Fathers, how well have you led and directed your sons? Would you be able to say what we have read here in Proverbs today? Would you be able to tell your sons that if they walk in your ways, they would live a godly life - one that would not hinder them from growing spiritually and one free from the stumbling blocks that often trip us up in life?
The father here who is instructing his son tells him very plainly that he has directed him in a lifestyle that values wisdom. The word for "directed" is a very visual word - describing an arrow that has been shot straight. The way that fathers are to shoot their sons into this world is on a path that highly values wisdom and God's ways. I love that he uses the phrase, "the way of wisdom." Way is the Hebrew word "derek" which refers to a lifestyle - a long journey - a manner of living. The father taught in such a way that wisdom became a lifestyle, not just a series of choices every now and then. This is how we are to educate our children. I believe in education - but not as an end in itself. Education or the acquiring of information and learning - is just a stepping stone to a greater goal. We should educate our children (and everyone for that matter) so that they take the information they receive and use it to walk in wisdom and understanding in their lives. That is how this father taught his son - and what his goal was in the end.
The second thing he says to his son is that he also led him in upright paths. Again we see a word here, paths, that tells us that this father led with a view toward having his son learn a pathway. This word refers to a track or a course. The father, by his example - led his son to know the track that leads to wisdom and godliness. He refers to it as an "upright" path. In Proverbs 2:13 the father speaks to his son about staying on the straight path - and not taking the crooked one. This upright path is one that is straight, godly, and filled with what is right. The dad took the time to teach his son godly, holy ways. He did so with such consistency in his life that his son learned these ways - not just from instruction alone. He "led" his son in these paths - meaning that he walked in front of his son - leading the way all throughout his life. The son knew godliness not just by precept, but by example.
Here is the beauty of teaching and leading our sons in this manner. The father, in verse 12, now tells his son that there are wonderul rewards or walking in this way.
The first benefit is that when he walks, this son will not be impeded. The word here is "yatsar" and it means to be in distress or frustrated. The word indicates a frustrated anxiety in situations. The idea therefore is that the son will not face impediments that will make him filled with anxiety and frustration. This seems like a wonderful promise. But can we truly walk throughout our lives without being frustrated? That seems a little more than we can swallow, being those who have frequently experienced varying levels of frustration and anxiety in life.
God's promise here is not a lack of frustrating situations, but rather that when we walk, our steps will not be walked out in frustration. This God provides by teaching us wisdom - seeing life as He sees it. When we do this, we will begin to see all things as beneficial to us - even if they seem bad at the outset. We will find even the most difficult of moments being used by God for our good. We learn to have the same patience that our Father God has as we deal with people. Seeing life as He does makes us so much less frustrate-able. Knowing that all things work together for our good - as we are being conformed to the image and character of Jesus - makes life so very livable.
The second benefit the father tells his son that wisdom will bring is that when it comes time to run, he will not stumble. The word for "run" used here had pretty specific contexts. Men ran in battle. Men ran to the defense. Men ran to bring important messages to others. Fathers, we need to teach our sons that there are times they need to run. But we also need to train them so that when it is time to run - to battle the enemy - to defend their family, their friends, the church, their freedom - to bring the message of the gospel and of godliness - that they will not trip and fall because they are not ready. The idea here of stumbling always carried with it that one stumbled either because he was weak or because he had a stumbling block before him. This is where an education of wisdom - to help a young man establish a lifestyle is so vital. Without it he will develop habits and choices that will put stumbling blocks before him. Without it he will be weak when he needs to be strong. Without it he will fall inevitably into the two traps of manhood. He will either become a man who is domineering who lacks a servant's heart toward his wie and children - or - he will fall into passivity and not have the strength o character to lead his family and lead in situations where the world around him desperately needs a man to step up and be a man.
Fathers, an awesome task has been set before us. We are to train the next generation of men. That may seem like a daunting task - but it is one that God promises to help us and give us great grace to accomplish. There is no one, dad, who can take your place in this effort. You will be THE most effective teacher for your sons in this endeavor. Do it with all your hearts - because the blessing it will bring to your grandchildren and the world in which your son will live will be immeasurable. And beyond all this, the glory that will be brought to God for the ways that His wisdom will be displayed in your son's life and family - will adorn the gospel and the Word of God in a way that is desperately needed in our generation.