The third of the five couplets in Proverbs 3 is verses 5-6: if you trust in the Lord, He will make the course of your life “successful.” Remember, these are PROVERBS, not guarantees.
Let’s look at them in detail. To trust God implies that you are not trusting your own resources (see also Mt. 5.3). Our default is to live by our intuitions, our habits, our preferences, or anything “us”—what is natural for us or what we think is best. This verse calls for a total reorientation of ourselves, to trust in God. Now, we all know how hard this is, because God doesn’t “talk” to us the way we want, and what we think he is saying based on what thoughts come to our head are notoriously unreliable.
This trust in God—the knowledge of God and his Word and His ways—is all tied up in our love relationship itself: the fear of God (the relationship) that is the beginning of wisdom. When we trust God, we are acknowledging before Him that we don’t know what the next minute will bring. Our ways, our thoughts, our intuitions, and preferences, have to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12.2). We have enough knowledge about His character and His ways that we can trust in him rather than ourselves. We know who we are in Him and where we stand. And we know that He always treats his children with love.
The trust of God, and “in all your ways acknowledging Him,” is to know God personally and be in fellowship with him, to become open to His power and wisdom, and that becomes our guide in life. You “acknowledge God” by believing and obeying his Law (which we discussed in Prov. 1 as well as Prov. 3.1) rather than trusting and following man’s finite, worldly philosophy for success and happiness. The text is not dealing with God’s specific guidance into an individual “path” marked out by God. It is setting forth a pattern to be followed to experience true success in life—a pattern in which one demonstrates his trust and obedience of God by following the directions of God’s moral will. Remember, it’s a proverb, not a guarantee.
From God alone comes true prosperity, or success. He knows the right way to the right ends. He knows where the straight path is. He is able to free us from that which does us harm. Therefore it is our duty to place our confidence completely in him, and not to trust our own judgment.
In the book of Proverbs, “the path” is a metaphor for the course of one’s life. If you know God in “your paths,” you will certainly be on the right ones (Mt. 6.33), and the course of your life will be successful by God’s standards.