Proverbs 3:5
Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust in the Lord with all thy heart — Wholly and securely rely upon God’s wisdom, power, and goodness, and upon his providence and promises, for direction and help in all thine affairs and dangers. Lean not to thine own understanding — Think not to accomplish thy designs by the strength of thine own understanding, without God’s blessing. Under this one kind of carnal confidence he understands all other kinds, such as confidence in bodily strength, wealth, or friends. In all thy ways — Designs and undertakings, both respecting the things of this life and those of the life to come; acknowledge him — Hebrew, דעהו, know him, namely, practically; or own him, his wisdom, by following his counsels; his power and goodness, by expecting success from him; his sovereignty, by managing all thy affairs in such a manner as to please and glorify him; and he shall direct thy steps — So that thy ways shall be safe and good, and at last have a happy issue.3:1-6 In the way of believing obedience to God's commandments health and peace may commonly be enjoyed; and though our days may not be long upon earth, we shall live for ever in heaven. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee; God's mercy in promising, and his truth in performing: live up to them, keep up thine interest in them, and take the comfort of them. We must trust in the Lord with all our hearts, believing he is able and wise to do what is best. Those who know themselves, find their own understandings a broken reed, which, if they lean upon, will fail. Do not design any thing but what is lawful, and beg God to direct thee in every case, though it may seem quite plain. In all our ways that prove pleasant, in which we gain our point, we must acknowledge God with thankfulness. In all our ways that prove uncomfortable, and that are hedged up with thorns, we must acknowledge him with submission. It is promised, He shall direct thy paths; so that thy way shall be safe and good, and happy at last.In preaching "trust in God" the moralist anticipates the teaching that man is justified by faith. To confide in God's will, the secret of all true greatness, is to rise out of all our anxieties and plans and fears when we think of ourselves as the arbiters of our own fortunes, and so "lean to our own understanding." 5. Trust … heart—This is the center and marrow of true wisdom (Pr 22:19; 28:25). The positive duty has its corresponding negation in the admonition against self-confidence. Trust in the Lord; wholly and securely rely upon God’s promises and providence for help and relief in all thine affairs and dangers.

Lean not unto thine own understanding; think not to accomplish thy designs by the strength of thine own wit without God’s blessing. Under this one kind of carnal confidence, which is most frequent and most plausible, he understands and forbids all other confidences in bodily strength, wealth, friends, &c. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart,.... Not in a creature, the best, the holiest, and the highest; not in any creature enjoyment, as riches, strength, and wisdom; nor in any outward privilege, arising from natural descent and education; not in a man's self, in his own heart, which is deceitful; nor in any works of righteousness done by him; not in a profession of religion, or the duties of it, ever so well performed; not in frames, nor in graces, and the exercise of them; no, not in faith or trust itself: but in the Lord, the object of all grace, and in him only; in Jehovah the Father, as the God of nature and providence, for all temporal blessings; and as the God of all grace, for all spiritual blessings, and all the needful supplies of grace; and for eternal happiness, which he has provided, promised, and freely gives. Trust in him at all times; in times of affliction, temptation, and darkness: there is a great deal of reason for it; all power and strength are in him to help; his love, grace, and mercy, move him to it, and are always the same: the consideration of what he has done for others that have trusted in him, and for ourselves in times past, should induce and encourage to it; as also the happiness of those that trust in him, who enjoy peace and safety; and his displeasure at those that show any diffidence of him, or distrust him. Trust in Jehovah the Son; in his person for acceptance; in his righteousness for justification; in his blood for pardon; in his fulness for supply; in his power for protection and preservation; and in him alone for salvation and eternal life. Trust in Jehovah the Spirit, to carry on and finish the work of grace upon the heart; of which a saint may be confident that where it is begun it will be completed. And this trust in Father, Son, and Spirit, should be "with all the heart", cordial and sincere. The phrase denotes not so much the strength of faith as the sincerity of it; it signifies a faith unfeigned; it is not saying, or professing, that a man believes and trusts in the Lord; but it is with the heart, and with his whole heart, that he believes unto righteousness, if he believes aright; see Romans 10:10;

and lean not unto thine own understanding; or trust not to that; for it stands opposed to trusting in the Lord. Men should not depend upon their own wisdom and understanding, in the conduct of civil life, but should seek the direction and blessing of Providence, or otherwise will meet with disappointment; and, when they succeed, should ascribe it not to their own prudence and wisdom, but to the goodness of God; for "bread" is not always "to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding", Ecclesiastes 9:11; and much less should men lean to their own understanding in matters of religion; a natural man has no understanding of spiritual things, of the things of the Gospel, nor indeed any practical understanding of things moral, Romans 3:11, Jeremiah 4:22. The understanding of man is darkened by sin; yea, is darkness itself; it is like the first earth, covered with darkness, till light is let into it, and therefore not to be leaned unto and depended on, Ephesians 4:18. There is a necessity of a new heart and spirit, of an understanding to be given, in order to understand spiritual and divine things, Ezekiel 36:26; for though these are not contrary to the reason and understanding of men; yet they are above them, and cannot be discovered, reached, comprehended, and accounted for by them, Matthew 16:17. Nay, there are some things in the Gospel, which, though plain to an enlightened understanding by the word of God, yet the manner how they are cannot be apprehended: as the doctrines of a trinity of Persons; of the generation of the Son of God; the procession of the Spirit; the union of the two natures in Christ; the resurrection of the dead, &c. In short, not our reason and understanding at best, and much less as carnal and unsanctified, but the word of God only is our rule of judgment, and the standard of our faith and practice; and to that we should have recourse and be directed by it, and not lean to our own understandings.

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. unto] Rather, upon, R.V. The confidence is to be complete both in degree and in extent: “with all thy heart,” “in all thy ways.” This teaching of trust in God, “anticipates,” as the Speaker’s Commentary points out, the doctrine of faith. Fides est fiducia.Verse 5. - Trust in the Lord (b'takh el y'hovah); literally, trust in Jehovah. Entire reliance upon Jehovah, implied in the words, "with all thine heart," is here appropriately placed at the head of a series of admonitions which especially have God and man's relations with him in view, inasmuch as such confidence or trust, with its corresponding idea of the renunciation of reliance on self, is, as Zockler truly remarks, a "fundamental principle of all religion." It is the first lesson to be learnt by all, and no less necessary for the Jew than for the Christian. Without this reliance on or confidence in God, it is impossible to carry out any of the precepts of religion. Batakh is, properly, "to cling to," and so passes to the meaning of "to confide in," "to set one's hope and confidence upon." The preposition el with Jehovah indicates the direction which the confidence is to take (cf. Psalm 37:3, 5). Lean (tishshaen); Vulgate, innitaris; followed by el, like b'takh, with which it is very similar in meaning. Shaan, not used in kal, in hiph. signifies "to lean upon, rest upon," just as man rests upon a spear for support. Its metaphorical use, to repose confidence in, is derived from the practice of kings who were accustomed to appear in public leaning on their friends and ministers; cf. 2 Kings 5:18; 2 Kings 7:2, 17 (Gesenius). The admonition does not mean that we are not to use our own understanding (binab), 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 (Wardlaw); cf. Jeremiah 9:23, 24. "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom," etc. The teacher points out not only where we are to rely, but also where we are not to rely. With למען there commences a new section, coordinating itself with the להצּילך ("to deliver thee") of Proverbs 2:12, Proverbs 2:16, unfolding that which wisdom accomplishes as a preserver and guide:

20 So that thou walkest in the good way,

     And keepest the right paths.

21 For the upright shall inhabit the land,

     And the innocent shall remain in it.

22 But the godless are cut off out the land,

     And the faithless are rooted out of it.

Wisdom - thus the connection - will keep thee, so that thou shalt not fall under the seductions of man or of woman; keep, in order that thou... למען (from מען equals מענה, tendency, purpose) refers to the intention and object of the protecting wisdom. To the two negative designations of design there follows, as the third and last, a positive one. טובים (contrast to רעים, Proverbs 14:19) is here used in a general ethical sense: the good (Guten, not Gtigen, the kind). שׁמר, with the object of the way, may in another connection also mean to keep oneself from, cavere ab (Psalm 17:4); here it means: carefully to keep in it. The promise of Proverbs 2:21 is the same as in the Mashal Psalm 37:9, Psalm 37:11, Psalm 37:22; cf. Proverbs 10:30. ארץ is Canaan, or the land which God promised to the patriarchs, and in which He planted Israel, whom He had brought out of Egypt; not the earth, as Matthew 5:5, according to the extended, unlimited N.T. circle of vision. יוּתרוּ (Milel) is erroneously explained by Schultens: funiculis bene firmis irroborabunt in terra. The verb יתר, Arab. watar, signifies to yoke (whence יתר, a cord, rope), then intrans. to be stretched out in length, to be hanging over (vid., Fleischer on Job 30:11); whence יתר, residue, Zephaniah 2:9, and after which the lxx here renders ὑπολειφθήσονται, and Jerome permanebunt. In 22b the old translators render יסּחוּ as the fut. of the pass. נסּח, Deuteronomy 28:63; but in this case it would be ינּסחוּ. The form יסּחוּ, pointed יסּחוּ, might be the Niph. of סחח, but סחח can neither be taken as one with נסח, of the same meaning, nor with Hitzig is it to be vocalized יסּחוּ (Hoph. of נסח); nor, with Bttcher (1100, p. 453), is יסּחוּ to be regarded as a veritable fut. Niph. יסּחוּ is, as at Proverbs 15:25; Psalm 52:7, active: evellant; and this, with the subj. remaining indefinite (for which J. H. Michaelis refers to Hosea 12:9), is equivalent to evellentur. This indefinite "they" or "one" ("man"), Fleischer remarks, can even be used of God, as here and Job 7:3 - a thing which is common in Persian, where e.g., the expression rendered hominem ex pulvere fecerunt is used instead of the fuller form, which would be rendered homo a Deo ex pulvere factus est. בּוגדים bears (as בּגד proves) the primary meaning of concealed, i.e., malicious (treacherous and rapacious, Isaiah 33:1), and then faithless men.

(Note: Similar is the relation in Arab. of labbasa to libâs (לבוּשׁ); it means to make a thing unknown by covering it; whence telbı̂s, deceit, mulebbis, a falsifier.)

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