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.
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3: 1-6)
He Shall Direct Thy Paths
English poet, John Wilmot wrote, “Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children, and no theories.” The scripture passage above is some sound advice for our children. It is advice worth taking, if only we could get our children to take it.
King Solomon is traditionally given credit for writing the Book of Proverbs. When this verse is compared to his behavior in 1 Kings 11 we might suggest he should have added, “but do as I say not as I do.”
That is the whole problem though, isn’t it? We are creatures with the marvelous ability to firmly believe and confess one thing while easily behaving differently or completely the opposite. A large part of Jesus’ message is directed at our tendency towards this arrogant hypocrisy. It may be our greatest obstacle to spiritual fulfillment.
It is a paradox, that we can become so aware of a shortcoming so as to advise against it, with advice that (if self applied) would relieve us from exercising the shortcoming! This verse (if applied) overcomes many shortcomings. It advises that at the core of a person, “on the table of thine heart,” in “thine own understanding” — allow God to provide direction, not self.
When one does that, the individual can provide no advice that is not exampled by one’s behavior. Of course, no individual credit can be taken for the sincerity either. It is God operating through the instrument of The Believer.
Perhaps that is why we feel our children avoid taking this advice to heart. They, like us, have the same tendency. We prefer to be our own instrument — to follow our own paths. Jesus’ advice to both parent and child is well given and (if taken) well received. “…first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7).