“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”—Proverbs 3:5-6
To have “straight paths” or to have your path straightened is an ancient expression that means to have all obstacles removed so that your journey is successful. On the other hand, to walk along straight paths is to be guarded from deviating onto the crooked paths of sinful ways. Here we discover the promise of God for divine guidance.
Why Do We Need Divine Guidance?
There are several facts that force this truth upon us:
- The complexity of life—the longer we live, the more we see that life is not as simple as it seems.
- Our ignorance of the future—who knows what a day will bring; yet we must boldly face the next day and plan in advance.
- The demands of duty—to God, family, employers, etc., which sometimes conflict with one another.
- The deception of sin—“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov.14:12)
What Conditions Must Be Met Before Divine Guidance Is Given?
- Self-surrender—The man who finds divine guidance will be the one who renounces self and places his confidence in and sets his hope (confident expectation of obtaining something good) on the Lord. (Ps.40:17, 25:14, 9:10)
- Whole-hearted faith—To trust God with all your heart does not mean to perfectly trust God, but to honestly aim every thought, affection, and desire toward Him. To do something with all your heart is to place every ounce of energy into it. This is how we are to direct ourselves toward the Lord in order to find divine guidance.
- Self-distrust—The admonition here does not mean that we are not to use and improve our own understanding, form plans with discretion, or employ legitimate means in the pursuit of wisdom (counsel, etc.). We are just not to lean upon them. Because of pride, we are more prone and prefer to lean upon our own understanding than the understanding of others. Rather, when we use our understanding to form plans or pursue wisdom, we are not to boast in them but depend upon God and His directing and overruling providence. (Cf. Jer.9:23-24)
- Seeking His approval—To acknowledge God means two things: first, to recognize His right to overrule, and second, to ask whether the thing that we are about to do is in accordance with His will. To acknowledge Him is not to ask of every action or situation, “What would a man in my position do?” but to ask, “Is this what the Lord would have me to do?”How does this look?
1. Referring everything to Him
2. Consulting Him in our hearts
3. Applying His will as revealed in His Word
4. Praying for and expecting His divine direction
We are to think biblically, acknowledge fully, consult wisely, act diligently, and then trust completely in the grace and promise of God.
THE PROMISE: “He will make your paths straight.” How? He does this by His Word, through His providence, by His promptings, and through His people.