Stephen Caswell © 2000
John Wesley said this: When I was young I was sure of everything; in a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before; at present, I am hardly sure of anything but what God has revealed to me.
Since tonight is a Youth Service I have prepared something to encourage our young people. In this passage Solomon shares some wisdom with his son. Wisdom is applied knowledge. Solomon teaches his son how to apply wisdom to life's pathway. The key verses are verses 5–6. A promise God’s people have often claimed as they have sought the Lord’s direction for their lives. And this promise has never failed them, if they have obeyed the conditions God has laid down in verses 1–12. There are four things that Solomon emphasizes in this passage: Study God's Word, Seek God's Will, Share God's Blessing, Submit To God's Discipline
Firstly Study God's Word
Pr 3:1, 3 My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart,
a. Learn It
Solomon began with God's Word. He kept the Lord's command regarding fathers teaching their children God's Law. There is no better place for a young person to start. Solomon emphasized it both positively and negatively. He told his son not to neglect God's Word. He mustn't forget God's Word or forsake His Law. If your desire is to walk the right way in life then you must not forget or forsake God's Word. Psalm 119:9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
Solomon then turned this into a positive command. He commanded his son to bind God's Word around his neck. He was to wear it like a fine necklace of gold. It was to adorn his life as it gave him beauty and godly character. God's Word was to be his constant companion. Solomon also instructed his son to write God's Word on his heart. Why? Our hearts determine our actions in life. Therefore, God's Word must rule over lives. Young person it is so important to study God's Word while you are young before your life is ensnared by sin. Psalm 119:11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You!
b. Live It
Being a wise man Solomon didn't just command his son to learn God's Word, he also told him to live it. Knowing the right way to live is only the first step of Bible study. Obeying God's Word is the second step. Writing God's Word upon our heart enables us to know right from wrong which is important. But we mustn't stop there. We must then obey God's Word.
The footy season is now over and it was great to see the Bronco's win the grand final. When two teams play they also need referees. Why? The ref's don't actually play. To enforce the rules. All the players know the rules backwards. But that knowledge doesn't mean that they keep them. In fact they often break them. This is why the referee's have to enforce them.
James 1:22-25 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror: For he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
c. The Promises
Proverbs 3:2, 4 For length of days and long life and peace they will add to you. And you will find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.
Solomon also shares the blessings that come from obedience to God's Word. If these instructions are part of one’s inner life, three benefits will be realized: a long life, was a sign of God’s blessing, and peace. The word for peace, shalom, is often translated prosperity. Though it includes peace and prosperity, it is broader in meaning. It also suggests wholeness, health, and harmony. This peace is not just absence from war but the enjoyment of God's fullest blessings. A further blessing from obedience is favor and high esteem. The righteous person enjoys favor with both God and man. A right relationship with God enables us to live peacefully with our fellowman too.
Do you study God's Word? Do you read it daily? Are you learning what it means and how it applies to your life? Are you hiding it in your heart by memorizing it? Are you obeying God's Word? Is God's Word your authority for life? Is your life one that God can bless?
Secondly Seek God's Will
This requires 4 things Faith In The Lord, Follow The Lord, Fear The Lord & Forsaking Evil.
a. Faith In The Lord
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
If we want to know God's will we must trust Him completely. The word translated trust in verse 5 means to lie helpless, face down. It pictures a servant waiting for the master’s command in readiness to obey, or a defeated soldier yielding himself to the conquering general. We must believe that God is wise and He knows what is best for us. So often we think that we can mix our wisdom with God's wisdom and come up with a perfect plan. Solomon, the wisest man ever, told His son to trust in the Lord completely. We must trust God with all our hearts. That leaves no room for self confidence or doubt. You can't trust God and doubt Him at the same time. Faith means, Forsaking All I Trust Him.
The danger, of course, is that we lean on our own understanding and thereby miss God’s will. Our wisdom is futile and can't be relied on. This warning doesn’t suggest that God’s children turn off their brains and ignore their intelligence and common sense. It simply cautions us not to depend on our own wisdom and experience or the wisdom and experience of others. We must recognize that God is sovereign; He is able to bring his plans to pass. We don't know the future, only God does. Only He knows what's best for us. Let us trust Him fully.
b. Follow The Lord
Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
Solomon told his son to seek the Lord in all his ways. This refers to prayer and God's Word. We should seek the Lord's guidance in everything, not just the big decisions. As we pray for the Lord's guidance He speaks to us through His Word. Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. The Lord overrules our circumstances as we trust in Him. When we acknowledge Him first, we find that God makes our paths straight. This means more than guidance; it means God removes the obstacles, making a smooth path or way of life. He brings us to our appointed goal. However this is not just a nod of recognition but an intimate knowledge of God in all his ways. Psalm 37:3-5 combines these 2 themes.
Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD; and he shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
c. Fear The Lord
Proverbs 3:7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
Young people who acquire wisdom need to remember that they did not become wise by themselves; their wisdom came from God. As God directs those who seek Him the temptation of pride can sneak in. This is why Solomon warns us about being wise in our own eyes. Pride goes before a fall. People who are wise in their own eyes are heading for trouble. The fear of the Lord can help prevent the evil of pride. The fear spoken of here is reverential fear. Love, devotion, respect and reverence for God are all a part of this fear. This morning I spoke about this. Proverbs 9:10 says, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
d. Forsake Evil Proverbs 3:7b Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
Wisdom produces positive, moral benefits in our lives. It keeps us from evil and contributes to holiness. Wisdom is a matter of the heart, and of moral conduct, not just of intellectual attainment. Those who fear the Lord will hate evil. They will not want to have anything to do with it. As we saw this morning in Job's life; it was his fear of God that caused him to turn away from evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says this: Abstain from all appearance of evil. We should avoid even those things that have the appearance of evil.
Knowing The Will Of God
God speaks to us in a still small voice. This is probably why we find it so hard to hear Him. It's a bit like receiving a phone call at home when the T.V. is going, the stereo is blaring and the house is full of people chatting to one another. Before we can understand the caller it requires asking our friends to be quiet and turning down the stereo and T.V. So to it is with hearing God. First we must seek the Lord in a quiet place. A place where we can seek His guidance through prayer. A place where He can speak to us through His Word. Seeking God's will involves trusting Him completely. It involves acknowledging Him in everything. It involves fearing God and not man. It requires forsaking sin and every appearance of evil.
e. The Promises
Proverbs 3:6, 8 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.
When we acknowledge God in every area of our lives, He promises to make our paths straight. God delights to bless those who honor Him. He wants us to commit our lives to Him. God's plans are perfect. When we seek God's will He is faithful to guide us and remove the obstacles in our way. I can certainly testify to God's faithfulness in this.
As a result God gives health and strength. Good health is mentioned several times in the Book of Proverbs. This suggests, as is well known today, that spiritual and physical health are related. God allows sickness to afflict His children when they live independently of Him.
Do you trust in the Lord with all your heart, or are you confident in your own resources? God is Jehovah Jireh, the one sufficient for all our needs. Do you commit all of your plans to God first or only the problems that overwhelm you? Are you seeking God's will for life? Do you pray about your service for Christ, job prospects, a marriage partner, and all decisions? Do you fear the Lord or man? You will fear one or the other! God is the one we must fear. Do you forsake evil? The Bible says that we should abstain from every appearance of evil.
Thirdly Share God's Blessing
Prov 3:9 Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase;
a. Your Possessions
Solomon commanded his son to honor the Lord with all his possessions. Is he referring to giving to the Lord in the first part of this verse? No. I believe the first part of the verse refers to our possessions such as homes, cars and appliances. We should use these things to honor the Lord. How can we do this? By using our homes to share hospitality. We can invite people over for meals. Put someone up for the night if required. Give someone a ride to Church or the shop. Loan your tools or goods to help others. We can give things that we don't need to others who can benefit by them. Since all we have belongs to God , let's use it well.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. Communicate is koinwnia fellowship meaning to have in common.
b. Your Pay
In Israel, honoring the Lord with . . . the firstfruits of all one’s crops was a way of expressing gratitude to Him for His provisions. It was a way of acknowledging God and His help. There’s no such thing as spiritual and material in the Christian life, for everything comes from God and belongs to Him. Therefore we should give back something to Him.
1 Corinthians 16:1-2 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do you. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
If we don’t faithfully give to the Lord, we don’t really trust the Lord. Of course, our tithes and offerings aren’t “payment” for His blessings; rather, they’re evidence of our faith and obedience. Christian industrialist R.G. LeTourneau used to say, “If you give because it pays, it won’t pay. Giving is heart preparation for what God wants to say to us and do for us. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. I first learned to give to the Lord's work after I started my first job. I have never regretted this. The Lord has blessed myself and my family abundantly. In general it is true that godliness results in receiving God's blessing, that piety brings prosperity. But this kind of generalization, common in Proverbs, does not disallow God from making exceptions. The health, wealth and prosperity doctrine is wrong.
Each day we go through routines that help us to do what needs to be done. Children get ready for school, fathers go to work. We have meals at regular times. We have a shower each day, I certainly hope you do. We do these things at a set time so that they get done. The same is true of giving. If we don't give regularly it won't get done. Israel brought the firstfruits of their harvest to the Lord at the feast of Passover. The Lord blessed the rest of their harvest as a result. Paul commands Christians to lay aside something for the Lord on the first day of the week. He asks them to give in proportion to the Lord's blessing upon them. Do you do this?
c. The Promises
Pr 3:10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.
In return, God then promised to fill the barns and the vats . . . with new wine. God blesses those who honor Him with their possessions. God is no man's debtor. I have never regretted giving to the Lord's work. It is a privilege to help spread the Gospel. It is a blessing to help those in need. And the Lord has always been faithful to provide our needs. Philippians 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Young people can I encourage you to give to the Lord regularly. The Lord blesses us with so much it is only right that we should give something back to Him. You can also use your possessions to help others. We honor the Lord when we use our homes and cars to minister to others. I will also give a warning here. The most miserable people you will ever find are selfish people who keep everything for themselves and spend all of their money on themselves! Will you honor the Lord with your possessions and money? Will you give regularly as God blesses you? Will you be faithful so that God can bless you with more?
Fourthly Submit To God's Discipline
a. Don't Despise Discipline
Proverbs 3:11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction;
The God who can be trusted to smooth out obstacles and bring one to his appointed goal and to supply one’s material needs demonstrates His love by discipline. The warning to the son is twofold: do not despise the Lord’s discipline. This means that we don't treat it lightly. And do not resent His rebuke. This means that we shouldn't loathe or abhor God's discipline. Chastening is a part of God’s plan to help His sons and daughters mature in godly character. God chastens us, not as a judge punishes a criminal, but as a parent disciplines a child. Sometimes He chastens because we have rebelled and need to repent; other times He chastens to keep us from sinning and to prepare us for His special blessing. God always acts in love and His purpose is that we might become partakers of His holiness.
Hebrews 12:10-11 For they [our parents] indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
b. God Loves You
Proverbs 3:12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
No matter how much the experience hurts us, it will never harm us, because God always chastens in love. Physical punishment and verbal correction are hard to accept but they demonstrate God’s loving concern. The same is true of a parent’s discipline of his children. Loathing such discipline — thinking that God disciplines because He enjoys causing pain overlooks the benefits that come from such correction.
Hebrews 12:5-6 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.
Correction - Where Would We Be Without Pain?
Pain can serve a definite purpose in our lives. Dr. Paul Brand of Carville, Louisiana, one of the world's foremost experts on leprosy, describes how "leprosy patients lose their fingers and toes, not because the disease can cause decay, but precisely because they lack pain sensations. Nothing warns them when water is too hot or a hammer handle is splintered. Accidental self-abuse destroys their bodies." Pain is a necessary part of life.
As young people you probably remember very clearly how your parents disciplined you. They do it for our own good because they love us. Even though they aren't perfect in doing this they have our good in mind. How much more then should we submit to our Heavenly Father's discipline? Do you resent it when God chastens you through sickness or circumstances? Don't! God chastens us to lead us to repentance. He wants us to get right with Him. Those who resist His chastening only bring upon themslves greater pain and suffering. When God disciplines you, please submit to it and turn back to God. God loves us. He wants to receive us back because only then can He bless and heal.
Today we have heard Solomon's wisdom for life. He encouraged us to do four things.
Study God's Word, Seek God's Will, Share God's Blessing, Submit To God's Discipline
I trust that each one here will follow this good advice. Solomon was very wise. He experienced God's blessing when He lived wisely himself. But unfortunately later on he became wise in his own eyes and forfeited God's blessing. The Lord didn't give him a long life and removed most of the kingdom from his son. Let us apply God's wisdom to our lives from start to finish. Then our lives will truly be blessed.
2 Peter 3:17-18 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.