"We ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled..." ~ II Thes. 2:2 *** "But stir up the gift of God that is within you by the laying on of hands..." ~ II Tim. 1:6

“In All Your Ways Acknowledge Him” – What Does It Mean?

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

For many people this is a memory verse, both because it’s quite succinctly and beautifully phrased, and also because it is one of those snippets that can be a kind of life mantra.  Often when we read this verse the emphasis is on the first sentence, while the second sentence—that of acknowledging Him and allowing Him to direct us—gets glossed over.  I read it recently and the word “acknowledge” jumped out at me, because I had never really ever thought about what that really means.

Understanding “acknowledge”

See, while the technical definition of the word hasn’t really changed, the way our society uses it definitely has—basically to “give a nod” to.  If you’re walking down the street and you see someone you’ve met before, you’ll often acknowledge them with a nod or wave, basically saying “yeah, I see you”.  Or you may acknowledge someone when they give you a gift, or in centuries past a nobleman might acknowledge an illegitimate child as being his own (bestowing some legitimacy).  So by today’s standards, “in all your ways acknowledge Him” is basically the equivalent of professional athletes pointing to the sky after a touchdown—meaningless.

The trouble is that these understandings of the word render the verse in Proverbs very distant and cold, when the meaning is much more powerful.  The word translated “acknowledge” in most bible translations is yada (H3045), which generally means “to know or recognize”.  In the case of Proverbs 3:6, it is to know His ways inside and out and to recognize that He is the ultimate arbiter of our lives.  It’s a root word so it can be translated many different ways and is used almost a thousand times in the Old Testament.  While most translations use “acknowledge”, the NIV says “in all your ways submit to Him”, while the NLT says “seek His will in all you do”.  Throughout the rest of the bible, yada is most often translated as some form of “to know” (i.e. known, know, knowing), but other uses include “respect”, “understand”, “be sure in”, “consider”, “discover”, and “discern”, and these start to paint a more complete understanding of the word.

Webster’s dictionary defines “acknowledge” as recognizing the rights, authority, or status of someone or something, which is certainly more intense than the way we typically think of acknowledgement.  If you’re acknowledging someone’s authority, you’re acknowledging that they have power over you.

Acknowledging God is not a surface tip of the hat, but rather a life-altering change.  In Psalm 51:3, David says, “For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  Against You and You only have I sinned and done this evil in Your sight.”  David is confessing God’s authority in His life—authority that had major consequences for him when David strayed from allowing God to guide him.  As the Pulpit Commentary put it, “To acknowledge God is to recognize in all our dealings and undertakings God’s overruling providence, which ‘shapes our ends, rough hew them as we will’”.

You may also like:  The Symptoms of Spiritual Leprosy

There’s just no way around the fact that acknowledgement of God is active, rather than passive.  Most people will wear a cross necklace or give God a shout-out when something goes right and believe they are obeying the command in Proverbs 3, when all their actions and thoughts couldn’t be further from Him.  Acknowledging God doesn’t mean just turning to Him in times of crisis, or publicly during worship.  This is truly in ALL your ways—public and private, religious and secular.  It is knowing what His Word says forwards and backwards, and living a life that reflects the fact that God is directing it.

The meaning of “He will direct your paths” in Proverbs 3:6 is to make them straight and even, pleasant and prosperous.  That doesn’t mean that nothing in life will ever go wrong, but rather that even the bad things will be bearable because God is sharing the load with you and you know He has an amazing reward planned for you.

I read Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Proverbs 3:5-6 and thought it was really beautiful, and summed up how we must approach this acknowledgement of God.

“Those who know themselves find their own understandings a broken reed which, if they lean upon, will fail. Do not design any thing but what is lawful, and beg God to direct thee in every case, though it may seem quite plain. In all our ways that prove pleasant, in which we gain our point, we must acknowledge God with thankfulness. In all our ways that prove uncomfortable, and that are hedged up with thorns, we must acknowledge Him with submission. It is promised, He shall direct thy paths; so that thy way shall be safe and good, and happy at last.”

Other topics you may enjoy:

proverbs 3 v5-6 acknowledge him

Related Posts


Comparison & Envy – The Key to Unhappiness


‘Kicking Against the Pricks’ – Stubbornness vs. Submission


  1. Jonathan Protheroe

    Acknowledge – to know, implies intimicy in bible terms, Adam knew Eve and it produced Cain; but also to “ascertain by seeing” leads me to David was not moved because he saw the Lord always before him at his right hand. Powerful. And of course we are already at the right hand of God being seated with Christ in heavenly places by the power of the Holy Spirit. As we are faced with a decision, a situation, a storm let us remember that we are not on our own. He did not leave us orphans. Christ is with us in the boat. Let us get to know Christ intimately through the Holy Spirit and see Him with us in the time of decision. I see Him joined to me in the covenant hand shake. What do you want to do Lord, which way do you want to take? Not my will but Yours be done. I exchange my will for His. I exchange my ability for His.

    • James

      Simply heartfelt. This comment is wortby of praise to our ELOHIM. GOD BLESS YOU A ABUNDANTLY

    • Lucy Nato


    • Leonardo Bozza

      Excellent! I’m going to keep this in a folder which I want to look at every time I get troubled with finding the Lord’s Will, or with a decision or trial. The Holy Spirit will use it

    • SheilaBeth

      This is lovely. In Christ, through the Holy Spirit, ….He is here, and if He is here, He reigns.

  2. Ian Black


  3. Natale. Cicutto

    Proverbs 3 – 6

    Powerful beautiful words ,
    A deep meaningfull passage of the Bible,
    Acknowledge Him , share with Him and His light shall be in front of you for ever

  4. Susan Ide

    Very,very good clear and concise ! Thank you.

  5. Victor Israel Obanor

    May i add to the following brilliant points shared, by totally saying to acknowledge God is you saying ” i dont know the way and I’m not wise enough, But almighty God you are, so take your place as the All-mighty and All-Knowing God and the privilege for my Life to be Directed in all ways by You”.

    • Teresa Shanklin

      What you added was beautiful. “Almighty God you, so take your place as the Al-Knowing God and the privilege for my Life to be Directed in all ways by You”. This so powerful and I much give God glory my spirit agree, Amen.

      • Judy Bernard

        Thank you for speaking truth to the word of God. Yes he is our Almighty and yes we must acknowledge him in all our ways. For me it is definitely letting him take the lead in my life and me following after him. I know when I listen to the Spirit I get it right now for me it is doing it in all things regardless of the size or issue.

  6. Amber Hunter

    God is amazing, Lord GUARD AND GUIDE our thoughts, actions,steps,words..less of us more of YOU FATHER GOD LORD JESUS HOLY SPIRIT

  7. Danelle Miller

    Amen. I have beeen figuring out the meaning of fearing God and apart of that meaning is to acknowlege God and take God serious.
    I realized I never really knew what acknowleding God meant, then I came here.
    This was so consice and simple to understand but a powerful message either way, thanks for putting this on here and best of all, Thank God for leading you to do this great work.

  8. Johann

    Thank you for writing this.

  9. Elizabeth

    This give a different view I love it thank you

  10. Sharon Esco

    Your comment about the word “acknowledge “ jumping out at you, is exactly what happened to me this morning. Doing a search for a meaning of the verse led me to your site and your excellent explanation. Thank you!

  11. Shearon

    Wow! I too was doing a word search and was led here.
    Holy Spirit prayed through me, saying
    As we recognize God may our faith be increased.
    That has led me to go deeper, I want to recognize God that my faith be increased.

  12. Yolanda Kirk

    During this morning’s study time the same verse in all your ways acknowledge/submit to him jumped out to me also and the Holy Spirit led me to your commentary. Thank you

  13. Annie Hall

    I was sitting in my quiet time, and proverbs 3:5 came to my heart, acknowledge was pressed strongly in me. I was looking up the word acknowledge and I read the definition and came across this page. I am so thankful to God for a deeper meaning and understanding of his word. God bless you ! This changes everything for me

  14. a_daughter_ of_God

    Thank you so much for this. This really helped me gain a deeper understanding what is being said in Proverbs 3:5-6. This was really helpful to me; thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén