God: Longing to Show His Favor (Prov. 3:3-4)

The third occurrence of “God” in Proverbs is in chapter three.

Proverbs 3:3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 So you will find favor and good repute[1] In the sight of God and man.

What do we learn of God here?

God favors.
Favor is a positive evaluation resulting in an inclination to grant requests (Exod. 33:12, 17); it is being pleased with someone (Gen. 6:8; 1 Sam. 16:22) resulting in dealing and speaking kindly with them (Num. 11:15; Ruth 2:13).

God’s favor is conditional
If you bind kindness and truth to your neck and write them on the table of your heart and never let them go, then God will be pleased with  you, God will be positively inclined to grant your request. All men do not find favor in His eyes. Those who corrupt their ways and abandon Him find no favor in His eyes (Gen. 6:6-8; Jon. 2:9).

God wants us to find favor in His eyes.
This theological inference follows naturally. God tells us what finds favor in his eyes, so that we can do it and find His favor. Stated even more positively, God wants to show favor, so He directs men how to live so that He may favor them.

Who wouldn’t want to find favor in God’s eyes?! The good news is it is possible to find favor in God’s eyes. Noah found favor in Yahweh’s eyes (Gen. 6:8). He was a righteous man, blameless in his generation, and one who walked with God (Gen. 6:9). Abraham found favor in His sight (Gen. 18:3; 19:19). Moses found favor in God’s eyes (Exod. 33:12, 17). This verse democratizes God’s favor. It is available to all who bind kindness and faithfulness around their necks and write it upon their hearts.

God favors those who are steadfastly kind and faithful.[2]
God calls us to kindness and faithfulness, because these are primary attributes of His. He is abundant in lovingkindness and faithfulness (Exod. 34:6; Psa. 25:10; Psa. 86:15). This hints at broader theological truths: God favors what is like Him. No wonder he is well-pleased with His Son who is the express image of His person, the radiance of His glory (Isa. 42:1; Matt. 12:18; Heb. 1:3)! No wonder He predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29)!

God wants us to find favor in the eyes of others.
He gave Israel favor in the eyes of the Egyptians (Exod. 3:21; 11:3; 12:36); Esther favor in the eyes of all who saw her (Est. 2:15) and in the eyes of the king (Est. 5:2, 8; 7:3; 8:5)

God’s favor should precede and be the basis of favor with others.
Although the text doesn’t explicitly teach this, it would seem that the order of this verse—favor in the eyes of God and then in the eyes of man—as well as the broader theological context of Proverbs 3 supports this conclusion.

Father, I rejoice in the opportunity to find favor and good repute in your eyes, and I rejoice even more in the reality of finding your favor! Thank you for showing me how to live in your favor, for being at work in me both to will and to do your good pleasure (Phil. 2:12), and for working all things together for my good, that is, so that I may be like your Son (Rom. 8:28-29). Thank you that favor in your eyes need not be divorced from favor in the eyes of other. In fact, you promise, “When a man’s ways are pleasing to Yahweh, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Prov. 16:7).

Amazing grace!

[1] The meaning of this term is disputed. Commentators and translators are divided between “good repute,” “good understanding,” and “good success.” In any case, it’s a good thing to have!
[2] The combination hesed ve’emet is translated three times in Proverbs as ἐλεός/ἐλεημοσύνη καὶ πίστις by LXX (3:3; 14:22, 16:6) and once ἐλεημοσύνη καὶ ἀλήθεια (20:28). When ’emet is alone, it is translated ἀλήθεια (8:7; 11:18; 12:19; 22:21; 29:14) and only once with πίστος (14:25). Contextual factors (e.g., antonymously parallel to lying), appear more important in the LXX’s choice of Greek terms than assumptions about fixed semantic meaing. Nonetheless, the LXX translator(s) do seem to regard ’emet in the combination hesed ve’emet not as ‘truth’ in the sense of an assertion in conformity with reality, but as reliability or faithfulness -- something akin to our sense of integrity -- attribute of keeping one’s word, being dependable, able to be relied upon, trustworthy. This sense of hesed ve’emet seems consistent with its usage elsewhere in the OT.


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