Proverbs 4:10-13

Proverbs 4:10-13 "Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many. I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life."
Church Buffalo NY
In the previous two verses, we made note of Solomon’s emphasis on personal responsibility in the area of wisdom.  If we are to receive anything from wisdom, we have to first give something to wisdom.  Wisdom’s fruit is only enjoyed when we put the work into harvesting that fruit.  In these four verses, Solomon continued the same principle within the context of parental instruction.  In verse ten, he told his son something that every Hebrew child would’ve known – that long life is attached to honoring one’s father and mother.  Every Hebrew child would’ve been taught and probably memorized the Fifth Commandment, “Honour thy father and mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12).

Solomon did in his letter to his son what the Hebrew Law didn’t do – elaborate on why long life is connected to honoring father and mother.  The reason Solomon assured Rehoboam of many years if he received his father’s words was because his father’s words were wise words.  Rehoboam’s years would be many if he listened to his father’s advice because it was wise advice. Solomon taught his son the right way - the way of wisdom.  He told his son that he led him down the right path - the path of wisdom.  Because of that direction, he was sending his son down the safest path and one that would give him the best chance at living longer.  Because of that direction, he was directing him down the brightest path and one that would highlight the dangers he should avoid.  Because wisdom, as Solomon put it in verse thirteen, could be Rehoboam’s “life,” his greatest chance at living many years would come as a result of pursuing the way of wisdom.  To pursue wisdom, he would only need to follow his father’s instruction since it was the instruction of wisdom.

As noted in the commentary on the previous verses, our world is governed by the law of sowing and reaping.  The Hebrew Fifth Commandment doesn’t supersede the law of sowing and reaping.  Honoring one’s father and mother doesn’t automatically give someone a longer life.  Taking a parent’s advice doesn’t magically add years to a child’s life.  It’s not the honor of a parent that produces long life – it’s the reception of a wise parent’s instruction that produces long life.  Honoring father and mother is always right but the promise attached to the commandment has much more to do with the type of parent being honored than it does the type of child doing the honoring.  For example, taking the advice of an immoral parent will result in immorality.  Immoral living only shortens one’s years - it doesn’t lengthen a life.  A son who chooses to consume alcohol at an addictive rate because of the example or instruction of his father will do nothing to lengthen his life.  Choosing to honor a parent’s alcoholic example or instruction in such a case doesn’t earn the child Divine protection of his liver or behind the wheel.  The promise attached to the Jewish commandment is not about honoring a parent for the sake of honoring them – it is about honoring and heeding a parent whose instruction is wise and consistent with the entire Jewish Law.

In the Mosaic Law, God never guaranteed long life to a child who honored his parent; instead, He promised the OPPORTUNITY to live longer.  Deuteronomy 5:16, “Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days MAY be prolonged, and that it MAY go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”  God said, “may” instead of “will” because this commandment wouldn’t replace the law of sowing and reaping.  If a child honored and heeded an ungodly parent, it would not go well with him and his days would not be prolonged since “the way of the transgressor is hard” (Proverbs 13:15).  If a child honored and heeded a godly parent, he would receive the POSSIBILITY and even PROBABILITY of it going well with him and his days being prolonged.

The benefit of honoring one’s parents hinge on the type of parent a child honors.  Paul the Apostle infers this very truth when referring to the Hebrew 5th Commandment in his letter to the Ephesian believers.  Ephesians 6:1-3, “Children, obey your parents IN THE LORD: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it MAY be well with thee, and thou MAYEST live long on the earth.”  Solomon assured his son of a long life if he embraced his father’s instruction because it was wise instruction.  That benefit of long life only remained a potential benefit as long as he continued to embrace his father’s wise instruction.  The key to receiving that benefit hinged on wise parental instruction, not on parental instruction alone.  No amount of honor or respect to a parent can overcome the law of sowing and reaping.  

Wise parental counsel is the counsel that will prevent a child from doing foolish things that could jeopardize his life or cut his years short.  Ultimately, it is up to a child to accept or reject his parent’s advice.  Honoring and heeding a wise parent will bring a child the opportunity for a longer life while dishonoring and rejecting a wise parent’s advice will remove the benefit of wisdom altogether from that child’s life.  When it comes to parental instruction, a child gets out of it what he puts into it.  When it comes to parental advice, a child reaps what he sows.  When it comes to the Fifth Commandment, there are no guarantees – just probabilities that hinge on the law of sowing and reaping.

Children, respecting your wise parent doesn’t extend your life – receiving your wise parent’s counsel puts you in a position to avoid danger and therefore, extend your life.  Many sons and daughters have respected their parents but have rejected their “old-fashioned counsel.”  Many sons and daughters have respected the faith of their parents but have chosen to reject that same faith in their lives.  One can respect their father and mother but fail to receive their instruction.  Failure to receive wise counsel will result in receiving the consequences of foolishness.  No child can sidestep the law of sowing and reaping.

Parents, your children will only be as good as the counsel they hear and ultimately, receive.  Raising a respectful son or daughter is not enough for them to be successful in life.  Children need sound counsel.  Children need wise instruction.  Wisdom alone is what will help a precious son or daughter avoid the hardship of life.

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