Finding favor and respect
Mentors have the great privilege of teaching their protégé about the important lessons God has for us in this life. The earlier we listen to our mentors; the better quality our lives will have.
David taught Solomon to have a strong desire to gain wisdom. After he became a father, Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs to communicate the importance of wisdom to his sons. Several times Solomon told his sons “don’t forget”. For us, this phrase gives a hint as to what lessons Solomon considered highly important.
My son, don’t forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commands;
for they will bring you many days, a full life, and well-being.
Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.
Tie them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will find favor and high regard in the sight of God and man.
The Hebrew word translated as loyalty is hesed. Hesed means to have a zeal (in a good sense) in love and kindness toward any one; it especially refers to the grace, favor, and mercy God shows toward men or that one person may show to another.
The Hebrew word translated as faithfulness is emeth. Emeth means to be truthful, faithful, and reliable. It refers to what one can rely on because it is stable. As we read the Scriptures, we find that we can rely on God because He is stable and sure.
Solomon’s son would have recognized the phrase loyalty and faithfulness, for these words are often paired together throughout the Old Testament. Most often they are used to describe God’s character. Whenever Solomon mentions them together in the book of Proverbs, they are treated as high and excellent qualities.
Solomon wants his son to keep these two Godly qualities – hesed and emeth – permanently around him. Around his neck, they would be ever-present to everyone; and yet as they are written on his heart, they would be ever-present inside of him.
The ultimate goal of wisdom is not to produce external adherence to a body of rules; rather, it is to internalize the principles in a way that produces Godly character. Imitation is the highest compliment we can give someone, which is why we are constantly encouraged to imitate God. We were made in His image, so let’s act like Him!
Think of all the ways God has been loyal and faithful, how He has shown you hesed and emeth. That same regard we feel toward God, others will project toward us as we imitate Him. God will favor those who honor Him.
That’s an important lesson for us to learn…and an important one to pass along to the next generation.