intention and meaning that the author is trying to convey.
    • Many considerations must be made in trying to discover the meaning of any given text.
  • One important consideration is the genre of the writing.
    • You may not interpret a proverb in the same way you would interpret historic narrative or an epistle.
    • A poem is different than a letter, for instance, and this contributes to understanding the author’s intent.
  • Where this applies in today’s text, and really many places in the book of proverbs, can be found in this question:  Are the proverbs to be taken as promises or probabilities?
  • In this text Solomon urges his son to not forget the laws and commandments that he had given to him.

My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:  (V1)

  • Forgetting deals with the mind and behavior.
  • He also deals with the heart, signifying that it is not just an intellectual endeavor, but a spiritual, emotional, and internal commitment that must be made.
  • Solomon then goes on to say,

“for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.”

  • If this were to be taken as promise, then anyone who has ever lived this way and been murdered at a young age would be exhibit A in a refutation of the veracity of scripture.
  • The truth is that Solomon is not telling his son that this way of thinking is a magic trick to ensure that bad things will never happen to him.
  • This is not an endorsement of karma working mysteriously in the world for those who attempt to live wisely.
  • At the same time, this is not some wishy-washy general statement with so many qualifications that it becomes a pointless mentality to adopt.
  • Solomon is stating a profound probability.
    • It is an observation and instruction related to the reality and probability of how the world works according to God’s design.
    • When the young listen, take to heart, and obey the wisdom and instruction of their parents the probability of their life being extended and improved is significantly affected in a positive way.
    • Conversely, those who ignore the wisdom and instruction of the wise people in their life find that the length and quality of their life is affected negatively as well.

Application:

  • These realities can be seen in the lives of people that we meet every day.
  • Go out your door and talk to people.  You will find people that wear their choices, good and bad on their faces and in their bodies.
  • Though this should not be taken as a promise to immunity from difficulty, it should be taken seriously.
  • Do you want peace?  Health? Quality of life?  Length of life?  Then listen to and take to heart the wisdom of the elders in your life.
  • You might be thinking, “But I’m not really around many older people.  What do I do?  Where can I access these wise, mature people and get their knowledge and input?”
    • There may be wise people in your family. Get around them.  Make a phone call.  Do whatever you can to let them speak into your life.
    • There are many wise people in our solid, Bible-believing local church.  The Bible speaks specifically of the need for the older to teach the younger in the context of the local, New Testament assembly.  There are many wise people who are looking to do that in a variety of ways in good, Godly churches.
    • You can access wise counsel through books and other media. You can access the wisdom of great people who are preachers, authors, bloggers, and practitioners.  We have more access to more content (good and bad) today than at any other time of history.  Let wise people you know point you to wisdom in solid sources.
    • The ultimate and inerrant source of wisdom is the Word of God.  As we study the book of Proverbs, we will see unparalleled wisdom that finds it ultimate source in God Himself.  Remember, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.  Any wisdom that comes from any other source finds its ultimate source in the person of God himself.

Response:

  • Which one of these four sources of wisdom do you need to access today?
  • What wisdom are you ignoring that is affecting your peace and length of life today?

Explanation:

“Let not mercy and truth forsake thee…”

  • It is almost like he is pleading with his son to cling to mercy and truth.
  • Truth can get away easily.  The capacity of mankind to believe lies is substantial.

“…bind them about thy neck…”

  • The imagery is of a necklace put around the neck.  It can be decorative but is also cherished and kept close.  Binding them around your neck is a way to keep them close and cherished.

“…write them upon the table of thine heart”

  • To write something on a table is in those days meant to chisel into stone or wood.
  • This is something more permanent in nature than writing on paper today.
  • The idea is to make these virtues not only the external decoration of your life, but the internal conviction of your heart.

“so shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.”

  • These are the two most fundamental relationships in life that actively influence each other.
    • We have a vertical relationship with God and horizontal relationships with others.
  • When it comes to both of those kinds of relationships, we want favour.
    • This word for favour is also translated grace.
    • Since we are not perfect there will be times where we mess up with God and men.
    • If we deal in mercy and truth and make that the external and internal characteristics of our life, both God and men will be likely to extend kindness and graciousness in times where we mess up.
  • When it comes to those relationships, we want good understanding.  Thinking rightly and kindly about our circumstances with others is a hallmark of strong relationships.
  • So, let us summarize these two verses:
    • When we make the internal conviction and external decoration of our life the virtues of mercy and truth it will produce strong relationships both vertically with God and horizontally with our fellow man.

Application:

  • Questions for application:
  • How does truth produce favor and good understanding with God?  God knows our thoughts, behaviors, and motives.  He cannot lie.  He hates a lying tongue.  He has given His Word, the ultimate source of truth to us.  You cannot be right with God apart from truth.
  • How does truth produce favor and good understanding with man?  There may be instances where people would rather you lie to them, but as a way of life we all want those we deal with to be truthful and honest.
  • How does mercy produce favor and good understanding with God?  Our horizontal relationships with others impacts our vertical relationship with God.  Notice what the Bible says in 1 John 4:20:  “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”
    • In the parable of the unmerciful servant Jesus teaches that those of us who have received mercy and forgiveness with God (vertical relationship) must extend mercy and forgiveness to those who trespass against us (horizontal relationships).  Forgiven people forgive.
  • How does mercy produce favor and good understanding with man?  At some point in most every long-term relationship everyone involved will need forgiveness for that relationship to survive.  Forgiveness, by definition, cannot take place without mercy.  We must give and receive forgiveness for relationships to happen.  How can we expect mercy from others if we are not willing to give it ourselves?

Response:

  • Are you pursuing or neglecting truth in your relationship with God?
  • Are you pursuing or neglecting truth in your relationships with others?
  • Have you experienced the mercy and grace of God in your life?  If not please take a minute to read the post at the link- http://www.cantonbaptist.org/compass
  • Are you extending mercy and forgiveness to others?

Transitional Sentence:  If we want to go in the direction that God wants you to go, we must remember God’s wisdom for our lives.  They impact every part of our life.  We can also get direction from God when we obey imperative #2.

Imperative #2- Trust God’s Commands.  V.5-8.

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  (6)  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.  (7)  Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.  (8)  It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.  Proverbs 3:5-8

Explanation:

  • We make decisions every day.  Even though we may not make life changing decisions every day, the daily decisions we make do affect our lives.  Often the most life changing decisions we make are ones that we did not know would come.  They are not on our calendars.  But these decisions come to us, and we must make a choice.
  • The Bible clearly teaches that it is foolishness to try to make decisions in life based on our own wisdom and understanding.  This is a theme in the book of Proverbs.  Consider Pro 16:25:

“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

  • In verses 5-8 there are two parts: the command and the results. 
  • First, let us talk about the command in this text.

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  (6)  In all thy ways acknowledge him,

  • There is the command to adopt an attitude and action.
  • Solomon pleads with his son to adopt an attitude of submission to the wisdom and revelation of God (v.5-6a).
  • If the Lord says it, even if it does not make sense to you, hear it, and obey it.  Lean into what the Lord says and not into what you think.

(7)  Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.

  • Do not be wise only from your own perspective and way of thinking(v7).  Acknowledge the Lord in every decision (v6a).
  • Next, let us talk about the results.  When his son adopts this attitude, there will be two results.
  • Direction.

and he shall direct thy paths.

  • When we adopt God’s wisdom, trust Him, and acknowledge Him in all our decisions, we will be guided down the right path.  We will have direction for life.
  • Health.

(8)  It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

  • Remember, this is a probability and general result and not a universal promise.
    • He is not saying that those who trust in the Lord will never get sick.
    • He is saying that there are healthy outcomes for those who obey.
      • The person who trusts the Lord when it comes to God’s commands and teaching about sex need never worry about sexually transmitted diseases.
      • The person who trusts God’s Word about drunkenness will never face the consequences of driving drunk or destroying their liver.
    • I have heard it said that when God says do not, he is saying do not hurt yourself.  There is wisdom in this statement.

 

Application:

  • Do we want right direction and health for our lives?
    • If we do then we cannot ignore these principles.
    • You can fight against these principles, but you will not like the outcome.
  • Conversely, think about this.  The God of the Universe has given you His wisdom.  The Designer has given us insight into living in the world He designed.
  • We are limited in our knowledge, experience, and perspective.
  • God is infinite!  Out of His infinity He has revealed Himself in the Word and through His Son.
  • Let us hear, trust, and obey what He says!

Response:

  • How can you acknowledge God today in your decisions?
  • Where do you need to trust God more today?

Transitional Sentence:  We receive direction from the Lord when we remember God’s wisdom, and when we trust him.  There is a third imperative that will help us get direction from God.

Imperative #3- Honor God’s Possessions.  V.9-10.

(9) Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:

Explanation:

  • Solomon instructs his son on the wise way to manage his possessions.
  • There are two terms that describe a wise stewardship in these two verses.
    • The first term is “substance”.
      • This speaks of everything that we own.
      • This word could also be translated “wealth”.
      • We are not just responsible for stewarding what we give to the Lord.  We are responsible for stewarding everything we have.
      • A right stewardship of everything I own is to use what I own in a way that honors the Lord.
    • The second term is “increase”.
      • “Increase” speaks to income.
      • In regards to our increase, Solomon says that we honor God with the “firstfruits”.
        • This idea of “firstfruits” is that they would give God a percentage, a proportion, of what came in.
          • They were to give it first, before they gave anything else.
          • They were also to give their best.
        • We do not give the leftovers to God.  We give him the best.
      • In verse 10 we see the results.

(10)  So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.  Proverbs 3:9-10

  • It may seem counterintuitive to think that having a lifestyle of giving away a percentage of the best of what you have to the Lord bringing prosperity.
  • Generosity, proper stewardship, and honoring the Lord with our wealth and income invite the blessing of God in our lives.
  • We must be careful and thoughtful about verses in Proverbs like verse 10.
  • Verses like this is more probability than promise.  God is a debtor to no man!

Application:

  • We ought to give to God proportionally. 
    • The biblical practice of tithing is a great place to start when it comes to giving.
    • The right place to give is to our local church.
      • Jesus Christ loved and gave himself for the church.
      • It is the local church that has been stewarded with making disciples.
      • We give to the Lord through our local church.
    • We ought to give to God honorably. 
      • This means we give him our best and we give to him first.
      • We are not looking at how little we can give, and how little we can trust God.
      • We give a portion because we want to honor Him with all of it.
      • It is all His and He allows us to use it.
    • We ought to give to God expectantly. 
      • We ought not give so that we can get.
      • We ought to give, demonstrating faith in God, expecting that He will take care of us as He has promised.
      • Jesus said it this way in Luke 12 when he said,

“And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.  (23)  The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.  (24)  Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?  (25)  And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?  (26)  If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?  (27)  Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  (28)  If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?  (29)  And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.  (30)  For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.  (31)  But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Luke 12:22-31

 

Response:

  1. Are you honoring God with your what you have?
  2. Are you honoring God with your income?
  3. Do you faithfully give to your local church?
  4. Are you giving worshipfully or out of duty?

 

Transitional Sentence:  We get direction from God by remembering His wisdom, by trusting Him, by Honoring Him with His wealth and the income He provides.  Here is the last command we must remember to receive direction from God.

Imperative #4- Accept God’s Discipline. V.11-12

My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:  (12)  For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.  Pro 3:11-12

Explanation:

  • What an incredible analogy is presented to us in these verses!
  • God’s response in our lives is likened to a father with a son.
    • What does a loving father do with the toddler that keeps running toward traffic in the street?
      • He corrects his son.
      • He makes sure that the pain of correction and chastening helps to curtail behavior that would lead to more permanent and difficult pain.
      • The father that does not correct or discipline is dealing tragically with their child.
    • Understanding this truth, Solomon says to his son not to despise the chastening of the Lord.
    • The discipline that God brings is indicative of His love.
    • The discipline is also indicative of our relationship to him as sons.

 

Application:

  • What does discipline from the Lord look like?
    • When we discipline our kids, we allow or cause difficult circumstances to help them to learn and to grow.  When a criminal commits a crime and is sentenced, they are punished.  They have a debt that must be paid back.  We discipline our kids and we punish criminality.
    • God allows circumstances and moves in our life to help us to learn and grow.  When He does this, we are being chastened and corrected.
  • What should we remember about our pain when we are disciplined?
    • Remember the point.  When we endure pain from the discipline of God, we must remember the pain that is possible out there that would be so much worse.  The pain is allowed or inflicted for the purpose of making our life worse.  It is to make our life better.
    • Remember the product.  In the book of Hebrews, we learn that there is a fruit to the chastening hand of the Lord.  Notice what the fruit in verse Hebrews 12:11 below:

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.  Heb 12:11

 

  • Remember the person.  The discipline we receive from God should remind us of the relationship that we have to God Himself.  Again, Hebrews says it this way:

If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  (8)  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.  (9)  Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?  (10)  For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.  Heb 12:7-10

Response:

  • How has God taught you through difficulty and discipline in the past?  What did you learn?
  • Is God disciplining you right now?  What is He teaching you?

Conclusion:

Objective Sentence:  We can receive direction from God by living out 4 imperatives.

Imperative #1- Remember God’s Wisdom.  V.1-4.

Imperative #2- Trust God’s Commands.  V.5-8.

Imperative #3- Honor God’s Possessions.  V.9-10.

Imperative #4- Accept God’s Discipline. V.11-12

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