"Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man." NIV translation
He urges his son to have two things love and faithfulness (chesed & emun). Chesed speaks of a loyal love which is not rooted in an emotion or mood. It is something that is done and speaks of serving others. That is what Jesus was talking about when He said that His disciples will be known by their love (see John 13:34 & 35). Emun means trusting and refers to a rock solid dependence on God. We are to wear these qualities like a necklace so that everyone can see. To do this, they must first be written in our hearts by the power of God. When people see these qualities in us, the Lord will be glorified and we will have a good reputation among men. We will be a bright shining light in this dark world.
Proverbs 3:5 & 6
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." NIV translation
Solomon goes on to explain that this faithfulness (emun) goes even beyond our understanding. It is knowing beyond a shadow of doubt that, no matter what the circumstance, God is on our side. We may not understand why we are going through a certain thing but we can know that the path leads to good. It is our walk through these difficult places trusting in the Lord that brings Him the most glory.
Proverbs 3:7 & 8
"Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones." NIV translation
There is a big "wellness movement" these days but, as we see here, the key to a healthy life is following the Lord. God knows what is best for us and the bodies that He created. If we listen and follow, we will be healthier but He also gives us the freedom to make our own choices. Our ultimate health will be restored with the return of Jesus Christ.
Proverbs 3:9 & 10
"Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine." NIV translation
There is a lot of "name it and claim it" preaching as well as "sowing a seed" to gain wealth these days. Here, we see the key to being blessed and it is simply giving God your best. The firstfruits were the best of the crop and were given in thanks to God as the Provider.
Solomon urges his son to honor God and then he can expect the blessing. He did not say that his son should put it on a credit card or give what he did not have. There are many so-called preachers that urge people to do that and promise that God will give them one hundred times their seed to pay off the debt. That is not of God!
Proverbs 3:11 & 12
"My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in." NIV translation
Discipline is learning to follow the directions of the master. It should be expected if one is a Christian (disciple of Jesus Christ). We can rejoice in the fact that God corrects us because that is proof that we are His children. A good parent corrects their child because it is for their own good and it is the same with us as children of God. In our world today, we have this backwards as many let their children run wild and say that it is out of love for them. It is not love to allow a child to engage in activities that will bring harm to them.
"Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her." NIV translation
Solomon tells his son that happiness and contentment are found in God. Instead of chasing after wealth such as silver and gold, it is more profitable to put the effort into drawing closer to our Lord and Savior. In this age of 401K's and IRA's, this is a good reminder that the best retirement program is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
"Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed." NIV translation
Understanding and following the ways of God will lead to a long healthy life both here and for eternity. That is the primary concern for men as nothing else matters to you when you are sick or dead.
The added benefit of following Jesus Christ is that He will provide what you need and you do not have to worry about getting ahead. If you don't have to worry about that, there will be an inner peace as well as a peace with those around you.
Most of the strife and fighting in this world is caused by people trying to get something that someone else has. This is typical of the battle that we face with our flesh. When we are content with what the Lord has provided for us, we will not chase the things of the flesh.
Proverbs 3:19 & 20
"By wisdom the Lord laid the earth's foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the watery depths were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew." NIV translation
Solomon reminds his son of God's power by remembering that He created everything. Since He could do that, He is more than able to provide for our needs without our worrying about it. Worry can lead to all kinds of illnesses and so eliminating the stress can lead to a longer and healthier life.
Proverbs 3:21 & 22
"My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck." NIV translation
Solomon urges his son to be vigilant in following the ways of God. This passage is a call for us to resist the temptations of drugs and alcohol as he says to not let wisdom out of your sight. Many of us have used alcohol and drugs which causes us to do foolish things but the best way to avoid doing things that we'll regret is to avoid them altogether. Just like jewelry around your neck our wisdom in this will be noticed by others.
"Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared." NIV translation
When we make a conscious decision to hold onto the things of Jesus, He will be with us to protect us. When we are walking with Him and being led by Him, we do not have to worry about stumbling or falling into bad situations.
Proverbs 3:27 & 28
"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, 'Come back tomorrow and I'll give it to you' - when you already have it with you." NIV translation
Our true wellness is affected by the way we treat others. Here, we are urged to show compassion to those around us. Just as we are not to put away our wisdom with drugs and alcohol, we are also not to put away our compassion for others. Many times those who are in need will come to us, as Christians, when it is not convenient for us. When they do, we are to seize the opportunity instead of asking them to come back when it is more convenient (during normal business hours). As Christians, if we withhold compassion, we probably will not sleep very good until we take care of the situation.
Proverbs 3:29 & 30
"Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you. Do not accuse anyone for no reason - when they have done you no harm." NIV translation
A big part of true wellness comes from the way that we treat others. Solomon urges his son to live in peace with those around him and this will reduce the worry and stress in our lives. There are many health studies that show the bad effects of worry and stress on the human body. Eliminating these from our daily lives will not only make us happier but also healthier.
We also notice that Solomon says "when they have done you no harm" and are reminded that we do not have to be doormats. When someone has done us harm, we can address the problem and then move on instead of letting resentment and bitterness into our lives.
Proverbs 3:31 & 32
"Do not envy the violent or choose any of their ways. For the Lord detests the perverse but takes the upright into his confidence." NIV translation
The "perverse" speaks of those who know better than to engage in the ways of the wicked but still do so. We do not pick some of the ways of the world and some of the ways of God and try to mix them. Those that follow what they have been shown by God will be shown even more. Those that do not will be allowed to go their own way but they will do so alone.
"The Lord's curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous. He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed. The wise inherit honor but fools get only shame." NIV translation
Those that choose to go it alone are under a curse both for today and for eternity. They go through life having to fight for everything they get and, in the end, they have nothing. Those that follow the Lord do not have to worry about chasing after the things of the world as the Lord provides for our needs. In the end, we are raised to places of honor while those that reject Jesus Christ are doomed. Following Jesus has benefits for our wellness today and for all of eternity!