A Letter for My Son
My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
A father tries his best to pass on knowledge and life skills to his son. He tries to give him all the good things that he has learned and instructs his son on the pit falls of life. He warns him of the dangers that certain things possess. A father strives to pass on more than knowledge. He instructs in principles for the living of a successful life. When these principles are adhered to, they guide the listener through proper decision making when the father is no longer present to turn to. These principles of life become the everlasting wisdom of the father in the heart of his son.
The father also establishes clear cut rights and wrongs in actions and thinking. These are things that must be black and white, absolute right and wrong, unbendable truths. An example, A man should never strike a lady. Another example of such would be, A man should never take advantage of the week or elderly. Another one from times past would be in the saying, “For God and Country”. Thus establishing the two things that a man must be loyal to. I would add to it in this order, “For God, Family, and Country”. These are things that a man should always know are wrong and never accept any excuse to violate. Nor should he respect or accept that any man should be allowed to violate these rules of manhood. Therefore, these rules that the father teaches his son should never be violated by his son. This passage of a clear line that should never be crossed is the single most important thing a father teaches a young man of integrity. A man’s word used to be his bond, that was because fathers used to teach and model this rule of integrity. A man who does not honor his word, has no integrity. The end never justifies the means. Instead, the means is what makes the end justified or not. So we see the law and the commandment of the father. They are principles and standards for how a good and godly man will act. A man who can be respected by man, beast, and God.
The father’s warning is simple. Don’t forget what I have taught you. Then he adds one more piece of sage advice. He says, “let”- “let thine heart”. Many men know what is right to do, and yet they do it not. Many of men know in their heart of hearts that what they desire to do is ludicrous, and wrong; yet they do it anyway. Therefore, the wise father tells his son that it is not enough just to know what is right and wrong, but you must live it correctly. Knowledge of right and wrong must be evidenced in you very heart. You must allow your heart to do the right things. It is a choice to follow good advice or to ignore it. You can choose to live by the good principles and truthful commandments of your father or you can disregard them. So this good father tells his son, let your hear desire to do what you now is correct. A man should always desire to do what is good and have the backbone to abstain from what is foolish. If he does not, then he is not a man, but a child. For a child cannot stand on his own, as a man must. This father’s will is for his son to stand… stand for what is good and just. He desires for his son to not walk in shame before other men, nor before his God. Then he encourages his son.
For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. The things that you have learned from me, my law and my commandments; these principles and standards of conduct, will lead to success. They will give you a long life, you will live longer if you do not take another man’s wife, for example. Another such example is that incurable diseases come from acts of sexual immorality. These diseases lead to a shortened, and painful life with ruined relationships, loneliness, and anger. Keeping your life simple and clear of ungodly desires with give you a life the is happy, healthy, and peace will follow you, all the days of your life. They will add to the quality of your life and the life of your family. Prosperity comes in times of peace. We can see how this leads to prosperity. Then he tells him about another principle for this successful life. Something we men all too often forget.
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: Many men are taught how to be tough. We are taught how to stand up and to be strong, to hide our emotions and never show weakness. We often misinterpret these teachings. You see being strong and containing our emotions does have some benefit in lead and motivating others. It does also instill in us an attitude to never quit doing what is right in the face of opposition. Endurance in the faith is a godly quality. But when we pervert it in our hears to become cold and brutal, ignoring the pleas of others, that is wrong. Many young men today use the “respect” issue as a means to justify the using of fear and intimidation to demand respect of others. Fear is not respect.
In reality these brutish men have done nothing to deserve respect. Imposing your will on others through fear and intimidation is nothing to respect. Instead they bring shame to their families. It is the tool of the week in heart and cowardice, especially of, those who have no respect for themselves in seeking to hide their own frailties and shortcomings. A frightened adolescent who is afraid to be a real man and open his heart to the care of others. Hardheartedness is never approved of by God. Instead, the father tells his son to always be merciful and to always seek the truth. This is proper in judgement.
Someone who cannot invoke judgement and give a reward and punishment cannot show mercy. Now you may empathize with someone and feel sorry for them. However, you are in no position to be merciful to them. You can plead for mercy for them to the one who can show mercy, but you cannot provide mercy. A father can show mercy to his children. A judge can show mercy to a criminal. A king can show mercy to whom he governs over. Here the father tells his son that a good man shows mercy and upholds the truth. He holds himself accountable. Mercy and truth should be a part of who he is as a man of integrity.
You see he says to put them about they neck and to write them on his heart. This causes a man to examine himself and to keep himself in check. I have a necklace that I wear every hour of every day. It has an anchor pendant on the chain. I wear this for a two-fold remembrance. The first is to remind me of the calling of the gospel of Jesus Christ upon my life. If reminds me that he said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). The second is that it reminds me of my dad, who was seaman, and an avid fisherman.
Now, when I look in the mirror every morning the two things, I am reminded of are the commandments of my God. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40) and the promise to be a fisher of men. Then I am also reminded of the many things my dad had taught me about the way a man should act and feel. You see in looking at this necklace that I put about my neck, I am reminded of proper priorities in my life.
In putting the things into my heart, this is a purposeful consideration and a constant meditating on the things I have been taught, by God through scripture and through the law and commandments of my dad, in every situation that comes up in my day. I am forced to examine my thoughts, and the desires of my heart when I look in the mirror and consider the teachings I have received from childhood. Because I have chosen to let my heart accept the truth, I know in my heart what is good and godly and what is not. By choosing to do what is good and godly I choose to live at peace with man and with God in mercy and truth. This brings the peace.
This peace is not just from men, but in living a righteous, faithful life before God, so God and I are at peace with one another. So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. The law and the commandments given to a son, by a God fearing father are the passing down of the keys to success and happiness in life. They are the means of having a successful relationship with God, family, and country (men). The advice that is passed on? Son, always trust God. Son, always seek the truth (God). Son, always love God. Son, always be kind and merciful. He says this in another way. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. What then is a wise man, my son? A wise man is one who knows his limitations, understands the fear of the LORD (Jehovah), and goes in the exact opposite direction from evil and even the very appearance of it. My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.