The third chapter of the Proverbs of Solomon is known most popularly for its declaration of trust in Yahweh which will lead believers in truth.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
As I reviewed the entirety of this passage recently, I noticed that the first ten verses of this chapter are a collection of five different Hebrew parallelisms. In each one, an action is encouraged and then a benefit is described by following that action.
Action: My son, don’t forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commands;
Benefit: for they will bring you many days, a full life, and well-being.
Action: Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you. Tie them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.
Benefit: Then you will find favor and high regard with God and people.
Action: Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him,
Benefit: and he will make your paths straight.
Action: Don’t be wise in your own eyes; fear Yahweh and turn away from evil.
Benefit: This will be healing for your body and strengthening for your bones.
Action: Honor Yahweh with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest;
Benefit: then your barns will be completely filled, and your vats will overflow with new wine.
The Hebrew mindset all throughout the Bible is that trusting in Yahweh and patterning one’s life to honor him has a direct impact on the quality of life that one lives during our time here on earth. The Hebrew faith is not just one of pie-in-the-sky hope for eternity beyond this life, but for a lifestyle faith that has tangible benefits and rewards during this lifetime.
Our Western culture and mindset has separated the spiritual from the natural and stripped the Bible of its relevance for real world application in the process. If the Bible is only a book to guide us to some sort of spiritual bliss beyond this life, then it is only as beneficial as any other of the thousands of sacred traditions that promise similar utopian myths. By that logic, none of them can be demonstrated as valid, since the life is lived by the unseen faith of the individual with no real evidence of truth until after the individual dies and experiences whatever their utopian myths promise them.
To the contrary, the Bible is practical and impacts the lives of believers, and those around them, in this life. The Bible encourages positive behaviors that honor God and serve others in his name. This brings benefit to oneself and to those in need around them.
The extreme flipside of this ideal is when believers take all of the Bible benefits, plucking them from their contexts and seeking for them as being deserved or “owed” to them because they are claiming those for themselves. This “name it and claim it” mentality is the epitome of selfishness: giving to God only to get something in return, or providing some sort of lip-service to God to seek physical healing or benefit for oneself. It’s as if we suffer from a type of biblical schizophrenia and can’t maintain a consistent theology; either everything is spiritual or every earthly benefit can be selfishly claimed for ourselves.
But in reality, the Bible isn’t there to exploit for our own benefit, either spiritually or physically. It exists to point us to the Creator of all and to help us understand we exist in this world to represent him and his principles to others. We are encouraged to lay down our own lives and aspirations to serve him from the heart, and when we do so, our lives line up harmoniously with his universal spiritual principles which resonate within this physical realm. In the process, the natural benefits mentioned throughout the Bible are realized, not instantly or every time, but as a wave-form that becomes more settled and consistent over time as we pattern our lives after his will.
The walk of faith is one of consistent effort and growth as we continue to understand more of who God is and how he desires us to live our lives and interact with others. When we are faithfully following his spiritual principles of wisdom and service to others, our physical lives begin to radiate in tandem with the beneficial outcomes he provides. This is how the believing life is lived and demonstrated as real.
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