We have been working our way through Proverbs 6 over the last week, and there was just too much left to cover in one final post. Instead, I will tackle these few verses today and aim to finish the chapter sometime soon. While this final section should be taken as one, there are some points we can consider separately.
Let’s see what they have to say.
My son, keep your father’s commandment,
and don’t forsake your mother’s teaching.
21 Bind them continually on your heart.
Tie them around your neck.
22 When you walk, it will lead you.
When you sleep, it will watch over you.
When you awake, it will talk with you.
23 For the commandment is a lamp,
and the law is light.Proverbs 6:20-23a WEB
Sound familiar? I hope so. Earlier on in Proverbs, we are told more than once to keep the commands. Why repeat the statement? In fact, Proverbs revisits the same themes over and over, why do we need to hear similar instructions time and again?
Put simply… because we need to! If we could be told once, and then follow the instruction, that would be quite something! Yet that is not my experience either in my own life or in the lives of others. We learn a lesson, put it into practice for a while, then perhaps start to forget or get out of the habit. When this happens, we must re-learn what we heard before. Proverbs is fairly repetitive because it needs to be. There is rich wisdom stored in these pages, and a cursory read one time will not change our hearts and lives. Instead, we must soak in its precepts, hearing them over and over and allowing them to change and shape us.
Verse 20 reminds us to keep our father’s commands and not to forsake the teaching of our mother. Wise parents are truly from God, and yet too frequently the young think they know it all. When I was a teenager growing up at home, I was no different. Having virtually no life experience, I deceived myself into thinking I knew more than the combined wisdom of my mother and father. It is almost embarrassing to admit, but I suspect I am not alone in that admission! If you are young and reading this, do listen to your parents! You may think they do not understand you or what you are going through, but chances are they do. If you are blessed with parents who care about you, then learn from them and take their advice. You may not appreciate it right now, but one day you will look back and be grateful to them and to God!
If you have godly #parents who care for you, then thank #God! #Bible #Jesus #wisdomTweet
Verse 21 instructs us to bind “them” around our heart and tie them about our neck. The “them” here is the commandments of the parents, and include (I believe) the wisdom of the Proverbs and also the entirety of Scripture. How do we bind things around our heart? This is clearly a figure of speech, and means to continually store up wisdom within our inner self. Meditating on the wisdom found in the Bible will renew our minds and change us over time. Studying God’s Word will save your life and your eternity, and is not a one off thing. You must endure, putting in the effort and studying the Bible over and over. Like eating or breathing, it is essential to life and something we must do day and night.
I particularly like verse 22, as it offers us such good incentives to studying the way of wisdom. Firstly, when we walk, wisdom will lead us. So often I find myself not knowing the way to go – and I do not mean literally, as in using a map or GPS! Instead, I mean that I face decisions of varying levels of importance, and it is not always clear which to choose. For instance, a while back I was reviewing the mortgage we have on our home and considering whether to fix the rate or not. It was not clear what would happen to interest rates at the time, and so it looked like a “gamble.” Since then, the interest rates in the UK have increased almost every month. In hindsight, it is easy to see which choice was the right one, but not so easy when the decision is in front of you. Wisdom helps us decide, and even then we must rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Wisdom also watches over us while we sleep. I interpret this in two ways. Firstly, that wisdom means we can rest peacefully because we have taken necessary precautions. If you lay down in a warm bed, in a safe home, having locked the doors and checked all is well, then you will likely sleep far more easily than if you left the front door wide open or ignored the gaping hole in the roof! Also though, I think wisdom watching over us means that we have turned to God, properly fearing Him and even if we lack physical safety, we can rest easy knowing that He has our spiritual safety in hand. We cannot realistically guard against every potential threat to our physical safety, but even if the worse should happen, we know that we will be ushered into His presence at the end of our lives. That gives us true peace.
Verse 22 thirdly points out that when we are awake, wisdom talks with us. So often the word “wisdom” in Proverbs can be replaced with the word “God.” Wisdom “talks” to us as it instructs us in how to live. As we walk and breathe, we can consider wisdom’s ways and apply them. Likewise, God is willing to speak with us each day and in all situations so that we know how to live to please Him.
If I asked the average person if “commandments” are a good thing, I suspect I would get a mixed set of answers. Our natural flesh is hardly excited at the idea of being commanded what to do, yet verse 23 describes them as a lamp. The Law, which bound many for generations, was in fact “light.” It may feel restrictive to have to follow various laws of the land, yet it also ensures we can live in freedom. In a similar way, we might find God’s law restrictive in our flesh, but it leads to spiritual freedom. This is perhaps better understood in an example. When someone is rude to us, our flesh wants to be rude in return. Yet, God’s law of love requires us to repay evil for good and instead offer kindness instead. This may make our skin crawl! Following the command however, leads (hopefully) to an end to the conflict or at the very least, no way of accusing us of wrongdoing. Being rude back may have caused escalation, and so avoiding that does indeed give us freedom.
The Bible and the wisdom it offers us leads us to light. It is a lamp to our feet, showing us the way to go and helping us avoid the traps of life.
Bind the Bible about yourself. Put Scriptures in your home, your car and in places you will see it often. Follow social media accounts that share the Word of God, and keep it before your eyes night and day. As you do, the wisdom of the Word will change you and lead you to Jesus.