Chapter three naturally divides into three sections, each with its own theme. In the first section, Solomon gave a series of six commands or instructions to his son (Proverbs 3:1-12). Each command is followed by an explanation or result, and each pair comprises two verses. If his son obeyed his instructions, he would have “a long and full life” (Proverbs 3:1-2). The active pursuit of “truth and mercy” will cause a person to gain favor with others (Proverbs 3:3-4). Trusting in God and acknowledging him in everything results in a straight path (Proverbs 3:5-6). True fear of God – rejecting evil – has physical benefits as well as spiritual (Proverbs 3:7-8). God responds favorably to those who prioritize him with their money (Proverbs 3:9-10). Discipline from God is good because it is proof of his personal love (Proverbs 3:11-12).
The theme of the second section is the value of seeking wisdom (Proverbs 3:13-26). This has two subdivisions. In the first, Solomon used a series of word pictures to describe the beauty and value of wisdom itself, calling it incomparable, though he compared it to gold, silver, and rubies (Proverbs 3:13-20). 1 The concept that God used wisdom during the creation will come up again in chapter eight. In the second division of this section, Solomon encouraged his son to pursue wisdom and not let go when he found it (Proverbs 3:21-26). The benefits he listed include security in decision-making, peace in sleep, and confidence in every life situation.
The third section contains a series of practical instructions Solomon gave regarding how he wanted his son to treat other people (Proverbs 3:27-35). Some of these are reflected in the Mosaic law, but these are less “legal” and more “moral” and are general principles that believers should follow today, as they are found in some form throughout the New Testament. Help your neighbor when you have the ability (1 John 3:17-18). Accuse someone only when legitimately harmed (Romans 12:16-21). Do not imitate evil people (3 John 11). God will curse the wicked and bless the righteous (James 4:4-6).
- The word for rubies in Proverbs 3:15 occurs only six times in the Hebrew text, all in poetry books. Three of these times, rubies are compared with wisdom (Job 28:18; Proverbs 3:15; 8:11), once with a virtuous wife (Proverbs 31:10), and once with bodies (Lamentations 4:7). The last occurrence is not a comparison (Proverbs 20:15). ↩