Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 22 2019 - Proverbs 3 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart

In his book, The Radical Disciple, the elderly John Stott spoke of one of the key lessons of old age, learning afresh our dependence upon others. We come into the world completely dependent upon others to care for us but as we grow towards adulthood we learn to become independent; to stand on our own two feet. And that is quite right; we need to grow up. But there is always the danger that we may persuade ourselves that we have become the master of our own soul.

Proverbs 3 exhorts us to remember our continual dependence upon God.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
   and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
   and he will make your paths straight. (vv. 5-6)

Before God, we remain like children who lack knowledge and understanding. We have a tendency to get things wrong and to go down the wrong path. Verse 7 warns us, "Do not be wise in your own eyes." It is only as we trust the Lord and seek his direction for our lives that we will live the life for which he created us. Submitting to him and learning from him "will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones" (v.8).

But why should we trust God rather than living to please ourselves? In the preceding verses Solomon says,

   Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
   bind them around your neck,
   write them on the tablet of your heart. (v. 3)

The primary reference is probably to those qualities of character which spring from wisdom and adorn the life of the one possessing them – a genuine concern for others and an unswerving commitment to their good. But these are qualities we have learned from God. He is the one who has loved us with a love that surpasses our understanding; he is the one who is faithful to all his promises and never turns his back on us. His love and faithfulness towards us, particularly in the Lord Jesus, demonstrate that he can be trusted – trusted with our life and with its every decision. We dare not trust ourselves; we cannot do better than trust the one who has loved us with a love stronger than death and whose unshakeable faithfulness makes him utterly trustworthy.

But such trust does not mean that we will never face difficulties in life, as verses 11-12 remind us:

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.

There are times when God stops us in our tracks and seems to smash all our hopes and plans. Such times call for us to turn to him afresh for wisdom. Have we been pursuing our own path, depending upon our own understanding? Have we been wise in our own eyes rather than seeking to discern his way for us? Times of disappointment need to be times of fresh learning from God, times when we seek his face and his leading with fresh vigour (see John Newton's hymn, "I asked the Lord that I might grow…").

A life lived in dependence upon God – out of a knowledge of his character and grace, and seeking his leading and wisdom – is a life lived well (see vv. 13-18). It is the life for which he created us.

Father God, help me to know that I never grow beyond dependence upon you. Teach me more of what you would have me be and fill me with the wisdom whose ways are pleasant and whose paths are peace. Help me to follow Jesus in the path that leads to life eternal.

Peter Misselbrook