Protected by God’s Work
“My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you.” (Proverbs 6:20-22)
I have about thirty scarves and shawls in my closet that I do not wear. They are lovely and varied in color, design, and size. If I did wear them, I could use a different one every day of the month. Many were given to me as gifts, and I keep them because I enjoy remembering the givers. It’s just that I don’t like to have anything very substantial around my neck. I imagine that there are some men out there who feel the same way about wearing neckties. When I read a passage that speaks of tying something around my neck, I grimace a little at first. Then I think of how I love to wear a vest or coat on a cold day, zipped up to my chin to keep warm, protecting me from the frigid wind and I relax.
The Proverbs passage above is rich in protective language, resembling Proverbs 3:21-24: “Keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” Both of these passages offer protection to young men who will be tempted to sexual immorality. The best time to protect ourselves and others from enticement is before we are tempted, storing up wisdom that we will remember when we are being pulled away from God’s shielding power by our desires and those of the world. Worshipping together in church strengthens us if we fully clutch the means of grace available.
In 6:20-22 Solomon reminds his children of faith to hold on to that which has already been given to them—God’s commands and teachings—which we should receive in worship. He instructs us to do four things: keep them, forsake them not, bind them, and tie them. In other words, we are to hold onto God’s precepts and embrace them. We are to secure them on our hearts. Lastly, we are to wrap them around our necks, “as an ornament, instead of a necklace of pearl, or chains of gold; they should be so far from being thought burdensome and troublesome, that they should be reckoned comely and graceful.” (1)
Verses 20 and 21 have “you” implied four times…if “you” keep, don’t forsake, bind, and tie. But we should not take this to mean that we can obey God’s commands based on our efforts or by sheer determination, which we must remember every time we read Scripture. Our sin nature seeks to be self-reliant, and self-achieving, rather than depend upon Jesus Christ, so it (we) can credit ourselves for our success. However, verse 22 makes it very clear that God is the one who protects us. His commands and teachings will lead us, watch over us, and talk with us as we are walking, lying down, and waking up—virtually all the times of our days. The Christian faith is unique in its operation upon our hearts and our lives in ways that ideals and other philosophies cannot work. Many other religions have “truths” that may lead people in many ways. But only Jesus Christ can watch over us and talk with us; ideas and concepts do not possess the ability to be alive with us as we move through our moments, hours, and days.
Will you hear God’s teaching today as you worship, and receive his commands and instructions as you sing, pray, give, listen, and fellowship? Will you bind his Word on your heart and tie it around your neck, to protect you in the days to come?
* John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, Proverbs 6:21, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-6.html