Good Advice; May 16, 2023

Proverbs 3:1-2 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you prosperity.

These two verses were not underlined in my Bible, but the following 10 verses are some of the best, most concentrated advice in the Old Testament, right up there with some of the richer passages in the New Testament. Verses 5-8, and particularly five and six, have long been personal favorites, with “Proverbs 3:5-6” being one of the relatively few references I recognize instantly, and could give you chapter and verse in addition to knowing the content. However, as I know all too well, familiarity with Scripture doesn’t guarantee that we live it out. As it says here, it needs to be in our heart. “Forgetting” here isn’t an abstract, intellectual thing, but rather taking casually or lightly. It’s interesting that the NIV says “prosperity,” while the Japanese says “peace.” I don’t have the Hebrew here, but the word must be shalom, which is closely analogous to the Hawaiian aloha. It carries many meanings, but all of them are good! It isn’t just a lack of external conflict, but inner peace and indeed, prosperity, as the NIV has it. All in all, very desirable! If these were indeed written by Solomon, as 1:1 proclaims, there is great wisdom here, but it is all the more tragic that Solomon himself didn’t follow his own good advice. He certainly gained prosperity, but he ended up trusting his own judgment instead of fearing and seeking the Lord, and he went astray into idolatry for apparently political reasons, to please his foreign wives. He ended up deceiving himself, and it was tragic for him and for the nation. (James 1:22)

This is something I’ve got to take to heart personally. As I said, I’ve long loved 5-8, but that’s precisely because I have tended to be wise in my own eyes, (verse 7) and that is blinding. I have made more stupid mistakes than I could count, precisely because have “leaned on my own understanding” instead of seeking and obeying God. “Yes, but” is no way to answer God! When I read through the Bible by the time I was 10, I have never had any excuses for all the ways I have disobeyed God. That has made verses 11-12 especially pertinent to me. I am actually more familiar with them as they are quoted in Hebrews 12:5-6, but every Christian needs to remember them: “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 3:11-12) God is continually giving me good advice, and I’ve got to apply it!

Father, thank You for saying this to me yet again. That You need to say it so often is proof of how thick my skull is! Help me indeed trust You with all my heart, fearing and loving You as I should, so that all that I do and say may be fully aligned with You, accomplishing Your purposes for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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