Proverbs 6:20

Proverbs 6:20 "My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother."
Church East Aurora NY
Over and over throughout the Book of Proverbs, Solomon reminds his son to heed parental instruction.  Because of age and experience, parents understand more about life than their children.  For the same reasons, parents can detect trouble and perceive problems better than their children.  With age and experience comes wisdom, knowledge, discernment and understanding.  A child does not need to learn life’s lessons the hard way.  If he can heed his parents’ instruction, he will spare himself from unnecessary hardship and get a jump on life’s true joys.  Unfortunately however, because of youth and inexperience, it is common for a child to disregard parental instruction.  Children minimize and overlook a parent’s advice because it wasn’t what they were thinking and like most humans, “if it’s not what I was thinking, then it can’t be right.”  Solomon constantly urged his son to take parental advice seriously because it would help protect him from danger and propel him to success.

In this simple statement, Solomon writes something worth noting and more importantly, worth emulating.  He spoke about himself and his wife in generic terms instead of in personal terms.  He referred to himself and his wife in third person format.  He didn’t tell Rehoboam to keep my commandment” and my wife’s law.”  He referred to himself as “thy father” and he referred to his wife as “thy mother.”  This may seem like an insignificant detail but it most surely is not.  At times throughout the book, Solomon made this same plea in personal terms as he did in 3:1 when he wrote, “my son, forget not MY law; but let thine heart keep MY commandments.”  At times, he made his parental advice personal but at other times, he took the personal connection out of it and referred to himself in the third person.

Parents should absolutely make their advice personal so that it lands on the ears of their children with genuine care.  Impersonal counsel is rarely taken seriously and for that reason, parents must give their instruction with a caring and invested approach.  That truth being said, parental advice can’t always be personal.  If parental instruction is always given on a personal level, a child will forsake that instruction when a parent’s flaws are exposed.  When a parent’s humanity reveals itself, hypocrisy is discovered and worse, pain is felt by a child.  A child will be tempted in these moments to forsake ALL of his parent’s advice.  Because of youth and inexperience, children have a hard time acknowledging the reality of humanity – that we all are imperfect.  When young people sees hypocrisy or mistakes, they tend to reject everything about the person they see flaws in.  This is why we have a generation of Americans who want to remove the memory of America’s forefathers – they see obvious flaws and can’t reconcile the good and the bad.  Rather than accept the flawed nature of our history’s personnel, this young generation wants to remove them from our history altogether.  In the minds of the young, one mistake or one flawed position renders an entire life and contributions to the founding of our nation meaningless.  Because of inexperience, this youthful generation lacks understanding, grace and mercy.  For them, ideology trumps reality.  This puts a parent’s sound advice in jeopardy.    

Because young people have a hard time accepting imperfect parents, Solomon took a balanced approach to his children.  At times, his counsel came on the back of a personal bond with his son.  At other times, his counsel came on the back of an individual responsibility to God.  In other words, his instruction was not just the words of a person caring for Rehoboam – it was the instruction of a father whom God placed over Rehoboam.  On one side of the parental coin, Solomon wanted his son to recognize the advice he was receiving was coming from the person who loved him dearly.  On the other side of the parental coin, Solomon wanted his son to recognize the advice he was receiving was coming from the person whom God set over him – his father.  In this balanced approach, a father can and should motivate his child’s reception of wisdom by connecting the wisdom to a loving bond between father and child.  In addition however, a father can and should motivate his child’s reception of wisdom by connecting the wisdom to that child’s duty before God to heed his father’s words.

Our children need to take the instruction of their parents seriously because of a clear and sincere bond between parent and child.  That being said, if it is that emotional bond alone that leads a child to take his parent’s advice, then he will be tempted to reject that advice when his parent fails him or hurts him.  It is precisely for this reason that every child needs to see his father and mother as someone different from all other men and women in their lives.  A father is to be honored no matter how a child feels about him.  A mother is to be honored no matter how a child feels about her.  Fathers and mothers, regardless of the bond with their children, offer their children lessons learned by age and experience.  Father and mothers, regardless of the ever-changing emotional bond with their children, hold a special title and its corresponding responsibility before God.  Children need to see their parents as something more than a friend or a loving leader.  They need to see their parents as something more than the person who provide their food, clothing and shelter.  

Fear of disappointing mom and dad isn’t good enough to motivate a child to choose wise counsel.  Fear of hurting mom and dad isn’t the right motivation for a child to choose sound advice.  Fear of angering mom and dad isn’t the right motivation for a child to choose godly instruction.  Parents use these emotional consequences as tools to raise their children and we shouldn’t.  It plays right into the hands of linking our wisdom with our relationship.  If our disappointment is linked to our child’s rejection of instruction then surely they will want to reject our instruction when we hurt them by our flaws and failures.  Our children need to be taught the value of parents and their instruction no matter how tight or loose the bond between parent and child is.  Our children need to be taught the position of a parent in society and in the home as God established.  Whether a child is happy with his parent or not, a father and a mother are to be honored.  Whether a child feels close to his parent or not, a father and a mother are to be heard.  

Fathers and mothers wear an invisible crown that makes them different from all others in a child’s life.  Society as God intended it, hinges on a respect for authority.  It hinges on honoring the crown.  The title, regardless of who has it, is what deserves respect.  The position, regardless of who possesses it, is what deserves honor.  The crown, regardless of who wears it, is what deserves reverence.  God told believers in 1 Peter 2:17 to “honour the king” and there are no character requirements for that honor.  The same is true for parents, especially as recorded in the Old Testament.  The Hebrew people were to “honour thy father and thy mother.”  There were no additional requirements for parents to receive honor and there were no listed flaws that stripped a parent of that honor.  When it comes to authority, the Bible teaches to render “honour to whom honour is due” by position and by title, not by performance or by relationship (Romans 13:7).  The Bible condemns those who speak evil of dignities in 2 Peter 2:10, no matter who the dignitaries are.  The Bible condemns those who speak evil of their parents in Proverbs 20:20 and 30:17, no matter who the parents are.  Children need to know that God expects them to listen to their parents respectfully. Children need to know that God expects them to consider their parents’ advice not just because their parents are their caregivers – but because their parents are their authority.

Parents, make your parenting personal and establish a special bond with your children.  They are more apt to heed your instruction when they know you care about them.  That being said, don’t make everything personal in your relationship.  If your children make important decisions in life based entirely on their emotional connection with you, they will inevitably make poor decisions at some point. A child needs to obey his parent because of a parent’s bond and because of a parent’s title.  A child needs to appreciate the bond a parent offers but also respect the title a parent holds.

Kids, listen to your parents because of the big heart they have for you.  More importantly, listen to your parents because of the God-given parental crown they wear for you. Your parents are watching out for you and God is watching you.  Make your parents proud of you but more importantly, make God happy with you!

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