A Proverb for All Ages

Straight_10193630_1eb760f72c_nWhen I was a young Christian, Proverbs 3:5,6 was often recommended as a passage to embrace in order to lay a solid foundation for life and to be guided in making good decisions. The passage reads:

“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.”

“The book of The Proverbs stands as a testimony to the fact that there is no realm of life that can be divorced from God’s demands on it.” So writes John Wevers in his book, The Way of the Righteous.

So, Proverbs 3:5,6 is good counsel for all ages. As I see it now, decades beyond my youth, this proverb is more than a good life-starter. It is also an exhortation to consult the Lord at all stages of life–to stretch this proverb as a banner across the beginning, middle, and end of one’s life.

I noted three weeks ago that King Asa seems to have observed this proverb at the beginning of his rule: His story begins, “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God” (2 Chron. 14:2). He purged the land of its idols and with great success carried out warfare against his enemies. He began as a righteous ruler.

But during his prime, when he was returning from one of his military triumphs, a man named Azariah went out to meet him and cautioned him, “The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him he will be found by you, but if you forsake him he will forsake you” (2 Chron. 15:2).

Later, the reason for this warning became more evident, as Asa’s early hearty commitments seemed to lag. Instead of trusting God for help in a certain battle he sought an alliance with the king of Syria. To seal the alliance he sent this king gold and silver treasures removed from the temple of the Lord.

Another prophet, Hanani, saw this outrageous act and dared to confront and warn the king. For his trouble, Asa put Hanani in prison. Then Asa began to treat his own people cruelly. This showed a large change of heart from his earliest days and this led to a radical change of conduct.

The story closes with the news that in the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa suffered from a disease in his feet. The chronicler reports, “Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians” (2 Chron. 16:12). King Asa began well, but finished poorly.

The Apostle Paul’s story was so different. As he neared his end in this world he was able to write to Timothy, “I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). This must have meant that he had held to the truth God had given him and sought the Lord at every twist and turn on the road of life.

How reassuring it is to live with the conviction that “there is no realm of life that can be divorced from God’s demands on it.” And that if we do not lean only on our own understanding, the Lord promises to make our path straight and clear.

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