This is the first movement in a two part piece in Proverbs 3:1-4. The first part is what we will cover today: The law and commands and what they give to us. The second part is mercy and truth, and what they give to us. Of course, this leads to some very popular verses: Proverbs 3:5-6.
What we find today is Solomon is telling his son to not forget his law but keep the commands. Commands and law. Law is the structural telling of what to do and what not to do. Commands is that law being ordered. So in a sense, these two are able to be looked at as one. But we will take these apart and look at them individually.
Law: Is the idea of regulation, teaching, instruction. This is what we find throughout the Old Testament, and even many of the moral laws (not ceremonial laws) are brought forward to the New Testament.
Commands: There are three level of commands. The commandment of man, commandment of God, and the commandment of the code of wisdom.
This call then, from Solomon to his son to remember, can be found in the Hebrew practice of the tassels and corner of their garments (Numbers 15:39). But it also goes with the binding of them to the arm and forehead in the box called Tefillin (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). These were to help them remember and do all that God told them to do.
This is an important distinction for the very fact that some say it is hard to know what God wants or expects. On the contrary. It is very easy to know what God wants and expects, what is hard is the doing of those expectations (Deuteronomy 30:11). Why is this hard? For one, we, as humans, have a rebellious nature that was passed down from Adam in the garden. We do not want to do what we are told and we will rebel against what we should be doing rather than what we should not be doing. Second, we also have a sin nature in us that wars against the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18).
Solomon knew this, and so did his son. By extension, we also know what the commands of God are for us. Does this mean we have to obey the Ten Commandments? I don't usually drop names due to the fact that by dropping names often times, people shut out the truth of what is being said because they are blinded by their personal opinions of the personality of the individual. So instead, I will quote what this individual says, who is a very well known preacher. He says,
You are not accountable to the Ten Commandments.
The issue is several here in this thought:
1. The Ten commandments is not all the commands. There is the expectation, if we desire to live by the law, to live all 613ish commands. The Ten Commandments is just a starting point and from the Ten, all 603 will filter down from that.
2. The very notion that we are not to abide by the Ten Commandments is obliterated by the New Testament when several of the very laws were brought forward to us today! This would be what we would call the Moral Law.
3. Jesus, while fulfilling the law, also made the law harder for us who are Christians. The first command given by God was, "Do not eat of the tree". Mankind failed and then we had 613 laws. We failed at that , and Jesus came to earth and gave us two laws. But before we jump up and down for joy, do we realize the significance of these laws? They are: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. Second, love your neighbor as yourself. That means, that if we decide to watch T.V. rather than do our devotions on a given time, we have an idol. If we break the speed limit on a road because we want to go faster, we love ourselves before we love God. If we do not put our neighbor first, we love ourselves before we love others. If we look down on someone because they are "beneath us", we are violating this law. But it goes harder than that. If we hate someone without cause, it is as though we murdered (Matthew 5:21-22). If we, as men, look on a woman to lust after her, we have already had adultery with her (Matthew 5:28). Ladies, be careful. Yes, this is directed toward men because we, as men, are more visually stimulated. However, there are many women today who lust after men through what the man may do, how they treat others, their words, the affection they show, and yes, even sometimes how they look. Yes, ladies, you too can be brought to a place of lusting as well. So, if we look at one another to lust after each other, Jesus raised the bar and said we have already had the adultery.
4. Those who have not put their faith in Jesus Christ, this statement is also misleading. Those who are trusting in themselves, or in something else, or Jesus and something else, ARE IN FACT UNDER THE LAW. I wanted to emphasize this. Those who are not saved by Faith alone, are going to be judged on how they kept the whole law. All 613 will be expected to have perfect obedience in actions as well as intentions. Ouch!
So do not think that because someone is a mega church pastor (and no, this quote is not from Joel Osteen or Steven Furtick, although they have many, many issues in themselves), they have this all figured out. This individual is leading many into some very dangerous and deadly false teachings. This is just one.
But we look at what Solomon is saying to his son in Proverbs 3:1. Keep them. Notice it is from the heart. The heart, in the Scripture, is the decision maker of the body. If the heart is bad, then the whole body is bad. If good, then the whole is good. It is always from the heart that all motives and actions are done. The heart is to keep the commandments and the law.
These commandments are from Solomon, but they are given to us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Solomon was not writing just for his son. God was also giving to us what we should do as well. Of course, we realize the impossibility of the task, and that is why we must have One who can do it perfectly. The One who can stand in our place and fulfill all that needs to be done perfectly. The One who can live perfectly and holy.
I love what we read in Romans 5:12-19. Let us just meditate on that. There are several other passages, but this one really sums it up well. Basically, where Adam, the first Adam from Genesis failed, the second Adam, or an Adam representative, Jesus, succeeded. The only way to fulfill the law and commands is through Jesus Christ. The only way for us to go through Jesus Christ is to have our faith and trust in Him. And the only way to have our faith in trust in Him is to believe in Him and His finished work on the cross (Romans 10:9-11)
We could spend hours on just this, but we must move on to Proverbs 3:2. Why is this important? What happens when we do obey? Notice what the text says. There is length of days, long life, and peace.
Length of days and long life may seem to coincide. Maybe they can, but the Bible has them divided. I will do my best to divide them as well here. What is the difference between length of days and long life?
Length of days could be the actual day itself. Does it get longer than 24 hours? No. But for those who obey and do what Proverbs 3:1 says, it could be this is speaking to the work, the labor, the seeming exponential accomplishment for the day. During this time, they did not have light as we do today. They had candles, and lamps, but their main light was the sun. They would work while there was light. They were limited by the raising and setting of the sun, and by such they would have only that time to work. What was done was important, and how much could be done was vital. It would seem that to obey the commands and laws, their day would be fuller. More could be accomplished. They would be able to put their head down at night knowing much more was done than what could conceivably be thought possible. God will bless the work of their hands (Deuteronomy 28:1-14).
When we obey God, we may not get all of what the text above says (we are not Israel, and I am not teaching replacement theology here), but we will find that there is blessing in obedience to our Master, Jesus Christ. By obeying Him and following Him, there is blessings. Using myself as an example, I wonder how I am able to do all that I do in a day. How do I accomplish what I am supposed to do? How do I have the energy? It seems the work I do is magnified and blessed and therefore, I am able to work effectively, and efficiently. I am sure we can all have these moments, and it is a joy to see a day of hard work be completed and completed well. This is God’s blessing on us.
But then we look at long life. We all desire to live long lives. Not just length of time, but long as in full as well (see the length of days). When we have days that are full and complete, and then we magnify that with lives that are long, what a blessing it is. It comes from obedience. The truth is that at this time, life expectancy was not always long. Even in our short history as America, life expectancy was about 60’s-70’s. Maybe. But by obedience to the law, not only do we have full and complete days, our lives are also long. Children, notice what is said about obedience – Ephesians 6:1-4. We are all children. Not one of us reading this started as an adult.
Obedience then is vital, but more so than to our earthly parents, we are to be obedient to our Heavenly Father. There is long life promised. This long life will give us more time to serve the Lord and to work more for Him. This should be the desire and wish of all who love Jesus and are called by His name.
Lastly, peace. Our world desires peace. Many, mistakenly, believe that peace can be found in politics, social justice, economic success, etc. But they are looking for peace in the wrong places. They are looking for peace in what they themselves can produce. That is short lives and grounded only on the every shifting sands of societal, cultural, and global activities and actions. If something goes askew, this peace is threatened. For example, our politics fail as we see and have seen, social justice takes on many evil and vile forms of evil and wickedness, evidenced in many major cities (think Portland, New York, Chicago, etc.) and economics ebb and flow (our economy now and ‘08).
Where is true peace found then? True peace, as I have taught before, is not the absence of war and strife. True peace is found in the midst of of this strife. True peace is the knowledge that we have a right standing with God our creator, maker, and savior. When we know that our eternal souls are found in Heaven, and our names are in the Lamb’s book of life.
The Lamb’s Book of Life are those who are found in Jesus Christ. Here are the references for it: Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 21:10, 27. It is because of this special place, those who are saved, can have true peace. Not only is the law fulfilled, and our obedience, through Jesus Christ complete, but then we have a right standing before God Himself. Our Soul has come back to its Maker.
All of this is found in obedience. The obedience that calls for all to come to Jesus Christ for forgiveness (Matthew 23:37; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). The obedience that comes because we love Jesus for what He did for us (John 14:23-24, 31; 1 John 5:2-3). And our Obedience so we can be found faithful at the appearing of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (Matthew 25:21, 23; Luke 16:10; 1 Corinthians 4:2; 1 Timothy 1:12).
That is what Obedience gives us. Next week, we will see what mercy and truth bring to us, if we do not let it go.