Devotional Reading on Proverbs 3 for the Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle

As we commemorate St. Bartholomew, also known as Nathanael in the New Testament, we focus on the Old Testament Reading. Our devotion is from Concordia Commentary: Proverbs.

Scripture Readings

Proverbs 3:1–8
Psalm 121
2 Corinthians 4:7–10
John 1:43–51

Devotional Reading

The coherence of the first part of Proverbs 3 is emphasized by the mentioning of the “son” at its beginning in 3:1 and twice in 3:11–12, and by the use of “because” to introduce only the first and last promises (3:2, 12). This inclusion or bracketing technique helps the reader to see that these commands are all versions of the same thought: place Yahweh at the center of your life. Prov 3:1 opens with the father urging his son to obey his commands and internalize them through faith. The promise connected with this is long life (3:2), which by God’s grace endures beyond the grave into eternity.

The second invitation urges the son to retain “mercy and truth” and internalize them by writing these attributes on his heart. However, this does not exclude their external manifestations in what the son will do and say. This is evident from the frequent use of the verbal idiom “to do/show mercy.” Both “mercy” and “truth” can be used together as objects of the verb “to do, show,” with a believer as the subject (Gen 24:49; 47:29; Josh 2:14; cf. Zech 7:9). Moreover, the promise attached to this command—that both God and other people will recognize these attributes in the faithful believer (Prov 3:4)—assumes that these are not merely internal, but also are put to use.

While the first two invitations might be considered the sage father’s wise advice, the third invitation (3:5) emphasizes that this is not mere human counsel, but divine guidance. The invitation to trust in Yahweh contrasts with relying on one’s own human reason or emotions. This trust in Yahweh is equated with acknowledging him, that is, openly admitting that God’s favor and love, conferred by his guidance in his Word, are better than human judgment. The promise of straight paths (3:6) is especially poignant because paths in ancient Israel were often winding, tortuous roads that took much effort on the part of travelers. A straight path, which would be relatively easy to traverse, was rare. “He will make your paths straight” does not necessarily mean that one’s course in life will be comfortable and trouble free. It does mean that through his Word God will reveal the right direction and destination, even if bearing the cross is required in order to get there (cf. Mt 10:38; 16:24).

The fourth invitation (Prov 3:7) builds on the third. Here the fear of Yahweh is linked with not considering oneself wise. This points out another component of the cluster of concepts that make up the fear of Yahweh. The believer possesses this attitude through faith and understands God’s kindness in revealing his wisdom to humans. This person, therefore, does not rely on human wisdom, which often leads to evil, but instead turns from evil. The promise connected with this invitation is health (3:8). While some believers may have good physical health and experience healing now, the fulfillment of this eschatological promise will come in “the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting” (Apostles’ Creed).


Heavenly Father, lead me to dedicate myself to You and to trust in You with my whole heart, to know and live according to Your will. Send me Your Spirit to bless the use of my time, abilities, and possessions so that I may serve You faithfully and effectually. Amen.

Read Treasury of Daily Prayer

Devotional reading is adapted from Concordia Commentary: Proverbs, pages 115–16 © 2009 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Prayer is from The Lutheran Study Bible, page 1003 © 2009 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.


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