A Tree of Life
Speaker: Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series: An Invitation to Wisdom: Proverbs 1-9
Proverbs 3:1-18 (ESV)
1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
2 for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.
11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.
13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
14 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called blessed.
If we walk through life trusting God (v5) we will be able to face whatever is in our path (v6) even if we lack experience, perspective and imagination.
1. experience (vv7-8)
v7 “be not wise in your own eyes”
2. perspective (vv9-12)
v8 “honor the Lord…”
vv11-12 “do not despise the Lord’s discipline… for the Lord reproves him whom he loves”
3. imagination (vv13-18)
v13 “blessed is the one who finds wisdom”
v14 “for the gain from her is better than…”
v18 “she is a tree of life”
Questions for Reflection
What makes for a good mentoring relationship? What are the marks of a good guide? What are some things good teachers do?
How do you learn best? What forms of correction help you, and what forms are unhelpful?
What challenges are there for you in following God in life? What are the key things that keep you from seeking, listening, trusting, obeying, relating, etc.?
How is humility related to self esteem or confidence? What is humility?
What does it look like, practically, to trust in the Lord and not “lean on your own understanding”? What role does your own learning and thinking play in your decision making?
Read Deuteronomy 6:4-6 and chapter 8, and Hebrews 12:1-11. How do these passages help you better understand Proverbs 3:1-18 (or how does the Proverbs passage better help you understand those passages)?
How can Christian faith help you face things you don’t understand (don’t have sufficient experience or knowledge of)? What resources are there in faith and what do you need, to not give up or to act with haste?
How can you tell when the Lord is disciplining you? What should you do when you don’t understand what you are experiencing?
Is God’s promise of life and reward compelling? Do you desire what He promises? Why are you not more devoted, eager, focused, motivated?
Life is promised to us in Jesus Christ. What are the essential claims of the Bible about Jesus, and what is most compelling about what is promised? Can you trust him? What does it look like to trust him with all your heart?
Prayer of Confession
Our wise and loving Father, we need you to lead us in this world. We confess we lack humility. We confess we lack awareness of what we don’t know. We confess that our goals are typically self serving. We are not good followers. We do not consistently seek your counsel, and we rarely experience your discipline as the act of a loving Father. And yet there are opportunities to honor you all along the way. Forgive our lack of faith. Forgive us for trusting in ourselves and for doubting you. Watch over us and straighten the way, that we may walk with you. Amen.