Listen my son to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck (Prov 1:8-9).
In last week’s Family Wisdom, we saw Solomon counsel that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 1:7). Matthew Henry’s Commentary says that fear of the LORD is the “Alpha and Omega” of wisdom (the beginning and the end of it). Today we see that the second step toward walking in wisdom, after fearing God, is to listen to the godly instruction/teaching of your parents. Here we see the word “listen” comes from the Hebrew Shama, which is translated as Hear AND Do, understand AND obey. So for today’s purposes, let’s see “listening” as its intended outcome: obedience.
Interestingly, fearing the LORD and obeying parents are the topics of the first half of the 10 Commandments, Commandments 1-5. The second half, Commandments 6-10, deal with how to avoid sinning by treating other people badly. Presumably, if you feared the LORD and obeyed the teaching of your parents, then you would avoid violating the latter half of the commandments. Ok, that is not meant to be some sort of theology, just an interesting thought!
Let’s consider a few lessons that we find in our verses today. Listen my son to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck (Prov 1:8-9):
- Living as one under authority. Obeying parents requires that children learn that they are not in charge; they are not equals with adults; they answer to others. These are important concepts to accept, in order to be in peaceful relationship with God. If a child cannot submit to an earthly parent, they are unlikely to submit to their Heavenly Parent. Part of the job of parenting is to model our own submission to God. We are to teach our children to know Him and follow Him.
- The high calling for parents. Parents find themselves in a difficult spot. I know have, time and time again. In order for our children to learn godly wisdom and instruction from us, we must teach it, properly. Sounds simple but, to teach it properly, we must:
- Avoid being hypocrites – we must do what we ask them to do. We must put our things away, not yell at others, use our time well, be respectful to everyone in the family…anyone else fail here from time to time?
- Embrace our failures. God knows we will fail. This is part of His plan too. He uses everything. In this way, we can teach, very well, what humble repentance looks like!
- Speaking of being humbled…maybe some of you are in the same boat with me: biblical parenting has been mostly on-the-job-training. I didn’t grow in godliness till I was “just right” and then have a child. Very humbling. I didn’t know how much I needed to grow, until I started trying to teach biblical principles to my kiddos! When I saw myself, reflected in their eyes, sometimes I wanted to look away. Which bring me to the last point…
- God teaches parents in this way too. As we parent our children, we see our own deficiencies. And Our Heavenly Father is parenting us in this way, helping us to grow up in grace, helping us to be conformed to His image.
- Remember that teaching and instruction are the key to correction and discipline (more on that in The Family Workshop on Friday!)
BTW, I love how the directives for children to obey parents are often accompanied by hopeful promises. Paul said, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land‘” (Eph 6:1-3). In Proverbs 1:8-9, we see the promise that when children listen, and obey the godly teaching of their parents, it is as crown on their head and a chain on their neck. This is sowing and reaping. If we learn godly instruction then we trade beauty for our ashes. Instead of living as lost and fallen people, we live as children of the King. When His wisdom crowns us, we are distinguished by that wisdom.
What are you teaching your kiddos this week? We are working on perseverance and diligence – God has shown me that, the kids and I, we all need a little more!
Britta ~ I am justAgirl…just like you!