1 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.
19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
and the clouds let drop the dew.
21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Have no fear of sudden disaster
or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the Lord will be at your side
and will keep your foot from being snared.
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to act.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
“Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
when you already have it with you.
29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor,
who lives trustfully near you.
30 Do not accuse anyone for no reason—
when they have done you no harm.
31 Do not envy the violent
or choose any of their ways.
32 For the Lord detests the perverse
but takes the upright into his confidence.
33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the home of the righteous.
34 He mocks proud mockers
but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.
35 The wise inherit honor,
but fools get only shame.
What is the end goal of this exercise? Why put in the time to read these Proverbs, reflect on them, and share those reflections with other men in your life? Let’s look at what God is offering for His sons if we keep His teachings close, and heed his Words:
“Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and men.”
A good name in the sight of God… what could be more beautiful. When each of us and all that we own is destined to return to dust, what could be more important than the quality of our name in standing with God?
“Because it is my name. Because I cannot have another in this life.”
-John Proctor (The Crucible)
And so, with our goal in mind, how do we achieve it? How do we move through life, learning from our mistakes and becoming more and more like the One we seek to honor?
“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.”
Discipline. There may not be a word that evokes a wider variety of responses based on our individual experiences with it.
For some of us, just reading the words sends a shiver down our spine. For others, it elicits that feeling in your stomach that comes with shame, and still, others of us reflect on our own experience as the giverof discipline now that we are working to raise children of our own. Most, if not all, of the varying reactions to the word discipline, can be traced back to the actions of an authority figure in our lives: a parent, a teacher, a mentor—someone who proved to us that discipline was a punishment reserved for mistakes or an empty threat to be ignored.
But not with God.
God is our perfect Father. He is not swayed to emotional outbursts or responses born out of revenge, selfishness, or exhaustion. His discipline is a result of His Love and Holiness. He created you, and He loves you, and because of that, He won’t settle for you making the kind of mistakes that would separate you from Him.
Proverbs 3 illuminates this graciousness of God’s character. Look at how enamored God is with you as His son, how He longs for you to soak up all of the wisdom He is offering. Your heavenly Father knows that gaining that understanding is the way towards the life He is showing you, one that far surpasses anything you could create for yourself. His hand of discipline is always there, leading you back towards this life when you stray. Thank God that it is.
Lord, thank You for Your discipline. Please help me to say that daily and to mean it. Teach me to see the pathways I have chosen to walk that lead me away from You and to find joy in Your hand guiding me back. Teach me the lessons of wisdom from these wanderings, that I may see them coming in the future and choose the God-path instead.