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Trust God in Every Area of Life (3:5-8)

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Introduction

Introduction

Introduction

Do any of you ever struggle with anxiety? Worry? In moments of anxiety or depression have you come across – or have others drawn your attention to – verses such as the following.
Matthew 6:25 ESV
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Matthew 6:34 ESV
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
,
ESV).
Philippians 4:6 ESV
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. ( ESV).
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. ( ESV).
1 Peter 5:6–7 ESV
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
ESV).
Maybe those verses bring a great deal of encouragement to you. Maybe in lesser moments of anxiety, worry, or fear those passages are just enough to keep you spiritually encouraged and optimistic. Or, maybe at times they feel like cliché or pat answers if not commands that make you anxious about one more area of life that you’re not managing well. Have you ever gotten anxious about your anxiety?
Maybe those verses bring a great deal of encouragement to you. Maybe in lesser moments of anxiety, worry, or fear those passages are just enough to keep you spiritually encouraged and optimistic. Or, maybe at times they feel like clichés or pat answers if not commands that make you anxious about one more area of life that you’re not managing well. Have you ever gotten anxious about your anxiety?
We can at times view these verses as spiritual pills. In the same way that we wonder if our doctor really knows what prescription is right for us or if he’s just working through the list of available prescriptions, our Christian friends write out prescriptions full of verses. All of them seem to fall short of our systemic issues. “Take one and two readings of each day as your normal dosage against your chronic anxiety.”
Welch. When the pill doesn’t work we have two choices. We search for another treatment, or we confess that we are using Scripture as a self-help book for symptom relief, in which case it is time to get back to basics. If you choose to get back to biblical basics, Peter’s exhortation to humble ourselves is a great place to start.[1]
It is true that in 1 Peter we are told to “cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you,” but we often jump to the part that connects with us and miss the only command in the passage – that being to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. In the same way that Peter moves from acknowledging God to the point of tossing anxiety upon God, in Proverbs, Solomon moves from “trust in the Lord with all your heart” to the fact that when we do healing and refreshment will come to your body and your soul.
Proverbs 3:5–8 ESV
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. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
ESV).

The Benefits of Trusting (3:8)

The Benefits of Trusting (3:8)

Let’s start at the end. It is in verse 8 that we connect to a desire to be relieved of the anxiety, worry, fear, and depression that bear down upon us. “It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones” ().
Healing to flesh. Let’s wrestle briefly with the first phrase “healing to your flesh.” The KJV translates this phrase as “health to your navel.” Odd as that may sound, it translates the word more consistently with its other usages in the Old Testament. It is only used two other times in the Old Testament and in each of those it refers to the navel, if not more specifically the umbilical cord. “The central region of the body is taken as the representative of all the vital organs.”[2]
Refreshment to bones. Bones can refer to the entire body, the whole being, limb to limb. Yet, I think the intent is to extend beyond the material aspect of mankind and address healing that comes to the immaterial spirit of mankind. The NET Bible translates this phrase as “refreshment to your inner self” ( NET). Similar usage is seen in other Proverbs as well. “The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones” ( ESV). “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. ( ESV). In these couple of instances, the meaning of bones moves from the basic notion of that which is just physical or material and moves into the immaterial. “In sum, a right relationship with God leads to a state of complete physical and mental well-being, not simply to the absence of illness and disease.”[3]
Therefore, whatever commands we find in the previous 3 verses are going to result in the entirety of an individual, material, immaterial, physical, mental, and spiritual to benefit through refreshment and healing.
What it’s not going to do. This verse is not leading us to conclude that if we follow the commands in the previous verses that are physical ailments are going to be taken away. This is not a cure for all physical ailments. This doesn’t mean that you’re not going to ever struggle with anxiety and fear. It does however lead us to conclude that if we follow the preceding imperatives, all aspects of our humanity will be refreshed and will receive healing nourishment.
This does encourage us that when we trust in God, that we receive physical and spiritual refreshment. Consider the effects of anxiety and shame on a person’s body and mind. They can be drastic.
What are the imperatives? Within these 3 verses we find 6 commands! Why all the commands? We tend to trust in our own wisdom instead of trusting in God. We tend to want to depend on our own strength and logic instead of the logic and wisdom and council and commands that are found in scripture.
In what areas of life do you struggle trusting God? (1) Our happiness. We may at times think that if we do what God wants and obey the Bible, we may not really be happy. We think that happiness is going to be found outside of obedience to God. Even though we don’t say this, we at times display this in our actions. (2) Our finances. We may not want to follow God’s direction in giving because if we do we think we won’t have what we “need.” Maybe we’ll struggle with daily provisions or with retirement. (3) Change in other’s lives or our own. We can often try to change people ourselves instead of trusting God’s work in their lives. We can often fail to trust the ability of the Holy Spirit in working in their life. There may be areas in our lives in which we need to grow. At times we struggle trusting in God’s work in our own lives and we do everything humanly possible to change, and we fail to rest in God’s work in us. (4) And an unlimited number of other potential context.

The Importance of Trusting (3:5)

Trust in the Lord. When we consider the idea of trust, there are two nuances that are present with that idea – a decision and an emotion. As believers we often speak of trust as primarily a decision we make synonymous with belief. Both concepts are found in Hebrew. Batah speaks of a sense of safety or a feeling and emotion of confidence. Hasa conveys more the idea of belief. In this passage batah is used.
When we are told to trust in the Lord, we are being told to rest in or find our comfort and confidence in the Lord. While we obviously should believe in the Lord, the emphasis in this passage is on the confidence we feel as we rest in the Lord.[4]
The story is told of a man who was crossing the Susquehanna River one winter’s day. Since this man did not know how thick the ice was, he was crawling along on all fours, inching his way across the river. He was startled by some racket and clatter coming up behind him. He turned to see a local man from the area driving a wagon pulled by four horses. Too many Christians are like the man down on all fours, creeping along, way too cautious.[5]
This word trust is a little dramatic. It means to “throw one down . . . to throw oneself or one’s cares on any one.”[6]
Ortlund. To lie down spread-eagle in complete reliance – to make it as graphic as I can, to do a belly-flop on God with all our sin and all our failure and all our fears. We stake everything on the gospel promises of God. If God fails us, we are damned. If God comes through, we are saved forever. Real trust is that blunt and daring and simple. A.W. Tozer nailed it.[7]
Tozer. Pseudo-faith always arranges a way out to serve in case God fails it. Real faith knows only one way and gladly allows itself to be stripped of any second way or makeshift substitutes. For true faith, it is either God or total collapse. And not since Adam stood up on the earth has God failed a single man or woman who trusted him.[8]
Trust with all your heart. While heart does on occasion refer to the literal organ – the heart. Most often though, throughout the Old Testament, the heart came to refer to “the richest biblical term for the totality of man’s inner or immaterial nature. . . . in the Bible, virtually every immaterial function of man is attributed to the “heart” . . . [9]
In one sense, the makeup of mankind is not terribly complicated. There are two aspects that make up a person – the material and the immaterial. The material is that part which refers to our bodies, our flesh and bones, our organs. Our material bodies are tangible and only exist as long as we are alive. The immaterial refers to the parts which are intangible and whose existence extend beyond our physical lifespan. It is this immaterial aspect of mankind that was “created in the image of God.”[10]
So then, while the makeup of mankind is not necessarily complicated for it is only made up of two parts, one of those parts gets a little more complicated. In studying Scripture, we will find that the heart typically refers to “one of the three traditional personality functions of man; emotion, thought, or will.[11]
The heart as cognition or thinking. When the scribes came to accuse Jesus of blaspheming, Matthew describes that “Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?’” (; par. ; ). Similarly, when the disciples argued about who was the greatest, Luke said, “But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side” (). Jesus, again, draws a direct link between perception, understanding, and the heart when he confronted the grumbling crowds, saying, “Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?” ().[12]
The heart as affection or emotion. The heart is the place where desires operate () . . . Jesus reminded his disciples, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (; par. ). The heart feels intense emotion, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road?” (). The heart can experience distress and fear, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (, ). The heart also experiences sadness and joy, “sorrow has filled your heart” (), but “your hearts will rejoice” (). Luke mentions many emotional responses and attributes them to the heart, saying, “my heart was glad” (; Acts 46) and “they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth” ( nkjv). The heart experiences satisfaction (), and sorrow at departing from loved ones breaks the heart ().[13]
The heart as volition, will, or decisions. In the Gospels, the writers often mention the heart as that place where the will functions . . . People’s true dedications and choices reside in the heart rather than on the lips, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (; ; par. ). Likewise, Jesus says, “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart” (). The heart is cited as where people make a decision . . . “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart” (). Similarly, the means by which Satan controls the will of Judas Iscariot is by putting an intention in his heart (). Luke refers to the heart in this way frequently in the book of Acts. Satan again provokes willful action by means of the heart, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?” (). Luke uses even more specifically volitional language in the following verse, “Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart?” ()[14]
The body can influence the heart. “The heart thinks and remembers; the heart feels and experiences; the heart chooses and acts. What the heart initiates in these three spheres comes to fruition through the mediation of the body. The body carries out the heart’s desires.”[15] And yet it is important to realize that while the body does not have the final say in what the heart chooses, knows, or feels, it can have a significant influence on the heart.
Emlet. These bodily influences range from a missed night’s sleep or the common cold, to traumatic brain injury, paralysis, a cancer riddled, pain-wracked body or a brain shriveling in the wake of Alzheimer’s disease—or even a body in robust good health that feels great.[16]
These physical ailments are most definitely going to influence and challenge the heart and its emotions, thinking, and decisions. But, they only influence. They are not determinative.
Don’t lean on your own understanding. In this phrase we are offered the alternative to trusting in the Lord. Instead of doing a belly-flop of trust on God, we rely on our own human ingenuity and ability. Trusting in God and not leaning on our own understanding does not mean that we don’t use the intelligence and reasoning that God gave us. Trusting in God doesn’t mean that we never have valid concerns. Trusting in God may include valid concern that leads me to prayer and wise actions. Trusting in God and not leaning on my own understanding doesn’t mean that I “let go and let God” or that I become laid back and passive in my life. It doesn’t mean that I don’t work hard. It does however mean that in every area of my life, God is the ultimate and final authority in my emotions and decisions.
It takes a very brief perusal of Scripture to find an example of what negatively happens when we lean on our own understanding. Within the first few chapters we see all humanity and creation fall into a depraved state and the process of death as our distant parents leaned on their own understanding. Only three more chapters go by before the whole world is destroyed because people chose to lean upon their own understanding. Five more chapters go by and we see all mankind leaning on their own understanding and as a result God chooses to confuse their languages and disseminate the people throughout the world. A few more chapters elapse and we find Sarai directing Abraham to have children with her servant Hagar because Sarai hasn’t been able to give him any children. And yet, Sarai seems confused by the resulting contempt of Hagar. The rest of Genesis seems to be example after example of “leaning on your own understanding.” Abraham nearly loses Sarah a couple of times because he presents her as his sister instead of wife because he’s afraid. Two different men end up taking her as a wife to only find out she’s already married to Abraham. Apparently, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree because Isaac attempts the same trick with the same results. Even Abimelech seems incensed by Isaac’s decision, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us” (). I can’t fathom why it would have been easy for someone to have easily lain with his wife, yet the point remains. Isaac’s leaning on his own understanding placed his wife in a precarious position. Along comes Jacob and his two wives and their servants. Leah desires to give Jacob more children so she gives Jacob her servant to have a couple of children with. Rachel doesn’t like that she hasn’t been able to give him any children, so she gives Jacob her servant as well to have a couple of kids with. Is it really any wonder why there was so much animosity between different wives and their different children? The hatred that we experience even today between opposing countries is due to the decision of the characters in Genesis to lean on their own understanding. And all this chaos, drama, and anxiety unfolds in just the first 29 chapters of the Bible. When we lean on our own understanding, we make a mess out of everything.

The Method of Trusting (3:6-7)

In verse 5 we find the most prominent command. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. The rest of the commands further fill out the command to trust.
Grow in your knowledge of the Lord. (Positive) The word translated “acknowledge” simply means to know. You could understand this by reading it this way, “In all your ways you should know Him” or “Your knowledge of Him should affect you in all your ways” or “Your knowledge of God should affect everything that you do.”
Don’t depend on your own wisdom. (Negative) The opposite side of the of the same coin of “knowing God” is not letting every area of life be directed by “your” knowledge. Instead of your wisdom directing all you do, you should allow the wisdom of God, attained through knowing Him and His word, direct everything you do.
Revere the Lord due to your knowledge of Him. (Positive) This ought not surprise us, for it is here that we started our study in Proverbs. The first step and the most prominent step in acquiring wisdom is that we fear God. “The righteous/wise way of life begins by fearing God, that is, recognizing his superiority, and responding in awe, humility, worship, love, trust, and obedience to God.” [17]
Stop Doing Wrong (Negative) And the same result that was mentioned in the first chapter is mentioned here as well. Our fear of God leads us to a hatred for that which God hates. Truly fearing God results in submission to His desires and revealed will. The logical step which follows fearing God is no longer doing what He doesn’t want you to do. Once we come to know God, we revere Him. With such knowledge and reverence, it comes easy for us to entrust our lives to His control.

Conclusion

Worry. To some degree or another we all worry. It is a plight of humanity. Worry or anxiety, a sense of uneasiness as we dwell on a difficulty or trouble, actual or potential or often even only perceived. Distress. Concern. Uneasiness. Butterflies in the stomach.
And yet, Scripture considers anxiety to be a deeply spiritual issue. “This is not to say that the Bible ignores or disputes the mental, physiological, historical, social or environmental aspects of worry, but that it sees them all as part of a spiritual issue—that worry, ultimately, is a response to life lived in God’s world. Worry is, therefore, a response to God himself.”[18]
One of the solutions to this human epidemic is “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”
Welch. It sounds very simple—and it is—but it changes everything. This is the secret to dealing with fears and anxiety. The words of God, and the comfort of the Spirit, become much more obvious when we are repentant and humble before him. No deals—“if you spare me from this suffering then I will . . .” Just simple trust. We trust him because he is God, not because he is going to immediately remove our anxieties or our fear-provoking situation.[19]
[1] Ed Welch, “The Secret to Dealing with Fear and Anxiety,” CCEF (blog), April 19, 2011, Accessed March 2, 2018. https://www.ccef.org/resources/blog/secret-dealing-fear-and-anxiety.
[2] Albert Barnes, Notes on the Old Testament: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Jeremiah, Lamentations & Ezekiel, ed. F. C. Cook and J. M. Fuller (London: John Murray, 1879), 20.
[2] Albert Barnes, Notes on the Old Testament: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Jeremiah, Lamentations & Ezekiel, ed. F. C. Cook and J. M. Fuller (London: John Murray, 1879), 20.
[3] Bruce Kenneth Waltke, The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 1-15 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 2004), 247.
[3] Bruce Kenneth Waltke, The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 1-15 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 2004), 247.
[4] John N. Oswalt, “233 בָּטַח,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 101. in Hebrew, bāṭaḥ expresses that sense of well-being and security which results from having something or someone in whom to place confidence. It is significant that the LXX never translates this word with πιστευω “believe in” but with ελπιζω “to hope,” in the positive sense “to rely on God” or πειφομαι “to be persuaded,” for the negative notion for relying on what turns out to be deceptive. This would seem to indicate that bāṭaḥ does not connote that full-orbed intellectual and volitional response to revelation which is involved in “faith,” rather stressing the feeling of being safe or secure. Likewise, all the derivatives have the same meaning “to feel secure,” “be unconcerned.”
[4] John N. Oswalt, “233 בָּטַח,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 101. in Hebrew, bāṭaḥ expresses that sense of well-being and security which results from having something or someone in whom to place confidence. It is significant that the LXX never translates this word with πιστευω “believe in” but with ελπιζω “to hope,” in the positive sense “to rely on God” or πειφομαι “to be persuaded,” for the negative notion for relying on what turns out to be deceptive. This would seem to indicate that bāṭaḥ does not connote that full-orbed intellectual and volitional response to revelation which is involved in “faith,” rather stressing the feeling of being safe or secure. Likewise, all the derivatives have the same meaning “to feel secure,” “be unconcerned.”
[5] Raymond C. Ortlund and R. Kent Hughes, Proverbs: Wisdom That Works, 1st Edition (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2012), 64.
[5] Raymond C. Ortlund and R. Kent Hughes, Proverbs: Wisdom That Works, 1st Edition (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2012), 64.
[6] Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003), 112.
[6] Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003), 112.
[7] Ortlund and Hughes, Proverbs, 63.
[7] Ortlund and Hughes, Proverbs, 63.
[8] A. W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1955), 50.
[8] A. W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1955), 50.
[9] Andrew Bowling, “1071 לָבַב,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 466.
[9] Andrew Bowling, “1071 לָבַב,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 466.
[10] Ironically, the physical heart is part of the material aspect of man and not actually part of the immaterial which is so often referred to as the heart throughout Scripture.
[10] Ironically, the physical heart is part of the material aspect of man and not actually part of the immaterial which is so often referred to as the heart throughout Scripture.
[11] Andrew Bowling, “1071 לָבַב,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 466.
[11] Andrew Bowling, “1071 לָבַב,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 466.
[12] Jeremy Pierre, The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life: Connecting Christ to Human Experience, 2016, Kindle Locations 376-381.
[12] Jeremy Pierre, The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life: Connecting Christ to Human Experience, 2016, Kindle Locations 376-381.
[13] Pierre, The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life, Kindle Locations 396-404.
[13] Pierre, The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life, Kindle Locations 396-404.
[14] Pierre, Kindle Locations 415-434.
[14] Pierre, Kindle Locations 415-434.
[15] Michael R. Emlet, “Understanding the Influences of the Human Heart,” The Journal of Biblical Counseling 20, no. 2 (January 1, 2002): 48, Accessed March 1, 2018. https://www.ccef.org/wp-content/uploads/archive/sites/default/files/pdf/UnderstandingInfluences-Emlet.pdf.
[15] Michael R. Emlet, “Understanding the Influences of the Human Heart,” The Journal of Biblical Counseling 20, no. 2 (January 1, 2002): 48, Accessed March 1, 2018. https://www.ccef.org/wp-content/uploads/archive/sites/default/files/pdf/UnderstandingInfluences-Emlet.pdf.
[16] Emlet, 49.
[16] Emlet, 49.
[17] Roy B. Zuck ed., Learning From the Sages: Selected Studies on the Book of Proverbs (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995), 107.
[17] Roy B. Zuck ed., Learning From the Sages: Selected Studies on the Book of Proverbs (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995), 107.
[18] Timothy Lane, Living without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace (The Good Book Company, 2015), 18.
[18] Timothy Lane, Living without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace (The Good Book Company, 2015), 18.
[19] Welch, “The Secret to Dealing with Fear and Anxiety.”
[19] Welch, “The Secret to Dealing with Fear and Anxiety.”
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