“Lean not on your own understanding” – Proverbs 3:5-6 Explained

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. ~Proverbs 3:5-6

This passage is among the most quoted or referenced when we want to ‘explain away’ something we don’t understand. And that’s a good thing as long as we don’t just say the words without applying them to our lives.

To ‘lean not on your own understanding’ is really just another way of saying we need to live by faith.

Abraham was ‘leaning not on his own understanding’ when he and Isaac were walking up the mountain to offer a sacrifice to the LORD.

Daniel was ‘leaning not on his own understanding’ when he was being led to the pit to spend the night with some hungry lions.

Stephen was ‘leaning no on his own understanding’ when he was stoned to death for proclaiming Jesus as the Christ. But that’s not all…

Vera was ‘leaning not on her own understanding’ when her five year-old daughter died of cancer.

Ellen and Lauren were ‘leaning not on their own understanding’ when their parents and grandmother were killed by an impaired driver a week before Christmas.

Katy was ‘leaning not on her own understanding’ when she was diagnosed with infertility in spite of desperately wanting children to raise in the way of the LORD.

So what does it really mean to lean, acknowledge, and follow?

Leaning away from our own understanding and toward God’s by acknowledging and following him means to actively pursue God’s will for your life and doing things God’s way instead of your way (if your way is different). It is living with the confidence that God always does what is best even when you can’t see it as so.

People questioned why a godly woman like Wanda would live to be nearly one hundred years old, but have to suffer from Alzheimer’s in those final years. Her granddaughter, who was her caregiver, replied, “Granny has been my teacher and mentor my whole life—including now. She is teaching me compassion, patience, gentleness, and to see the joy in every situation.”

No one said it would be easy

It wasn’t easy for Joseph to face the fact that his brothers hated him enough to kill him, but he endured all that went with their foiled plot, believing God was directing him where he needed to go.

It wasn’t easy for Peter and other early Christians to be ridiculed, beaten, thrown in jail, and killed because of their faith. But they knew that Jesus meant what he said when he told them to teach the Gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:18-20) and they weren’t about to let Him down.

Vera, Katy, and countless other women (and men) know that leaning on the LORD is the only way they can make it through each day without the children they have lost or long for but will not have. They lean on him for strength, courage, comfort, and hope for whatever he will do to make their hearts and minds capable of being joyful in him.

You can, too. Yes, you can. You simply have to decide to do so.

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addresses this situation in Matthew 6:31-34 and again in Matthew 7:9-11. Let’s look at the first passage now…

Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

In this first passage of scripture, Jesus is telling us that when we lean on our own understanding instead of His, we are self-inducing unnecessary worries and struggles on ourselves. He promises (and Jesus doesn’t break a promise) that if we lean on God by putting Him first, everything else will be taken care of for us.

No kidding…it really is that simple.

Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:9-11)

In these verses Jesus is essentially saying, “Don’t you trust God? Don’t you know that he is the ‘dad of all dads’?”

Listen up, please

God created you. He loves you. He knows you better than you know yourself. The fact that he is all-knowing gives him the ability to see what lies ahead and because of this, he knows what we need in order to fully be the person he created us to be. Because of this he also knows what needs to take place and which direction we need to go in order to receive the blessings he wants to give us.

So think about it. Pray about it. Ask God to remove the pride and stubborn independence from your heart. Ask him to stamp Proverbs 3:5-6 on your heart, soul, and mind so that you can live by it each and every day of your life.

~ By Darla Noble

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  1. Reply
    Hawa Lamin says

    Thank you for this passage I just come across things that I have never come across. I have learnt a lot from this passage.
    Good bless you .

  2. Reply
    Jon says

    Thank you for this. I think God is testing my faith and you have helped.

  3. Reply
    Aishah says

    Thank for breaking this scripture down for me. Makes perfect sense. Bless you for sharing your wisdom of the Lord.

  4. Reply
    Rene Darling says

    This scripture has been on my heart for awhile now and it finally makes sense giving me the peace for my soul and wellbeing that I needed.. thank you for taking the time to make this real….

  5. Reply
    George Fitt says

    “Lean not on your own understanding” means do not trust yourself (or others) with the meaning of Scripture, but trust God only and with all your heart. God says, “There is none who understand…” Psalm 14:2, 53:2 and Romans 3:11. When this editor claims he has explained Proverbs 3:5, don’t trust the explanation (because none understand) and be like the noble Bereans who searched the scriptures to determine whether or not what the apostle Paul taught was true. A good way to search the scriptures is with biblegateway.com and search a keyword (or phrase) like “understand” and then read every instance in scripture where this word is used to determine God’s meaning for us. Other keyword suggestions are “godly” and “godliness” to determine their meaning also.

  6. Reply
    Val says

    This was excellent teaching, as usual, reminds me of when my Pastors teach on this particular scripture. thank you for the WORD.

  7. Reply
    Mailin Mom of Rian says

    This verse made my life arranged to what is needed to be, because of my own understanding I do things on our own and I ended up miserable, but when I turn to God for help, HE made a way to fix it and it felt so light to go on without a heavy burden. I, as a human being sometimes forgot that I have a loving God that will complete me as I pace to and fro everyday on this Earth, I just need to entrust every details of my life to God to live in this world with a complete Joy in my heart 💓 💓💗💗

    • Reply
      Karena says

      I appreciate how you broke this verse down to where I may understand. I thank you.

  8. Reply
    Reagan ochieng says

    I have learnt a lot from this passage and I must teach myself to lean on God..thank you so much

  9. Reply
    Martha Daka says

    Not to lean on my own understanding but to trust God with whole my heart for he is my intercesser and couceller .Thank you!

  10. Reply
    Temitope says

    This is really nice
    What everyone needs to read

  11. Reply
    Ashton says

    I believe that the passage is not exactly how you put it…. I believe its about that if we making a choice or decision we do it with God in mind that we do what’s acceptive of God; not the mentality of , “God take the wheel ! “ and what happen must be your will ….something has nothing to do with God. Sometimes is just a drunk driver being drunk and not responsible; sometimes its king like Darius, being manipulated by your rivals to put you in harms way , like Danial was. My point is that people read the Bible mis interpret the message; then they read a verse like this and will use it to give themselves the permission to believe that God has to take all responsibility, when he gave us life and instructions to manage it on our own; and some things is his responsibility because God is God. No , something… a lot of things is mans doing with out God in it; the verse is telling to do the opposite.

    • Reply
      BSheree says

      What’s the chapter and verse that says “God wants us to do some things all on our own without God.”?
      Because I read that God will never leave nor forsake you. And God tells us to walk by faith; not by sight.

  12. Reply
    Lisa King says

    This was good often feel I do things my way which do bring unnecessary worries and struggles just need to trust god more why wouldn’t we trust him cos hes the most reliable one we know this was explained very well

  13. Reply
    Elvira says

    Thankyou for the beautiful msg n doing it with simple explanation. God bless ur work!

  14. Reply
    Charles says

    This is a powerful scriptural sermon,,God bless the preacher..indeed I am blessed..

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