1My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; 2For length of days and long life and peace they will add to you. (Prov 3:1-2)
The opening exhortation of the third chapter of Proverbs is a familiar one to the book and Scripture in general. In two ways Solomon essentially commanded his son, ‘Remember my words.’ In the first portion of verse one he said, “My son, do not forget my law” (vs.1a), and in the latter portion, “let your heart keep my commands”(vs.1b). That charge, which is not only Solomon’s counsel to his son but an extension of God’s voice through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to all of His sons and daughters, is reflective of Old and New Testament truth alike. In Proverbs we read, “For I give you good doctrine; Do not forsake my law” (4:1) and similarly in Hebrews we read, “…we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away” (Heb. 2:1). In different ways, both passages are saying, ‘Hold onto God’s truth in your heart. Don’t drift from it or forsake it; give the more earnest heed to both grip it and, at the same time, pursue it.’ This was something that Solomon, in wisdom, continually instructed his son to do:
“Let your heart retain my words.” (Prov 4:4b)
“Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.” (Prov 4:5)
“My son, give attention to my words… keep them in the midst of your heart.” (Prov 4:20a,21b)
“My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you.” (Prov 7:1)
And the list could go on.
In verse two Solomon gave a motivation for obedience to the instruction of verse one, saying, “For length of days and long life and peace they will add to you” (vs.2). He listed three blessings, which are by no means exhaustive, that result from remembering and treasuring the words he spoke under inspiration: length of days, long life, and peace.
What does it mean that “length of days” and “long life” are the expected outflow of letting one’s heart keep God’s commands? Principally, obeying God’s commands would lead towards long life in that obedience to His precepts leads to peace (3:2), health to the flesh and strength to the bones (vs.8), happiness (vs.13, 18), safety (vs.23), and the avoidance of the pathways of the wicked which lead to destruction (Prov 2:12-22). Remember, that’s principally speaking; therefore, it’s doesn’t mean that a long temporal life, for instance, is the guaranteed result of obedience to Proverbs 4:1. For instance, although Jesus did nothing deserving of death, and although He had never sinned, He was “cut off from the land of the living” (Is 53:8b) at the age of thirty-three, ultimately under the sovereign will of His Father, through the agency of wicked men, even though He did not forget God’s Law nor did He fail to let His heart keep God’s commands (cf. Prov. 4:1).
But there is a definite side to this promise. God, in His grace, grants men and women the ability to repent and believe the Gospel whereby they retain the Gospel truth of Christ’s redemptive work in their hearts and minds all the days of their life. They may forget other things but that truth they cannot. It’s indelibly and indefinitely stored in their minds and treasured in their hearts. And faith in that perfect work of salvation is the instrument God uses to add eternal length of days, eternal life, and eternal peace to all His elect.
May you be exhorted today to remember to treasure God’s words and let your heart keep His commands, for He has, through the Gospel, already added to you who believe, eternal “length of days,” “long life,” and “peace.”