Proverbs Chapter 3

Proverbs Chapter 3 focuses on wisdom personified in Christ, and if heeded, urges obedience, trust, and dedication to God. The focus of this chapter then turns to the wisdom of searching for and obtaining true wisdom. The chapter concludes with proverbs of Godly advice.

David Parham

7/5/202417 min read

Proverbs Chapter 3

Distributed by: KJV Bible Studies



Introduction: Proverbs Chapter 3 focuses on wisdom personified in Christ, and if heeded, urges obedience, trust, and dedication to God. The focus of this chapter then turns to the wisdom of searching for and obtaining true wisdom. The chapter concludes with proverbs of Godly advice.

I. Keep God’s Commandments

(Pro 3:1) My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:

(Pro 3:2) For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.Solomon (for the fifth time in the book) directs his instruction to his son. However, the greater context makes clear that One far greater than Solomon is speaking through him. Though Solomon was the immediate writer, the clear message is of God giving good counsel to His people. The essence of that counsel or advice is to (1) not forget His law.

How easy it is to stray from God’s Word because the distractions of life are often a greater influence than His Word. The problem is the meager quantity of God’s Word the average Christian ingests into his mind each day. When we minimize the importance of God’s Word, the influences of the world more often than not will subdue the meager influence of a small sample of God’s Word. When we meditate therein day and night, we are not nearly as likely to forget His law.

The problem often is the lack of quantity of the Scripture that we place in our mind. As a result, we forget His Word in the day-to-day affairs of life. The second part of God’s advice to His sons is (2) but let thine heart keep my commandments. The ultimate purpose of saturating our minds with the Word of God is obedience. It is the most basic obligation to the Word of God. Never was there more sound advice than to be obedient to God’s commandments from the heart.

The distinction is clearly made between superficial obedience and obedience from the heart. That ought to be the goal of absorbing God’s Word in our lives. For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. The literal thought is ‘for length of days and years of life.’ At first glance, the thoughts seem to be redundant. However, the thought likely is quality of life in “length of days”— full and fulfilling days—as well as quantity of life “long life.” The greater thought is how that (1) remembrance of God’s Word as well as (2) heartfelt obedience thereto will advance a far greater quality of life as well as quantity of life.

In short, the saturation of one’s mind and obedience from the heart of the Word of God will bring fullness and blessing of life. That was true in Solomon’s day. It remains true to this day. We will never go wrong absorbing and obeying the Word of God.

(Pro 3:3) Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:

(Pro 3:4) So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.

Two major poles of truth are set forth which are found throughout the Bible. Here they are described as “mercy and truth.” On ten occasions in the Bible this phrase is found. A variation is found in John 1:14 where our Lord is described as being full of “grace and truth.” Though there is nuance of difference, the thought is essentially the same.

(1) Mercy (and grace) is the virtue of kindness and graciousness which derive from a heart of love.

(2) Truth is that unbending standard which manifests itself in judgment and purity.

The two concepts closely parallel (and perhaps are synonymous to) love and holiness. Moreover, when we fill our minds with the Word of God, we will find that mercy and truth develop within. These twin towers of virtue are reflective of God Himself for His mercy reflects His great love. His truth emanates from His holiness. Again, the greater point is that as we absorb the Word of God, we are directed to develop mercy and truth.

The sacred Author describes them as jewelry about one’s neck. The thought is of great value while at the same time of beauty. Likewise, we are directed to write mercy and truth upon our heart. These twin virtues ought to shape and adorn the desires and decisions of our heart.. Absorbing the Word of God to the point that mercy and truth develop in our heart will produce a life which is pleasant to others as well as to God.

The development of such godly virtue will produce good understanding to make right decisions. It will be evident to God and to people about us. The origin of this development goes back to the foundation found in verse 1: “forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments.” The saturation of our minds with the Word of God coupled with obedience thereto forms a powerful recipe for goodness and blessing. A life adorned thereby truly will be happy and stable.

(Pro 3:5) Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.\(Pro 3:

6) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

One of the great empowering verses for the Christian is found here. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding”. How often are we tempted to rely upon our own understanding of the issues of life? The Author of wisdom directs us to lean not (that is, trust not) upon our own understanding. That is a hard pill to swallow for proud men.

God’s advice is to trust in the Lord with all of our heart. In every decision and moment of life, God’s wisdom is to trust Him or look to Him. Life is full of forks in the road. An individual who continually seeks God’s direction for each decision will never go wrong. We often get into trouble because we rely upon our own understanding for decisions which must be made. His way is never wrong. It is always the best. Furthermore, notice that such trust must be with all of our heart. Total and complete trust is in view.

One trying to ride two horses at once will find himself in a precarious position. Rather, we ought to rely only upon the Lord, and that with all of our heart. Moreover, “in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” The word translated as acknowledge (edy yaw-dah’) literally means ‘to know.’ The thought is that in all of our ways or decisions to know His leading. Or to put it another way, ‘in all thy ways look to Him.’ The result is that “he shall direct thy paths.” What a wonderful assurance. As we trust Him and seek His leading, He shall direct our paths.

As we turn to Him for guidance, He will give guidance and wisdom. The thought in James 1:5 is a close parallel. How can we go wrong when His guidance is so readily available.

(Jas 1:5) If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

(Jas 1:6) But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

(Jas 1:7) For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

(Jas 1:8) A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

(Pro 3:7) Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.

(Pro 3:8) It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

Be not wise in our own eyes is an imperative. The thought is closely related to leaning upon our own understanding. Being wise in our own eyes is pride of life. It is a wicked self-sufficiency, relying upon our own judgment rather than upon Him who knows what is ahead. One truly wise does not think himself so. The irony is that fools often consider themselves as wise. True wisdom comes from reliance upon Him who is wisdom personified.

The second imperative is to “fear the LORD”. On seven different occasions in the Bible we are commanded to fear the Lord. (See Joshua 24:14, I Samuel 12:24, Psalms 34:9, Proverbs 24:21, Ecclesiastes 5:4-7, and 12:13. That number of perfection likely is not a coincidence.

Ecc 5:4 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.

Ecc 5:5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.

Ecc 5:6 Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?

Ecc 5:7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.

Indeed, the fear of the Lord is clean, converting the soul (Psalm 19:9). Moreover, by the fear of the Lord, men depart from evil (Proverbs 16:6). The third imperative is to “depart from evil.” The principle of separation is at hand. Though evil often presents itself in attractive form, the Bible says to depart therefrom. Truly, the highway of the upright is to depart from evil (Proverbs 16:6).

When we find that we are headed inbound toward the world’s attractions, we need to do a u-turn and get in the out-bound lane as fast as possible. These three injunctions from the Author of wisdom are profound wisdom indeed. And when these three injunctions are obeyed, the result is that it shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. The mention of one’s navel and marrow bespeaks the innermost part of one’s being. It is a metaphor thereof. Health in our innermost being speaks of richness and fullness of life. It implies peace and tranquility.

In short, as we develop the three virtues described above, God will bless our lives. That blessing is both direct and indirect. These three virtues in and of themselves will bring blessing naturally. Yet, God likely will send divine blessing on top of the natural blessing.

(Pro 3:9) Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:

(Pro 3:10) So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.

God intends for us to be wise stewards of our money. One of the ways we can do that is to be consistent in our spending. Benjamin Franklin was known for his wise use of money. I read a quote from him last week. ‘Beware of the little expense; a small leak will sink a great ship.’

We need to pay attention to where we spend our money and be sure we are using it wisely and not wasting it on frivolous spending so that when we have opportunities like helping build church buildings overseas, we can take part in the giving.

Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase. The word translated as substance (Nwhhone) has the sense of wealth or riches. The idea is to honor the Lord financially. The firstfruits of our increase refers to the first percentage of our income.

Comparing Scripture with Scripture, we understand that the first percentage of our increase is the tithe. Moreover, we are commanded to honor the Lord with the first portion of our income. That means that our giving to Him should take precedent and priority over all other financial obligations. Truly, tithing is seeking first the kingdom of God. The practical outworking of it all is that the first check we write against our paycheck ought to be our tithe. It is honoring the Lord with the first fruits.

The analogy is of a farmer whose crops and produce are abundant. The thought is of prosperity. The greater truth is that God will bless those who honor Him financially first. As we honor the Lord first with our tithes and offerings, He has promised to honor us. See I Samuel 2:30.

1Sa 2:30 Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.

(Pro 3:11) My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:

(Pro 3:12) For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

Clearly implied is that God chastens His children. Hebrews 12:5-6 quotes this verse (and the next verse) and clearly applies it to God. The word translated as chastening (rowm moo-sawr’) has the sense of ‘discipline,’ ‘instruction,’ or ‘correction.’ God disciplines and corrects His children as a good father will do. Children at times may rebel at the discipline of a parent. That is folly. It is even greater folly to resist the correction which God brings into our lives.

The motivation of God’s correction in our lives is His great love wherewith He loves us. As a father will discipline a son for his own good, so God corrects and chastens us for our own good. Fools resist such correction. A wise son will receive it. The application is true not only for earthly fathers, but ultimately of our heavenly Father.

II. Happy is the Man Who Finds Wisdom

(Pro 3:13) Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.

(Pro 3:14) For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.

A new section of the chapter is begun here. The wisdom of gaining wisdom is further embellished upon. The word translated as happy (rva ‘esher) is most frequently rendered as ‘blessed.’ There are nuances to both words. However, one blessed will be happy and vice versa. The development of godly wisdom and genuine understanding of the issues of life will bring happiness and blessing to one’s life.

The world is continually running around trying to find happiness. Yet, they usually reject the true source thereof—the wisdom which comes from God. As we develop true wisdom and its precursor, understanding, happiness in life develops. Things go right. Failure is minimized and success becomes the norm.

The word translated as merchandise (rxo sakh’-ar) has the sense of ‘profit.’Truly, the profit of wisdom is far superior to the profit of money. One may have money and be utterly miserable. However, one with wisdom will be happy and may eventually have money as well. The greater thought is that wisdom and understanding in life are far superior to monetary wealth.

(Pro 3:15) She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.

(Pro 3:16) Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.

(Pro 3:17) Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.

(Pro 3:18) She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.

Wisdom is again spoken of as a person. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Because the word translated as wisdom in verse 13 (hmkxchokmah) is feminine in gender, wisdom here is noted by the feminine pronoun she. This is a linguistic device and does not relate to the greater personification of wisdom in Christ.

Hebrew words are usually found in either masculine or feminine gender, often without regard to a personality. It is not unlike referring to ship or machine as ‘she’ or ‘her.’ The point being developed is not so much the personification of wisdom in Christ, but rather wisdom as an entity. The word just happens to be in the feminine gender in Hebrew. In any event, the greater truth is that wisdom is far more valuable than expensive jewels. In fact, there is nothing one could desire which compares to the value of wisdom.

Using the analogy of one’s hands, the sacred Author describes how that wisdom on the one hand brings longevity of life and on the other hand, prosperity and honor. In short, wisdom brings quantity of life as well as quality of life. Wise people will live longer because they avoid the dangers of foolish living. Moreover, wise living will increase one’s income and reputation. The path of wisdom brings pleasantness of life and peace.

The clear truth is that wisdom brings a richness of life which the ungodly and fools never find. On ten occasions, “the tree of life” is spoken of in the Bible. Here the application clearly is allegorical. The tree of life in Eden brought health and longevity of life. The same is true of wisdom. It brings sweet blessings to life. Happy or blessed are those who hold onto wisdom throughout their lives. One sad exception to this promise was Solomon himself. His later life was a departure from godly wisdom.

He was the man who wrote over and again: vanity of vanities, all is vanity. Because Solomon did not retain wisdom in the latter portion of life, he faced years of emptiness and frustration. Clearly implied is that wisdom once obtained can fly away like a bird. The retention of godly wisdom is found in verse 1 of this chapter.

(Pro 3:19) The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.

(Pro 3:20) By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.

The sacred Author now demonstrates how that God used His wisdom and understanding to create the heavens and the earth. Implicit is the great skill and genius of His wisdom and understanding. Though we will never approach His omniscient wisdom or understanding, the point is that wisdom and understanding lead to wonderful things.

What may be in view here is the awesome judgment of God at the flood. In that day, the great deep was broken up (Genesis 7:11). In that day, the clouds certainly dropped down dew and rain. Implicit may be the great wisdom and understanding of God in His recreation of the earth in the mighty hydraulic judgment of the flood. The point is that wisdom accomplishes great works.

(Pro 3:21) My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion:

(Pro 3:22) So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.

(Pro 3:23) Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.

(Pro 3:24) When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.

Once again, Solomon speaks to his son. However, as noted earlier, One far greater than Solomon is speaking through him. The them mentioned here is wisdom, knowledge, and understanding noted above. Another separate Hebrew word for wisdom is found here (hyvwt tushiyah). It has the sense of ‘applied wisdom.’ The thought is to observe practical wisdom and discretion in day-to-day living.

The outworking of such wisdom and discretion of life will result is richness and pleasantness of life. The thought is how that such wisdom and discretion will add fullness to us and be a blessing to others. When sound wisdom and discretion are developed in our lives, it will lead to safety and stability of life. A life which is secure and stable is rich indeed.

Accordingly, one possessing such godly wisdom and discretion in life will sleep in peace. His sleep will be sweet. In contrast, the world is frequently speaking of panic and anxiety attacks and sleepless nights. There may be pleasures in sin for a season, but the world’s crowd often are tied up in knots of anxiety and have trouble sleeping. Truly wisdom is of great value.

(Pro 3:25) Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.

(Pro 3:26) For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.

The sacred Author admonishes, “Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh”. Crises and trouble do arise in life. However, for the people of God possessing godly wisdom, the injunction is to fear not.

When we dwell in the secret place of the most High and possess godly wisdom and discretion of life, God will be our confidence and guard. He will not suffer the righteous to be moved.

(Pro 3:27) Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.

(Pro 3:28) Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.

(Pro 3:29) Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.

(Pro 3:30) Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.

(Pro 3:31) Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.

(Pro 3:32) For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.

As this chapter nears its completion, four proverbs of wisdom and discretion are set forth. “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.” When one is due good at our hand, there is great wisdom in rewarding that good. The good may be money owed or a word of thanks. The greater thought is that when we owe someone, there is wisdom in paying the good due to them promptly.

There is folly in procrastinating due obligations whether they are financial or otherwise. When we owe something to another, make it good as soon as possible. “Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee” How foolish it is to deal unseemly against one’s neighbor. The mutual security of a neighborhood rests upon the trust and reliance of neighbors.

When neighbors plot against each other, all security and peace evaporate. f. Devising evil against a neighbor has a nasty way or reciprocating itself. Picking a fight with a stranger for no cause is folly. He very well may whip you. In the preceding verse, the admonition was to avoid fighting with neighbors. Here, the advice is to avoid getting into a fight with a stranger. The greater truth is to avoid strife altogether. There is great wisdom therein. The applications of this wisdom are many in modern culture whether it is squabbling with a next-door neighbor or exhibiting road rage in traffic. Both are folly.

“Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways” The words translated as oppressor (vya ‘iysh and omxkhaw-mawce’) have the sense of a ‘tough guy’ or a ‘fighter.’ The world often creates the image of a ‘tough guy’ in a positive way. Yet, God says to avoid such an image or such a way of life. Profound is the wisdom thereof. Tough guys usually have been hardened by sin and in due season are destroyed by their own sin. Wise is the avoidance thereof.

The word translated as froward (zwl luwz) has the sense of one who is ‘crooked,’ perverse,’ or ‘devious.’ It is apparent that the term is used in apposition to that of the oppressor (i.e., tough guy) in the preceding verse. The greater thought likely is of an outlaw—one with no morals, scruples, or integrity. Though the world glamorizes and even emulates such characters, the Bible says that these are an abomination to God. Rather, God shares the secrets of His wisdom with the righteous.

The word so translated (rvy yashar) refers to one upright in his living. Such an one is in stark contrast to the tough-guy outlaw described above. The word translated as secret (dwo sode) has the sense of ‘counsels’ or ‘special advice.’ God gives special wisdom to those who are upright in their living.

(Pro 3:33) The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.

(Pro 3:34) Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.

(Pro 3:35) The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.

The chapter concludes with several contrasts, showing how God deals with the ungodly versus the godly. There is a general curse of God against wickedness. Of interest is the word translated as house (tyb bayith). It can also refer to one’s household. Sad is the truth that the sin of the parents and its trouble are often passed on to the children. In contrast, God blesses the home of the just. The latter refers to those righteous of principle.

A truth which runs throughout the Bible is that God blesses the righteous. See Psalm 5:11-12. His curse or blessing extends to our very homes and families.

Psa 5:11 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.

Psa 5:12 For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.

Though men may foolishly scorn the things of God, God will have the last laugh. For it is He who will scorn the scorners. He will mock when their trouble comes. Implicit is a pride of spirit in a scorner. In contrast, God gives grace, (i.e., strength and help) to the humble of spirit. Truly, God exalts the humble and abases the proud.

This magnificent chapter ends by summarizing the wisdom of the wise and the folly of fools. Implicit in the category of the wise are those upright and humble of life. On the other hand, fools are the summation of the tough-guy outlaw, who are proud and scornful. For those who promote such folly, only shame awaits. If not in this life, it will be certainly when they stand before God.

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Prov 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.



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