What does Proverbs 3:1 mean?
ESV: My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments,
NIV: My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart,
NASB: My son, do not forget my teaching, But have your heart comply with my commandments;
CSB: My son, don't forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commands;
NLT: My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart.
KJV: My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
Verse Commentary:
Solomon addresses the reader as his "son." This was a term often used by a teacher to refer to a student. It seems Solomon or others taught students in Solomon's royal court. Or perhaps "my son" refers to a literal son in the home. Either way, the term and setting honor the tradition established in Deuteronomy 6, where the Lord commanded the fathers in Israel to teach His commandments diligently to their children (Deuteronomy 6:6–7).

Solomon commands his pupil to remember his teaching and keep his commandments. This obedience must stem from the heart, which implies a love for the commandments. Unless a person loves God's Word, mere intellectual knowledge of it will not produce obedience. The Pharisees certainly had a head full of Scripture, but their hearts were far from God. On the outside they resembled whitewashed tombs but inwardly they were full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness (Matthew 23:27–28).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 3:1–12 is an exhortation from Solomon to his son, urging him to heed his teaching and trust wholeheartedly in the Lord. He cites some of the valuable results of obedience and trust. This section builds on the counsel Solomon gave in Proverbs 2. The following section describes the blessings that come to those who find wisdom and understanding.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter of Proverbs is addressed to Solomon's son. The term, ''my son'' occurs 15 times in chapters 1—7. The words may apply to one of Solomon's students in his court or to one of his biological sons. The application of wisdom in Proverbs 3 shows the benefits of trusting in the Lord with one's whole heart. Solomon credits obedience to and trust in God for longevity, success, guidance, health, reward that exceeds monetary wealth, enjoyment, peace, security, confidence, excellent human relationships, the Lord's blessing and favor, and honor. As with all ''proverbs,'' biblical or otherwise, their purpose is to impart general wisdom, not absolute prophecy. Like the original audience, modern readers are not expected to see these guidelines as absolute guarantees for any one person.
Chapter Context:
This passage lies in the second section of the book, found in chapters 1—9. The author, King Solomon, reigned over Israel from 971 to 931 BC. The first section of Proverbs, the preface, is found in Proverbs 1:1–7. The third section, chapters 10—22, were also written by Solomon. These proverbs were likely written by Solomon in his middle years, whereas he probably wrote Song of Songs in his early adulthood, and Ecclesiastes near the end of his life. As in the first two chapters, wisdom is stressed in Proverbs 3.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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