My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. . . .
Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.
(Proverbs 3:1-8, 13-17, NIV)
Today’s verses record the heart of Old Testament religious instruction and have served as a guide for the education of generations of children of faithful Jews. The teacher begins this discourse by emphasizing the linkage between obedience to God’s commandments and a full, healthy life with prosperity. Shalom, in all its many dimensions, is the gift of God to his people. The wise teacher then instructs his students to make love and faithfulness the core of their lives with the promise that doing so will bring favor from both God and other people.
The foundation for this profound Biblical instruction is clear: trusting in the Lord with all their hearts. The sin of humanity was and is the desire to become like God – autonomous, independent, accountable to no one. Yet today’s verses teach the opposite: do not trust in your own understanding, but trust the Lord alone. Fearing God means not putting confidence in ourselves and our plans and goals, but relying solely on our Creator. As the Psalmist declared: “Great peace have they who love your law” (119:165a).
The foundation for the Biblical call to peacemaking lies in the willingness of Christians to trust in the Lord completely. Not only as far as they can see or comprehend. Not only if they can still be “in control.” Christians will only walk the path of peace when they are truly wise, when they put their faith in God, not in themselves.
God of wisdom, we praise you for the fact that we can put our trust in you. Help us to make love and faithfulness the center of our lives. Teach us that if we put confidence in ourselves we will fail. Thank you for the promise of your blessing when we trust you alone. The path of peace is indeed a pleasant one and we desire to follow its glorious trail through the strength of the Holy Spirit. Amen.