I look back in my journal and note that it’s the same verse in this day’s reading plan that’s arrested my attention for the past three years. I go back and read my entries from 2018, 2019, and 2020 — encouraged and blessed by what encouraged and blessed me then. But as I continue to hover over those three words penetrating my heart, I realize there’s a context I’ve failed to consider. A definition I’ve failed to discern. An in-truth reality that needs to accompany my imputed righteousness.
. . . but the upright are in His confidence.
(Proverbs 3:32b ESV)
In His confidence. Those are the three words that have been sticking every year for the past few years. Less about what is known by being in the confidence of the Creator, intended more to emphasize the understood relationship of those who enjoy the insider’s seat. That’s why other translations render it: He is a friend to the upright (CSB); But He is intimate with the upright (NASB); He offers his friendship to the godly (NLT). To have access to the “His secret counsel” (NKJV) implies a depth of relationship marked by intimacy available only to those welcomed into the inner circle.
Noodle on that. As the upright, robed in the imputed righteousness of Christ through the finished work of the cross, we are “in” with the God of heaven and earth. And we know it not only in theory, but we experience it every time He illuminates His word as we read it and grasp something of the secret counsel of the Almighty. That should be mind-blowing! Awe-evoking! Praise-producing!
But wait! There’s a context here. And it relates not to an imputed righteousness but to a practiced righteousness.
Proverbs 3:32 is preceded by six “do not” commands. Do not withhold good when it’s in your power to do good. Do not brush off a neighbor in need when you can meet that need. Do not plan evil against your neighbor. Do not contend with someone for no reason. Do not envy the ways of violent men nor be drawn into those ways when it seems expedient to do so. Don’t, don’t, don’t . . .
Then comes the verse.
. . . for the devious person is an abomination to the LORD, but the upright are in His confidence.
(Proverbs 3:32 ESV)
The upright are the opposite of the devious, those who walk a crooked or deviated path. To be in His confidence, to know Him as friend, is the opposite of being an abomination. And while our eternal standing as the upright is secure because we are in Christ, our current experience as the upright is very much a factor of our obedience.
While we will sit with Him in close communion around His banquet table on that day, if today we want to know the intimate connection of abiding fellowship, then by His enabling power we purpose to do the to do’s and to don’t the do not’s. Not that our salvation depends on our obedience, but that practically knowing daily intimacy with the God who takes us into His confidence is connected to our obedience. Experiencing friendship with God is frustrated when we walk in disobedience to God.
That’s why we aspire to walk a worthy walk. That’s why we’re quick to confess our sin when our walk goes unworthy, or our heart goes AWOL and we’re faking the walk. Why we make a beeline to the cross, once again welcoming that well worn path. Not because we presume on grace so that we can keep on keep sinning, but that we know He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin when we do falter, fail, and find ourselves distanced from friendship and sincerely want to abide in His confidence.
In His confidence. What a blessing to be welcomed into the secret things of heaven by the God of heaven.
In His confidence in context. O, that we might practically know that insider’s place through a holy determination to walk in faithful obedience.
Only by His enabling grace. Always for His everlasting glory.