Mindy was very excited and bounced up and down, “Dad, are you sure we will go hiking this Saturday?” Todd was unloading the groceries from his van, “I thought mom has already told you about it, right? We are going to the Mizzy Lake Trail in Algonquin Park this Saturday, make sure you pack the necessary supplies and get ready for the fun and adventure!” “Yes sir, I will discuss with Cindy what we would bring and we will cook you and mom a good meal, just wait and see!” Mindy ran upstairs and dashed right into her sister’s room.
At dinner table, Cindy asked, “Dad, what is so good about the Mizzy Lake Trail?” “Oh, it is a very good area for wildlife viewing, and it passes through nine lakes and some ponds. There is a ‘Turtle Bay’, which is a natural science study area; if we are lucky, we will be able to see old and young turtles since hundreds of painted turtles resided there.” “Wow, will we be able to see moose and deer? I can’t wait until Saturday, come, Cindy, let’s make up a checklist of things to do and bring.” Mindy leaped with joy into the family room to look for paper and pencil. “Hon, how long does it take to finish the whole trail? Do we have to start early?” Mom was a bit concerned about the time. “It’s fine, Brittany, 6 hours will be enough to complete the trail, besides, we will be able to see more animals at dusk. Don’t worry; I am in control of everything.” Todd replied assertively.
“Such nice scenery, it’s breathtaking! Look, there is a beaver beside the dam!” Mindy cried with excitement. “Hurry up, guys, come over here, there is a turtle with pink numbers on the shell. It’s so cute!” Cindy chuckled. “Girls, don’t spend too much time here, it’s getting dark now, and we still have a while to go,” Brittany was prodding them while turning around to ask her husband, “Are you sure this is the way, Todd? I think we have deviated from the right track. Are we supposed to pass through those Black Spruces first?” “You know what, we could walk over that vegetation mat, I am pretty sure this is the short cut, and we can reach the other end before it turns entirely dark.” Todd started to skip over the boardwalk. “Wait a minute,” Brittany yelled, “how could you be so sure? There is a sign here warning us about the danger of deviating from the boardwalk, I think we should follow the rules.” Todd was a bit impatient, “I am the leader of the family, and I am in charge now, you just have to listen and follow. Do you know how much time I have spent in finding this route? I am absolutely positively that we will beat the time and this is the short cut. Just keep quiet and follow me!” Todd was walking over the mossy bog and waving to the girls at the same time, “Hurry up, girls, this way, just follow your Dad…..ouch!” Brittany was alarmed, “What’s wrong, Todd? Oh no, you are sinking into the mud, girls, stay over the boardwalk, don’t come near the mossy bog, step back!” Brittany was instructing the girls and looking for help to rescue her husband from the mess.
A ranger passed by and they managed to help Todd get out of the messy situation. Todd was very embarrassed, “I am sorry, Brittany and girls, I am too prideful, I should have listened to your mom and obeyed the rules, but I did not because I think I am somebody and have control over everything. I am wrong, please accept my apologies.” They embraced each other and Brittany said, “It’s okay, we all make mistakes. Let’s laugh!”
Your Initial Response
Have you ever made any mistakes owing to your pride or self-righteousness? What was the consequence?
1My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart,
2for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.
3Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
4Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
5Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
7Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.
8This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
9Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.
11My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke,
12because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. (Proverbs 3:1–12 NIV)
1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.
2 Underline “do not forget,” “heart” and “keep” (Proverbs 3:1).
3 Circle the words “the neck” and “the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs 3:3).
4 Box the appropriate attitude and action that the son should have.
5 Surround the blessedness of the son with triangles.
6 Connect “disciplines,” “loves,” and “delights” (Proverbs 3:12).
2) “Expound” (E)
iEXP Bible Study Method
Many people decided to walk on a badly chosen path; not only did they suffer, but others suffered loss as well. God loves humankind, and as He wishes to bless the exalted beings of all creatures, He informs us about the principles of inheriting grace and blessedness. Do you want to be blessed?
1 Why did the author claim to be the father (Proverbs 3:1)?
2 What is “teaching” (Proverbs 3:1)?
3 What are “commands” (Proverbs 3:1)?
4 Why can we obtain longevity and “prosperity” by obeying the author’s “teaching” and “commands” (Proverbs 3:2)?
5 What is the connection between obeying the “teaching” and “commands” of the author and honoring God (Proverbs 3:1-12)?
The Book of Proverbs not only talks about the righteous or wise course of action, but it also speaks of the wicked or foolish course of action. The starting point of the righteous or wise path is based on the right relationship with God and right responses to Him.
Children should obey their parents (1:8-9; 4:1-9, 20; 5:11-12; 6:20-22; 13:1; 15:5, 32; 19:27; 23:22). As for parents, it is hard to practice child discipline, but it benefits the child. The teacher of Proverbs 3 considers his student his son, thus he tells his beloved the principles and practices that lead to blessedness.
Owing to the fact that the instruction of the teacher is originated from God’s heart and teaching, obeying his instruction is to obey God. The literal meaning of “teaching” is “doctrine;” it is the whole body of salutary doctrine. “Commands” have the meaning precepts. This is a word used for the Ten Commandments (Exodus 24:1) and it is used to describe the instruction to the student by the wise teacher. “Heart” is the sum total of the affections. In verse one, the three main ideas are very important, they are remembrance, affection and obedience respectively. The three steps to blessedness are: First, they must remember the teaching of the teacher, in other words, they must keep God’s “teaching” in their hearts. Second, people must have affection for God’s teaching, that is, having the attitude of respect and affection, or else, they would not continue to obey. Third, obedience is practical action that springs out of their hearts.
“Length of days” (NASB), that is, “prolonged life.” “Years of life” can be interpreted as “a life worth living.” The Hebrew word “shalom” (“prosperity” in NIV) has the meaning of peace and prosperity. Its meanings are very broad, and it can be interpreted as wholeness, health, and harmony, that is, a blessed person is healthy physically, fiscally, and in relationship with others.
“Loyalty and kindness” can be translated as “truth and mercy.” A certain scholar states that it is hendiadys used in rhetoric (the expression of an idea by the use of usually two independent words connected by and (as nice and warm) instead of the usual combination of independent word and its modifier); it can be translated as “loyal [covenant] love and faithfulness.” Since the neck houses the throat, the Hebrew considers the neck the very life of the person. “The tablet of your heart” is the inner part of humankind. Tie “loyalty and kindness” around the neck are virtues which serve as ornaments. The “loyalty and kindness” tied around the neck represent the external behavior, and the “loyalty and kindness” that is written on the tablet of the heart signify the internal character of a person. In other words, “loyalty and kindness” are originated from the heart.
This verse can be translated as “Then you will find favor and good understanding, in the sight of God and people.” (NET) When the students were willing to listen to the teacher, they would reveal “loyalty and kindness.” For this very reason, the competence and intelligence of the wise individuals would be recognised by God and others.
The first half and the second half of verse five is a distinctive comparison. “Heart” is the emotion, intellect and will of a person; the teacher reminds his student to trust in the Lord wholeheartedly. On the contrary, the wise student should not rely on his own understanding, comprehension, or intelligence.
The teacher reminds his student to focus on God’s presence in all of his plans and undertakings, and must intimately connect with Him. If he did it this way, God would remove the obstacles on his path. In simple terms, God will lead the life of this person.
“Fear” means worshipful submission, reverential awe, and obedient respect. Students must have a heart of humility and respect to avoid evil things.
Since the umbilical cord is connected to the navel of the baby inside the womb; therefore, the navel is seen as the organ of nourishment, thus it is regarded as the centre of vital strength. “Bones wasted away” is a description of deficient in strength, and “nourishment to your bones” can be interpreted as bones moistened with marrow, that is, full of vitality. “Navel” and “bones” are representation for the whole body (“Synecdoche” is a figure of speech by which a participle is put for the whole). Both are seen as representatives of physical strength. In simple terms, those who honor God and follow His instruction will receive physical healing or soundness of body.
The meaning of “honor the Lord” is to hold Him in high esteem and to recognise Him as being great and worthy. Offering gifts of tribute to God are means to proclaim He has the rightful place of authority.
Vats are large containers for brewing wine. Verse 10 is a promise of God to His people. People who generously offer wealth to God will be remembered by Him, and God will greatly increase their harvest. By using a picture of plentiful harvest, the teacher speaks of God’s abundant supply.
Verse 11 to 12 is a strong contrast to verse 10. The teacher reminds his student that God can bless His people, but also He can discipline them. When the student encounters God’s discipline one day, he should know this is out of His love, for God is as if a father, He will discipline His son.
There are a series of commands in verse 5 to 12 to remind the students the things that they ought to do. True piety has the three types of behavior as follows: first, intellectually, students should be humble (Proverbs 3:5-8); second, their submission of material wealth to God’s rule (Proverbs 3:9-10); third, their patient acceptance of divine discipline (Proverbs 3:11-12).
3) “Exercise” (X)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Many people only employ their strength to strive for excellence; however, trusting God wholeheartedly is not an easy lesson to learn (Proverbs 3:5).
2 Many believers misunderstood the intention of God’s discipline; they regard God as a judge with a stern face. In fact, the motivation of God’s discipline springs out of His love, and His intention for humankind is that they can receive the greatest benefit (Proverbs 3:11-12).
3 Memorise Proverbs 3:5-6.
5Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
4 Resolve to learn to be a humble person (Proverbs 3:5-8).
5 Resolve to learn to trust God and be a person who does not brag (Proverbs 3:5-8).
6 Resolve to learn to let God control my wealth (Proverbs 3:9-10).
7 Resolve to learn to accept divine discipline patiently (Proverbs 3:11-12).
8 Believers who graciously offer to God will be blessed (Proverbs 3:9-10).
4) “Proclaim” (P)
By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.
iEXP Bible Study Method
After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.