My Chapter 3 Experiment

It started as a normal, everyday, random, obscure conversation with my housemate.

She asked if we could study Scripture together.

“Of course! Which passage do you want to study? A short book? Half a book? A chunk of chapters? Even just one chapter would be fine.”

. . . I’m not sure why I said that. I’ve never worked through a study of only one chapter in my life, but sure, why not?

I always like to spend at least two months on a passage, so I said, “Let’s read one chapter every week for eight weeks and meet weekly to talk about it.”

“Okay! How about Proverbs 3?”

The rest is history.

Below you’ll find my personal notes, and some notes from our shared time. I don’t expect you to read them all {though you are quite welcome to do so!}. Rather, I share them so you can simply scroll through and see how much can be discovered by 8 weeks in 1 chapter.

8. Weeks. 1. Chapter. Surely, it would become old, boring, empty, and just impossible to find anything “new.”

I dare say, this experiment proved the leeriness in me quite wrong. {Not to mention, I added this Challenge to the mix and learned even more here.}

Some points are simple and obvious. Some profound, making us literally wide-eyed. All represent a treasured moment in the Word.

So maybe . . . find a friend, pick a chapter, and get started?

Do not lose sight of these – keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Proverbs 3:21


Note: As you scan, please imagine many long, crazy, deep, weird conversations and a fair measure of laughter and tears. The notes below fail to accurately represent the fun, the emotion, and the lasting impact.

Week 1 Personal

  • Who is speaking? Father to a son?
  • Long life is a result of obedience and wisdom (2, 16).
    • The heart keeps the commandments (1).
    • Write love and faithfulness on your heart (3).
    • Trust in the Lord with all your heart (5).
    • The one who finds wisdom is blessed (13).
    • The Lord founded the earth by wisdom (19).
    • Do not lose sight of wisdom, but keep it (21).
    • The wise will inherit honor (35).
  • Would we naturally be afraid of the ruin of the wicked? Is this why Solomon tells us not to be afraid in vs. 25? Perhaps their judgment would be terrifying for us to watch even from a distance?

Week 1 Shared

  • Long life (2, 16) – Ephesians 6:2: “Honor your father and mother . . . that you may live long in the land.”
  • We see the ultimate example of wisdom in the Lord – specifically through his creation (19).
  • Foot – 23, 26
  • “Do not be afraid of the ruin of the wicked” (25) – Is he referencing the 2nd coming of Christ and our endurance of the tribulation?

Week 2 Personal

  • Is there a difference between length of days and years of life? Quantity or quality? (2)
  • How symbolic or literal is vs. 3? What do steadfast love and faithfulness look like? How do we keep them from forsaking us?
  • “The Lord’s discipline” (11) – Why didn’t he say, “Do not despise my discipline,” just like he said, “Do not forget my teaching” (1).
  • Peace and life are directly connected to both the teaching and commandments, and wisdom and understanding (2, 16, 17).
  • LIFE
    • Remembering the teaching and keeping the commandments will add years to your life (2)
    • Long life comes with wisdom and understanding (16)
    • Wisdom is a tree of life (18)
    • Sound wisdom and discretion are life for the soul (22)

Week 2 Shared

  • Steadfast love and faithfulness are the result of remembering the teaching and keeping the commandments. Steadfast love and faithfulness cannot forsake us, but if we forsake the teaching and commandments, then, by default, steadfast love and faithfulness or no longer with us. (1-3)
  • Why does it say, “Do not lean on your own understanding” (5), but then, “Blessed is the one who gets understanding” (13)? Perhaps it makes more sense to think of it “backwards”: “You are blessed if you get understanding, but don’t lean on it!”
  • “Length of days and years of life” (2) – Example: Lynn Shreve’s death
  • “Your foot will not stumble” (23) – Timely analogy: Keiana tripping through the mud on the way to our study!
  • Verses 25-31 includes seven consecutive “do not’s.”
  • Three general sections are evolving:
    • Vs 1-10
    • Vs 11-20
    • Vs 21-35

Week 3 Personal

  • How do we bind love and faithfulness around our necks and write them on the tablet of our hearts? What do these images convey? (3)
  • “Good success” as opposed to bad success? (4)
  • “The deeps broke down” = past. “The clouds drip down the dew” = present. (20)
    • Do not lean on your own understanding (5)
    • You are blessed if you have understanding (13)
    • By understanding the Lord established the heavens (19)
  • WAYS
    • Acknowledge him in all your ways (6)
    • Wisdom’s ways are pleasantness (17)
    • Sound wisdom and discretion results in walking securely on your way (21,23)
    • Do not choose the ways of the man of violence (31)
    • Honor the Lord with your wealth (9)
    • Honor is in wisdom’s right hand (16)
    • The wise will inherit honor (35)
    • Blessed is the one who finds wisdom (13)
    • Those who hold fast to the tree of life are called blessed (18)
    • The Lord blesses the dwelling of the righteous (33)

Week 3 Shared

  • What is the difference between wisdom, understanding, and knowledge (19)?
    • Possible silly explanation: Coffee.
      • Knowledge = facts about coffee
      • Understanding = deeper awareness of how those facts affect you
      • Wisdom = acting accordingly
    • Which comes first? Does a person have to have understanding to be wise? Vice versa? Both?
  • The earth, the heavens, the deeps, and the clouds of verse 19 are all mentioned in Psalm 135:5-7.
  • “Clouds drop down the dew” is present tense (20).
  • God can do anything, but he chooses to act in a certain way and according to his character. Silly example: He could cause it to rain all day every day over the whole earth, but in wisdom, he causes the rain to come in a way that is good for us. (20)
  • How do the “do nots” (25-31) flow? What do they have to do with the greater context of this chapter?
  • A major theme of chapter 3 is SECURITY.

Week 4 Personal

  • Steadfast love and faithfulness have conditions/qualifications (3).
  • Is “the tablet of the heart” a particular aspect of the heart (3)?
  • “Bind them around your neck” (3) = Don’t let them go? vs. “Adornment for your neck” (22) = They make you “beautiful”?
  • Difference between knowing and understanding (19): Mark 14:68 – “But he denied it, saying, ‘I neither know nor understand what you mean.'”
  • “You will not be afraid” (24) vs. “Do not be afraid” (25).
  • God punishes by the same action, but without sin (34).

Week 4 Shared

  • Steadfast love is covenant love (3).
  • Compare vs. 9-10 with vs. 14-15.
  • Tablet of the heart (3): Prov 7:3, Isaiah 30:8, 2 Cor 3:3, Jer 31:33, Heb 8:10, 10:16
  • Does the binding in vs. 3 refer to nearness – close to the heart?
  • God can be righteously scornful towards sinners, but we cannot (34).

Week 5 Personal

  • Action is contrasted with thought (1). Do not forget the teaching; instead, keep the commandments. Perhaps, action is implied in the thought. To remember the teaching is to obey it.
  • There are 11 “do not’s:” Vs. 1, 5, 11, 21, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 31.
  • Compare vs. 6 and vs. 17 with Lamentations 3:9.
  • He doesn’t say, “My son, do not despise my discipline;” he says, “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline” (11).
  • Is the right hand more significant than the left (16)? So long life is greater than riches and honor?
  • Is she a tree of death to those who don’t lay hold of her (18)?
  • Called “blessed” by whom (18)? The Lord? People in general?
  • KEEP
    • The heart keeps the commandments (1)
    • Keep sound wisdom and discretion (21)
    • The Lord will keep your foot from being caught (26)

Week 5 Shared

  • Is time a theme? Vs. 2, 16. Even vs. 18 – length and time in the growth of a tree. LIFE is connected to TIME.
  • What makes believers who trust in the Lord and his wisdom different than unbelievers who don’t trust in the Lord but have wisdom? What promises does the unbeliever lose out on?

Week 6 Personal [3:1-10]

  • {2 Commands} OBEDIENCE Do not forget my teaching. Let your heart keep my commandments (1).
  • {3 Promises} For length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you (2). LIFE
  • {3 Commands} IDENTITY Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart (3).
  • {2 Promises} So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man (4). REPUTATION
  • {3 Commands} DEPENDENCE Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him (5-6).
  • {1 Promise} He will make straight your paths (6). DIRECTION
  • {3 Commands} HOLINESS Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil (7).
  • {2 Promises} It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones (8). HEALTH
  • {2 Commands} WORSHIP Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce (9).
  • {2 Promises} Then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine (10). PROVISION
  • Summary #1: As we internalize the Word and it becomes a part of us, we recognize the wisdom of depending on it instead of ourselves. Then, as our hearts pursue righteousness and holiness, the automatic overflow of our lives is worship, and the result is new life, a good reputation, clear direction, and even health and provision.
  • Summary #2: As we obey the Word, our quality of life improves, and we become new people with a new identity. When this identity is approved by those around us, we are reminded of the need to depend on the Lord for all things. He delights to lead us in the path of righteousness, and we grow in holiness as reflecting our Guide. This radiant holiness is displayed even in our physical bodies, which, in turn, enables us to worship the Lord with gusto. And as we worship the Lord through the giving of ourselves and our resources, we find that we ourselves have no lack.
  • Main point/purpose: To present the rewards of keeping the Word.
  • One-sentence statement: Write the Word on your heart, and you will live a purposeful, successful, peaceful life.

Week 6 Shared [3:1-10]


  • Vs. 1-10 build a foundation of faith. Vs. 5 can be summarized as “faith.” It is the climax of the chapter, because trust requires faith. It connects to Jesus’ call to follow him. This is what it looks like to follow him.
  • Romans 2:7, 10 – The law gives life and peace and honor to everyone who follows it
  • Psalm 119:33-40

Week 7 Personal [3:11-20]

  • Vs. 11-12 seem random to the rest of the chapter
  • Life (2, 16, 18, 22), honor (9, 16, 35), and ways (6, 17, 23, 31) are in all three sections
  • Vs. 19-20 present God as the ultimate example of wisdom, then, vs. 21 reiterates the urgent instruction to be wise: life and adornment like the Lord gave to creation
  • The tree of life (wisdom) is the climax of this section
  • Also in Proverbs:
    • 2:7 – “he stores up sound wisdom for the upright”
      • answers the question, “where do we find wisdom?” (13)
    • Chapter 8
    • 11:30, 13:12, 15:4 – other “trees of life:” the fruit of the righteous, a desire fulfilled, a gentle tongue
    • 22:4
  • OT Cross References:
    • Gen 2:9 (18)
    • Gen 7:11-12 (20)
    • Deut 8:5 (11-12)
    • Job 5:17 (11-12)
    • Job 28:18 (15)
    • Job 36:27-28 (20)
    • Ps 19:10 (14) – lots of passages in Ps/Prov like these
    • Ps 104:24, 136:5 (19)
    • Ps 119:72 (14)
    • Ps 135-5-7 (19-20)
    • Lament 3:9 (17)
  • NT Cross References:
    • Heb 12:5ff cites vs. 11-12
    • 1 Peter (search “perish” or “precious”)
    • Rev 2:7, 22:2,14,19 (tree of life)
  • This section points back to creation, the Garden of Eden, the days of Noah.
  • Jesus’ death = punishment of the Son by the Father (11-12)

Week 7 Shared [3:11-20]

  • The tree (18) is there in every season and yet it still has life.
  • Security and wealth are found not in silver or gold or jewels.
  • Psalm 1: “he will be like a tree”

Week 8 Personal [3:21-35]

  • Life for your soul vs. life for your body (22)
  1. KEEP WISDOM (21)
    • Results: life, adornment, security, peace, sleep (22-24)
  2. DO NOT be afraid (25)
    • Why: the Lord will be your confidence (26)
  3. DO NOT withhold good (27)
    • DO NOT *example of 27* (28)
  4. DO NOT plan evil (29)
    • DO NOT contend with a man (30)
  5. DO NOT envy the violent man & DO NOT choose his ways (31)
    • Why: the violent man is an abomination (32)
  6. REWARDS TO THE WISE (33-35)
    • Blessing
    • Favor
    • Honor
  • Summary of 3:21-35: Keep wisdom, and many rewards will result, including peaceful sleep. You have no need to fear in the daytime either because the Lord is with you. And because you are wise, you will certainly pursue good works and righteousness and not treat others with evil or violence. The wicked, violent person will be cursed, but many blessings come to those who are wise.
  • Main point/purpose: To urge the reader to keep sound wisdom by describing the lifestyle and rewards of the wise person and warning against the dangers and consequences of foolishness.
  • One-sentence statement: Keep wisdom, and honor will be yours.

Week 8 Shared [3:21-35]

  • Fear is a result of the Fall.
  • Prov 1:4, 4:5-6,21, 6:22-23, 8:14
  • OT: Ps 6 (contrast), 119:33-40
  • NT: Eph 5:15-16, Jn 8:31, Heb 2:1
  • Jesus is the ultimate example of how to live in wisdom and discretion.

 [image credit:]

One thought on “My Chapter 3 Experiment

  1. I must confess I read most but not all. What a revelation you and your housemate had for one chapter. I loved the way you did the personal notes each week, and then the shared notes. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

    Liked by 1 person

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