What is the Meaning of Proverbs 3.1-4

“How To Have Approval And Success In The Eyes Of God And Man”

Proverbs 3:1-4

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Proverbs 3.1-4

Happy Father’s Day! My wife said, that in celebration for Father’s Day, she’s going to come and preach for us now. So, Ruth, you come…{ha}

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Seriously, kids often wonder if they should get their fathers anything for Father’s Day. No, you don’t have to buy anything for them. Kids, I know that this is hard for you to understand, that there is really only a few things that your dad wants…from you.

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Turn to Proverbs 3.

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One thing your dad wants you to have is that you give wisdom the richest dwelling in your heart. And he wants that you would give him your heart. Give your heart, entrust your soul to your godly dad. Listen to his teaching and respect his wisdom. Solomon says to his own son Proverbs 23:26 Give me your heart, my son, And let your eyes delight in my ways.

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If you were to ask the book of Proverbs, the greatest thing that a father wants for his child is that his child have wisdom.

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Introduction to the book of Proverbs

Much of the book of Proverbs is written as from a father to a son. When the father addresses of the son in the book of Proverbs he says “my son.” That phrase “my son” occurs 23 times in the book, it occurs in the first verse of chapter 3. Of course this book is written by Solomon and so he is writing to his son, probably Rehoboam.

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The reason this book is called Proverbs is because much of the book contains simple sayings that are often poetic and that express some truth or common experience to man. Some of these Proverbs are not meant to teach absolute truths per se, but to inform concerning principles that are generally true.

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So we’re in chapter 3. This chapter occurs in a section of the book of Proverbs from chapters 1-9. And these chapters really are not proverbs. These chapters do not contain the often pithy, poetic statements that we think about when we think about the book of Proverbs. These chapters, chapters 1 to 9, present to the reader the value of wisdom chapters 1-9 serve to kind of whet your appetite for those pithy, wise statements.

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For example, look back at Proverbs 1:20. Proverbs 1:20, we have wisdom crying out in the streets. So here is a strong appeal to the reader to seek after wisdom. If somebody is crying out in the streets about something, you perk your ears up and listen!

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Proverbs 1:20 Wisdom shouts in the street, She lifts her voice in the square

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So our chapter this morning, chapter 3, occurs within this context of an appeal that we should seek hard after wisdom and listen to her.

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Chapter 3 is taken up with having a good reputation before God and man. Proverbs 3:4 really is the central verse of this chapter. Proverbs 3:3-4 3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 So you will find favor (or, I’m taking that this morning as “approval.” “in the sight of” helps us understand that.) and good repute (or better to understand that word repute as “success”) in the sight of God and man.

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Chapter 3 is taken up with the consideration of finding approval and success both in the eyes of God and in the eyes of man. Do you want success in the eyes of man? Do you want to be well thought of by other people? So here is a wise father understanding his children and how his children are so easily captivated by this thought of being well thought of by other people and having the approval of other people.

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A wise father capitalizes on his child’s desire to be well thought of by other people. This is a good desire to be approved by others. This is God’s desire for your children that they do receive the approval of others. But we can’t just focus on that one without the focus of having approval and success in the eyes of God. Those two must go hand-in-hand.

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So, do you want success and to be well thought of by God? You can’t have true success and approval without God declaring that you have true success and true approval. Chapter 3 of Proverbs is taken up with how to get success and approval in the eyes of both God and people.

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And the reason chapter 3:4 is the central verse is because much of the rest of the chapter is taken up with these 2 thoughts, success and approval in the sight of man and success and approval in the sight of God. First, in chapter 3:5-12, Solomon is taken up with the thought of how to have success and approval in the sight of God.

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How to have God’s approval and true godly success in your life: this is verses 5-12. Having success and approval in the sight of man is the last section of the chapter, from verses 27-35.

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But in the middle, in verses 13-26, Solomon is taken up with the overarching theme of these first nine chapters. These verses have to do with the spiritual prosperity of those who have wisdom. The spiritual prosperity of those who have wisdom is this middle section of Proverbs 3. Here, Solomon is whetting our appetite for this wisdom. He wants us to want her!

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For example, Proverbs 3:17 Her ways are pleasant ways And all her paths are peace.

This verse is designed to attract us to living out the path of wisdom.

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Do you want peace? Do you want the way of pleasantness? I’m not talking about the storms of life going away, but that you actually have peace in the midst of those storms. Okay, what you need is wisdom in the soul. You need to know how to go down the right paths inside your heart and how to tread down those paths when times are tough. You need peace in the storm, then you need wisdom!

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And so, here as well then is an evidence of whether or not you have wisdom. Are you a wise individual? How would you know? One way to know a wise person is when times get tough and the way of life is difficult and trials of life seem overwhelming, yet the wise man or woman or child in that storm consistently exhibits the fruits of wisdom, from v. 17: pleasant ways, peaceful paths. “Look at that guy, nothing shakes him! He’s peaceful and content though it seems like his life is falling apart!”

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So, the wise man doesn’t allow circumstances to control his sin nature. Trials are difficult, stressful situations are not fun and cloud over the heart, but wisdom alone dictates the spirit of a wise man, not the trial.

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So, let me encapsulate Proverbs 3 for us quickly here. Verses 1-4 is the voice of a loving, godly, and wise dad pleading with his son to seek his wisdom. Verse 4 is the central verse, Proverbs 3:4 … finding approval and success in the sight of God and man.

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Verses 5-12 consist of what it means to have approval and success in the sight of God. In verses 13-26 is the spiritual prosperity of those who have wisdom, and finally, vv. 27-35 consists of what it means to have approval and success in the sight of God

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That’s how chapter 3 is put together.

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So, in our passage a father is teaching a son to live wisely and he gives his son motivation for doing so. Children, you need motivation to live wisely. Fathers, give motivation to your children to live godly. Proverbs is a good place to start teaching your kids; the motivations for wisdom are right here in chapters 1-9!

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Fathers need to instruct children and children need to treasure their father’s instruction more than ever. Why? Because there is so much worldly wisdom that is pulling your children away from true, godly wisdom. The world is constantly bombarding kids with teaching that’s contrary to sound wisdom. So dads, let’s talk briefly about what is competing against you for your child’s heart. Do you have your child’s heart or does something else have your child’s heart? What is competing against you for the hearts of your young people? The world through media definitely is.

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Programs on television, worldly music, and movies, the internet…even what the world would call wholesome movies, like Disney movies, ever so subtlety promote unbiblical worldviews.

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Yet the media, like Proverbs 3, is constantly telling us to be successful. God tells us to be successful and the world tells us to be successful. So, it can’t be so wrong, right? To the world, what would success look like? Is your outlook on success similar to world’s outlook? And dads, how is your outlook on success being played out in your family? It is infiltrating your family, whether you realize it or not! And the kids are catching your outlook on success, whether you realize it or not! What are you teaching your kids through your actions about success?

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The world says win at any cost. Get wealth, grow, grow, grow yourself into a multimillion dollar whatever. Buy the best, drive the best, live in the best house, live your best life now. The most popular religion in the health and wealth gospel and the most esteemed of the world’s philosophies of life are constantly calling on us to take up its worldview. If you want to be accepted in our society you have to look right, dress right, say the cool things, and have the right stuff. If you’ve got a dream home and nothing stood in your way to get that, then you’ve arrived in this world! How did we learn this?

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And the world through media and through worldly godless friends is competing with God and His Word for the hearts of your kids. The battle is on! Blood is flying, but who is winning?

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The world’s philosophies about everything dominate children’s movies and animation. Survey after survey suggests that the number one priority of young people is to get rich and to be happy. Are these God’s goals, money and happiness? Not only from the media, but parents are teaching these things to their kids. Happiness seems to be the greatest virtue! Moms will say, “Don’t you know that what you did, did not make little Jimmy happy?”

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And if mom and dad live a life that seems to be about progressing materially, then guess what? The kids will fall in line; they too will seek to live for more and more stuff.

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Btw, we learn this, not just through programing, but through commercials. Commercials are designed to get you to covet. Marketing masters know how to pull on the human sin nature to get you to long and have to have their product and to violate the 10th commandment, “You shall not covet! “

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Shows constantly repeat the same commercials. “Repetition aids learning” of unbiblical worldviews! Then there are those catchy characters, like Chester the Cheetah and Cap’n Crunch). Those catchy slogans “They’re great!” or “Have it Your Way” … really? I can have it my way? Wait, does God want me to have it my way? That ends up not just talking about your burgers, but about your life. They are appealing to your sin nature, “I want it my way.”

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A never-before-seen bombardment of the world has been encroaching in on the minds of unsuspecting parents and kids. Young people today can’t remember a time without the internet, but many of us can. We now have super systems of worldly and ungodly thinking pushing the world’s ideas and desires, and its definition of success.

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Youtube videos, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, online games and video games and viral and stealth marketing exposes children to even more damning influence against biblical values.

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Media, movies, pop music teach us and our kids to be successful by winning at any cost. The ends justify the means, get more money, work hard for financial independence, buy the best, and have it now. Look right, feel good about yourself, be popular and famous. This is constantly being repeated, over and over again on kids shows and commercials, the internet, facebook, youtube, and video games.

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The world through its media are constantly telling us to have the right body image, to be famous, physically fit, to pursue pleasure, and have financial, business, and material success. To be popular and powerful and in the midst of all of this media storm produced by the world that’s trespassing in on your souls and the souls of your kids, Dads it’s your responsibility to be saying Proverbs 3:1 My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments;

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Dads, you are competing with the overwhelming influence of the world for the heart of your kids. Does the world have your heart, Dad? Does any part of the world’s thinking have your heart? Is living your best life now better than preparing for the best life in eternity future? There is a battle going on every day in your kids’ hearts. Are they going to follow Jesus take up their cross and cut off their hands for Christ’s sake, or will they follow how the world has affected you? Will they follow the filthy philosophy of the world as it’s infected the media and as that media has infected the friends of your kids?

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Dads, are you winning the battle yourself? And, on top of that, are you actively instructing your kids to win the battle for the sake of Christ and his glory?

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So, let’s introduce this passage from, vv.1-4. The title for chapter 3 is how to have approval and success in the eyes of God and man. That’s taken of course from v. 4, which is the central verse of the passage. We’ll condemn the world’s way this morning as we already have and progress more into how to have true, godly approval and success in later messages on this passage.

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  1. Pay Attention to Your Fathers’ Teaching (3:1-4)

    First then, young people, if you want approval from others and you want success, true success and true God-honoring approval starts at home! Stay home, and listen to your dad! It all starts in v. 1 with paying attention to your father’s teaching. Pay attention to your father’s teaching!

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    Proverbs 3:1 My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments;

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    1. So, first here, fathers, teach your children

    Dads, for your children to pay attention to what you teach requires something. It requires that you are teaching them.

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    And dads can have plenty of excuses for not teaching their children. “I’m too busy” or “they don’t listen to me anyway” or “my wife is so much better at teaching the kids than I am.” None of these will do! Eph. 6:4 commands fathers, not mothers, but fathers to teach their kids.

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    Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

    ephesians 6:4

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    Now, if your kids are old enough, I suppose they may refuse to set aside time to be with you that you might instruct them. That’s their choice. But if they are in the home, you need to put your foot down!

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    Fathers, before God himself, you are to bring up your children in the instruction of the Lord.

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    In our house, I do most of the teaching and that’s not because I’m good at it, for sure. There’s a reason I’m not a youth pastor. But, occasionally I can’t make it for our family Bible time and my wife does the teaching.

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    Well, you say, “I don’t know what to teach them.” The Bible gives us many different things we can teach them.

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    1. #1 You can teach them your wisdom from life

You’ve had your share of God-honoring experiences, either answers to prayer or even using the sinfulness of your choices. Tell your children how you’ve messed up! Have you seen God provide for you in incredible ways? What has God been teaching you from the Bible? Tell that to your kids.

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Of course, tell them your testimony of salvation. Keep your own godly living and your godly pursuits before them.

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  1. You can teach them your commandments

You can teach them what to do and what not to do it. Tell them, command them. What are your pithy quotes.

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I’ve made up some proverbs in my lifetime. In fact, Ruth expressly married me because of my wise maxims. I duped her into thinking that we were going to “conquer the world for Christ” and that, as a couple, we needed “to be willing to have our world turned upside down for each other.”

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Another one I like is, “don’t think outside the box. Throw away the box.” And you’ve got better ones than that, I’m sure. Share those with your kids.

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TRANS: but most importantly, teach your kids the Bible.

  1. Teach them Proverbs, esp. vv.5-12

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Teach the Bible! You can start with teaching them from the book of Proverbs. Again, much of the book of Proverbs is taken up with the father’s instruction of his children. You can read this very book with your kids, no matter how old or how young they are. They are still your children.

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Know this book of Proverbs and hid it within your heart in order to instruct them. Set aside time to give them godly instruction. Dads, are you insisting on daily family times where you teach your kids? Now, depending on their age, of course, they will need different teachings. And don’t reserve your teaching of them to just one time of the day. Teach them these things when they rise up and when they sit down, and when they go to bed!

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Deuteronomy 6:4-9 4 “… The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! 5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

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It’s hard to instruct kids with any real weight if they are receiving a bombardment of worldly teaching.

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There was an interesting study done on the values that television is teaching our kids.

A study from the UCLA analyzed the values of the most popular television programs for children ages 9 to 11, dating all the way back to the 1960s. Every decade, they determined the most popular television program for children ages 9 to 11 and analyzed the values that they were teaching those children.

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Your knowledge of these TV shows will determine your age, or perhaps something else.

1967, guess what was the most popular television program for children ages 9-11: Andy Griffith and The Lucy show.

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1977: Laverne and Shirley, Happy Days

1986: Growing Pains, Alf;

1997: Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Boy Meets World

2007: American Idol, Hannah Montana.

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These were the most popular programs for kids aged 9 to 11.

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From 1967 to 1997, this study by UCLA determined that there was little change in values that were being taught to children through those shows.

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So between 1967 and 1997, the five most expressed values and these television shows were a mixture of good, neutral, and bad. Here they are, these most popular shows over these decades promoted the values of “community feeling,” “benevolence,” “image,” “tradition” and “popularity”

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These were the most promoted values in television programs watched by children ages 9 to 11. In these decades from 1967 to 1997, the least expressed values were “fame,” “physical fitness,” “hedonism,” (the pursuit of pleasure) “spirituality” and “financial success.” Thankfully, these were the least expressed values in those decades. Depending on how they are couched, they could all be bad.

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But it wasn’t until the most recent decade that a dramatic shift in the values presented to our children on television occurred. In 2007, for the first time, we have a brand-new set of values being promoted the most. These values are those that are promoted the most as of 2007.

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“fame,” “achievement”, “popularity,” “image” and “financial success.” Those were the top 5. The values of “self-centeredness” and “power” run close behind.

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Those were the values promoted the most. The least promoted values in 2007 were spirituality, tradition, security, conformity, and benevolence. And community feeling not far behind.

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So, the values promoted to our kids through television has flipped on its head. These are the kinds of things that dads, you are competing with if either, number 1, your kids are watching television and are exposed to a great deal of media or the wrong kind of media or number two, if your kids are being influenced by kids who are exposed to a great deal of this media.

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Dads, don’t let the world compete for the hearts of your kids. You will lose your kids to the world!

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TRANS: So, from verse 1, for a child to receive his parent’s instruction assumes then that the father is instructing the child. But the communication of wisdom is a two-way street. The children also play a part. Young people, internalize your father’s wisdom. Internalize your father’s wisdom.

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What I mean by that is what the Solomon means by that. Let’s look at verses 1-3 so you can see what I mean.

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  1. Children, internalize your father’s wisdom
    1. V. 1, “Do not forget”
    2. V. 1 “Let your heart keep.” The focus is on the heart.
    3. V. 3, these things are not to “leave you.”

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These internal qualities of kindness and truth are not to leave you. These words could also be translated love and faithfulness.

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These are all excellent qualities to have in the innermost parts of your being. They are not to leave you.

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  1. And, v.3, you are to “bind them around your neck“

If you bind something around your neck the ancient world, it demonstrated that you were faithful to that very thing. That’s why the Israelites were commanded to bind God’s words on their foreheads put them on their door posts on the gates of their houses. It shows in the ancient world that they are devoted to them.

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Today, it would be the equivalent of putting Bible verses on the walls of your house. Don’t forget this! Don’t let these things leave you. Bind them around your neck, demonstrate that you are devoted to love and faithfulness. These are the values of Scripture and it is these things that are not being valued the world. How can we bombard our children with the biblical values of love and faithfulness to the same degree that the world is bombarding our children with the values of lust and covetousness?

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Well, for starters, young people, you can, end of verse 3 now, …

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  1. “Write love and faithfulness on the tablet of your heart”

And with tablet there, we’re not talking about Tablet PCs, like the iPad or something. Although, the concept might be the same actually.

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In the ancient world, they would write and engrave wording on stones, that’s a tablet. And when you did that, there was no backspacing that. It’s permanent. Demand that love and faithfulness permanently dwell in your heart!

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TRANS: often, of course, we all need a little motivation to be certain that love and faithfulness and godly wisdom in general are our real pursuit in life. So like any dad, Solomon gives the benefits of keeping his teaching.

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This is that famous question, “why?” As you hear that question over and over again from your kids, “why dad?” … As you hear that, view it as an opportunity to give a little motivation. Solomon does this.

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  1. Children, know the benefits of the godly wisdom from your dad.
    1. Long life and peace

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Proverbs 3:1-2 1 My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; 2 …now the motivation…For…because… do not forget my teaching, let your heart keep my commandments because length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.

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Young people, if you follow your godly father’s teachings and you take heed to his commandments, you will add years to your life and your life will be one of peace.

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You can imagine this in the ancient world. The world back then was much more dangerous. Life was not one of comfort. Famine and drought were more impending. Thievery was more commonplace. Opportunities for personal involvement in particular sins was more prevalent. The father would warn his children about certain lifestyles.

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And in many ways, this is the same today.

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What father wants to teach or live in such a way before his kids that drives his kids down the path of drunk driving? If you drive while drunk, you won’t have a long and peaceful life! If you follow your godly father’s advice and teachings, he will lead you down a path that leads to long life and peace.

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Godly, wise fathers have a heart of peace because they have followed certain principles. These principles of course are found in Scripture. These wise, godly fathers have lives of peace in the midst of turmoil because they have these principles written in their hearts. And young people, your father’s desire is to give those very principles that have been written on his heart and to have them written on your heart.

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A wise father is at peace in his life though his life might seem to be in turmoil. Wise fathers have difficult days of stressful situations like everyone else, but their kids see them clinging to Christ for help and power and the fruit of the Spirit… love, joy, and peace in the midst of trial is made evident to all.

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APP KIDS: Now, kids, your dad or mom might feel a bit convicted about this. Ok, so be merciful to your parents! Your dad may have flown off the handle and gotten angry, or is way too stressed out…or you might think he’s overly concerned with unscriptural things, but thank the Lord for your dad! You’re hear and you didn’t drive yourself, did you? His desire for you is clear, though he may fail. He desires that you would love wisdom, that you would seek peace and pursue it. Be merciful to your dad.

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APP DAD: And Dads, your life speaks louder than your words. Fathers may not even drink a lick of alcohol, but the kids in the house are more tempted to choose a lifestyle of drunkenness because of the way the dad lives.

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And Dads, where your heart is in your life every week is influencing your kids. Not just the words, but also the spirit behind your words is what is settling into your kids’ hearts. Your passions, your desires, and ambitions are constantly teaching your kids. If you wonder why your kids are like that, then look at yourself first! It could be they are responding that way because you do!

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Are your daily life habits teaching your kids to pursue the things of this world and the success as defined by this age, or before your children, does your life exhibit a life lost for Jesus’ sake? Do your kids see that your life is lost for the sake of the gospel?

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I’m talking about words and actions. Do your kids know by experience that what really gets you all stirred up has something to do with the Scripture or God? Is Jesus and His fame and praise, His gospel, the things that clearly captivates your passion?

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Or do your kids see that stuff is what makes you angry? Or when you express joy, is it over God and what He has said, or are the most joyful times your kids remember in your life is when you bought a new house or you got a new car, or some other thing? Are your kids remembering your joy in the car or your joy in the Lord’s provision of the car?

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ILL: I got an idea, why don’t you ask them? Ask your kids, try that. Ask your kids, “Guys, what do you see that gets Dad all excited?” Ask them, “What gets dad angry?” “What does Dad love the most?” I asked my kids this and it wasn’t that revealing. In typical Hudson fashion, Hudson, when asked the question “What makes Daddy the most happy?” Hudson said…”ah….God?” as if he was giving trying to get the right answer in Sunday school, or something.

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I asked Haddie the same questions. “What makes your daddy the most happy?” Haddie, says “When we obey.” “What makes me the most angry?” Haddie says, “When we disobey.” I sat back and thought about that….I need to, I have to.

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I’m hoping that I don’t get angry at them when they disobey. I don’t think that’s my wife’s perspective, anyway. And I would hope that our relationship goes beyond that!

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For me, that got me thinking. I better make sure my relationship with my kids goes beyond obedience and disobedience. For you, if you were to ask that question of your kids, it might reveal something else.

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And kids and parents, we don’t always handle everything correctly, do we? In our family, there is constant repentance and forgiveness it seems like! “Hudson hit me. Rosie touched my book. Haddie won’t play what I want.”

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And you might need to get with your kids and kids, you might need to get with your dad and you may need to make sure everything is “ok.” Dads, it’s a humbling thing to ask forgiveness from your kids and kids, it’s not easy to admit how you’ve dishonored your parents. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some dads in here who’ve sinned against God in the very presence of their kids and perhaps you know you regularly do so.

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TRANS: Now, verse 4. The central verse. The goal of our instruction, men is that our children have …

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  1. …Approval and success with God and man (v.4)

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Men, is that not the goal of the instruction of our children? What else could we want, then that our kids would have success before God and true, godly success before men? Isn’t what we want that our children would have the smile of God on their lives and also have godly approval from their peers?

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And in the end, when her children appear before the judgment seat of Christ, our goal ought to be that they be commended before God. Is this your passionate goal for your kids?

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It’s not fame, it’s not fortune, it’s not an easy life, but in the end, an eternal focus, in the end they receive the “well done good and faithful slave” from the Lord.

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Children, make Proverbs 3:4 your passion in life. You want true, godly success, success as God defines it. Make it your ambition to receive true, godly approval in the eyes of others.

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When other young people look at you, is it your goal that their testimony of you is “there goes a wise woman” or “there walks a godly man.”

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And children, is that what you care about? Or do you care more about “Oh no! What are they going to think of me!? Do they think I’m an idiot? Do I look stupid in this? What if I make myself look like a fool? Oh no!” That’s not a heart resolute on wisdom.

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No, don’t be that way! Cry after wisdom! Treasure up knowledge and understanding! Give your heart to pursuing after wisdom. Wisdom is crying out in your street, O naïve ones, seek me and live!

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CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Proverbs 3.1-4

“Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; 3 For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; 4 If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will discern the fear of the Lord And discover the knowledge of God.” Make wisdom the passion of your life!

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Have you ever cried for wisdom and shed tears for understanding? We need godly homes, godly fathers and godly children. Let’s turn and sing, 731.

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Go to Proverbs Main Page

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