In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6 NASB
Straight – The root word (yashar) means to be level, straight, just or lawful. In its derivations, it is often connected with the idea of law keeping and uprightness. It frequently means to make a straight and level path, free of obstacles. This is the kind of path made for a king. Some translations of this verse read “he shall direct your path” but that isn’t quite the right sense. God doesn’t push you out on your way without making the road ahead straight, level and clear. He doesn’t hand you a map and tell you to check in with Him when you reach the destination. He levels the path for you. It is both the work of God for man, as in this verse, and also the work of man for God (Isaiah 40:3). Uprightness is a lifestyle characterized by being blameless and blamelessness is a determination based on God’s standards.
It is common in military training to run an obstacle course. The intention is to develop agility, strength and perseverance. Too often we think of our lives in those military terms, as if God sets us out on an obstacle course to see if we have the stamina to remain faithful. But that’s not what this verse suggests. God is actively engaged in our path, like the man on the Olympic curling team who sweeps the ice as the stone moves toward its target. His job is to make sure nothing impedes the progress of the stone. God takes on the same role. He makes sure nothing impedes our progress toward His objective.
Of course, we often think that He isn’t doing His job very well because from our perspective it doesn’t seem as if the stone is heading straight for the target. But our view is defective. The only thing that stands in the way of God achieving His objective is us! That’s right, the Accuser has no ability to block God’s purposes without God’s permission. There aren’t any evil demons who are able to divert God’s plans unless they are allowed to do so. As long as we are obedient, God’s objective is achieved without interference. And when we are disobedient, we delay God, we do not defeat Him.
God grants us the ability to recognize His law and to walk in it. In one important derivative, this word is an attributive adjective of God Himself, emphasizing His righteousness and His reign over all people. The person who is judged to have straight paths from God’s viewpoint is said to have that quality of heart that enables him to be obedient to God’s will. This promise claims that our dependence (trust) on God will allow Him to straighten out our lives. We do not need to struggle with the mechanics of how this will be done. We are asked only to trust Him and not ourselves, and He will do the rest. Of course, trust in Hebrew is an action word. We don’t wait passively for God to “fix” everything. We do what He asks, as soon as He asks it, in the confidence that this action will move us down the path He has made for us. It is a blessing for us to know that God is willing and able to repair what we have damaged if we only surrender ourselves to Him in all our endeavors. After years of struggling, it is a wonderful promise of grace to realize that our lives can be characterized by blamelessness and discernment. God does work miracles. This verse makes it clear. All of the crooked paths, all of the bends and curves, all of the mess that we have made, He will straighten. It is going to be painful, but the result will be a life of blameless freedom.
Topical Index: straight, yashar, path, Proverbs 3:6