In the immediate context, the command to acknowledge is preceded by an encouragement to trust in the Lord. This charge to trust God asserts that He is trustworthy, and as such we are warned against limiting God by our own understanding. Such trust requires us to value God’s wisdom and indeed His goodness above our own limited knowledge and understanding. While we often think that we must understand to believe, the Bible holds before us an even better way. After all of his suffering and trials, Job was not given a lengthy explanation of the ins and outs of God’s purposes in his life; instead, Job learned to find satisfaction in the greatness and glory of the living God (Job 38–40).
The command to acknowledge God in all our ways is followed by the promise that He will make our paths straight. The imagery of this straight path conveys the idea of security and blessing. So often, we can be tempted to feel that we have to have all the answers in order to protect ourselves and live a fruitful life, but in knowing God we find blessing. It is not a promise of ease or the absence of strife this side of glory. In fact, this proverb anticipates the struggles that every believer faces. When trials increase and many questions go unanswered, the God of the Bible calls us to trust and to acknowledge Him above all things.
Christ, in complete obedience to the law of God, demonstrates most poignantly what it means to trust and acknowledge God in all things. With sweat-like drops of blood, Christ, in full recognition of the weight of the cross and the consuming wrath of God, humbly prays: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). But in the gospel of Jesus Christ, we receive much more than mere examples. Just as we are united to Christ in all things, we share in His perfect obedience and His blessing, which transforms this command from a burden to a blessing. Outside of Christ, our failure to trust and acknowledge God in all our ways condemns us. Yet in Christ, we know that God is producing in us that which is pleasing to Him. While perfection is not attainable this side of glory, when we enter into His kingdom, we will see Him as He is and become like Him (1 John 3:2).
Knowing God in all our ways means that we are to live life before God and in communion with God at all times. The proverb strips us of excuses where we might be tempted to suspend the implications of our union with Christ. Know God in your work. Know God as a parent. Know God as a child. Know God as a student. Know God in retirement. Know God in all things, because God knows us, and one day with undivided hearts we will truly know God.
A few years ago, Denny lost his battle with cancer, but he won the prize Christ died to give him. Now, Denny, along with the saints of old, truly lives life before God. As Paul writes: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12). That glorious picture is abundant life lived coram Deo.