Proverbs 6:21-22

Proverbs 6:20-22 "My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee."
Baptist Church Buffalo NY
Wise teachers know that they must repeat themselves if they are going to be effective in getting their listeners to remember what is being taught.  While repetition is critical for effective teaching, it can also be the reason for ineffective teaching.  If the same thing is repeated too often, an audience will tune out the speaker due to a lack of freshness.  For this reason, wise teachers will say the same thing in slightly different ways to keep the audience engaged while reinforcing the lesson with repetition.  Good cooks will do the same thing with their menus.  They will use the same staples throughout the week but mix up how those staples are served – breaded chicken one night, grilled chicken another night and chicken pot pie another night.  It is the same delicious meat without the “same old same old.”  Effective teachers in the Bible taught the same things by repetition but taught them with minor variations so as to reinforce the lesson without teaching the “same old same old.”  Jesus in particular, did this by teaching the same truths with different parables.  

Solomon was granted wisdom by God as a young king and this wisdom wasn’t isolated to his thought process – he was a wise thinker but also a wise teacher.  In advising his son to heed parental instruction, Solomon wasn’t telling his son something he hadn’t already said multiple times in the first few chapters of the book.  In repeating this common counsel however, the wise father offered a slightly different visual for his son.  It was the same advice but delivered in a different way.  It was the same meat but cooked in a different dish.  It was the same person but dressed in a different suit.  He didn’t just say, “listen to your parents.”  He didn’t just repeat, “don’t forget what we’ve taught you.”  This time, he told his son to BIND them continually upon thine heart.”  This time, he brought ROPE into the advice and said, TIE them about thy neck.”

The introduction of rope and the call to tie parental instruction to both his heart and neck presented Rehoboam with a whole new picture.  This clearly implied that parental wisdom doesn’t automatically stick with a child.  This new picture implies that a child easily forgets paternal wisdom.  This uniquely worded lesson implies that a child easily moves on from maternal wisdom.  Rehoboam needed to put forth some serious effort in remembering the wisdom of his parents.  Furthermore, when Solomon instructed his son to bind them CONTINUALLY upon thine heart,” he was implying that he needed to put constant effort in when it came to remembering the wisdom his parents taught him.

Solomon would go on to ensure Rehoboam that if he put in constant effort in recalling the lessons his parents that he would be rewarded.  Intentional and consistently retaining parental wisdom would help day and night, morning and evening.  In fact, he needed to intentionally and consistently retain parental wisdom because he would need it day and night, morning and evening.  There isn’t a time when a young man can let his guard down.  There isn’t a time when a young woman can let her spiritual hair down.  Temptation is no respecter of time.  Satan and his evil seducers are no respecters of season.  There is no such thing as a spiritual cease fire in the spiritual dimension.  The Tempter takes no breaks and gives mankind no reprieve from temptation.  Peter described our adversary as a “roaring lion [who] walked about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  Just as a lion in the wild with its prey, Satan stalks and waits until his prey is least expecting a strike.  Therefore, Peter wrote, “be sober, be vigilant.”  No child of God can afford to take a spiritual break.  No soldier of the cross can afford to afford to close his spiritual eyes.  You can’t get up before Satan does and you can’t stay up later than he does.  There is no safe time of the day or safe season of life.  1 Corinthians 10:12, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

Rehoboam and all of Solomon’s children needed to CONTINUALLY secure parental wisdom to their hearts because they would be in CONTINUALLY need of it.  They would need to CONTINUALLY tie parental wisdom around their necks because that essential wisdom wouldn’t stay there naturally.  We need to CONTINUALLY secure our Heavenly Father’s wisdom to our hearts because we are in CONTINUAL need of it.  We need to CONTINUALLY tie our Heavenly Father’s wisdom around our necks because that heavenly wisdom doesn’t stay with us naturally.  By nature, we rarely forget what we want but we so easily forget what we need.  By nature, we rarely forget the evils we see and hear but we so easily forget the wisdom we see and hear.  Because human nature is bent on satisfying self, we more easily remember that which appeases self (foolishness) and we more readily forget that which denies self-satisfaction (wisdom).  Sadly, it takes more effort to remember wisdom than it does foolishness.  It takes more effort to recite Scripture than it does movie lines or music lyrics.  It takes more effort to recall what the pastor preached last week than it does what our favorite tv show was about last week.

When I think of Solomon’s choice of words in these verses, I can’t help but think of SHOE LACES.  Parents teach their children how to tie their shoe laces because they can’t do everything for their child for the rest of their lives.  After learning how to tie their shoes, a child will experience the frustrating reality that shoe laces easily and often come unloose (especially for the youngest shoe lace learners).  When this happens, parents will remind their child to tie their shoes again.  Parents know what little children don’t know – untied shoe laces are very dangerous and can lead to tripping and potential falling injuries.  This is why athletic competitions and games will stop a contest when one of the young athletes has untied shoe laces.

Just as with shoe laces, parents teach their children wisdom because they can’t do everything for their child for the rest of their lives.  Just as shoe laces don’t stay tied forever, parental wisdom doesn’t stay in our hearts forever.  With each step and with each pivot, vibration looses and weakens one’s shoe laces.  Motion and activity loosens laces.  With each experience and activity in life, parental wisdom gets distant and quiet.  Just as physical activity loosens shoe laces, life’s experiences loosens parental wisdom from our hearts.  When a person’s shoe laces come untied, they are in jeopardy of tripping on any number of surfaces and hurting themselves as well as others in the path of their fall.  When a person forgets parental wisdom, they too are in jeopardy of tripping on any number of Satan’s temptations and hurting themselves as well as others in the path of their fall.  The instruction of these few verses is akin to a parent telling their child, “Tie your Laces!”  

Just as we need to CONTINUALLY tie our shoe laces, we need to CONTINUALLY tie parental wisdom to our hearts.  Just as we need to make sure we can walk safely on any surface without shoe laces tripping us, we need to make sure we can spiritually walk safely in life without foolishness tripping us.  Morning and evening, day and night, CONTINUALLY tie parental wisdom to your heart.  Morning and evening, day and night, CONTINUALLY bind Heavenly wisdom around your neck.  There isn’t a time in life when we don’t need God’s wisdom to guide us and to protect us.  Satan is waiting for the child of God who doesn’t notice or who doesn’t care that his spiritual shoe laces are untied.

Tie your Laces!

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