We now move to Proverbs that Solomon wrote - not so much advice from his own father and mother - but those pithy little one verse statements that we treasure from him when trying to make wise decisions. The first of these deals with how a wise and foolish son affects a family.
The wise son is the one who orders his life according to God's commandments and ways. He walks through life with the Word of God foremost in his mind and choices. What is interesting here is that the Scriptures says that this son makes his father glad. The word for glad here is "samah" and it means to be glad, rejoice, be joyful, even to gloat. This is the day who wants to brag on his boy and the great choices he is making. You can see him telling everyone about his son's achievements. This is the case when a son gets a Ph.D. or when he is a football star. But what we need to note here is that the reason this father is glad is because his son is wise. That means this son may not have been the star of the team or the number one student in his class. He may not have been the doctor or the wildly successful businessman. All these things you can achieve without being wise or understanding. This definitely reminds dads what is important - and that is wisdom. If our sons become wise men who love the Lord and honor Him with their lives - we should be ecstatic! That is what is important and what really matters. Oh dads, make this your goal and the thing you strive for in rearing your sons. What a much better world this would be if we had young men who were urged toward wisdom rather than toward the normal cast of worldly achievements.
The latter half of this verse is not as joyful as the first. It says that the foolish son is a grief to his mother. This is the classic word for fool used again - the one who has no idea of how to live before God in a successful, practical, godly way. He lacks any kind of real spiritual wisdom or undersanding of life. He is pretty much oblivious to the whole idea of living for God's purposes, plans, and glory. As a result, though he may be wildly successful in the eyes of men - before God he is a spiritual pygmy. The commentary on this boy is that he is a grief to his momma. This grief is a sorrow and it speaks of a feeling of great loss and loneliness. When it comes to this verse I don't have to speak from principle - I know what this looks like up close and personal. My two sons walk with the Lord today - but there was a period of about 3-4 years when they did not. I grieved and prayed during this time - desiring for my boys to turn their hearts and lives to God. But my wife was a different story. Her grieving went so much deeper than my own. She wept often and spent hours praying for her boys. It broke her heart to see them not desire to walk in God's ways. Her reaction to them was probably ten times more intense than my own. It was painful at times when I watched her grieve this way - but she was pretty much inconsolable until they had returned to living for Christ. I'm not even sure that a guy can grasp how deeply a mother grieves for her children - especially her sons.
I know that this verse does not seem to be positive - and honestly it isn't. It is primarily a warning to sons to live for Christ. I think it is also a verse that warns parents of how much their children's choices will affect their own lives. But I want to offer a tinge of hope to those who have wayward sons. Embrace the grieving and allow the Lord to use it to empower your prayers. Also allow Him to use it to bring a deeper repentance and turning to Him in your own lives. That is what I watched my own sweetheart do when she walked through 3-4 pretty dark years of her life. But I also say that she would not let go until her sons were serving the Lord. I'm watching it even today as we rear our daughters. I'm committed to this process - but there is something deeper in her. For her it is life itself. She has poured her life into our kids - and to be honest there is within her a determination that they follow Christ. For that I am grateful - for I think that the way our kids follow the Lord is far more due to her prayers and tears - than it is to mine.