Of the 31 chapters of Proverbs, chapter 3 is probably one of the most quoted chapters in the book. Proverbs 3:5 has become a staple for what you would call “coffee cup” verses—placed on items, hung on our walls, and in various places to remind us to trust the Lord. While this is one of my favorite personal verses, I believe without the study of the whole text, the verse in itself can become stale and even misconstrued.
Proverbs 3 is a beautiful letter which begins with the words “my son”. This shows us that this portion of Scripture isn’t necessarily a command, but it is written out of a deep, personal love for the recipient. It is a divinely inspired love letter, not only written to this recipient, but meant for us as well. The words of Scripture are deeply personal, and they are meant to be bathed with a tone of compassion and of wisdom of someone who lives out the words on the paper.
There are 5 commands overall in Proverbs 3 in which we can listen to, benefit from, and that will bring us closer to God. Though the Scriptures aren’t written about us, our actions point others and ourselves to God, our Creator. These five points help us in our daily walk.
The First Command: Remember
We aren’t to merely just read Scripture and go on. The teachings of the Lord are God-breathed, and we are to not only read words placed on the paper, but we are to do what we can to keep the commands placed in Scripture tucked into our hearts. We need to do what is necessary to memorize scripture and to practice it in our daily lives. The writer of Proverbs even metaphorically says to tie them around our neck and write them on the tablet of our hearts (Proverbs 3:3).
How do we do this? I have several ways I like to memorize Scripture. I place Scripture around my house, sometimes using a dry erase marker to write various scripture on my mirrors so that I see it and am aware of it. Another effective way to memorize Scripture is to simply listen to it. There are many great audible Bible apps, even ones that keep music behind them for those of you like me who need music to do anything. Writing Scripture down and focusing on passages slowly, meditating on them, and praying them are also surefire ways to help Scripture be engraved on the tablets of your heart.
The Second Command: Trust
The most well known verse in this chapter is Proverbs 3:5. It states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.” If we stop there, however, our trust will be without foundation. The writer continues in verse 6 to “acknowledge Him in all your ways.” Are we acknowledging Him in our daily activities, our finances, and our workplaces? When we acknowledge all things through a heavenly lens, we see that God will guide us on a path straight. We need to rely on the Lord’s wisdom, not our own. It says in verse 8 when we do this, there will be healing for our bodies and strength for our bones. We trust and honor God in all things, and He will continue to sustain us.
The Third Command: Do Not Despise the Lord’s Discipline
This is an obvious command which is also reiterated in the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 12:5). I think I would be more worried if the Lord didn’t discipline me. To show the Lord’s discipline is to show He loves us, like a parent is teaching us how to grow to be more like Him. This process is called sanctification. It’s a beautiful thing because God will continue to mold, shape, and grow us until the day of completion (Philippians 1:6).
The Fourth Command: Confidence
The fourth command is found in Proverbs 3:26, and it ties into trusting the Lord. Sometimes, our sight is short, however, we have to remember to let the Lord be our confidence. Things aren’t always going to be plain and easy to see right in front of us; we are going to have times where we are afraid or we feel inadequate. Honestly, it is a blessing to feel these things because it makes us aware of how much we need the Lord. In Jesus, there is strength, confidence, and rest for our souls.
The Fifth Command: How We Treat Others
Living a God-centered life definitely doesn’t mean living a man-centered one, especially when we are commanded to love those who might be a bit more difficult to love. To treat others fairly means to love our neighbors as ourselves. The writer even says in verse 27, when it is in your power, don’t withhold good from the one whom it belongs. We are told not to envy violent men, and devious people are detestable to the Lord. We have obligations as children of God to treat others in an honorable manner, no matter how difficult it may be, because we are a reflection of God’s children, and God does notice how we treat people (Proverbs 3:34-35).
Proverbs 3 is a goldmine of wisdom. If we stop at verse 3:5, we miss out on so much more wisdom that was penned thousands of years ago. God’s wisdom is practical, and God’s wisdom is a treasure. Never lose sight of it—memorize His word, allow yourself to grow, and remember to treat others in a manner reflective of children of God. The Lord is faithful, and His Word endures forever.