Lord, help me to heed my heavenly Father’s advice on a higher level than that of my earthly father.
Read Proverbs 3:1–18
My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
2 for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.
3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.
11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.
13 Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
those who hold her fast will be blessed.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5,6).
I sit in silence for five minutes, to quiet down my spirit, letting go of memories from the past and concerns for the future, and coming to the present moment. I savor the sweetness, the serenity, and the solidity of this reading, going over it again and again. Taken to heart, with companion
chapters like Romans 8, this fatherly teaching will ensure that I am never disappointed. First, I am reminded of the very core of faith and faithfulness, climaxing with “all your heart” and “all your ways” in
verses 5 and 6. Then I am reminded that fearing God and fleeing from evil are often—usually?—good, very good for me (7–10). Then, lest I should think that this is the whole truth about the good life, verses 11 and 12 and then verses 13–18 remind me “of other divine methods and better prizes than prosperity” (Derek Kidner, Proverbs, 64).
Verses 5 and 6 ask me: “Who am I trusting? What am I leaning on above all else?” The NIV translation “submit to him” in verse 6 is literally “know him,” which means more than just “keep him in mind.” Lord, I thank You for this invitation and I jump for joy at Your promise. I think of the longest, straightest road I know and then I thank You that You will clear the road (MNT) for me. Knowing God involves heart, understanding and faith; verse 15 says that wisdom is more desirable than anything else in the whole world. Lord, above others, above self, above all things, teach me to know You.
If life is treating me well, I respond with unbounded gratitude. I remember Mr. Bigger Barns, who reacted to his success with terminal stupidity (Luke 12:18–20). I luxuriate in Lady Wisdom, her pleasant ways and peaceful paths. I thank You, God, for Jesus, who is Your Wisdom for me; and for his cross, which is Your tree of life for me. If life is tough for me, I recall that the Father’s discipline reflects his delight in me, nothing less.
Think of all the similarities between this father’s advice and the advice you have issued to your children over the years.
Lord, help me know You more clearly, love You more dearly and follow You more nearly, now and forever (Richard of Chichester, 1197–1253).