Proverbs 3:3

“Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around
your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.”

Proverbs 3:3 ESV

The thing that caught my attention in this verse is the verb forsake. Throughout the book we are instructed, in some form or another, not to forsake wisdom. See 3:1 for example, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments …”

But here, the instruction is to keep them (i.e., steadfast love and faithfulness) from forsaking us. In other words, “Don’t let them disappear on you.” And, the writer tells us how to keep them from disappearing on us: “bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.” The imagery is both external and internal.

What does it mean to bind them around your neck? Should we wear a necklace with the words “steadfast love” and “faithfulness” dangling from it? Would doing that prevent steadfast love and faithfulness from abandoning us? This seems to be a “letter of the law” vs. “spirit of the law” situation. Technically, wearing such a necklace appears to fulfill the letter of the law. But, what is the spirit, or intention, of the law? Is it simply to create a new line of jewelry?

In consideration of the command to “write these words on the tablet of your heart” it seems better to understand “bind them around your neck” as an outward reflection of the inner change that happens when we write these things on the tablets of our hearts. In other words, the internal changes in our hearts are exhibited in our behaviors.

Are you adorning yourself with steadfast love and faithfulness? If so, how? If not, why not?

Proverbs 3:5

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

  and do not lean on your own understanding.”

Proverbs 3:5 ESV

This proverb falls into the “I don’t know if I can do that” category. How do I trust in the Lord with all of my heart? How do I not lean on my own understanding if that’s all I have? These are fair and normal questions.

For some, the answer will seem evasive, which actually supports the answer. What is the answer? Faith. Paul deals with this same idea in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Without faith, walking with God, and all that means, makes no sense.

So, how do I trust God with all of my heart? One faith step at a time. With each step of faith comes the opportunity for our faith to grow, which corresponds to ever increasing measures of trust in God. As our faith grows, so does our trust.

Begin to grow in your trust today by asking God for help in believing in the small things, that your faith may increase.

Proverbs 3:13-14

“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.”

Proverbs 3:13-14 ESV

Because proverbs is a book of faith, it is sometimes very counterintuitive. Without faith, the proverb may be impossible to believe: the gain from wisdom is better than the gain from silver and gold?

Only by faith does this make sense. Let that sink in a bit before dismissing it as nonsense. Additionally, look for this same principle to be evident throughout the book of Proverbs. Mark it when you see it.

A Helpful Reminder

“My son, do not forget my teaching,

    but let your heart keep my commandments,

for length of days and years of life

    and peace they will add to you.”

Proverbs 3:1-2 ESV

Who doesn’t need a reminder now and then? Here’s a gentle and helpful reminder that gives life.

Perhaps you’ve heard someone say, “You are keeping the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law.” By this they mean the heart and intent of the law is disregarded while the technical details of the law are obeyed.

Here, I think wisdom is aiming for the spirit of the law by saying, “let your heart keep my commandments.” It is possible to keep the details of a particular commandment without doing so from the heart. And, that is how some unbelievers view the life of faith … as simply a list of rules to obey. However, a fair reading of the biblical text reveals that God doesn’t give rules/commandments “just because.” Rather, through His commandments God guides us to a desired outcome.

In this text, for example, the desired outcome is length of life and peace. The path to that destination is keeping wisdom’s commandments from the heart, not just by rote.

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