Forget Not My Law
Brian D. Dykstra (Teacher at Hope PR Christian School, Walker, MI)
*This article was originally written as a devotional for his fellow teachers at Hope CS. It is posted here because of its broader value for our website readers.
Proverbs 3:1-2: “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.”
In Proverbs 3, Solomon is stating the duties of life. We are to trust in God and honour Him. We must not despise God’s chastening hand. We are told of the benefits of getting wisdom and the comfort wisdom brings in life. We are also told how to deal with a neighbour in need and with those who oppress others. Yet, this whole section begins with the command to “... forget not my law.”
Let’s not overlook the first two words of verse 1, “My son.” Although what follows comes in the form of a command, these first words set a mood different from that of a harsh command which might come from an overseer. This is the voice of our loving Father. He is almighty, but He does not use His strength to punish us for our sins. Rather, His strength is used to deliver His people from their sins. As the maker and upholder of all things, He is able to provide what He deems is necessary for us.
The Father is here addressing a son. Yet, we should not think this address relegates daughters to second class status. Have you ever met a father who puts less effort into the instruction of his children who are daughters? Is the standard of behaviour lower for them? Are daughters viewed as having a less important place in the life of the covenant? How about it fathers, is the mother of your children second rate or not of vital importance to the covenant life of your home? Are her job requirements minuscule? Does any of this sound as God’s attitude toward the mother of His only begotten Son whom the angel Gabriel hailed as “highly favoured”?
The son is told not to forget his Father’s law. There are different ways to forget. We can forget because we become preoccupied with the affairs of life. Often we forget because of the weakness of our memories. Here, the son is told not to deliberately set aside the law of God. Such is the case when, after careful thought and evaluation, God’s law is not deemed to be worthy of keeping. We choose to establish our own standard of morality. God’s law is not suitable for the type of life we wish to live so we had best forget it so we can enjoy what this world has to offer. Of course, we understand what the end of such a life would be. I am reminded of a church sign I saw several times this past summer, “Live your life as if this is all there is, and it will be.” Some will wish this is all there is to their existence when they reach their final destination.
The son is told to keep the father’s commandments in his heart. We keep something that is valuable to us. If we have valuable possessions, we do what we can to reserve them for our own use. In bygone years, a keep was a place to guard valuables so no one could take them.
We have an interesting place of safe keeping mentioned here. These commandments are to be kept in the heart. Let the Pharisees beware! The service given to the Triune God through obedience must spring from faithful hearts. The commandments are not kept in the mind or mouth. We do not have some external decoration of obedience which camouflages a heart full of deceit. It is the heart from which are the issues of life. Heartfelt service alone is pleasing to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse two tells us of the sure reward of obeying the Father’s command. God’s law will add length of days, long life and peace to us. Do all of Jehovah’s faithful children live to advanced years and go to their graves with honoured heads of gray? That is not our experience. Besides, do we seek long life here so we can enjoy the charms of this earth? We will be given length of days in the land of rest to come. That is where we will have complete peace with God. Our sins and the possibility to sin will be removed so we will have no shame to ourselves or give any more offence to our gracious God. Peace with the Almighty! Could we desire something better?
May our faithful covenant God use this school so His children do not forget His law, but keep it in their hearts. In that way, they will have a peace worth having.