Proverbs 3:8

It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.


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Spiritual and physical health and vitality are up to you. They are based on the choice of the previous proverb (Pr 3:7). You can have God’s blessings on body and spirit by rejecting your own ideas, fearing the Lord, and turning from sin. This important choice is the primary lesson of Proverbs – obtaining God’s best for your life by choosing His wisdom. If you neglect or reject His offer, you are committing certain suicide (Pr 8:36).

The pronoun “it” refers precisely to what went before (Pr 3:7). Solomon wrote, “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” The combined choice of rejecting self-confidence, reverently trusting and obeying God, and hating sin is the condition for these promised blessings. Each phrase of the condition contains an imperative verb, indicating clearly that it requires your action. What holds you back?

Navel and bones are synecdoche for your body. The Oxford English Dictionary defines synecdoche, “A figure by which a more comprehensive term is used for a less comprehensive or vice versa; as whole for part or part for whole; genus for species or species for genus, etc.” Navel and bones, bodily parts, are substituted for the whole body. Compare, “Count heads,” “All hands on deck,” or “Nice wheels.” All are synecdoche.

You depended entirely on your navel for nine months, when vital nourishment passed to you from your mother through the umbilical cord. And the vitality of your bones continues to depend on nourishment from your marrow (Job 21:24). These figures of speech describe the blessing and prosperity from fully following the Lord. A good and happy life is dependent on submission and obedience to the will of God (Pr 4:22; 14:30).

An exercise regimen or diet protocol can only marginally help the vitality of your life. A wise man knows that God’s blessing on humble obedience exceeds any such natural efforts to extend or improve life (Pr 3:2,18; 4:10,22; 7:23; 9:11; 11:19; 12:28; 14:27,30; 17:22; 19:23). Obedience saves from natural consequences of sin, magisterial judgment, and the punishment of God. It further activates God’s precious promises (I Pet 3:10-12).

Will you reject your own wisdom (Pr 3:7)? You were born with none, and you have none by natural education. You entered this world and will leave it with the helplessness of an infant. Truth and wisdom are the property of Jehovah, and only He gives them. Self-confidence is the certain route to destruction (Pr 14:12; 26:12; I Cor 3:18-20). Your thoughts and feelings are deceitful delusions (Ps 94:11; Jer 17:9), so despise both.

Will you fear the Lord (Pr 3:7)? It is necessary for knowledge and wisdom (Pr 1:7; 9:10), and it is the whole duty of man (Eccl 12:13-14). Reverent awe and submission to Jehovah is the basis for the blessings of God upon all you have and do (Ps 112:1-3; 128:1-6). The fear of God will also create joy in your heart and matter for your mind like nothing else.

Will you depart from evil (Pr 3:7)? The fear of God is to hate and reject any sin (Pr 8:13; 16:6; Job 1:1; 28:28). Do you esteem all His precepts concerning all things to be right, and do you hate every false way (Ps 119:128)? Sin will destroy you early (Eccl 7:17). Get away from sin like Joseph did and Samson did not. Compare the different consequences.

Reader, neglect this proverb to your own peril. Arrogance and sin will dry you up from the inside out (Pr 1:31; 5:11; 12:4; 15:13; 17:22; 18:14; 27:4). Your only hope for life and light in this sin-cursed world is the fear of the Lord. Humble yourself now. Reject your foolish thoughts. Call upon Him for mercy. Turn from all your sins. Perhaps He will lengthen your tranquility, which proud King Nebuchadnezzar lost (Dan 4:27).