Proverbs 3: 3-4
MERCY AND TRUTH
1.) Solomon is giving his son words of wisdom to live by.
2.) It is almost as if his son were about to strike out on his own. Dad wants to impress these important truths in his heart one last time.
3.) First he tells his son never to forget the law… the truths that his father has drilled into his mind and heart. (vs.1)
4.) Then he tells his son the results of taking heed to those truths = a long and peaceful life—rather than a short life in the fast lane that knows no peace!
5.) In vs.3-4, he tells his son about the importance of two other virtues: mercy and truth.
1.) Mercy: goodness, kindness, loyalty; fidelity;
a.) This term implies a good, kind, loyal, benevolent spirit…
b.) One man defined this Hebrew term as “love and loyalty/faithfulness blended together… overlapping”
c.) This Hebrew word is used in all 26 verses of Ps.136 (for His mercy endureth forever!)
d.) The Good Samaritan is the one who showed “mercy.” He was the man who was loyal… kind… good… benevolent… (Luke 10:37)
e.) This seems to be the spirit or the virtuous attitude that Solomon is trying to inculcate in his son…
Š Prov.21: 1 – the one who follows after this kind of mercy will find life, righteousness, and honor! No wonder Solomon wants his son to remember mercy! He wants the very best for his son.
Š Prov.14: 31 – Those who honor God will show mercy to the poor.
2.) Truth: firmness, faithfulness, truth; sureness, reliability; stability, continuance; faithfulness, reliability;
a.) This term means something solid… firm… reliable, and hence comes to refer to truth.
b.) While it may connote truth in the objective sense–a body of doctrine from God—it seems to speak more of the virtue or quality of being TRUE…
c.) A young man needs to be true… firm… stable… reliable…
d.) He will need that quality with respect to his schooling… (steady; faithful).
e.) He will need that quality with respect to his job—firm—reliable—steady—loyal.
f.) He will need that quality as a husband—firm—stable—true to his wife.
g.) He will need that quality as a father—a firm, steady, stable, man to uphold and guide and lead his family.
h.) Many schools and universities have mottoes similar to what Solomon is challenging his son with here—virtue and truth!
i.) This is almost a summary of everything that a father would teach his son throughout his life—all the lessons of life could be condensed into “virtue and truth.” It is like the book of Proverbs in a nutshell. Be true… be kind. Speak the truth in love.
3.) The terms mercy and truth appear 10 times in the Old Testament.
a.) Mercy and truth preserve the king. (Prov.20:28) Solomon’s son was the son of a king!
b.) Mercy and truth purge iniquity! (Prov.16:6) It will purge both moral and doctrinal iniquity.
c.) We may not be kings in this world, but we are kings and priests before God! A royal priesthood!
d.) Mercy and truth will preserve us too… and will keep us from sin… purge sin out of our life.
e.) A life dedicated to pursuing virtue and truth will be safe indeed! Safe from the many ills and troubles in life that sinful men fall into.
1.) Forsake: to depart from, leave behind, leave, abandon.
a.) Solomon admonishes his son not to allow mercy and truth to depart from his life… don’t let them depart from you…
b.) Of course, it is not really that truth or mercy abandons men. Men abandon them!
c.) This is the equivalent of saying, “Hold fast to mercy and truth!” Don’t ever let them go!
d.) The point is that WE are the ones who slip away from showing mercy… and from the truth.
2.) Bind them about thy neck!
a.) Tie up; tie together; bind up… like a necklace.
b.) If we tie them tightly around our neck, we will not depart from them.
c.) His point is that we are to keep them near to our hearts. (like a pendant hanging from a necklace—figuratively speaking) (Prov.6:21)
d.) Wearing them around one’s neck seems to imply more than the fact that they are near to one’s heart. It also implies that we are wearing them PROUDLY (in a good sense)—
Š as one would proudly wear his school’s letter on his sweater…
Š or as one would proudly carry the flag…
Š or proudly wear a Red Sox hat…
Š It speaks of not being ashamed. Solomon wants his son to be virtuous and true and not to be ashamed of it!
Š In many circles it’s bad to be good. Solomon wants his son to know that it is good to be good!
e.) Solomon tells his son to wear mercy and truth around his neck… and not to be ashamed to let others see it.
Š Let your light so shine… (Matt.5:14-16) Don’t hide it under a bushel!
f.) It may well also speak of the fact that when worn around one’s neck, they are always in view.
a.) Like frontlets before the eyes… (phylacteries)
b.) If mercy and truth are worn around one’s neck, it will be a constant reminder.
c.) Solomon wants his son always to REMEMBER them… keep them always before your heart and your mind’s eye.
3.) Write it upon the table of your heart…
a.) This speaks of making virtue and truth almost “second nature”!
b.) Write it so indelibly in your heart that it IS your nature to show mercy… to be loyal and true…
c.) This is language similar to that which God uses to describe what He does in our heart when saved.
Š God writes his law in our hearts.
Š Before, sin was engraved and deeply etched into our hearts.
Š At salvation, God writes His law in our heart… so that it becomes our nature—our new nature—to obey.
d.) Solomon wants truth and virtue to become second nature to his son.
Š Good training does that. It etches right thinking and right behavior deeper and deeper into the heart of a child.
4.) Solomon wanted mercy and truth worn around his neck (external) and written in his heart (internal).
a.) This speaks of both an inner work and an outward demonstration of that inward work.
b.) Solomon wanted these truths in his son’s heart… but he also wanted them demonstrated in his outward life…
c.) Mercy and truth should be found in his inner life of mind and heart as well as in his outer actions!
1.) Vs.4 – Solomon tells his son here that IF he holds fast to mercy and truth and wears it around his neck… living it… THEN he will find favor before God and men. (if you do A above, then B will follow)
2.) Mercy and truth will put you in good stead before both God and men.
3.) Favor = acceptance…
4.) Example: Joseph (Gen.39:2-4,21 – Joseph was true and virtuous… merciful. He continually found favor in the sight of God and men.
5.) Example: Samuel (I Sam.2:26) Samuel was loyal, true, faithful, and was kind and merciful. God honors that. So do men.
6.) As wicked as our world is—and perhaps even more so today—men acknowledge loyalty and virtue in a man. While many sneer and mock, deep down inside, they wish they had it!
7.) Dan. 1:9 – Daniel was brought in favor before men. He too was loyal and true!
8.) Luke 2:52 – this was also said of the Lord Jesus! He was certainly merciful and true!
9.) Rom.14:18-19 – The believer who is sensitive not to needlessly offend others is showing mercy… he is being true and loyal to the Body of Christ. That brother will also find favor before God and men.
a.) Some of these believers were binding TRUTH around their necks (they KNEW they could eat meat) but had forsaken virtue and kindness! They were destroying their brethren in the way they flaunted their exercise of truth.
b.) Others may have had mercy, but were lacking in truth.
c.) Paul exhorts the believers to demonstrate BOTH mercy and truth!
Š Truth without mercy is cold orthodoxy.
Š Mercy without truth is wishy-washy and easily led into sin and error.
Š BOTH are essential.
10.) When both are combined, it sends forth a powerful testimony!
11.) Do you want friends? Do you want to find favor with men?
a.) Prove yourself to be loyal… and kind… merciful… You will find favor with men!
12.) Do you want to be a friend of God? Be loyal and faithful… practice mercy… and you will find favor with God too!
13.) If we want this favor, WE MUST wear mercy and truth around our neck! That is OUR responsibility for the rest of our days!