“Hear the Instruction of Thy Father”

The Fifth Commandment in the Book of Proverbs

3 min

The Book of Proverbs, written by Solomon, gives many practical insights on how we ought to honor our father and mother. Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived, shared some practical truths drawn from his many years of experience. How can we in daily life give to our parents the honor that is due to them? Let’s look at five ways that Solomon gave in Proverbs. These lessons are the lessons of mature reflection, and they express Solomon’s desire to honor the memory of his parents.

  1. We can honor our parents by listening to their instruction.
    “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother” (Proverbs 1:8). The first step to honor is humility, and one of the key ways to demonstrate a humble heart is to have a listening, receptive ear. Of all the people in the world, our parents know our character flaws very well, and we would be wise if we received their instruction as a personalized course in character training.
  2. We can honor our parents by appreciating their correction.
    “For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth” (Proverbs 3:12). It takes humility to receive discipline with gratitude. The writer of Hebrews gives us some encouragement in the midst of correction: “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11).
  3. We can honor our parents by making their hearts glad.
    “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother” (Proverbs 15:20). Do you want to see your parents be happy in their old age? A boat, an RV, or a comfortable retirement is not what will meet that desire. The valuable, priceless accomplishment that will give your parents lasting gladness in old age is to have a son or daughter who is wise. The Apostle John testified, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (III John 4).
  4. We can honor our parents by caring for their financial needs.
    “He that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother, is a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach” (Proverbs 19:26). The Hebrew expression “wasteth his father” literally means to plunder him or to cause him to suffer loss. A son that abandons his parents in their old age is an ungrateful fool. Our parents cared for us when we were entirely dependent upon them for life and sustenance. It is only right before God that we do everything in our power to ensure that they are well-provided for.
  5. We can honor our parents by speaking well of them before others.
    “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her” (Proverbs 31:28). This illustrative chapter in Proverbs about the virtuous woman was dedicated by Solomon to the memory of his mother, Bathsheba. She was certainly a woman with many faults, but Solomon learned through the hard lessons of life that his mother’s counsel had been right. He wrote this acrostic poem about his mother’s virtues so that all in the kingdom and for all time could hear his tribute to her character. If we are wise, we will never speak ill of our parents publicly. Rather, we should take every opportunity to give public credit to the virtues of our father and mother.

The Book of Proverbs contains much more regarding the important relationship between parents and children. These five points are perhaps a helpful and practical summary of specific ways that we can give honor to our parents in daily life. In this week’s biographical sketch, we will look at the life of Solomon—how he was instructed well in his youth, but forsook the wise counsel of his parents to follow his own pleasures and his own vanities. In his old age, Solomon repented of his follies, and he gave humble tribute to the wise counsel that he had forsaken. He wrote these proverbs so that future generations might avoid his own painful mistakes. May we learn from them so we can honor our parents now as God would have us do.

This article is from our Matters of Life & Death teaching series.

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