My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, (Proverbs 2:1 NKJV)
“Treasure up” is the first phrase that grabs attention in this verse. It is a command to action rather than simply a request to value the commandments that are give. Treasuring up is the art of collecting, storing, safeguarding, and revisiting the things that are valued. Although it may require a great amount of space and effort, there is never too much cost attached to the practice of treasuring up. There is always more room, always more desire.
Furthermore, that which is treasured up and stored can more easily be given away and shared. I think of a king in a palace who not only uses the treasure to make the dwelling place beautiful, but to showcase his splendour to others. Treasuring up does not always mean hoarding. However, those who give the appearance of treasure on the walls without the reality of wealth stored in the vaults will not long maintain their facade. There must be more within than is shown without.
Once the treasure has begun to grow, it continues to diversify and build upon itself for it can be used to forge relationships, invest in opportunities, etc. Treasuring up is an active process that makes the commandments useful, secure within the life of the individual, and valuable for long-term use. They are not simply tossed in a vault and forgotten but actively used to produce value for the one who treasures them. Additionally, the son is to treasure up these things “with you.” It is not simply enough to appreciate the commandments and pass them along to others. They must be personalized, internalized, and kept close. Truth must be lived before it can be taught. The act of treasuring up is wasted if it is only applied to the lives of others.
A contrast is made in this verse between the words and the commandments. It is not the words that are treasured up but the commandments. The commandments are not received but are treasured up. It seems that to the author, a son might come to difficulty with receiving words and treasuring up commandments. Perhaps this is because commandments are easier to receive than to do. The challenge of receiving words may stem from difficulty in relationship between the father and son, or maybe from the fact that words are simply a vessel for ideas.
To receive words requires more than just hearing. Rather, what is heard must be collected, stored, mused over, and mined for the value that they hid within their shell. This value is not always easy to perceive and so the son might tend toward discarding that which he does not understand. Unfortunately wisdom is hidden deep and requires effort to access. Those things that are most difficult to understand might also be the most valuable. Therefore the son is encouraged to receive the words, perhaps even in spite of their appearance. This idea receives further support on the subsequent verses that call the son to action in pursuit of understanding and insight.
Opening the chapter and verse, the words “my son” indicate a relationship of affection, care, and responsibility from the one who gives the words and commandments. The reader of proverbs is not supposed to be an open-minded fool receiving words from every source. Rather, the advice listed here applies when the conditions of a father are present. Otherwise, it would be dangerous to apply the principles above. If the son will hearken to the words of one who has stewardship over his life by receiving the mystery locked in words, and treasuring up those rules that should govern his life, then he will receive the reward promised later on in the chapter. We will explore this reward further in the coming verses.