After a long pause, we are back to Proverbs 3. We have looked at how wisdom and discretion were going to give life and grace. We also saw how wisdom and discretion deals more with our physical walk compared to wisdom from Proverbs 3:13 which deals with the Spiritual. We now see the power of this wisdom in our waking and sleeping moments.
In Proverbs 3:23, there is safety in our walk. Wisdom and discretion helps us to perceive problems and dangers before we get there. This is often attributed to “street smarts” but I believe, for the believer, it goes beyond that. It goes beyond the common level that is portrayed in society. Instead, this wisdom not only sees the danger but also sees the safe paths needed to navigate this life. Let us look at this a little more detailed.
We find safely. The word means to be secure, security. This idea of being safe is found some forty two times throughout Scripture. Throughout time, mankind has desired and pursued after security in their ways. In times past they would build walls and gates, align with those who could help, They put guards around themselves to give them the best advantage. Even today. What do we find? Those who are wealthy, or have power and position, what are their first actions: Build big homes with gates and fences. Put armed security around them. Put protections to cover their financial and material possessions, etc. In all of this, they still never have peace nor do they walk safely. That shows in how they try to wrest power, possessions, or protection against those who are “less” than they are. They do this for they fear.
A true believer, who has wisdom from God, will walk safely. This is not saying we play in the middle of the street because we will be safe, but God has given us a confidence and assurance that He will lead and guide us. This is possible because of wisdom. Wisdom, which comes from God, also keeps our eyes fixed on God. When we have this proper vision we can repeat the same thing which Psalm 4:8 says! It is not the walls we build, the protections we put in place, the medications or shots we take, the safe guards we surround ourselves with, or the people we align with that gives us this safety. It is God.
When we have the proper view, we will look at these other things that are often touted in our news media, agencies, or society as being “THE WAY OF BEING SAFE” and we will shake our head. First due to the logical fallacy that is produced to spread fear for a desired affect. Second because we trust in God and not in government or societal agencies. Third because when many cry peace, we are reminded of Jeremiah 6:14-16. We know the truth because of wisdom. God is the one who is the shield and fortress, not what we trust physically – Psalm 33:17-22. All of this is to say, be careful of what is watched and believed from the T.V. or from the “experts”. Instead, put your whole faith in God and in His leading of the Spirit.
Then we see in Proverbs 3:23, the foot will not stumble. Stumble, when in connection to the idea of being safe, is an interesting concept. I work with a ministry here at our church, Trail Life. We take the young boys and young men out on hikes, camps, etc. One of the important things we teach is to walk in a way that is safe and to make sure that safety does not include getting the foot caught on a root, hit a rock, step on loose gravel when in narrow paths, etc. It is neither safe nor sure. That hitting a root, or stumbling on a rock is what this word means: strike or smite.
There are many, while trying to secure themselves, become careless and will “strike or smite” in ways that can potentially destroy them, their health, their well being, their safety. They lose the very thing they are desiring to have! For those who are using God’s wisdom these types of things are minimized (never fully removed for we are only humans).
All of these things add up to, if we are not keeping God’s wisdom and discretion, then our life will be one pursuit after another for that which is GIVEN to us by God. How does this filter to our entire life? The picture of the walking and foot is a picture of our day to day activity. Our going about our daily lives. But there is good news!
In Proverbs 3:24, this discretion and wisdom does not just impact our daily lives but it also impacts our nocturnal lives! How many put their heads on their pillows only to toss and turn all night for fear, worry, and concern? How many hours of sleep are forsaken because of the mind that works and plays tricks only to cause us to worry and fear? Then, when sleep does come, it is fitful sleep and shallow. How does this affect the next day?
But look at Proverbs 3:24 again! It is because of this wisdom and discretion and all we talked about above and a few weeks ago, we can find this being put into action. How? Look at Peter himself. Peter is in prison. The church was praying for him. What was Peter doing? Fretting, shaking, pleading with the guards, wondering, “Why me?”...or...wait.
Reading Acts 12:6, notice what Peter was doing. Here he was in prison, about to face martyrdom (James had already been martyred), and he was SLEEPING! How many of us would have been sleeping? I believe Peter had what we are talking about here in Proverbs. He was able to put his head to rest with peace. There is no fear at night. Many are afraid of the night, worried about what the next day brings. Full disclosure: There are nights that I also lose sleep because of what tomorrow may bring. Read those last three words again. Tomorrow may bring. I believe Jesus also said something about this in Matthew 6:34. The point being, no amount of worry we give, no matter how much we panic, it will not help (Matthew 6:27). This is an area that we must be on guard with for Satan will use our unfounded fears to cause us to look at all things other than Jesus (can we say Peter on the water? Matthew 14:30).
Therefore, to have a good, full, complete peace and safe night, why not go to the One who can give that? The definition of insanity is dong the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If we have done all the world has said that will bring peace, and it fails, why do it again? Instead, their will be sweetness in our rest, security and safety in our walk. I love this word “sweet”. Why? It is only used 8 times in the Old Testament. Look at how this word is used throughout:
1. Our meditation on God will be sweet to Him – Psalm 104:34
2. Here in Proverbs 3:24, our sleep will be sweet because of Him.
3. Desire that is fulfilled and done is sweet to the soul – Proverbs 13:19
4. Offerings to God from a heart of sin and disobedience is not sweet to God – Jeremiah 6:20; Hosea 9:4
5. After getting God’s words of comfort, he awoke from sleep that was sweet – Jeremiah 31:26
6. Due to the sin of the nation, those they took pleasure in will be used against them – Ezekiel 16:37
7. In holiness and truth and righteousness, the things offered to God will be pleasant – Malachi 3:4
Therefore, who would not want this type of rest. One that is full, rich, deep, refreshing. That is why God created the night to give us rest (hence there was the morning and evening in Creation (Genesis 1:5). It was made so we would work when there was light and sleep and rest when there was dark.
It is in this moment, if we live and exist in the wisdom and discernment of God, we will wake ready for the day. This does not say there will be no trouble. But we will not be shaken by the trouble. Therefore, O believer, rest in the wisdom of God. He will direct your paths (Proverbs 3:6) and will give you the protection and peace you desire. You will walk with discernment, safety, wisdom, and surety, and you will rest in peace, without fear, and it will be sweet!