by Sam E. Stone
During this quarter’s lessons on “Tradition and Wisdom,” we will focus on the life and teaching of two people—King Solomon in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament. Proverbs is considered part of the “wisdom literature” of the Bible. In fact, Scripture tells us that Solomon, the principal author, was “greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth” (1 Kings 10:23). His counsel in this book is invaluable.
Billy Graham has said, “I read five chapters of Psalms each day and one chapter of Proverbs each day. I read Psalms to keep right with God, and Proverbs to keep right with my fellowman.” Following this pace, a person can read through both books once each month.
Source of Righteousness/Proverbs 3:1-4
Earlier in the book of Proverbs, Solomon discussed the importance of turning to God for knowledge and wisdom (see 1:7; 2:1-5). Keeping God’s commands in the heart will prolong your life many years. Living righteously starts with wisdom. The psalmist declared, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
Having previously warned against evil companions (Proverbs 2:12-22), Solomon now points his son to the source of right living—having a right relationship with God. Let love and faithfulness never leave you, he commands. The result will be favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Jesus taught his disciples, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15), adding, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching” (v. 23).
Life of Righteousness/Proverbs 3:5-7
Proverbs 3:5, 6 remains one of the most quoted and best loved texts in all of Scripture. The week that I was typing this lesson, I received a letter from a retired minister-friend. He has faced serious health issues. Now he and his wife are preparing to move to another city. He wrote, “The verse most quoted in our home is, ‘Acknowledge the Lord in all your ways, and he will direct your path.’” The person who completely trusts the Lord is assured that God will make a straight path for him (compare Hebrews 12:13, King James Version). Elsewhere Solomon wrote, “He who walks in wisdom is kept safe” (Proverbs 28:26, NIV).
Fear the Lord and shun evil. Throughout the Old Testament the need to fear God is emphasized (see Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Ecclesiastes 12:13). Respecting God’s power and holiness is foundational in the Christian life as well. Turning away from evil is also a New Testament theme (see 2 Timothy 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:22).
Blessings of Righteousness/Proverbs 3:8-12
Obedience brings blessing. Jesus taught that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled (Matthew 5:6). Solomon tells us that this even includes physical health (compare Proverbs 15:30; 16:24). This does not mean, however, that the believer will never have problems or suffer (note 3:11, 12). But living a godly life helps one avoid many situations that can cause difficulty.
Solomon then commands, Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops. The tithe is older than the Mosaic Law (Genesis 14:20). Proportionate giving has been a responsibility for all God’s children since the time of Abraham. Malachi commanded, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse” (3:10) and enumerated the blessings that would follow. Jesus commended the tithe and called on people to do even more (Matthew 23:23, 24). The Lord will provide for those who are faithful stewards of what they are given (2 Corinthians 9:8). Many have observed, “God will be no man’s debtor.” H. A. Ironside wrote, “All comes from God; yet he graciously receives from those he has redeemed and delights to ever be himself the greatest giver.”
Those who pursue righteousness must still undergo discipline. This is no “health and wealth gospel.” God teaches us through times of testing and affliction (see 12:1; Psalm 119:71). This was clearly shown in the life of Job (Job 5:17, 18), Chastening by the Lord should not cause one to question whether he is really a child of God. Just the opposite. Like a loving parent disciplines his child, so God disciplines his beloved children (Hebrews 12:7, 10).
Sam E. Stone is the former editor of Christian Standard. He continues his writing and speaking ministry from his home in Cincinnati, Ohio.