The Religious Responsibilities of a Man According to Proverbs Chapter 3

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6 min read

Published: Jun 29, 2018

Words: 1094|Pages: 2.5|6 min read

Published: Jun 29, 2018

Religious Duties of Proverbs 3:1-12

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According to some, King Solomon was inspired by the Holy Ghost to write the poetic Book of Proverbs. All of Solomon’s writings have literary significance, and the third chapter of Proverbs is outstanding not only in theme but in its use of poetic devices. To understand this chapter, it must be placed in its proper historical and social context and examined verse by verse.

Although a large number of commentators consider the book of Proverbs to be the writings of Solomon, others remain unsure, suggesting that Hezekiah or one of Hezekiah’s servants could have written the book. Lemuel is referred to as another possible author, as his name is mentioned in Proverbs 31. Nevertheless, Proverbs 3 is commonly attributed to Solomon, suggesting it was written around 950 B.C. The final collection of the proverbs may not have occurred until perhaps 700 B.C.

The theme of the Book of Proverbs is clearly written in the first verses of the first chapter: “To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; to give subtlety to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.” (Proverbs 3: 2-4 KJV)

Proverb 3 begins with the famous words: “My son.” Solomon uses these words repeatedly when opening a new chapter or theme. According to some commentators, Solomon is repeating the words of his mother, indicating that the proverbs he writes are actually those of his mother. There are other commentators who believe “My son” simply expresses Solomon’s loving care for his audience. As a father loves his children, so does Solomon write his proverbs out of love for the reader.

Solomon continues the first verse of Proverbs 3 by fervently requesting the reader remember God’s Law and uphold His Commandments. The way in which Solomon brings this message to the fore is remarkable. He first states what the reader should not do. Then, in Proverbs 3:5 Solomon begins a new thought or theme: trusting in God. Solomon warns against trusting in one’s own knowledge or that of other men. He guides the reader to trust in God, giving reasons in the following verse with a promise that God will direct the paths of those that acknowledge Him. Solomon then advises against vanity and boastfulness. He reveals that departing from evil is healthy to the body, referring to the spiritual body or soul. For further reproof of vanity, Solomon instructs the reader to honor the Lord with both substance and wealth. This practice began with Cain and Abel, who offered up to the Lord the fruits of their work, and can also be seen in the apostles’ command for men to give alms to God, thus establishing the importance of paying tribute to God. Solomon writes that in so doing one shall prosper even more, as further encouragement and promise. In the final verses of this study, Solomon supports chastisement. In verses eleven and twelve he writes about comfort in affliction, stating that the Lord chastises out of love. He uses the comparison of a father’s love toward his children to help the reader understand the need for correction.

Throughout the first verses of Proverbs 3, Solomon uses many poetic devices to support his arguments. Solomon begins Proverbs 3:1 by warning, “Forget not my law.” He does not say, “Remember my law,” because that would not hold as much emphasis. More stress is laid upon the same idea using a double negative. In Proverbs 3:3, particularly in the line, “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind then about thy neck; write them upon the tables of thine heart” (Proverbs 3:3), both parallelism and figurative language are evident. Solomon presents an image of binding ideas (abstract concepts) about a neck (a physical object) and writing them upon the tables (physical) of one’s heart (both physical and abstract). Just as people prize treasures around their neck or keep treasures close to themselves, Solomon wants his readers to keep mercy and truth close to their hearts and prize their blessings.

In the fifth verse of Proverbs 3, Solomon writes: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) Reverse parallelism is used to emphasize the need to rely on God. Solomon begins with the command to trust in the Lord, and then becomes even more personal by warning against trust in self. The word “lean” is also a very figurative word, referring commonly to a physical action but here to a state of being.

Proverbs 3:7 presents another especially poetic verse, in which Solomon uses repetition to build his argument. In Proverbs 3:8, Solomon uses a metaphor to add emphasis and build upon his theme of trust and fear in God. He states that fearing the Lord “shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.” (Proverbs 3:8) In a striking synechdoche, the navel, a part of the human body, is used to represent the whole. Solomon is pointing out that fearing God benefits one's self, using the easily relatable concept of bodily health to drive his message home.

In the next verses, Solomon promises success and benefits to those who honor the Lord. Then, in verse eleven of Proverbs 3, Solomon uses a double negative: “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction.” (Proverbs 3:11) Instead of stating what the reader must do, Solomon again tells the reader what not to do. Finally, he closes his theme of correction in verse twelve with emblematic parallelism, a presentation of both figurative language and literal meaning: “For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” (Proverbs 3:12) Solomon first states his message, then offers a metaphor to underline the benefits of correction. As a father chastises his children out of love, so does the Lord chastise His children out of love. Solomon knows that everyone can relate to the need for children to be corrected. There is a natural love between parents and children, and therefore parents out of care chastise their children. Thus, Solomon allows the reader to more deeply and clearly understand the relationship between God and His children.

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By incorporating figurative language, Solomon seeks to better explain the religious duties he deems essential. The beautiful imagery he presents develops the reader’s understanding of God and His Word by allowing the reader to apply the messages on his/her own, through relatable metaphors.

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The Religious Responsibilities Of A Man According To Proverbs Chapter 3. (2018, May 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 28, 2024, from
“The Religious Responsibilities Of A Man According To Proverbs Chapter 3.” GradesFixer, 13 May 2018,
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