New English Translation
5 Trust[a] in the Lord with all your heart,[b]
and do not rely[c] on your own understanding.[d]
6 Acknowledge[e] him in all your ways,[f]
and he will make your paths straight.[g]
7 Do not be wise in your own estimation;[h]
fear the Lord and turn away from evil.[i]
8 This will bring[j] healing to your body,[k]
and refreshment[l] to your inner self.[m]
- Proverbs 3:5 sn The word בְּטַח (betakh, “trust”) is used in the OT in (1) literal physical sense: to physically lean upon something for support and (2) figurative sense: to rely upon someone or something for help or protection (BDB 105 s.v. I בְּטַח; HALOT 120 s.v. I בטח). The verb is often used with false securities, people trusting in things that prove to be worthless. But here the object of the secure trust is the Lord who is a reliable object of confidence.
- Proverbs 3:5 sn The “heart” functions as a metonymy of subject encompassing mind, emotions and will (BDB 524 s.v. לֵב 2).
- Proverbs 3:5 tn Heb “do not lean.” The verb שָׁעַן (shaʿan, “to lean; to rely”) is used in (1) literal physical sense of leaning upon something for support and (2) figurative sense of relying upon someone or something for help or protection (BDB 1043 s.v.). Here it functions figuratively (hypocatastasis: implied comparison); relying on one’s own understanding is compared to leaning on something that is unreliable for support (e.g., Isa 10:20).
- Proverbs 3:5 tn Heb “your understanding.” The term בִּינָה (binah, “understanding”) is used elsewhere in this book of insight given by God from the instructions in Proverbs (Prov 2:3; 7:4; 8:14; 9:6, 10; 23:23). Here it refers to inherent human understanding that functions in relative ignorance unless supplemented by divine wisdom (Job 28:12-28; 39:26). The reflexive pronoun “own” is supplied in the translation to clarify this point. It is dangerous for a person to rely upon mere human wisdom (Prov 14:12; 16:25).
- Proverbs 3:6 tn Heb “know him.” The verb יָדַע (yadaʿ) includes the meanings “to know (a fact, idea, or person), to learn or realize (to come to know something), to experience (to come to know a circumstance), to acknowledge or care for (to act in a way consistent with a person’s station, whether authority or need). That knowing, or acknowledging, God means to obey him (live in a way consistent with his authority) is clear in negative formulations; those who do not know him do not obey (Exod 5:2; 1 Sam 2:12; Ps 79:6; Jer 4:22). Other passages emphasize knowing his characteristics, and not just his authority (Jer 9:23-24). The sage is calling for a life of trust and obedience in which the disciple sees the Lord in every event, submits to, and trusts him.
- Proverbs 3:6 tn The term דֶרֶךְ (derekh, “way”) is figurative (hypocatastasis: implied comparison) referring to a person’s course of life, actions and undertakings (Prov 2:8; 3:6, 23; 11:5; 20:24; 29:27; 31:3; BDB 203 s.v. 5; cf. TEV “in everything you do”; NCV, NLT “in all you do”). This is a call for total commitment in trust for obedience in all things.
- Proverbs 3:6 tn The verb יָשָׁר (yashar) means “to make smooth; to make straight” (BDB 444 s.v.). This phrase means “to make the way free from obstacles,” that is, to make it successful (e.g., Isa 40:3). The straight, even road is the right road; God will make the way smooth for the believer.
- Proverbs 3:7 tn Heb “in your own eyes” (so NAB, NIV, NRSV); NLT “Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.”
- Proverbs 3:7 sn The second colon clarifies the first. If one fears the Lord and turns away from evil, then he is depending on the Lord and not wise in his own eyes. There is a higher source of wisdom than human insight.
- Proverbs 3:8 tn Heb “it will be.” The form is Qal jussive of הָיָה (hayah) and is one of the rare uses of the volitive to express purpose or result, even though there is no vav prefixed to it. This indicates that v. 8 is the outcome of v. 7. If a person trusts in the Lord and fears him (vv. 5-7), God will bless him (v. 8).
- Proverbs 3:8 tc Heb “your navel” (cf. KJV, ASV). MT reads שָׁרֶּךָ (sharrekha, “your navel”) which functions as a synecdoche of part (= navel) for the whole (= body), meaning “your body” (BDB 1057 s.v. שׂר). The geminate noun שֹׂר (sor, “navel; navel-string [= umbilical cord]”) occurs only two other times in OT (Ezek 16:4; Song 7:3). The LXX reads τῷ σώματί σου (tō sōmati sou, “your body”). So the BHS editors suggest emending MT to the more commonly used terms בְּשָׂרֶךָ (besarekha, “your flesh”) or שְׁאֵרֶךָ (sheʾerekha, “your body”). But this kind of emendation runs counter to the canons of textual criticism; normally the more difficult reading or rarer term is preferred as original rather than a smooth reading or common term. Since “navel” occurs only twice elsewhere, it is difficult to imagine that it would have been confused for these two more common terms and that a scribe would mistakenly write “your navel” instead. If MT “your navel” is a synecdoche for “your body,” the LXX is not pointing to a different textual tradition but is merely interpreting MT accordingly. In similar fashion, the English versions which read “your body” are not rejecting the MT reading; they are merely interpreting the term as a figure (synecdoche) for “your body.”
- Proverbs 3:8 tn Heb “drink.” The noun שִׁקּוּי (shiqquy, “drink”) is a figure: metonymy of cause (= drink) for the effect (= refreshment); see BDB 1052 s.v. Just as a drink of water would bring physical refreshment to one’s body, trusting in God and turning away from evil will bring emotional refreshment to one’s soul.
- Proverbs 3:8 tn Heb “your bones.” The term עַצְמוֹתֶיךָ (ʿatsmotekha, “your bones”) functions as a synecdoche of part (= bones) for the whole person (= physical and moral aspects); cf. Pss 6:3; 35:10; Prov 3:8; 14:30; 15:30; 16:24; Isa 66:14 and BDB 782 s.v. עֶצֶם 1.d. Scripture often uses the body to describe the inner person (A. R. Johnson, The Vitality of the Individual in the Thought of Ancient Israel, 67-8).