The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
    by understanding he established the heavens;
20 by his knowledge the deeps broke open,
    and the clouds drop down the dew.

21 My son, do not lose sight of these—
    keep sound wisdom and discretion,
22 and they will be life for your soul
    and adornment for your neck.
23 Then you will walk on your way securely,
    and your foot will not stumble.
24 If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
    when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror
    or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,
26 for the Lord will be your confidence
    and will keep your foot from being caught.
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
    when it is in your power to do it.

28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
    tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
29 Do not plan evil against your neighbor,
    who dwells trustingly beside you.
30 Do not contend with a man for no reason,
    when he has done you no harm.
31 Do not envy a man of violence
    and do not choose any of his ways,
32 for the devious person is an abomination to the Lord,
    but the upright are in his confidence.
33 The Lord‘s curse is on the house of the wicked,
    but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
34 Toward the scorners he is scornful,
    but to the humble he gives favor.
35 The wise will inherit honor,
    but fools get disgrace. – Proverbs 3:19-35

A great many of the difficulties of life are avoidable.

We bring them on by our own foolish behavior.

Learning wisdom equips us with the stuff of life to avoid many of the pitfalls in which we see others trapped.

Creation owes it’s existence to the Lord’s wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. We are therefore advised not to lose sight of sound wisdom and discretion ourselves since it is the stuff of Creation, that is how the world works.

The result of keeping sound wisdom and discretion is to avoid the traps. The language of the proverb is “Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble.” I love the practical implications for my inner life, “If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” Even when the inevitable ruin of the wicked comes, don’t be afraid because the Lord is your confidence and he will keep your foot from being caught in the trap of the wicked. The “un-caught foot” will be mainly un-caught due to our maintaining sound wisdom and discretion, not due to a miraculous and gracious deliverance from the Lord apart from our submission to wisdom.

This picture of the fruit of sound wisdom and discretion is followed by a series of “do-nots.”

Do not withhold what you owe, pay your bills. (verse 27)

Do not be stingy. (verse 28)

Do not scheme against your neighbor. (verse 29)

Do not be contentious for no reason. (verse 30)

Do not admire a violent man. (verse 31)

Why? The ground for all of these exhortations is in verses 32-35. We see here the contrasts of human character between those who hang on to sound wisdom and discretion and those who don’t.

The one who “does” what Proverbs says, “do not” is devious and is an abomination to the Lord while the upright (contrasted with devious) is held in God’s confidence, or as another translation has it, he is held in God’s intimate counsel, he becomes “an insider” who sees and understands what the devious person cannot.

I love the short chiasm in verses 34-35.

A. Toward the scorners he is scornful

B. but to the humble, he gives favor (grace).

B1. The wise will inherit honor,

A1. but fools get disgrace

Note that our attitude toward God determines his attitude toward us. He is scornful toward the scorners, and the humble are the recipients of favor or grace.

Look at the play on words in B and A1. The humble get grace, the fools get disgrace.

I have to wrap this up with the initial exhortation:

My son, do not lose sight of these—
    keep sound wisdom and discretion,
and they will be life for your soul
    and adornment for your neck.