Proverbs is a book that promises us wisdom if we will heed its instructions. After describing for us in 7 very pointed verses what wisdom truly is (and we learn that it is to fear and obey God), we then turn to the first section in which practical instruction is given.
It would be wise for us to see what issues will dominate this instruction for the first 10 chapters. The primary issues will be as follows:
- Developing a heart that loves God’s wisdom.
- Rejecting a foolish lifestyle of self-indulgence.
- Recognizing evil men who will seek to get you to follow them.
- Seeing through schemes involving a promise of easy money.
- Seeing through the lure of illicit sexual activity.
These are the recurring themes that fill the early chapters of Proverbs. There is instruction about them and warnings against living foolishly for them. That is the early roadmap for our journey toward becoming a wise and understanding man or woman.
What do we immediately see as we begin our journey? We see that hearing what your father and mother have to say is very important to becoming a wise person. This, of course, is understanding the assumption of the Scriptures, which is that father and mother are reading, obeying, and then instructing their children in the Law of God. They are to teach it in the home, as they sit together, as they lay down in bed at night, and even as they are on the way wherever they go. Hearing dad and mom is vitally important.
The word “hear” means to listen to them with a view towards obedience. Dad is to instruct and mom is to teach. The dad’s role is to instruct applying discipline to the child. Since foolishness is bound up in the heart of every child of Adam, there is a need to instruct and discipline the child to put away unwise (unbiblical) behavior and choices and to learn obedience to God. Dads are to direct their children in the way they are to go. This means first of all that dad is walking in this way – and that by example as well as precept, he is teaching and leading his children to live a godly, disciplined life as he himself is doing. Mom’s role is to teach. The word used here is “torah” and it means taking the dictates of the Law or in this case the rules of the family and teaching them to the children to grasp the how and why of them. We should note that the one who wants to become wise is admonished not to ignore dad as he speaks – or to forget what mom teaches about how and why the family lives this way.
This was, as still is, God’s wisdom for parents. This was long before the world developed “child-rearing” experts who would contradict the Scriptures – with their degrees as their authority. I am not against reading books on child rearing. I am against following foolish counsel when it directly contradicts the Scriptures. It doesn’t matter how many degrees are listed after a person’s name – if they counsel parents to ignore or contradict the Word of God – they are counseling foolishness that will have disastrous affects on children and families. Some would assert that many of the families in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are a mess – and I would agree with them. Their history is not given to us as examples of perfect parenting. Often they are just the opposite – they are examples of what happens when we ignore them – as they did. We see consequences – many of which were passed down for generations.
There are rewards promised for those who do hear dad and mom’s godly instruction and teaching. Two things are mentioned – a graceful wreath and ornaments about one’s neck. Let’s look at these rewards for a moment.
The Graceful Wreath – The word used here means a wound wreath of leaves that was worn on the head. It was usually worn as a sign of honor or achievement. It is called a “graceful” wreath because is speaks first and foremost of God’s grace and favor on a person’s life – but can also include favor with others as well. Hearing a godly dad and not forgetting the things a godly mom has taught you will bring God’s favor into your life. It will mean you are under God’s favor as you choose to live wisely. Such wise living will also usually garner the favor of others as they watch and eventually want to emulate the wise way you live – and know the favor of God that is with you.
The Neck Ornaments – Necklaces were a sign of love as well as a sign of authority. They were often given to express love toward one either in a family or, in the case of marriage, to those you wanted to become family. They were also given as a sign of authority as both Joseph and Daniel received them from the king when they were elevated to a place of great authority. When we hear dad’s instruction and heed mom’s teaching – we will find that God’s love will be poured out on us in our obedience. Not only will love be a reward – but a very real authority and power will also be ours if we listen. We will be able to resist evil men, immoral men and women, schemes that will promise riches and deliver poverty. Rather than be too weak to stand – we will be strengthened with inner power to stand against such things.
There are very real benefits to hearing dad and not forgetting what mom taught us. But there is even a blessing for those who do not have godly parents like this. The blessing is to listen to God as He instructs you through a book that is the instruction manual they should have used. He intended it for dads and mom’s to use – but it is also beneficial for those who lacked parental teaching and need to know how to live a life of wisdom.