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If you’ve been a Christian for a while, you may have memorized the following verses without trying, simply because you’ve heard them quoted so often:
and do not lean on your own understanding.
Promise - Understanding - Command - Omniscient - Place
This promise is so beloved because it is so freeing. We are finite and there is so much that exceeds our understanding, it can be overwhelming. But in this command to trust the omniscient one, we find a place of refuge that allows us to maintain our sanity. We find peace in the promise that if we are humble enough to obey this compassionate command, God will direct our course.
I wonder why, then, given how less I’ve heard them quoted over the years, we don’t seem to be as familiar with the next two verses:
Be - Eyes
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
Promise - God-given - Refreshment - Guidance
I would think that the promise of God-given refreshment would be nearly as precious to us as God-given guidance.
It’s clear that the writer meant for his son (Proverbs 3:1) — and the rest of us — to read these eight lines (four verses) together. I doubt he intended them to be separated, because they form the kind of parallelism so common in Hebraic poetry and wisdom literature:
Command - Trust - Lord - Heart - Be
The command, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart”, corresponds with “Be not wise in your own eyes”;
“Do not lean on your own understanding” corresponds with “fear the Lord, and turn away from evil”;
Promise - Verse - Paths - Promise - Verse
And the promise in verse 6 (“he will make straight your paths”) corresponds to the promise in verse 8 (“It will be . . . refreshment to your bones”).
The genius of this kind of parallelism is that it allows the writer to make related statements that are not redundant. There’s a clear connection between what verses 5–6 say and what verses 7–8...
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