Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:3 (ESV)
The wearing of dog tags by military personnel dates back to at least the 1800s. Dog tags are so named because they look like actual dog tags. The primary use of dog tags is to identify dead or wounded soldiers, so the tags contain personal information such as the soldier’s name, blood type, vaccinations and religious preferences.
When Solomon exhorts us to keep steadfast love and faithfulness from forsaking us he is encouraging us to not permit them to get away or escape. In other words, do not relinquish our hold of steadfast love and faithfulness toward God. We should make an assertive effort to forbid our steadfast love and faithfulness toward God to run away after other loves and be faithful to them.
In binding our steadfast love and faithfulness toward God around our necks (like dog tags) we are identifying who we are to others; our allegiance to God. Like Paul we are proclaiming, I have been crucified (killed) with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 ESV) For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21 ESV) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8 ESV)
In making these proclamations we are bearing witness that Jesus Christ is our most valued treasured; one for whom we would lay down our lives, not only in death but also in life, one in whom our steadfast love and faithfulness is demonstrated by keeping his commandments (John 14:15; 15:10).
It is vitally important that steadfast love and faithfulness toward God not only be bound around our necks but also written on our hearts. Without them written on our hearts the fruit produced by our lives would not match the outward proclamations of what is bound around our necks. Jesus said that evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness and slander come from the heart and these defile a person (Matthew 15:19-20). However, if we keep steadfast love and faithfulness toward God written on our hearts the fruit our lives will produce will be that of the Holy Spirit and our outward witness will glorify God (John 15:8). Faithfulness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
The great news is that God desires that our steadfast love and faithfulness toward him remain around our necks and in our hearts. Through the crucifixion of his son, God has promised to put his laws into our hearts and minds (Hebrews 10:10, 16). He has given us the ability to love him because he first loved us by giving his son to absorb the wrath of our sin (1 John 4:10). We can be faithful toward him only because he is faithful toward us. He will keep us and reward us (1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Matthew 25:23).
Does the fruit of your life bear witness to your steadfast love and faithfulness toward God?
Scriptures for meditation: