A Closer Look at Proverbs 3:5-6

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to make a decision but weren’t 100% sure of what to do? I’m sure we all have been there before. In those moments, we are tempted to worry about what to do and then tempted to take matters into our own hands if we don’t get guidance immediately.

I’m reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6, which encourages us not to give in to those temptations. It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

The Lord uses these verses to minister to my heart often. I don’t know about you, but I am so quick to “lean to my own understanding.” However, the Lord will use these verses to redirect my thoughts and settle my heart. Let’s break these verses into four parts and examine each one closer.

1. Trust in the Lord with all your heart

Trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. When I trust a chair, I sit in it and don’t think about it anymore. When we trust God, we believe that what he has spoken about himself and us is true. To trust God is to believe that He will fulfill every promise he has made. 

If I’m being honest, I have often had trouble trusting God. I have found it easier to trust in something or someone I can see rather than in God, who I can’t see. I can trust a chair because I can sit in it and test if it’s reliable within a few seconds. I trust in people after repeated good experiences with them such as them keeping their word and seeing them display kindness to others. The more positive experiences I have with a person, the more my trust grows in that person. But just like my trust can grow with a person, the more I get to know them, my trust in God has grown, the more I have gotten to know him. As my knowledge and experience of the Lord grows, my eyes are opened to see and accept just how trustworthy he really is. I can firmly believe in his faithfulness because he always proves himself true to his word. I can trust him with all of my heart and not just a portion of it because he is trustworthy.

If you struggle to trust God, I challenge you to get to know him more deeply. If you never take the time out to truly get to know the Lord better, you will never be able to trust him with your whole heart. 

2. Do not lean on your own understanding

As stated before, when I have to make a decision, be it life-altering or simple, I have given into the temptation to lean on my understanding all too often. This has proved to be very dangerous because my perspective is so limited. I only know so much. The Lord, on the other hand, knows all things, and his understanding is higher than mine. When we lean on our understanding, we can walk ourselves right out of God’s will for us because we don’t understand it. But he sees what we can’t see and understands what we can’t fathom on our own. Instead of leaning on our understanding, we must train ourselves to rely on the Lord’s understanding. My understanding will only get me so far, but if I trust in God’s understanding, I will get to where he is leading me to.

3. In all your ways acknowledge him

The Hebrew word for acknowledge here means to know. When we know Christ, we will accept all of who he is and submit to him accordingly. King Solomon instructs us to acknowledge the Lord in not some of our ways but all of them. That means we are to acknowledge the Lord in our daily lives, the grand moments, and the mundane ones. Whether we are making decisions, raising our children, or loving our neighbor, we are to know the Lord and his ways and let the knowledge of him affect our lives.

This ties back to verse 5, in that, if we don’t trust the Lord with all of our hearts, we will definitely not acknowledge him in all our ways. Whatever you put your trust in is what you will acknowledge. If our trust is in our understanding, we will acknowledge our intellect in all we do. If our trust is solely in a person, we will look to them before consulting with the Lord and hold their beliefs and opinions higher than his.

It is of utmost importance that we begin to know the Lord and acknowledge him in all our ways. We get to know him by praying consistently, reading and studying his word, and experiencing him through worship. As we get to know him, we are acknowledging him, and it will affect everything we do and every decision we make.

4. He will make straight your paths

As we begin to acknowledge the Lord in all our ways, he will direct our path. This is a promise that should calm any anxious heart. The Lord promises to make our path straight before us. A path leads us to a particular destination. A straight path implies a clear direction to a destination the Lord has in mind. When we lean on our understanding and acknowledge ourselves in all our ways, we create or carve out crooked paths for ourselves that may not lead to the life God desires for us. 

I can honestly say I have not always trusted the Lord fully and forged my own path a time or two in my life. Those paths were always rocky and full of twists and turns that could have been avoided had I trusted the Lord wholeheartedly. I’m determined now to see the Lord fulfill the promise of Proverbs 3:6 in my life. The Lord will make straight our paths, saints. We need only to trust him, lean on his understanding, and acknowledge him in all we do.

Final Encouragement

Do you need to make some tough decisions right about now? Apply Proverbs 3:5-6 to your life. Do you need to make any decisions? Apply Proverbs 3:5-6 to your life. These verses affect our daily lives, so we should seek to apply them no matter the circumstance.

Like Solomon, I urge you to trust in the Lord with all your heart, sis, don’t lean on your own understanding, and in all of your ways acknowledge the Lord. Without fail, he will make your paths straight. 

May we trust the trustworthy One and see his promise fulfilled in us.

Digging Deeper

  1. Have you found it hard to trust the Lord with all your heart? Explain your answer.
  2. Do you find it challenging to resist the temptation to lean on your understanding when faced with overcoming a challenging situation? What practical things could you do to help you not rely (solely) on your knowledge?
  3. Have you ever carved out your own path for your life? What was the result of that experience? 
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