“If” statements imply some sort of condition. If you do this then that will happen. I came to understand the significance of these statements very early in life. “If you try your best then I will be proud of you,” my Dad said. “If you do your chores then you will get paid,” said my Mom even though we really did not have a choice in doing the chores! Probably the most impacting “if” statement of my childhood was, “If you do not do what we say then you will be punished,” my parents said. We tried our best not to push the envelope because we knew from experience they were certainly not bluffing on the promise of punishment.
When we see “if” statements in the Bible, we can know that whatever condition is set before us is reliable. Proverbs 2 is such a chapter that lays out some conditions about our relationship with God. “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God” (vss. 1-5). The three “ifs” found in these verses are part of the condition of understanding the fear and knowledge of the LORD God. He promises that if we receive his words, call out to Him, and seek Him then He will give us wisdom, be a shield for us, we will understand righteousness, we will be delivered from evil and can avoid corrupt men (vss. 6-15).
With fornication running rampant in the American society and ungodly sexuality being pushed by all forms of media, these “ifs” in Proverbs 2 also give a way for escape from the “adulteress” (vss. 16-19). When Paul wrote, “…walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh,” (Galatians 5:16), surely he had these three “ifs” from Proverbs in mind. Hope is found in Proverbs 2:20-22, “So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it, but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.” Do not be rooted out, but plant your faith in God.