In our last lesson we noticed Solomon teaching his son about good, godly parenting. Solomon is teaching his son early in life how to be a good parent so that when the day comes, he will have the wisdom to know what to do. In the meanwhile, the son will be able to have insight as he watches the parenting of others. Solomon also spends time discussing the role of children. Solomon does not teach these things to cause pain to parents retroactively, as we noticed with Proverbs 22:6. The point of these proverbs is to teach children how they ought to act. Most everyone has heard the command, “Honor your father and mother” (Ephesians 6:2; Exodus 20:12). The question is: how do we honor our father and our mother?
But there is another point that we will see Solomon bring out in these proverbs. Every child at an early age is seeking the approval of his or her parents. This may change over time for a variety of reasons. But initially, especially deep down within us, we want the approval of our parents. We want them to be proud of us. Solomon is going to tell us how to do that.
Your Actions and Decisions Affect Your Parents
There are a number of proverbs that describe how the actions of our children directly affect the wellbeing of the parents. Though numerous, read these proverbs with me:
“The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish son is a grief to his mother” (10:1).
“A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish man despises his mother” (15:20).
“To have a fool for a son brings grief; there is no joy for the father of a fool” (17:21).
“The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice!” (23:24-25).
“My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad; my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right” (23:15-16).
There are more proverbs that speak about the joy of a wise child, but these are enough to make the point. These proverbs are to impress upon the young that what they do can bring joy or sorrow to their parents. These are appeals to the children to give your father and your mother reason for delight. We often do not think about this, but we honor our parents by the actions and decisions we make. Most of the time we only think of honor our father and mother as respect and glory. But we need to see that we also honor our parents by our own lives. Perhaps it is one of the best ways that we honor our parents. We want our children to grow up and do well, becoming useful adults in society. We don’t want them to grow up to be leeches who are worthless in the world. Honor your parents by making good decisions in life and following the paths of righteousness.
These proverbs are not profound, but the message seems to be lost in our communication to our children. They want to know what they can do to find our approval. As people we want to know what we can do to find approval with the Lord. The Lord has revealed how we can be found approved by God. We need to reveal to our children that they will find our approval by making wise decisions and taking godly actions.
Listen To Your Parents
I know you all are not going to like this one, kids. But honor your father and your mother means that you will listen to the training they give you.
“A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke” (13:1).
“A fool spurns his father’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence” (15:5).
“Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old” (23:22).
If you want to be wise in life, we will listen to the instructions of our parents. They have life experience and wisdom that we do not have. As much as we want to think that our parents have no idea what life is like right now, it does not take long for us to mature and realize that our parents knew exactly what we were going through. The fool does not listen to his parents but the wise will listen to correction.
Do Not Speak Against Your Parents
The third way that we honor our parents is to not speak against them. Solomon offers a couple of proverbs to teach his son the need for verbal respect.
“If you insult your father or mother, your light will be snuffed out in total darkness” (20:20; NLT).
Understanding the second clause of this proverb requires knowledge of Solomon’s other proverbs. Notice who God says has their light snuffed out:
“The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out” (Proverbs 13:9).
“For the evil man has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out” (Proverbs 24:20).
I think the point becomes clear. Only the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out. If you curse and insult your parents, then you are wicked and your lamp will be snuffed out. I do not believe that this is referring to the Old Testament death penalty. Rather, Solomon is saying that God counts you as wicked if you choose to despise your parents. While cursing our parents may seem to be a small thing, or even a justifiable thing, God counts such insults as sin. Engaging in speaking against our parents will have us cast into outer darkness.
Do Not Mistreat Your Parents
One would think that this would be an obvious point that would not need to be said. However, even in the days of Solomon, children acted out against their parents.
“Whoever robs his father or his mother, and says, “It is no transgression,” the same is companion to a destroyer” (28:24).
“He who does violence to his father and chases away his mother is a son who brings shame and reproach” (19:26).
I think Solomon is saying, “You are killing your parents by acting this way.” You could not dishonor them any more than stealing from them or acting physically against them.
Pull Your Weight!
“He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son” (10:5).
Another important way that we honor our parents is by pulling our weight. Our parents are not asking too much of us to take out the trash, clean our room, clean the house, clean the cars, do the dishes, set the table, and any number of other chores. Parents are providing food, clothing, shelter, and many luxuries. The least you can do is not be lazy while enjoying the privileges of being a child. Solomon says that the wise son wakes up and gets outside to help out.
By the way, do not wait for your parents to ask you to do something. Don’t make them tell you to make your bed ten times. You know what you are supposed to do and you need to do it. If you see something that needs to be done, don’t hope that someone else will do it so you do not have to. Pull your weight!
Watch Your Friends
We also honor our parents by making good decisions about who we have as friends.
“Young people who obey the law are wise; those with wild friends bring shame to their parents” (28:7; NLT).
I don’t think we do a good job explaining to our children that who they choose as friends matters to us. Picking bad friends suggests you are like them and this brings shame on the parents. Further, as we noticed in a previous lesson, we become molded by the people with whom we spend our time. If we are around wild friends, then we are going to become like them. Parents do not want to see their hard work of training whittled away by bad companions. Honor your parents and pick good friends.
1. Repent to our parents. We spoke in the last lesson to parents about apologizing to our children and promising to do better to training our children in the way they should go. We also need to apologize and repent, if possible, to our parents for not honoring them in the ways God has prescribed. We should apologize for not listening to them and tell them that we do appreciate them. We need to repent if we mistreated our parents or spoke against them.
2. God’s command to children: obey. “Children, obey your parents in everything for this pleases the Lord” (Colossians 3:20). We must follow these commands if we are going to be pleasing to God. Even if we do not have a great relationship with our parents, we must see that we continue to honor our parents because in doing so we are honoring the Lord.