Proverbs 3:33-35

Proverbs 3:33-35 "The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just. Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly. The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools."
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From a parental perspective, Solomon finished this section of his book in a wise way.  Having given counsel after counsel and instruction after instruction, this dad did something better than just COMMAND & DEMAND – he provoked thought and allowed for his son to make his own decisions.

Solomon, the king of contrast, concluded this chapter with simple statements contrasting the relationship God has with the wicked with the relationship He has with the just.  He contrasted the behavior of God towards the scorner with the behavior of God towards the lowly.  He contrasted the inheritance of the fool with the inheritance of the wise.  Note that in each of these verses, there is no specific instruction or invitation nor is there any parental command or demand.  These final verses are simple statements highlighting spiritual realities in a world of important choices.   These statements were meant to leave Rehoboam thinking about the spiritual realities in life rather than thinking about his potential obligations to his father.

There is a place in every child’s development for the need to swiftly obey a parent’s COMMAND & DEMAND.  Especially early, a child should learn to obey a parent’s voice without explanation or even contemplation.  This instant obedience is necessary to learn for a child’s own benefit as danger won’t wait for an explanation.  If a child chases a ball into the street where a car is rapidly approaching, there is no time for a child to understand why his parent is demanding instant obedience to “get out of the road!”  Furthermore, a child needs to learn to obey a parent’s COMMAND & DEMAND simply out of respect for the authority God has placed in their lives.  Ephesians 6:1, “Children, OBEY your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” 

That all being said, parenting is much more than COMMANDING & DEMANDING a child’s obedience – it is REARING & STEERING a child to be successful.  In many ways, the goal of parenting is raise children to no longer need parenting.  The older a child gets, the less he should need his parents’ direction.  The older a child gets, the less he should need his parents’ instruction.  For a child to be successful in life, he must be able to THINK through a decision thoroughly.  To think through a decision thoroughly, he must be given sufficient time and opportunity to think.  Parental COMMANDS & DEMANDS don’t allow for such thorough thought.  Therefore, successful parenting begins with a demand for obedience in the form of COMMANDS but then gradually replaces those commands with COUNSEL.  A parent’s counsel is less about a demand for obedience and more about an opportunity for thought.  A parent’s counsel provides the platform for conversation, discussion and most importantly, THOUGHT.

The goal of a parent is to provoke thought in a child so that he can make a sound decision with or without a parent’s input.  The goal of a parent is to provoke thought in a child so that he can make a good decision with or without a parent’s presence.  Mothers who make all of her son’s decisions for him are doing a great injustice to him.  Fathers who demand obedience to each and every decision he makes for his daughter is not equipping her for life.  Parents may know best but if they never give their children an opportunity to think, those children will never know how to choose the best on their own.

After providing much instruction and counsel, Solomon finished the chapter with these basic truths so as to give his son the opportunity to think about the choices he will have to make.  Rather than leaving his son thinking about parental expectations, he left his son thinking about spiritual realities.  While he was certainly trying to steer his son in the right direction with his counsel, he wanted his son to make the right decision because of the spiritual realities that awaited him in life.  If Rehoboam could only make the right decision when his father counseled him, then Rehoboam would be destined for failure because a father can’t and won’t always be around.

By leaving his son with these statements of contrast, Solomon was essentially saying, “Choose the right way because I’m telling you it’s the right way but regardless of what I suggest, understand these spiritual realities about life.”  A child’s ability to understand spiritual realities is far more important to his success than his ability to obey his parents.  The simple daughter can obey her father but what happens when that father isn’t around?  The ignorant son can obey his mother but what happens when that mother isn’t around?  Parenting is much less about COMMANDS & DEMANDS and much more about REARING & STEERING.  Parenting is much less about getting a child to OBEY and much about getting a child to THINK.  

What’s more important – learning to obey a parent’s command to be just OR grasping the spiritual reality that “The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just (verse 33)?

What’s more important – learning to obey a parent’s demand to be meek OR understanding the spiritual reality that “Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly (verse 34)?

What’s more important – learning to obey a parent’s order to be wise OR realizing the spiritual reality that “The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools (verse 35)?

More than any specific command or counsel, Solomon wanted his son to realize these spiritual truths because they teach a valuable lesson that would guide his son long after his father was dead and gone.  These simple spiritual truths teach the lesson that WHO you are before God will determine WHAT you get from God.  A child who grasps that lesson will not need to be told what to do in each and every situation in life.  A child who grasps that lesson will have the tools necessary to make sound decisions.

Parents, don’t be afraid to let your child THINK.  On the contrary, be afraid if your child doesn’t THINK.
Parents, don’t be afraid to let your child make his or her own decisions. 
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to leave your child with spiritual realities void of any parental COMMANDS & DEMANDS.

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