A “Grid” Passage for Wisdom in Determining God’s Will

JP: By Pastor John Hartog III. Used with permission. Read Part I. Read Part 2. Read Part 3.

A “Grid” Passage for Wisdom in Determining God’s Will

Studies in Proverbs 3:1-12 (PART FOUR)

This passage contains couplets of verses (a “grid”): 1&2, 3&4, 5&6, 7&8, 9&10, and 11&12. A “grid” passage is an outline, framework, or list that might be used in order to understand and analyze a complex set of circumstances or a difficult decision. The “grid” provides a biblical way of thinking and can protect the believer from natural (old-man) ways of thinking. Another “grid” passage is 2 Peter 1:5-9.

(PROVERBS 3:7-8) FEAR GOD. “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from [turn away from, shun] evil. It shall be health [healing] to thy navel, and marrow [refreshment, nourishment] to thy bones.”

Be not be wise in your own eyes. We should not be amazed at our own ways of thinking; we should not be impressed with our own wisdom. In fact, as we seek the Lord’s will, we should have a healthy distrust of our old ways of thinking. This requires faith to believe that the Lord is wiser than we are, and this requires submission to acknowledge that we are not as wise as we would like to think.

Fear as reverence. When we fear the Lord we reverence Him; we respect Him by holding Him in the highest regard. The equating of “fear” with profound respect appears in Proverbs 24:21 where “fear” is applied both to the Lord and to the king (“My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change”).

Fearing the Lord and making the right decisions. Fearing the Lord pushes us to make the right decisions regardless of the pressures put on us by others. Fearing God limits our options, pushes us in the right direction, constrains us to choose correctly.

Several Proverbs mention this correlation between fearing God and choosing correctly: (1) “Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long” (Proverbs 23:17). (2) “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).

The Hebrew midwives displayed this connection between fearing the Lord and making correct choices: “But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. . . . And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses” (Exodus 1:17, 21).

Also, Abraham chose the path of faith and obedience instead of the path of unbelief and disobedience and this demonstrated that he was in fact a God-fearer. We know this because when Abraham was prepared to take the life of his son Isaac, in obedience to God’s command, the Angel of the Lord said to Abraham: “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me” (Genesis 22:12).

Additional teachings concerning the fear of the Lord. The book of Proverbs teaches that fearing God brings desirable blessings. For example:

  • The fear of the Lord is linked to wisdom and knowledge (Proverbs 1:7; 2:5; 9:10; 15:33).
  • The fear of the Lord results in hating evil (here in Proverbs 3:7; and 8:13; 16:6).
  • The fear of the Lord prolongs life (here in Proverbs 3:7-8; and 10:27; 14:27; 19:23).
  • The fear of the Lord brings strong confidence (Proverbs 14:26).
  • Proverbially, not according to a promise, the reward for humility and the fear of the Lord is riches, honor and life (Proverbs 22:4). We know that this is proverbially the case and not a promise because fearing the Lord does not guarantee these things since better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and the turmoil that comes with it (Proverbs 15:16).

Depart from evil. Just like Job who “was perfect [complete, whole in his integrity] and upright [conscientious], and one that feared God, and eschewed [departed from, turned away from, shunned] evil,” we should turn our back on evil (Job 1:1).

Renewed health and vitality. Reverencing God brings a profound sense of wellbeing. The word “navel” literally means “umbilical cord” (as in Ezekiel 16:4). Some translations, including the Septuagint, understand the word “navel” here to refer metaphorically to the whole body. However, the word could simply and literally imply that fearing God brings strength directly to the core of one’s being. Just like the umbilical cord brought nourishment before one’s birth, so to reverencing God brings vitality. Elsewhere, the Proverbs reference the connection between a right perspective (15:30), good news (16:24), and a joyful countenance (17:22) and good health. Therefore, it should not surprise us that there would also be a connection between fearing God and a sense of wellbeing.

Some Questions to Consider While Determining God’s Will:

  • In our decision making, have we put God first? Or, are we afraid of what other people will do or think? Or, are we enslaved to our own passions?
  • Do we find ourselves fatigued and disillusioned? Could it be that we have been making decisions for self or for others instead of making decisions that come from a life of reverencing God?
  • Do we live life with an overwhelming awe of the Lord? Do our decisions evidence this kind of profound reverence? Are we willing to sacrifice? Are we ready to make the hard decisions?

© Pastor John Hartog III, Th.D

Comment: Image from the Koinonia Retreat Center

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