Proverbs 3:3-4 KJV
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee:
bind them about thy neck;
write them upon the table of thine heart:
⁴So shalt thou find favour
and good understanding
in the sight of God and man.
New International Version
³Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. ⁴Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
New Living Translation
³Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. ⁴Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.
English Standard Version
³Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. ⁴So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.
Berean Study Bible
³Never let loving devotion or faithfulness leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. ⁴Then you will find favor and high regard in the sight of God and man.
New King James Version
³Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, ⁴And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.
New American Standard Bible
³Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. ⁴So you will find favor and a good reputation In the sight of God and man.
³Do not let mercy and kindness and truth leave you [instead let these qualities define you]; Bind them [securely] around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. ⁴So find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.
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Let not mercy and truth forsake thee
- God’s mercy and truth. So it is a promise, God’s mercy and truth shall not forsake thee. Or rather,
- That mercy and truth which is man’s duty. So it is a precept; which seems most probable, both from the form of the Hebrew phrase, and from the following words of this verse, which are plainly preceptive, and from the promise annexed to the performance of this precept in the next verse.
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee, or, forsake them not, and forsake not the exercise of them;
- show mercy to fellow creatures, to sinful men,
- show mercy to the bodies of men, by relieving their wants;
- show mercy to their souls, by pitying and praying for them, and by giving them wholesome counsel and advice:
- show mercy to fellow Christians, sympathize with them in their troubles, put on bowels of compassion, be tenderhearted, and forgive offences; and, in a spirit of meekness, restore backsliders, for God will have mercy, and not sacrifice.
Attend to truth;
- exercise faith on the Lord;
- cast not away your confidence;
- speak truth to your neighbour and brother;
- hold fast the truth of the Gospel, and never depart from it.
Though many interpreters understand this by way of promise, and as an encouragement to regard the doctrines and ordinances of Christ, rendering the words, “mercy and truth shall not forsake thee”; meaning the mercy and truth of God; the “mercy” of God in forgiving sin, in sympathizing under affliction, in helping in time of need, in supplying with all needful grace, and in bringing to eternal life; for the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting, upon them that fear him (Psalm 103:17);
The truth of God, his faithfulness in performing promises, never fails;
the unbelief of man cannot make it of no effect; though we believe not,
He abides faithful and true to every word of His; not one shall fail, or pass away; all shall be fulfilled (see Psalm 89:33); “all His paths are mercy and truth”, and He never goes out of them (Psalm 25:10).
Mercy and truth
God’s faithfulness to His promises is often expressed by these terms (Ps 25:10; 57:3).
As attributes of men, they express integrity in a wide sense (Pr 16:6; 20:28).
Mercy and truth are frequently joined together, as they are in God, as Psalm 25:10, 57:3, etc., or in men, as Proverbs 16:6, 20:28; Hosea 4:1, and here.
The two (mercy and truth, or love and faithfulness) are often joined, as in this place.
They are the two special attributes by which God is known in His dealings with men (Exodus 34:6-7), and as such must be imitated by man (Matthew 5:48).
It are the two elements of a morally perfect character:
The words that follow possibly refer to the Eastern custom of writing sacred names on pieces of papyrus or parchment, and wearing them around the neck, as charms and talismans against evil. (Compare, however, 1 Peter 3:3-4.)
Or rather, love, shown by God to man (Exodus 34:7), by man to God (Jeremiah 2:2), and to his fellow man (Genesis 21:23)
- Mercy is shutting out all forms of selfishness and hate.
- Mercy notes all that benignity, clemency, charity, and readiness to do good freely to others.
or rather, faithfulness, especially in keeping promises, is similarly used both of God (Psalm 30:10) and man (Isaiah 59:14).
- Truth shutting out all deliberate falsehood, all hypocrisy, conscious or unconscious.
- truth or faithfulness respects all those duties which we owe to God or man, to which we have special obligation from the rules of justice.
Bind them about thy neck
Outwardly adorn them.
Bind them about thy neck, like a chain, wherewith persons adorn their necks, as it is expressed (Proverbs 1:9); which is fastened there, and not easily lost, which also is continually in one’s view.
These directions resemble the figurative orders with regard to the keeping of the Law in Exodus 13:9 and Deuteronomy 6:8, the literal interpretation of which led to the use of prayer-fillets and phylacteries among the Jews.
Certain texts of Scripture were copied out, enclosed in a leather case, and tied at the time of prayer on the left arm and forehead.
Bind them about thy neck; as chains for ornament, does not speak of the mercy and the truth, as just before mentioned, and as may seem at first sight,
▪︎ but this speaks of the law and commandments of wisdom (Proverbs 3:1);
▪︎ or the doctrines and ordinances of the Christ (see Proverbs 1:8).
Reckon it as your greatest honour, glory, and beauty, that you steadfastly adhere to these things; nothing makes a believer look more lovely in conversation than a close regard to the truths of Christ, and a constant walking in his ordinances;
Write them upon the table of thine heart:
Have them as inwardly governing motives.
Upon the table of thine heart
- Upon those tablets which the Jews are said to have worn upon their breasts, which are always in sight. So he alludes to Deuteronomy 6:8. Or,
- In thy mind and heart, in which all God commands are to be received and engraven, as is oft required in this book, and every where. So the table of the heart seems to be opposed to the tables of stone in which God’s law was written, as it is Jeremiah 31:33, and 2 Corinthians 3:3.
Write them upon the table of thine heart; do not forget them, keep them in memory, and always retain a hearty affection for them; it is the Spirit’s work to write them in the heart; and when they are there written, it is the work of saints, under a divine influence, to copy them over in life, and to show by their conduct and behaviour that they are written there (see Jeremiah 31:33).
The allusion, in both phrases, is to the directions given about the law of Moses (Deuteronomy 6:8); and to the writing of His law on tables of stone: and it was usual with the ancients, in later times, to write on tables of wood; Solon’s laws were written on tables of wood; and such were the “tabellae et pugillares” of the Romans, made of box, beech, and other sorts of wood, covered with wax, on which they wrote; (See Habakkuk 2:2); but Solomon would have His law written on the fleshly tables of the heart (2 Corinthians 3:3).
Rather, tablet (Luke 1:63; comp. Jeremiah 31:33).
This is: obtain acceptance, or be gracious and amiable to them.
Favor and good understanding
Particularly noted as distinguishing the childhood of our Lord (Luke 2:52).
These are the two conditions of true human growth
Understanding, whereby to know your duty, and to discern between good and evil.
The serious practice of religion is an excellent mean to get a solid understanding of it; as, on the contrary, a vicious life doth exceedingly debase and darken the mind, and keep men from the knowledge of truth, which not only Scripture, but even heathen philosophers, have oft observed.
Others render it, good success; which seems not to suit well with the following words.
In the sight of God
Grace or favour with God, and that understanding which is good in God’s sight, that is truly and really; as a truly good man is called good before God, in the Hebrew (Ecclesiastes 7:26).
Never ☆ אַֽל־ (’al-) ☆ Adverb ☆ Not
let loving devotion ☆ חֶ֥סֶד (ḥe·seḏ) ☆ Noun – masculine singular ☆ Kindness, piety, reproof, beauty
or faithfulness ☆ וֶאֱמֶ֗ת (we·’ĕ·meṯ) ☆ Conjunctive waw | Noun – feminine singular ☆ Stability, certainty, truth, trustworthiness
leave you ☆ יַעַ֫זְבֻ֥ךָ (ya·‘az·ḇu·ḵā) ☆ Verb – Qal – Imperfect – third person masculine plural | second person masculine singular ☆ To loosen, relinquish, permit
bind ☆ קָשְׁרֵ֥ם (qā·šə·rêm) ☆ Verb – Qal – Imperative – masculine singular | third person masculine plural ☆ To tie, gird, confine, compact, in love, league
them ☆ עַל־ (‘al-) ☆ Preposition ☆ Above, over, upon, against
around your neck ☆ גַּרְגְּרוֹתֶ֑יךָ (gar·gə·rō·w·ṯe·ḵā) ☆ Noun – feminine plural construct | second person masculine singular ☆ The throat
write ☆ כָּ֝תְבֵ֗ם (kā·ṯə·ḇêm) ☆ Verb – Qal – Imperative – masculine singular | third person masculine plural ☆ To grave, to write
them on ☆ עַל־ (‘al-) ☆ Preposition ☆ Above, over, upon, against
the tablet ☆ ל֥וּחַ (lū·aḥ) ☆ Noun – masculine singular construct ☆ To glisten, a tablet, of stone, wood, metal
of your heart ☆ לִבֶּֽךָ׃ (lib·be·ḵā) ☆ Noun – masculine singular construct | second person masculine singular ☆ The heart, the feelings, the will, the intellect, centre
Then you will find ☆ וּמְצָא־ (ū·mə·ṣā-) ☆ Conjunctive waw | Verb – Qal – Imperative – masculine singular ☆ To come forth to, appear, exist, to attain, find, acquire, to occur, meet, be present
favor ☆ חֵ֖ן (ḥên) ☆ Noun – masculine singular ☆ Graciousness, subjective, objective
and high regard ☆ וְשֵֽׂכֶל־ (wə·śê·ḵel-) ☆ Conjunctive waw | Noun – masculine singular ☆ Intelligence, success
in the sight ☆ בְּעֵינֵ֖י (bə·‘ê·nê) ☆ Preposition-b | Noun – cdc ☆ An eye, a fountain
of god ☆ אֱלֹהִ֣ים (’ĕ·lō·hîm) ☆ Noun – masculine plural ☆ gods — the supreme God, magistrates, a superlative
and man ☆ וְאָדָֽם׃ (wə·’ā·ḏām) ☆ Conjunctive waw | Noun – masculine singular ☆ Ruddy, a human being.
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