LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. (Proverbs 3:1-4 NIV).
“I forgot.” That is the first excuse humans learn to give; I can remember each of you doing so for the first time. And we all still use this excuse quite a bit in our lives. Sometimes it is a legitimate excuse, but sometimes it is just for convenience. But there is a danger in allowing either of these two reasons to drive us to this excuse. In this passage from Proverbs King Solomon reminds his “son” to remember what he has been taught; specifically, the commands Solomon had given over the years. And not only was his son to remember the commands taught, but Solomon also directed him where to store the commands: in his heart.
The ancient Hebrews did not have the concept of thought being in the brain. To them, the heart was the center of their being, thus also their thought. But not only did they consider it the originator of decision making, but also a place to store, analyze, recall, and classify information. Not only can we know something, but we can also know how we feel about it. After influence from Greek philosophy and science at around 350 BC (Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Hippocrates etc.) the Hebrews and Christians understood that the mind was the center of thought, and the heart the center of emotion. The mind knows, the heart reveals how we feel about it. So, when Solomon wrote this book to his son, he wrote with the belief that the heart was for information instead of the way we think of the heart today.
The takeaway is that we should keep the teachings and commands on our minds. Keep them front and center in our thoughts. Solomon’s wisdom was given to him by God in 1 Kings 3:1-15 when God asked Solomon to ask anything and He would grant it. Solomon asked for a decerning heart (wisdom). We should ask God for wisdom. We should keep God’s commands and teachings in the center of our thoughts, and use every emotion at our disposal to apply to our lives what we have learned from Him.
A recurring theme in the Bible is that there are rewards, large and small, that are gained by following God’s wisdom. Solomon names the benefit of “peace and prosperity” here, and he names two tools to help accomplish all of this: love and faithfulness. Keep these close, and they will help you walk in the center of His will and you will reap the benefits.