We’re coming up on Father’s Day. For a lot of us this is a time to honor and celebrate our dads who’ve done so much for us. Sometimes, it’s the little things that really matter. When I was on the high school drill team, my dad came to every half time — even when the game was way across town, or it was cold and rainy.
Just by showing up my dad showed that he cared. My relationship with my dad wasn’t perfect, but I knew that he loved me. I was more willing to listen to his counsel and follow his instruction, even when my know-it-all, teenage brain thought I knew better, because I trusted my dad.
Much of the book of Proverbs is written from the perspective of a father who is passing down wisdom and knowledge to his son, because ideally, that’s the way it should work. Parents love their kids, want to raise them well, so they teach and model the ways of the Lord to their kids in everyday life.
Wise parents know they aren’t perfect, but they recognize that they have wisdom and knowledge to share. Proverbs challenges parents to walk with God so they gain wisdom to pass on to the next generation. It challenges children to listen to and obey their parents.
Proverbs 1:8–9 (NIV)
8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
9 They are a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.
3 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
20 My son, keep your father’s command
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
21 Bind them always on your heart;
fasten them around your neck.
22 When you walk, they will guide you;
when you sleep, they will watch over you;
when you awake, they will speak to you.
23 For this command is a lamp,
this teaching is a light,
and correction and instruction
are the way to life,
- What emotion do you sense behind the father’s words? How would you describe his tone?
- What is the father imploring his son to do? Why? What is he trying to accomplish?
- Why would it bring a father joy for his child to listen and do what he says?
Read what others say
On parent/child relationships in Proverbs
From Tremper Longman:
“Family is an important topic in Proverbs. Indeed, the explicit dynamic of the teaching provided in the book is that of a father, speaking on behalf of himself and his wife, instructing his son. In one sense, then, the whole book is relevant to family.”
From Derek Kidner:
“The parents’ chief resource is constructive, namely their ‘law’, taught with loving persistence. This ‘law’ (tôrâ) is a wide term which includes commands (cf. 3:1; 7:2) but is not confined to them: basically it means direction, and its aim here is to foster wise habits of thought and action which…will equip him to find his way through life with sureness (3:23; 4:12) and honour (1:9; 4:8, 9). There is a childhood reminiscence of its tenderness preserved in 4:3, and a sample of its bracing outspokenness, its home truths, in 31:1–9. Many are the reminders, however, that even the best training cannot instill wisdom, but only encourage the choice to seek it (e.g. 2:1ff.).
Explore on your own
Proverbs has wise words for children who want to honor their parents. It also has wise instruction for parents as they raise their kids. Today’s “Explore on your own” section will include some links for moms and dads hoping to use Proverb’s wisdom in their parenting.
This article from Suzi Ciliberti talks encourages parents of even young children to start teaching them wisdom from Proverbs.
As our heavenly Father, God insists that we know his instruction and follow it, not because he wants to control us, but because he loves us and knows how we will best thrive. Take some time to thank God for the wisdom he provides.
Pray over your relationship with your dad. Whether you are 1o or 40, how do you treat his instruction or advice? If you are young and living at home, do you obey? If you are an adult living on your own, do you honor him for it? Pray over your answer.
Talk about it
- Why is it hard for kids and teenagers to obey their parents? What factors are at play? Are there ways that our culture undermines respect for fathers? Discuss how can we encourage the kids and teens in our lives to have respect for their dads.
What’s one thing your dad taught you that you have kept close and used? It doesn’t have to be spiritual. For example, my Dad taught me how to appreciate good jazz (he was a musician). Share that one thing with someone as a way to honor your dad.