Friday, September 2, 2011

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 4, 2011

(Trust in GOD and not yourself)
(Proverbs 3:1-12)

The book of Proverbs submits to us, practical instructions for living a successful life. It teaches us that “special wisdom”, as well as “innate wisdom” (common sense), is revealed to us only by GOD, and, that both are an essential part of a person’s successful daily living. The renowned expression, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”, is perhaps one of the ten most profound statements in all of scripture. It tells us that only when a person trusts in GOD, will they ever be truly wise.
The concept of us “trusting in GOD and not in ourselves” finds its roots at the exact center of the Christian Bible (Psalm 118:8). Although “human wisdom” is fine and necessary, “human history” has already clearly shown us that, no matter how skilled a person may be, without a humble willingness to learn from GOD, sooner or later, he or she will end up in trouble. It is a proven fact that, without GOD, man can’t do anything right for too long.
It is a life-changing thing, getting to know, and becoming accustomed to practicing the Word of GOD. GOD uses HIS Word (The Holy Bible) to reveal HIS Will to HIS people. It should be “studied closely” and “closely followed”, not just carried under our arms to church on Sunday mornings. Let us now take a look at some of the profound wisdom that GOD imparts to us, through King Solomon, here in Proverbs chapter 3.
In verse 3, we are advised to never let “love” and “faithfulness”, leave us. We are also told to hang them around our necks like a secure necklace, and to write them on our hearts. Probably the two most important character traits a person can possess is “love” and “Faithfulness”, because both, involve taking action, as well as, having the right attitude. A “loving person” not only feels love, but they also act loyally and responsible to those whom they love. After all, love is the greatest privilege in the world, and we learn over time that, it also brings with it, the greatest responsibility. And then, there’s the “faithful person”, who not only believes the truth of GOD’s Word for himself, but he also works for the truth and justice of GOD’s Word in the lives of others. He recognizes that thoughts and words are not enough, and that, the way we actually live our lives is what really reveals whether or not we are truly loving and faithful.
The very familiar Proverbs 3:5-6, has long been a staple “memory scripture”, even for the “lukewarm” Christian of the 21st century. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge HIM, and HE will make your paths straight” (NIV). You’ll find a large number of Christians who can quote this passage of scripture, but like the rest of GOD’s Word, you will find very few people who have been able to actually live it when the pressure was on. We must first fill ourselves with the wisdom of GOD, through the study of HIS Word, before we can be able to maintain a GOD-like behavior when troubles beset us, and we feel pressured to revert to un-GODly methods for solving our problems.
We should also remember that the basic issues of wisdom that are addressed in the book of Proverbs won’t do us a bit of good if we don’t, first, acquire and maintain a personal experiential relationship with GOD, and this relationship must include a “prayer life”. Only if we know GOD, and respond to GOD, in a positive way, will the counsel that is offered here in this book bear fruit.
GOD is a better judge of what we need, than we are, and we must trust HIM completely in every decision that we have to make. Yes, our faith must exceed our understanding if we are to be citizens in the kingdom of GOD, while still living here on earth. And while we should never omit careful thinking, or disregard our GOD-given ability to reason, we should also not trust our own ideas to the point where we exclude GOD from life’s process.
In verses 6, King Solomon emphasized that, in order to receive GOD’s guidance, we must first, acknowledge GOD in all of our ways, and over 1000 years later, CHRIST JESUS emphasized the same point of truth in HIS, now famous “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 6:33). We must never be impressed with our own wisdom (v.7), but rather, we should always be willing to listen to, be counseled by, and corrected by, the Word of GOD. We should bring all of our decisions to GOD in prayer, and then, test them against HIS Word, before we act. HE will make all of our paths straight, as HIS Word guides us, and protects us, all along the way.
When we receive GOD’s benefits (health, wealth, and spiritual vitally) because of the wisdom that GOD has imparted to us through HIS Word, we should be happy to give tithes and offerings that will aid in blessing someone else the way we were blessed. And when we do give, oftentimes, GOD will bless us even more (vs. 8-10). However, we must always keep in mind that our benevolence does not disallow GOD from making exceptions. GOD is not to be invested in, but rather, HE is to be honored. And besides, we don’t ever want to think that we can put GOD into our debt by doing good deeds.
And finally, in verses 11-12, “discipline” is addressed by this wisest of kings of the Davidic line. In the Hebrew, the word used for “discipline” is “yasar”, and it means “to chastise”, or “to instruct”. And although it does involve correction, its main purpose is to make a positive contribution to a person’s training in righteousness. In biblical times “yasar” was always administered in a family setting. The idea was for all to see that the emotion conveyed by the parent was not anger or disgust, but rather, it was love and active concern. GOD disciplines all those who trust in HIM to help them grow to moral and spiritual maturity. It is a “rod of loving correction”, not a “club of hatred and abuse” that GOD uses to get the attention of those who have ignored, or won’t respond positively to, written and verbal guidance. GOD disciplines us because of HIS continuing love and concern for us, not because HE likes to make things difficult for us.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

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