This is the second two-verse couplet of father-to-son commands and promises in chapter three. It focuses on two of the most famous character qualities in the Old Testament — “love and faithfulness.”
Dad’s first command says, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you.” It suggests his son’s responsibility to make appropriate decisions which keep these qualities close to him.
The next two commands explain how. “Bind them around your neck” (see also 6:21) offers the imagery of a necklace.
Generally worn to make us more attractive to others, a necklace of “love and faithfulness” will set us up to look good and be more appreciated by others. But a necklace is external, just what people see on the outside — like our actions.
The final command internalizes things, going deeper and making it more permanent — “write them on the tablet of your heart.”
An ancient “tablet” would have been either been carved from stone or formed from clay. The “writing” would have involved “engraving” or “inscribing” — permanently etching “love and faithfulness” into my heart and soul.
The overall direction of these three commands in clear. Father advises son to hook up closely with two great qualities (“love and faithfulness”). They’ll empower both his actions (“neck”– outside) and attitudes (“heart” — inside).
The verse ends with a promise. Following dad’s directives, we’ll “win favor and a good name in the sight of God (our spiritual relationship)…and man”(our social relationships). Sounds like pretty good outcomes, a pretty good way to live!
With these two qualities etched deeply into my life, I’ll think and do well, looking good in the eyes of others. Of course, God will know that it’s in the very fabric of my being.
Here in East Baltimore, it would be understood as “spiritual street cred!”