In my devotional on Proverbs 3 in January, I stated: The spiritual life is motivated, not out of DUTY, but out of DEVOTION. In this chapter we find Solomon challenging his son with three exhortations.
The first exhortation was: “Be Obedient” (Proverbs 3:1). A wise son opens his heart to his parent’s instructions: “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments” (3:1). Jesus taught His disciples that Obedience was the test for genuine discipleship. We read, “If a man love me, he will keep my words…24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings…” (John 14:23a, 24a).
Solomon’s second exhortation was: “Be Spiritually Conscientious” (3:3-4).
Proverbs 3:3-4 – “Let not mercy and truth [sincerity; without hypocrisy] forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: 4 So shalt thou find favour [grace; loving favor] and good understanding [discernment and insight] in the sight of God and man.”
As we read Proverbs 3:3-4, we need to keep in mind that Solomon is teaching and exhorting a son who will be his successor. The king urges his son to adhere to two spiritual qualities in his life and manner: “mercy and truth”. As a father, he longs for his son to make those qualities an overriding practice of his life (bind them to his neck and engrave them permanently upon his heart and thoughts). A benevolent king will be dedicated to truth and transparency. In exercising the duties of his office and passing judgment, he should be a merciful king. What is mercy?
Mercy is more than kindness; it is selfless loving-kindness!
Permit me a farm boy illustration that I hope will draw a distinction between mere kindness and loving-kindness. Kindness is the farmer’s wife serving a hot, fresh from the oven, buttered biscuit; loving-kindness is that same biscuit served with honey running over the sides!
In summary, Solomon’s second exhortation is for his son to be a merciful, honest king; in so doing he will be the object of God’s grace and man’s admiration (3:4).
“Mercy and truth” should be qualities evidenced by all Christians! Having known the mercy of God’s forgiveness and the loving-favor of His adoption, we should be merciful, loving and sincere with others.
Ephesians 4:32 – “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
* I will focus on the third of Solomon’s exhortations in March (Proverbs 3:5-6).