Abundant Living: Proverbs

by Norman Bishop


The fatherly advice of this wise saying contains a warning and a promise humility and godly living bring health and well-being. The two parts are inextricably bound together. Wise King Solomon warns us of the foolishness of worldly living. The king teaches that we must NOT be wise in our own eyes, that we MUST fear the Lord and we MUST shun (or push away) evil. If any man could smugly claim to be wise, it would be Solomon. In 1 Kings 3:12, God Himself called Solomon the wisest man of all time. In his great understanding, Solomon knew that earthly wisdom is vanity (a quickly fading mist). His writings in Ecclesiastes 1:16-18 confirms this fact:

“I thought to myself, ‘Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.’ Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.”

Presuming to know all the answers is folly indeed. A clear illustration of such conceit is the frivolity of trying to make science and the Bible correspond exactly. Science is always changing. Spiritual truth is 100% accurate and eternal. Any scientist worth his salt will never claim to have all the answers. We can be confident that God’s Word will survive the scrutiny of skeptics and stand the test of time.

Matthew Henry, in his commentary on Proverbs, states that one of the greatest enemies of spirituality is arrogance and rationalism. A proud, unbelieving person will not trust God’s guidance. The assumption that we could possibly know more than Our Creator about the direction of our lives is ludicrous. In 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul the apostle reminds us that the fleshly man cannot comprehend the things of God. The mind of the flesh is death, and the mind of the Spirit is life and peace.

• Have you ever experienced a time when you joyfully trusted God’s wisdom even if you didn’t know the solution to your problem? Was it difficult for you to trust Him? Did you find it easier or more challenging to follow your own direction instead of God’s?

• How does your view of God affect your worship? Are you afraid you cannot bring your cares and troubles to Him? Is your fear of God based on terror or reverence and trust?

• How have you demonstrated to your children your seeking of what seeking God’s wisdom looks like? Have you showed them how to pray, how to fear, how to shun evil? Do they know what evil lurks?

• Can you think of a time when you obeyed God’s leading and you experienced “health and well-being”-His tangible blessings upon your life?


In Proverbs 9:10, Solomon reveals “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The Hebrew verb Yare implies that a godly person knows that God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. Simply stated, God does all, knows all, and sees all. Only One with the scope of His perspective could be able to guide the universe. Our comprehension of His greatness is what causes us to trust Him completely and avoid evil behavior and influences at all costs.

Notice that the first sentence of our focal passage is contrasting two mutually exclusive principles: you cannot be wise in your own eyes and fear the Lord. The passage goes further than the coupled statement of not living by our own wisdom, fearing our God, and shunning evil. The good result of obeying God is that living in this manner will bring a promise of blessing. We will gain health to our body and nourish our bones. Spiritual, emotional, and physical health also produces a balanced life and functional relationships. In short, Solomon describes the abundant life.

Remember that God gave us free will so that we could choose to believe and benefit from proper and improper choices. The Hebrew word for “evil” in this passage is rich with meaning. The primitive root word means “to spoil or break in pieces.” Other connotations for “evil” are to afflict, to displease, to harm, to vex, or to worsen. In short, to make evil choices will ruin abundant life. By choosing to disregard God’s commands, we destroy every relationship around us, including our intimacy with our Heavenly Father. The Greek corollary to “evil” is the word “sin.” Three New Testament words explain the concept of sin. The first, “sin,” connotes falling short of the righteousness of God. The second is “iniquity” or moral crookedness. Romans 1:18-32 describes the degeneration of personal integrity that causes one to violate their conscience, their moral compass. The third, “rebellion,” means we purposefully step across the line and disobey God’s Word.

Solomon tells us that we don’t have to experience such devastation if we worship and follow the God who created us to be blessed and to be a blessing to others. Our bodies will be healthy and our bones nourished because we will live a healthy lifestyle. God wants to nourish us and enrich every relationship that we have.

• Can you think of ways God has blessed you because you have chose to follow Him when He gave you specific direction? What were the circumstances that surrounded your good choice? Was it tough to make that leap of faith? Why or why not?

• How has sin, iniquity, or rebellion affected your life? Can you identify areas of your life that could have been better if you had “shunned evil?” What were those choices? Spend some time confessing those sins to God. Remember the promise of 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” NIV

• What relationships have been enhanced since you followed God’s advice? Has it affected your work relationships? your family relationships? your relationships with your friends?


When I was in my thirties, I was a practicing Christian. I was active in a church, attending worship services and teaching the Bible every Sunday. Yet in my heart I was arrogant and hypocritical. I was confident that I had all the answers to interpreting the Bible and living a holy life. My prayer time was spent asking for prosperity and self-gratification. The concept that Christ should have input into my life’s direction was foreign to me. I didn’t cultivate friends that were spiritually mature. They were believers in name only. Was I healthy according to Solomon’s definition? I was running marathons, I was considered intelligent and at the top of my chosen career ladder. I had accomplished all of the goals I had for my life and I wasn’t even forty. If you looked only at the exterior, I had it all. Inside, my heart was crying from childhood fear and abuse. Underneath my self-satisfied exterior, my heart was closed to fully loving my family, my wife, and my children. Every day I struggled to prove my self-worth. Then my marriage fell apart. I awoke in my midforties to discover that I desperately needed a personal relationship with God. I finally realized I needed to seek God and know Him as my Lord. My heart was broken and devoid of feeling. God alone brought me to a place of healing and restoration.


Read the following scriptures and write your observations below:

Proverbs 3:7-8; Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; Matthew 22:16; Mark 12:13; Matthew 6:2, Luke 11:16-36; 1 John 1:9


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