Thursday, June 09, 2011

Proverbs 3:6

Continuing on from Tuesday's post on Proverbs 3:5, here's what Waltke has to say about Proverbs 3:6 (since we all probably memorized them in AWANA as a pair).

The father now adds to his demand for entire and exclusive commitment an exhaustive commitment - in all [see v. 5] your ways (derakeyka; see 1:15; 2:8). Instead of the gloss desire his presence, most English versions gloss da-ehu (lit. "know him"; see 1:2; 2:5) by "acknowledge him" (e.g. NIV, NASB, NKJV, NRSV). Delitzsch, however, rightly argues that the verb "is not fully represented by 'acknowledge him.'" "Acknowledge" in the sense of "to confess" could represent yada in Hiphil, but doubtfully in the sense "to recognize the Lord's rights and authority."

"To know" in this book means personal knowledge, intimate experience with a person's reality (see p. 77; 1:2; 2:5-6). The noted connections between the spiritual consequences in Lecture 2 and the spiritual admonitions in ch. 3 infer that "know" in 3:6a has the same sense as in 2:5b. Personal knowledge of God ensues from risking oneself to obey the specific teachings that pertain to all sorts of human behavior in full reliance on God to keep his promises coupled with them (see 2:1). Jeremiah equates knowing the Lord with having the tora written upon the heart (Jer. 31:31-34). So does Solomon (see 3:1), even if 3:4 is not original (see 7:3).

It is difficult, however, to get the mind around the notion of knowing God in connection with all of one's ways. But when the psalmist says: "The Lord knows the ways of the righteous" (Ps 1:6), he means, "The Lord is aware of sympathetically (i.e., not existentially, not merely noetically)" > "enters into their way" (and protects it) > "watches over" (NIV). Independently, Fox glossed the expression by "hold him in mind" and commented that it denotes "awareness of what [the Lord] wants as well as a desire to do it." Unfortunately, in this rare instance, he based himself "on the rabbis, not on philology."

Moreover, as in Ps. 1:6 it may also connote "desire his protective presence." The significance of the imperative mood is ambiguous because in this poem volitional forms are used for both pure admonitions and forceful promises (cf. "find," v. 4; "let it be," v. 8). The pattern of placing the divine promises in the even verses favors taking the verb as a promises (i.e., by trusting God entirely and exclusively you will know him). However, the consequence in verset B, "and he will make your path straight," implies that the admonition in verset B functions as its condition vis-a-vis "know him personally, and he will..."

Straight and smooth (
see yasar, p. 98; cf. 11:5) renders the pun of this one Hebrew word to denote its physical reality and connote its ethical sense. Figuratively, Alonso-Schokel rightly says that it denotes either "straight" (i.e. yasar "right, honest, upright conduct that does not go astray or out of bounds," 2:13; 9:15) or "smoothness" (i.e. "the success of an undertaking or action"; cf. 3:23; 4:12; Isa 40:3). The structure of 3:1-2 shows that at least the "smooth" is meant here. Since, however, to know the Lord one must abstain from evil for there is no evil in him, that relationship also makes one walk "straight." Your paths (orhoteyka; see 1:19; 2:13) probably functions as a stock-in-trade parallel to derakeyka "your ways" (see 2:20). One has to view the course of one's life from a bird's-eye view, not from a worm's-eye view, to see this truth. A Portuguese proverb says, "God writes straight with crooked lines."

The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 1-5 by Bruce K. Waltke, pages 244-245

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