This the fourth and final part of a four-part study in the early chapters of Proverbs. Each post has study and discussion questions for personal or group use. Here are the links to the previous parts:
- Avoid bad company: Don’t be gullible—there are people you should avoid.
- Accept correction and discipline (or Don’t be a fool)
- Abstain from Sexual temptation
Since the early chapters of proverbs were originally words from a father to a son, these lessons are especially helpful for parents who desire to lead their children in the way of wisdom.
4. Affirm God in all of life
How would you explain to your son or daughter what life with God involves? Proverbs offers a model for us to follow. But consider first the general way in which Proverbs approaches this matter.
Derek Kidner, (in his excellent commentary on Proverbs), suggested that Proverbs is a book that, “seldom takes you to church.” There are a lot of Monday morning issues in Proverbs. Unlike other Old Testament books, the themes of covenant, law, and prophecy are not very prominent in Proverbs.
Proverbs wants to alert us to “details of character small enough to escape the mesh of the law and the broadsides of the prophets, and yet decisive in personal dealings.”
“Proverbs moves in this realm, asking what a person is like to live with or employ; how he manages his affairs, his time and himself. This good lady, for instance — does she talk too much? That cheerful soul — is he bearable in the early morning? And this friend who is always dropping in — here is some advice for him . . . and for that rather aimless lad . . . Its function in Scripture is to put godliness into working clothes; to name business and society as spheres in which we are to acquit ourselves with credit to our Lord, and in which we are to look for His training” (Kidner, p. 13, TOTC, Proverbs).
The book of Proverbs wants to meet you in the street; to go to work with you, attend class with you, go on vacation with you, and sit with you at the dinner table. Proverbs wants to meet you at home, at the social gathering, in the boardroom, the courtroom, and in the halls of government. Proverbs is interested in the kind of friends you choose, the kind of advice you receive, and in the way you handle finances. Proverbs reach into the way you think and into your thought-life; it will survey your attitudes, and challenge your emotional responses. Proverbs is greatly interested in your speech — the kind of words you use and how you use them.
Proverbs is (in a sense) saying, “Look, life involves a lot of little choices and the little things do matter. Make your choices carefully, understanding that there is a foolish way to be avoided and a wise way to be followed.” (Kidner)
Although Proverbs is not explicitly religious, as Kidner notes, “God is no afterthought here.” As much as the book of Proverbs advocates common sense, it also cautions against leaning on your own understanding, and exalts faith (3:5-6). Although Proverbs emphasizes the importance of planning and seeking wise counsel, it yields the final “yes” or “no” to the Lord (see 16:9; 19:21). While Proverbs highly advocates learning by listening and observing, Proverbs 20:12 says, “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made both of them.”
Proverbs works out what living for God means in the ordinariness of daily life. Concerning Proverbs 1:7, although fearing the Lord “…includes worship, it does not end there. It radiates out from our adoration and devotion to our everyday conduct that sees each moment as the Lord’s time, each relationship as the Lord’s opportunity; each duty as the Lord’s command, and each blessing as the Lord’s gift. It is a new way of looking at life and seeing what it is meant to be when viewed from God’s perspective” (David Hubbard).
Five essentials for walking with God (From Proverbs 3:5-12)
Here we find the key components; the non-negotiable action points; the main elements of walking with God. Each one calls for an active response to God. In verses 5-6 we get a clear picture that God is not a casual “add-on” to an already busy life. We’re not trying to find a little time for God — we’re trusting him with all our hearts. We are acknowledging him in all our ways. This is not religion — it’s relationship. This is life! Each of the five action points could be used as headings for discipleship curriculum.
- Trust God with all your heart (5)
- Acknowledge God in all your ways — know Him…. (6)
- Fear the Lord (7-8)
- Honor God with your wealth – as a first thought not an after thought (9-10)
- Don’t resent God when He disciplines you (11-12)
Each of these verbs are offered to help a son know what life with God looks like. These are not passive qualities but active engagements of those who walk with God.