The Very First Verse


I was a sophomore in college.  Without a major.  Lacking direction.

Desperate for guidance, I opened my Bible and stumbled upon Proverbs 3:5-6.  As a relatively new believer, this was the first verse I ever really believed and took to heart.  I even put it to music on my guitar.  Although the tune and chords have faded from my memory, His words remain:

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 your paths straight.*

In times of uncertainty we seek comfort in the familiar.  So today I returned to Proverbs 3 to enjoy the company of this old friend.  Bible commentators guided me, verse by verse, as I meditated upon its meaning.  I’ll let their words–and His words–speak for themselves.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart…

The Hebrew word for “trust,” batakh, means “to cling to…to confide in, to set one’s hope and confidence upon.” (Pulpit Commentary)

“We must trust in the Lord with all our hearts, believing he is able and wise to do what is best.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

And do not lean on your own understanding…

“Those who know themselves, find their own understandings a broken reed, which, if they lean upon, will fail.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

“The admonition does not mean that we are not to use our own understanding…i.e. form plans with discretion, and employ legitimate means in the pursuit of our ends; but that, when we use it, we are to depend upon God and his directing and overruling providence.” (Pulpit Commentary)

In all your ways acknowledge Him…

“The Hebrew verb yada signifies “to know, recognize.”  To acknowledge God is, therefore, to recognize, in all our dealings and undertakings, God’s overruling providence…” (Pulpit Commentary)

“Begin, continue, and end every work, purpose, and device, with God.  Earnestly pray for his direction at the commencement; look for his continual support in the progress; and so begin and continue that all may terminate in his glory…” (Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible)

And He will make your paths straight…

“The pronoun v’hu is emphatic, “he himself”  God here binds himself by a covenant.” (Pulpit Commentary)  (Wow.)

The New King James Version puts it like this:  “And He shall direct your paths.”  The word “direct” literally means to “make plain.” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)

I love the simplicity of the New Living Translation:  “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

Such rich insights!  Like time spent with a treasured friend, I left my study of Proverbs 3:5-6 feeling refreshed, encouraged, and inspired.

I can still picture that young college girl, guitar in hand, as she clung to this promise, and to the Lord, for the very first time.  He was faithful to guide her then.  He can be trusted to guide us now.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.  In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6, The Amplified Version)

*The New American Standard Version

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