Proverbs 3:21-35 Wise Instructions For Wise Living

Memory Verse: Proverbs 3:21-22

3:21-24 Stay Focused, Blessings Will Follow

  • 3:21a The writer of Proverbs, Solomon, continues in his exhortations to his son. This urging and persuasion comes in the form of many “do not” type of instructions.
  • 3:21b Instruction #1: Do not let “them depart from thine eyes”. The “them” in this verse could be referring back to the “wisdom and understanding” mentioned in 3:19-20 or it could be referring to the following phrase in the same verse “sound wisdom (judgment) and discretion (discernment; the trait of judging wisely and objectively)” which he is told to also “keep” (preserve, conform to). Either way, he is urged to keep wisdom, understanding, judgement and discretion and let them not escape from his sight but they are to always have his attention. Are we staying focused on wisdom or do we get distracted by foolishness? Simply said, be focused.
  • 3:22-24 Blessings from following this instruction of the father are mentioned as follows: (1) they will be life to your soul and an adornment (grace) for your neck—meaning that you will receive internal and external benefits from wisdom: long life and you will adorn a positive personal character which finds favour and kindness from others. (2) You will walk on your way safely and securely, and your foot will not stumble—meaning that as your live out your life each day, you can do so with the assurance and safety that you are making the right decisions and are on the right path; it protects you from making moral mistakes, sinning and doing wrong (stumbling). (3) When you lie down, you will not be afraid and your sleep will be sweet—meaning that you will have peaceful and pleasant sleep without the night terrors that haunts a person’s mind otherwise (often from bad, wrong or sinful choices).

3:25-26 Confidence In The Lord, Not Fear Of Our Circumstances

  • 3:25 Instruction #2: Do not be afraid (scared, frightened) of sudden fear (disaster, dread, terror, panic), of the desolation (ruin) of the wicked, when it comes. There will be things that happen in life that are a complete surprise in the negative sense, and it diverts our attention from God and the wisdom that he has to the circumstance and leads to fear and panic. Whether the disasters come from the wicked towards the righteous purposefully or as a natural consequences that arises and overtakes the wicked, when disasters come from or on the wicked, such as come like a sudden storm, we are to not be afraid.
  • 3:26 How can we not be afraid? Trust! Because the Lord (the One who created the world by wisdom and understanding in 3:19-20) will be our confidence (trust, faith, reliability) and will keep our foot from being taken (caught). To obey the Lord and follow in the wisdom He gives means that He is also by our side and His protection is at hand. Fear often leads to foolishness and causes us to fall into traps (probably set by the wicked). But when the Lord’s protection is by our side, then we can walk confidently without being afraid of sudden devastating storms or specifically placed traps hidden from sight. Simply said, be confident.

3:27-31 Wisely Build Relationships With Others

  • 3:27 Instruction #3: Do not withhold (to hold back) good (something beneficial) from those to whom it is due (deserving or need), when it is in the power of your hand (in your control) to do it. Thus, if someone is deserving of something good or in need of something good, and we are able to provide that good thing, then we should hold it back or hesitate from doing it. If you are able to, meaning you have the ability and resources to do good to others, then do it. Simply said, be kind.
    Galatians 6:10
  • 3:28 Instruction #4: Do not say to your neighbor (countryman, friend, acquaintance), “Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give” when you already have it with you. Thus, if someone is needing something from us and we are in possession of what they need, then we should promptly and willingly give it. We shouldn’t delay or put it off—hoping they don’t come back or they get the hint we don’t really want to help them. If you can give something to your neighbor today, don’t tell him to come back tomorrow to get it. If you can help today, then help them today. Simply said, be generous.
  • 3:29 Instruction #5: Do not devise (plot, plan) evil (harm) against your neighbor who dwells (lives) securely (trustingly) beside you. Thus, our goodwill ought to cause our neighbors (countryman, friend, acquaintance) who live next to us or those whom we routinely interact with to feel safe and secure. Our character and wise living ought to give them some confidence that we aren’t trying to scheme against them and cause them harm, injury, destruction or misfortune. Don’t take advantage of others. Simply said, be trustworthy.
  • 3:30 Instruction #6: Do not strive (dispute, contend, accuse, quarrel) with anyone without cause (reason), when they have done you no harm (evil, injury, destruction, misfortune). Thus, we shouldn’t argue with others just to argue. Why do we dispute with others when there is no reasonable basis to do so? Unless someone has done you harm, don’t be argumentative, belligerent, combative, contentious or antagonistic. Simply said, be friendly.
  • 3:31 Instruction #7: Do not envy (desirous of the advantages of) the oppressor (a violent person), and choose none of his ways. Thus, when others (including politicians, celebrities, musicians, etc.) through violence or aggression gain wealth or other desirable things, don’t be envious and don’t follow their example. Do not act like they act. Simply said, be content.
    Psalm 37:1-40

3:32-35 Rewards For The Good And Punishments For The Bad

  • 3:32-35 The froward (insincere, deceitful, devious or perverse person) is an abomination (disgust) to the Lord. But the Lord’s confidence (secret, intimacy, trust) is with the righteous (upright, character). The curse (divine opposition) of the Lord is on the house of the wicked (godless). But the Lord blesses (divine favor) the home (habitation, dwelling) of the just (righteous acts and morals). Toward the scorners (proud mockers, those who make fun of others) the Lord is scornful (mocks, scoffs, jeer). But the Lord gives grace (favor) unto the lowly (humble, oppressed, afflicted). The wise shall inherit glory (honor, praise, respect, recognition, good name). But shame (disgrace, dishonor) will be the promotion (display) of fools (one who lacks good judgment). Which category do you find yourself: froward, wicked, scorners, fool. Or righteous, just, lowly, wise. Will you be rewarded or punished? How will the Lord deal with you? Humble yourself. Be wise.
    James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5

Review Questions

  • What do we need to stay focused on?
  • How can we not be afraid?
  • What are the seven “do not” types of instructions?
  • What are the seven instructions “simply said”?
  • What are the rewards and punishments?

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