Do Not Lean On Your Own Understanding

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5

Proverbs frequently talks about not leaning on or trusting in our own understanding but instead trusting in the Lord. My whole life, I have heard people speak in these terms to mean Christians should not live and do things that “make sense” to them but trust in God when he communicates to them personally what they are called to do.

But frankly, this is the opposite of wisdom according to Proverbs. To be wise and to rely on and trust in the Lord is to heed his instruction and to let that guide our lives (see Proverbs 2-3). The notion of “our own understanding” refers to wisdom and knowledge that is gained outside of covenant fellowship with God. It is the opposite of the fear of the Lord. It is to look at the world and approach life as if God does not exist, independently judging what is right, true, and wise by ignoring his written word.

Ironically, the typical way many Christians employ famous passages like Proverbs 3:5 actually directly contradicts what Proverbs intends.