In this article, we will explore the meaning of Proverbs 3:5-6 and how we can learn to trust in the Lord with all our hearts. So, get your Bible, and let’s start learning…
There are many well-known Bible verses, and Proverbs 3:5-6 is one of them. I know I would meditate and write it out in my journal many times when I was in ministry school. I was so uncertain of my future that these words anchored me.
The writer of Proverbs urges the reader to …
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Many may wonder what the actual meaning of this scripture verse is and what it all entails.
Proverbs 3:5-6 urges us not to rely on ourselves or our perception of a situation but to fully and completely trust and rely on God and lay our plans before Him, knowing He will guide us.
Only God knows what the future holds, and we should trust Him.
The book of Proverbs, just like the rest of the Old Testament, was originally written in Hebrew. Although Bible translators try their best to be as faithful as possible to the text’s original meaning, some meaning often gets lost in translation.
To truly understand what Proverbs 3:5-6 means, one should examine the original text’s meaning. And that’s exactly what we are going to do!
The Meaning of Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust In The Lord With All Your Heart Meaning
The first words in this verse in the original Hebrew can be commonly translated to “trust in Jehovah” or “Trust in the Lord.”
However, the Hebrew word used in this phrase means more than trust.
It could also be translated as “confidently hope.” Therefore, a more detailed translation would be to “confidently trust and hope in the Lord.”
בָּטַחbâṭach, baw-takh’; a primitive root; properly, to hie for refuge (but not so precipitately as H2620); figuratively, to trust, be confident or sure:—be bold (confident, secure, sure), careless (one, woman), put confidence, (make to) hope, (put, make to) trust.
The word “heart” in Biblical texts does not usually refer to the organ that pumps blood throughout the body.
In Biblical times, the heart was considered the source of all thoughts and emotions, the center of a person’s whole being, of life itself. Also, known as the inner man. The writer of Proverbs, therefore, says to trust the Lord with all you are.
לֵבlêb, labe; a form of H3824; the heart; also used (figuratively) very widely for the feelings, the will and even the intellect; likewise for the centre of anything:—care for, comfortably, consent, × considered, courag(-eous), friend(-ly), ((broken-), (hard-), (merry-), (stiff-), (stout-), double) heart(-ed), × heed, × I, kindly, midst, mind(-ed), × regard(-ed), × themselves, × unawares, understanding, × well, willingly, wisdom.
The word “all” in this phrase implies no space left for anything else. To trust the Lord with “all” your heart means that you place so much trust in Him that there is no space to trust someone or something else.
“Trust the Lord with all your heart” would therefore mean that one should confidently trust and hope in the Lord from the very center of one’s being so completely that there is no space to trust anything or anyone else.
This speaks of a complete and total reliance on God, having a confident hope in Him in all circumstances.
Lean Not On Your Own Understanding Meaning
The use of parallelism is a common practice in Hebrew poetry. It is used where two lines essentially say the same thing and where the second line expands on the theme of the first line.
This can be seen in Proverbs 3:5; the first line says that we should trust the Lord with all our heart, and the second says that we should not lean on our own understanding.
The words “lean not on your own understanding” in this scripture continues the thought in the first line to “trust the Lord with all your heart.”
In this case, the first line is a positive command, what we should do, while the second is negative, what we shouldn’t do.
The text says not to “lean” on your understanding. Lean in this context is to use something for support, like putting your weight on a walking stick.
To lean on your understanding would be to put your trust and faith in how you see and interpret situations. The Bible explains in 1 Cor 13:9 and Isaiah 55: 8-9 why it is better to trust God than ourselves.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part. – 1 Cor 13:9
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55: 8-9
This does not mean we ignore our God-given abilities and common sense, but that we trust God to guide our plans and actions and continually seek to hear Him and to be obedient when He does speak. If you “Trust the Lord with all your heart,” you will not lean on your understanding but rely on God’s guidance.
In All Your Ways Submit To Him Meaning
The first portion of Proverbs 3:6 is another positive command, telling the reader what they should do. The original Hebrew word translated as “ways” in this first portion of Proverbs 3:6 refers to the paths you travel and how you do things.
דֶּרֶךְderek, deh’-rek; from H1869; a road (as trodden); figuratively, a course of life or mode of action, often adverb:—along, away, because of, by, conversation, custom, (east-) ward, journey, manner, passenger, through, toward, (high-) (path-) way(-side), whither(-soever).
Again, the term “all” indicates that the totality of your actions must be submitted to God.
The word “submit” in the NIV was also translated as “acknowledge” in other versions of the Bible. The difference in translation is because the original Hebrew word used in this proverb means so much more than to submit or acknowledge. It expresses intimate and complete knowledge which comes from sight.
This scripture tells us to submit everything we do and every path we travel to God, to acknowledge that God is in control and that we wholly depend on him to lead and guide us. This implies absolute faith and echoes the confident hope and trust from the first portion of Proverbs 3:5.
To fully trust God and surrender control to Him is entirely against modern culture. Modern culture says one needs to always be in control and revolves around the “self .”We are encouraged to believe in ourselves and our abilities. But God wants us to surrender control and trust Him with confidence.
He Will Make Your Paths Straight Meaning
The last portion of Proverbs 3:6 is a promise made to those who trust God with all their heart and submit to Him in all their ways.
Translated in the New International Version as “…he will make your paths straight,” the New King James version reads: “…He shall direct your paths.”
This difference in translation is not as big as it may seem at first glance, though.
A straight path leaves no room for error in taking the wrong turns or heading the wrong way. If God straightens your paths, he guides or directs you where you should go. This does not mean we won’t still stray off the path, but we can trust God to guide us back to the straight path.
The promise is, therefore, that God will guide and direct those who ultimately trust him in all the decisions they must make and will ensure that they don’t make any wrong turns.
How Does God Direct Our Paths?
Although there are several examples of these things happening in scripture, God’s promise to direct your path does not necessarily mean you would hear an audible voice telling you which way to go or getting directions from angels, dreams, or visions. There are several, more common, ways in which God can direct our paths:
- Own Thoughts – The Holy Spirit can direct the thoughts of believers who trust in Him to see the direction God wants them to take. This might be a new idea or a solid conviction to take a specific action.
- Other Believers – God often uses fellow believers to speak into the life of a Christian to direct their path. This could be in the form of prophecy, council, or encouragement from others.
- Direction In Scripture – Many believers find that God points their thoughts to specific pieces of scripture that give them direction. This is usually in answer to prayer, asking God for guidance.
The original Hebrew words in Proverbs 3:5-6 helps to understand the meaning of these verses truly. The writer instructs believers to fully and completely trust and confidently hope in God with their entire being and not to trust their own interpretation of a situation.
He promises that God will lead and direct those who acknowledge that they are dependent on Him in all they do.
Melissa is a passionate minister, speaker and an ongoing learner of the Bible. She has been involved in church and vocational ministry for over 18 years. And is the founder of Think About Such Things. She has the heart to equip the saints by helping them get into the Word of God and fall more in love with Jesus. She also enjoys family, cooking, and reading.
She has spoken in churches in California, Oregon, Texas, and Mexico and has been featured in Guidepost Magazine and All Recipes Magazine. Read More…