My son, do not forget my teaching,
    but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
    and peace they will add to you.

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
    bind them around your neck;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success
    in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
    and refreshment to your bones.

Honor the Lord with your wealth
    and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,
    and your vats will be bursting with wine.

11 My son, do not despise the Lord‘s discipline
    or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
    as a father the son in whom he delights. – Proverbs 3:1-12


Reading Proverbs as anything other than proverbs can lead to disillusionment.

Remember, Proverbs is a book of practical wisdom for how to live life. It isn’t made up of laws and commands or covenant promises. Some passages look like promises, but we have to remember the kind of literature we are reading.

This passage begins with a parent speaking to their son. The parent is giving distilled wisdom. Some is obviously based on the law. Verses 1 & 2 for example; this comes directly from the ten commandments.

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. – Exodus 20:12

The “honor” spoken of in the commandment is interpreted by the parent as “do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments.” The result, as was promised in the commandment,

for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you. – Proverbs 3:2

Notice the parent paraphrased the commandment,

that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. – Exodus 20:12

This points out some of the difference between law and proverb.

The entirety of this passage refers to several benefits of wisdom that we all like: long life, favor and good success, an unhindered path in life, healing to our bodies, and abundant prosperity. All of these could be thought to be promised in this passage. And, in one sense, they are. But they aren’t the kind of promises we claim in prayer. They are the promised results of living in wisdom, doing the hard work of living well.

I want to emphasize two sections; verses 3-4 and 11-12.

Verses 3 & 4

The phrase “steadfast love and faithfulness” refers to the core character of God. He disclosed this when he declared his name to Moses on the mountain in Exodus 34:6-7. I wrote about this a while back. Steadfast love and faithfulness is the equivalent of John’s declaration that “grace and truth” came by Jesus Christ. So, for our purposes today, I want to emphasize that the proverbial parent is setting the scene as one of grace. The emphasis is “do not forget God’s grace as the foundation of all good things in your life.” The proverbial child has to work at maintaining this foundation…and so do we.

We humans are wired for law, do this and get that. We perform, and God blesses. The truth is the gospel is just the opposite. God blesses and then out of that blessing, we perform.

This passage has a beautiful flow of logic for any parent. Honor your parents, remember grace, trust the Lord then honor the Lord with your substance. The blessings mentioned are the result of living in this order.

Verses 11 & 12

Now comes the sobering statement that keeps our feet on the ground and not caught up in the blessings.

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.

This is one reason why we can’t look at the blessings in this passage as automatic, guaranteed on a one-for-one basis. I obey, and you have to do such and such. Not so fast. God is still in control and has a bigger agenda than our temporary blessing. His plan for all people of faith is that we be conformed to the image of Jesus. Our Father has to discipline us on occasion because he delights in us. His discipline may interrupt some of those benefits we are looking for. Again, his objective is our maturity. All of we parents know that if you give a child everything they ask for, they will be spoiled and will not become a mature adult. God doesn’t want bratty kids.

Yes, this passage makes it clear that God does want us to experience long life, favor and good success, an unhindered path in life, healing to our bodies, and abundant prosperity. Those things come as we walk in wisdom with God. I believe these are to be seen as the natural result of living a well-lived life on God’s terms. Not perfection. None of us would experience such blessings if they were dependant on our perfect obedience or perfect wisdom. If we live well, we will experience these blessings to a greater extent than if we don’t live well. In that sense, I agree these are promises and should be expected by those who walk in obedient faith and humility.