Proverbs 1:8 "My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:"
Verse 1 identifies the author of this Book of Wisdom and verse 8 identifies the primary recipient of this Book of Knowledge. Solomon, the king of Israel wrote this book to his young son. This fact is confirmed throughout the book with the phrase, “my son” being used a total of 23 times. The king of Israel wanted the future king to be able to govern his people properly, which he knew would require wisdom. This king was passionate about the need for leaders to possess wisdom. When he assumed the throne years earlier, God offered him a blessing and told him to fill in the blank. Solomon’s response foreshadowed great political success – “give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?” (2 Chronicles 1:10).
By experience, Solomon knew that wisdom would propel his son to success. He also realized that it was unlikely God would appear to his son in a dream with the same offer he once received. Therefore, instead of waiting for a dream from God, this good father set out to give his son what God had previously given him.
His first direct instruction to the future king was to hear his father’s instruction. His first direct counsel to the heir of the throne was to not forsake the law of his mother. Although Solomon surely knew the Fifth Commandment of Judaism, he didn’t tell his son to honor his father and mother. Instead, he told him to listen to his father and his mother. Solomon knew that honoring parents is the only great commandment that was accompanied by a promise; the promise of long life. And we can be sure that he wanted his son to inherit the blessing and promise of God. But Solomon wanted his son to excel beyond the basics of the Law; beyond obedience and conformity to the Law. Not only did this father want his son to inherit the blessing of God, he also wanted his son to enjoy the benefits of parental wisdom.
For this young man, there was an available blessing in honoring father and mother. But for this young man, there were even more available blessings and these blessings would be found in listening carefully to the wisdom of father and mother. For a future king to be successful, it wouldn’t be good enough to just honor father and mother. As good as that virtue would be it would do little to bring wisdom. Listening to father and mother however, would bring wisdom.
No matter the age or gender, every child would do well to learn the wisdom of Proverbs 1:8. Pursue the blessing of God by Honoring father and mother (Ephesians 6:2-3), then go on to pursue the wisdom of God by Hearing father and mother. There is a difference in the two actions. Honoring father and mother can be done anywhere anytime while hearing father and mother requires attendance in some capacity. Honoring father and mother can be accomplished by respectfully & quietly walking away from a potential conflict while hearing father and mother can only be accomplished by respectfully & quietly standing before them. Honoring father and mother can be achieved by a closed mind as long as it is accompanied by a closed mouth while hearing father and mother can only be achieved by open ears and an open mind. It is possible to honor father and mother without having any interest in their instruction or input. It is very possible to honor father and mother without ever gleaning any wisdom from them.
This proverb teaches us that parents are not to be viewed as ancient landmarks worthy only of our respect. Parents are to be viewed as wells of wisdom worthy of both our honor and our hearing. The gray head of fathers and mothers is a crown worthy of honor but it is also a symbol of wisdom. We must see the gray hairs of our parents as reason for respect but also proof of wisdom. While it is not the case for all fathers and mothers, the age-given gray crown they wear earned them the wisdom experience brought them. Solomon refers to this gray crown as the beauty of old men (Proverbs 20:29) and this is exactly how we should see it.
Sons and daughters, let us see this crown as a symbol of honor and more importantly as a symbol of wisdom. Let us view our parents as wells of wisdom worthy of our time and consideration knowing success is not possible without wisdom and most of us are given wells of wisdom at an early age from which we draw from for most of our lives.
Fathers and mothers, let us see ourselves as God wants our children to see us – wells of wisdom worth returning to over and over.
Do we possess the wisdom of God necessary for the future success of our children?
Like Solomon, have we asked for wisdom according to James 1:5?
Are we available and accessible to our children so that they might receive this wisdom?
Are both father and mother offering wisdom to a family or is one offering wisdom and the other offering foolishness?
Are we only worthy of honor by title or are we worthy of hearing by content?