Depart From Evil
Brian D. Dykstra (Teacher at Hope PR Christian School, Walker, MI)
*This article was originally written as a devotional for his fellow teachers at Hope CS. It is posted here because of its broader value for our website readers.
Proverbs 3:7-8: “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”
The purpose of Solomon in the book of Proverbs is to give wisdom. It would seem strange then that here he instructs his son to “Be not wise.” Even the ungodly value wisdom. There are a great number of self-help books and seminars which can be read and attended in order to make one wise in a certain area of life. For us as members of the Church, one of the reasons we value our godly friends is because we can go to them for wise advice. Of course, we are to seek after wisdom as God reveals it to us in His Word.
Obviously Solomon is not advising us against seeking wisdom. What we are warned against is being wise in our own eyes. One who is wise in his own eyes is proud. He has no need of further instruction because he believes he knows everything he needs to know in order to do what he wishes and live in a way which pleases him. He does not need to seek the advice of anyone. He will rely upon himself and his own skill. One who is wise in his own eyes is what public schools advocated a few years ago when they stressed the concept of self-esteem.
What is the result when men are wise in their own eyes? When tempted by Satan, Eve looked at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and determined that it was a tree to be desired because it would make her wise. Judas, though he had performed miracles in Christ’s name, came to despise the Lord because he saw Jesus would not establish an earthly kingdom. Judas was imagining how rich Christ’s inner circle of friends could become if they would charge people for healing and the bread Christ could provide. When Peter witnessed the beginning of Christ’s trial, his wisdom saw only the Lord’s humiliation so he refused to acknowledge he even knew the man. Paul’s wisdom led him to persecute the early Church.
There are even more examples in our society. Who would have thought a hundred years ago that there would be state and national political battles over the definition of marriage? Man’s wisdom led to the development of the welfare state to care for poor families. Have the poor really been helped over the last fifty years? Man’s wisdom made divorces easier to obtain. It was claimed that this would be better for our legal system and would even benefit children. Has it helped?
The opposite of being wise in one’s own eyes is to fear the Lord. The proud imagine themselves someone to be reckoned with. Their opinions must be valued. Their authority must be recognized. The truly wise confess God’s lordship over their lives. A lord had complete control over his subjects. He made decisions for them. He told them what to do and where to go.
We fear our Lord. He has the authority to govern and direct our lives. We must humbly submit and confess that His will is best. Fearing our Lord also means we recognize all that He has done for us. He has been more than kind to us. Even when He has led us through ways we would rather not have been led, we knew God would never take His salvation away from us or any of His elect. We fear to do anything to offend the God who has done so much for us.
The fear of the Lord must result in departing from evil. Some departures cause sorrow and are, therefore, made hesitantly. Such is the case when we say good-bye to loved ones whom we know we will not see for some time. There are other departures which we make as quickly as we can. When my summer surveying requires me to do some work in active sanitary sewers, I do my work as quickly as possible and depart as fast as I can.
The fear of God will reveal to us the true nature of sin. We begin to see how horrible sin is and how foully it must smell to the holy God. The contrast between the sweet smell of fellowship with God and the stench of sin makes us depart from sin and walk in God’s ways.
Departing from evil gives spiritual and physical healing, health to the navel. Sin always has its dreadful spiritual effects, but the Bible also speaks of the physical consequences of sin. The adulterer sees his body consumed. The drunkard is slow and unreliable in his work, and is red-eyed. David spoke of how his unconfessed sin caused his bones to be old and dry.
Turning from the ways of sin can, at times, bring physical healing. Verse eight speaks of “marrow to thy bones.” Marrow refers to the moisture in our bones. This is in contrast to the dryness of dead bones, the dryness of unconfessed sin or spiritual death. Departing from evil through true confession gives spiritual life and health.
May our students learn true wisdom and fear God. Then they will turn from evil and experience the spiritual life of fellowship with their Lord.