My son, give me thine heart,
And let thine eyes observe my ways.
The Father who pleads
A godly father wants to raise a son in his own image. He prays that the seed of his good character might take root in the next generation, and that his pure and devout manner of life will bear the fruit of imitation in his children and grandchildren.
Solomon illustrates these principles of spiritual reproduction in his counsel. He pleads for his son’s great trust and calls for him to study his father’s visible habits. Though grace sometimes overrules, no bad father can reasonably expect his son to break free of his destructive influence and soar to greatness. On the human level, the most important thing about parenting is the Christlikeness of the tutors. “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6.40 ESV).
In writing this, Solomon also served as a prophet. Christians today discern our heavenly Father’s voice. God is addressing His spiritual children in this text. Without question this is a valid approach to interpreting Proverbs. The writer of Hebrews cites Proverbs 3.11–12, “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” Then he comments that the readers “have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children” (Heb 12.5–6). The exhortation part of the text is first of all Solomon’s counsel to his son, but as Scripture, it is our Redeemer, God the Father, speaking to us who are sincere believers.
However excellent any parent or pastor or apostle might be, we must look past them to the divine paradigm for virtue. The Lord Himself is the glorious Being and the standard of righteousness. Paul said, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11.1 ESV, emphasis mine). Anything admirable belongs to Christ first, and streams from Him to His beloved ones. The more like Christ any human mentor is, the better for us. The truth from an imperfect mentor’s lips will be clearer, and the pattern of his life more consistent with the holy message. In general, this bodes well for more effective disciple-making.
So then, let us meditate on this verse especially as God’s plea to us in the form of two exhortations.
Give me thine heart
If we would be saved from all our sins and guilt, we must give up our whole selves without reservation to be the Lord’s and His alone, and that, forever. That is to exercise saving faith. It is like leaping from a burning building into the fireman’s net below—it’s all or nothing. “Give me thine heart” is an idiom for full surrender. It is to make God, and no one else (certainly not myself, Prov 3.5–6), the object of my implicit trust.
Scripture warns that when we ask wisdom of the Lord, we must wholly trust Him for it, without wavering, to receive it. The double-minded man is unstable in all his ways and cannot expect to receive anything from the Lord (Jas 1.5–8). That implies he is lost. We must believe in order to understand (credo ut intelligam, Anselm). We must yield to Christ to know with certainty the truth of His teaching (John 7.17). Those who listen only to consider whether they might do God’s will are still unbelievers. We must imitate the churches of Macedonia who gave themselves first to the Lord, and then to their spiritual leaders in sacrificial service for the brethren (2 Cor 8.5). Your loving Father wants you more than anything else you have to offer. You glorify and delight Him greatly in the very act of trusting Him. This is the Christian’s daily calling.
Let thine eyes observe my ways
Consider the power of example for instruction and inspiration. A little boy walks all his life in his father’s shadow, remembering how he lived and being influenced by him for good or ill. When the example is highly praiseworthy, it fuels hope that such a life is possible in the real world, and kindles an earnest desire of imitation.
We see the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4.6). The Son is the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His Person (Heb 1.3). When Philip asked Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father,” Jesus responded that He had already done so in His own Person (John 14.8–10).
Therefore, Christians must be and remain enthralled with Christ. He is the supreme revelation of God. In Christ’s ways—His worship, His teaching, His miracles, His constant kindness, His occasional sternness, His sacrificial love, His utter devotion to God—we have the inspirational subject of lifelong study and the stunning disclosure of our destiny, for “when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3.2).Ω