The wise son believes that the word of God is a more reliable guide to life than his own understanding or experience. He doesn’t judge the path he is on by looking around at the scenery that makes up his present circumstances. He looks down and sees the word of God beneath his feet (Psalm 119:105). That is his assurance. That is his joy.
This is the thought that lies behind the father’s proverb to his son,
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
The first half of this proverb is a caution. Do not rely on your understanding of the situation in order to make your next move. Instead, lean on the Lord. Lean on what God has said.
The Proverb does not call us to reject the use of our understanding. A man who has owned a Ford Explorer should learn from his experience and not buy another one.
What this Proverb does call for is a reorientation of our moral choices (Proverbs 3:7). Choices like who we spend our time with, how we undertake our work, raise our kids, and how we handle money.
Past personal experiences, human understanding, and the way we feel about things are not a trustworthy guide to a godly life.
The second part of this proverb is a litmus test that determines whether we are, in fact, leaning on our own understanding or trusting the Lord as we make our decisions day by day.
…In all your ways acknowledge him
To acknowledge or “know” God in all our ways is to acknowledge that God has spoken about the circumstance in front of us. It’s to look around and acknowledge that God has indeed spoken.
If you cannot see the word of God lighting up the path beneath your feet, then you are on the wrong path.
The believing son who decides to shack up with the unbelieving girl down the road will not see the word of God lighting the way beneath his feet. She may be sweet, honest, loyal, and pretty. It doesn’t matter. Whatever his reasoning, he is leaning on his own understanding and not trusting in the Lord.
Such a man is pretending that God has not spoken. Such a man is walking in darkness (Proverbs 4:19).
The son who can look down at his feet and see the word of God affirming his steps is a man on a straight path. One that leads to life (Proverbs 3:8).