Proverbs 3:1-2 (KJV) 1 My son, forget not my law;
but let thine heart keep my commandments:
2 For length of days, and long life,
and peace, shall they add to thee.
Proverbs 3:1-2 (BSB) 1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments;
2 for they will add length to your days,
years and peace to your life.
Proverbs 3:1-2 (NLT) 1 My child, never forget the things I have taught you.
Store my commands in your heart.
2 If you do this, you will live many years,
and your life will be satisfying.
The instructions in chapter 3 consists of a series of six four-line exhortations in which the second line of each exhortation mentions a reward or benefit.
To exhort is to earnestly urge someone to do something, to advise and admonish.
In these verses the writer affectionately ("My son") speaks and exhorts the reader to remember and obey what he is being taught.
This isn't a "Do what I say..." command.
Imagine a child, "Mommy, I want some candy."
"No, you can't have any. "
"But Mommy, I want more!"
"No, you will do what I say."
We aren't talking about obedience to a parent, but obedience to God's commands. We are to be obedient to our parents, but this means more than that. Solomon didn’t mean “my law” in the sense of his own personal decrees, but as God’s word.
There is a process to education. We have to provide a base for a child to build on. Teachers will teach by giving you information and knowledge. A student must memorize facts and principles. But it shouldn't stop there. Memorization is easily forgotten if the student doesn't apply the knowledge and use it to build his education. Once you have a base, the student can build on that base. For instance, every child needs to learn how to read and write. They need to learn basic math and science and history. From there, they need to learn good study habits and research skills. If they have these basics, and access to more information (like a library or the Internet), they can almost teach themselves. And, once they have the base and know how to build on it, they will begin to apply it. My Mother used to say we have to have a velcro wall (base) for ideas thrown at it to stick.
I didn't just learn how to turn on a computer first. I learned by seeing a bigger picture first. Once I knew what computers were capable of, I was interested. Then I went to the beginning and learned how to turn on a computer, how it worked, the basics. With my bigger picture, and with the technical know-how, I've been able to integrate my computer into every area of my life and taught myself what I needed to know to complete a task I knew the computer was capable of doing.
This is why taking children to church is so important. They need to be taught the basics of God's Word and salvation. If they aren't taught, they don't know. If they don't know, they don't have a sticky wall for godly admonitions to stick to. If a child has no concept of God, Heaven, Hell, sin, salvation then why tell them to share their toys? Why admonish them not to cheat at school? Why instruct them not to lie or steal? Why tell them not to bully the neighbor's child? You are merely forcing a child to "do what I say" without having given them the base of a sticky wall of information about God and His commands. They will forget the "do what I say" commands because they don't understand why. It doesn't make sense to them because they don't have that base.
The Teacher here indicates he is teaching the student the basics about God and His commands ("do not forget my teachings"). But it goes beyond just memorizing the commands. "Let your heart keep my commandments". Memorizing words are external and can be forgotten, but inscribing those words on your heart is internal and permanent. It means something to you and changes your life and actions. It becomes a part of you and of who you are.
We have to learn God's Word to start with. But we must internalize it for it to become a part of us and to result in changed behavior. Changed behavior is just an external fruit of what is going on internally in your heart.
People can feign obedience to God's commands but their heart is not changed.
Have you ever driven at the speed limit but fussed and fumed inside because you felt like you were going too slow? You keep to the speed limit so you won't get a ticket and your insurance won't go up. But if it was up to you, you'd be doing 90 miles an hour. That means you have obeyed the law externally but it hasn't changed your mind about speeding. You only do it because you have to, not because you want to. You get something out of it by obeying the law (you keep your money, your license, your car, your ability to go where you want to go). But, let's say you were speeding one day and you got into a terrible accident. It killed a person; you were terribly injured; your car is a total loss; you can't afford another car; your insurance has skyrocketed, if they will insure you at all. The next time you get in a car, you are very cautious and you stick to the speed limit because you never want to experience something like that again. You have not only learned the speed limit but WHY there is a speed limit and you've experienced the results of speeding. It's now internalized and the natural result is being very careful to stick to the speed limits and drive cautiously. You don't do it because of the speed limit sign or because you might get a ticket. You do it because you want to do it. Your whole perspective has changed. You learned the hard way that it's not worth it.
So how do we learn God's Word and internalize it so we naturally obey it? Not forced obedience but obey it because we want to. First we need a bigger picture. Second we need to learn the basics. Third we need to apply it and internalize it and build on it. We should be getting all of this by going to church and by reading the Bible. To internalize it, we need to be going to God's Word and reading it every day, praying that the Holy Spirit within us will open our eyes and help us understand what we are reading. We need to meditate on it, think about it, journal it, draw it, sing it, speak it. And then we will do it. It will come as natural fruit, not as forced obedience.
The Teacher gives a promise, "If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying". Does this mean that if you learn and obey God's Word, you will live a long life that will be peaceful, satisfying and prosperous? Not necessarily. God often uses adversity to teach us. But it means life will be easier here and, best of all, your eternity will be with Him and you WILL live forever and will be at peace, satisfied and prosperous.
Revelation 21:3-4 3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
- Do you have a base knowledge of God and His Word?
- If not, how can you determine to get that base?
- How can you build on your base? How can you internalize the Word?
- How do you learn the best? Have you applied that to learning the Word?
- Have you attempted to provide a base for your children to understand God and His Word?
For all my studies on Proverbs click HERE.