Proverbs 1:8-9 "My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck."
For the first time in his Book of Wisdom, Solomon pulls out the paint brush and palette full of colors. One of the reasons so many people like Solomon’s writing is because he crafted sentences in many shapes, sizes and colors. More than any author in the Bible, Solomon used images to communicate truths. Many of his proverbs were taught through mental images that he knew would not soon be forgotten. This was his preferred method of communication in all three of his books contained within the Old Testament; a method that confirmed his wisdom.
The image he chose to use first had to deal with the outward appearance of man. In communicating the importance of listening to the wisdom of father and mother, Solomon used the coveted image of ornaments and jewelry. He knew how important the outward appearance is to man. He knew how much stock man puts into his appearance. This wise man understood that the outward appearance, while not always an accurate gage of the inward condition, is the only thing we can see since we don’t have visible access to the inward condition of a person. We use the nature of the exterior to gage the nature of the interior. If someone is adorned in royal nature, then we make the assumption that they are royalty. We use the condition of the exterior to gage the condition of the interior. If someone is plagued with poor visible hygiene, then we assume that that person lacks sound judgment on a variety of other internal matters. Surely Solomon knew what God told Samuel when He said, “the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance.”
Knowing how much weight man places on his appearance, Solomon chose to give his son an image he knew his son would relate to and ultimately desire. The image of a man possessing garland around his head and chains around his neck was an image of success, an image of wealth, an image of stature, an image of royalty even. When promoted to prime minister in Egypt, Joseph was given a gold chain around his neck in Genesis 41. When promoted to third ruler in Babylon, Daniel was also given a gold chain around his neck in Daniel 5. And as king of Israel at the height of its kingdom, Solomon must’ve been arrayed in majestic ornament and jewelry. The imagery Solomon chose for the future king couldn’t have been more enticing.
With the mental image of himself having garland around his head and gold chains about his neck, the young reader would’ve stopped to soak in that imagery. While mulling over the possibility of looking like that, the young man could now appreciate what his father was trying to teach him. “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.” What didn’t seem that important to a young man became important. What didn’t seem that valuable to a young man became valuable. Solomon wanted his son to see the instruction of his father and the law of his mother as important and as valuable as garland & gold.
Just as garland & gold would make a young Middle Eastern man respectable, parental instruction would produce a man worthy of honor and respect. Just as garland & gold makes a person attractive, sound parental training makes a person attractive. Just as garland & gold makes a person coveted, sound parental advice makes a person coveted.
In ancient Jewish culture, garland & gold communicated success and accomplishment. Such ornaments were the reflection of inner achievement. This proverb teaches that hearkening unto father and mother would eventually produce the same appearance. The son or daughter that learns wisdom from father and mother would eventually possess the appearance equivalent to the person wearing garland & gold. The person who applies the wisdom of their parents to their lives will grow to achieve a reputation equivalent to the person adorned with luxurious ornaments.
By and large, a child who takes the advice of his parent is seen as a successful child with a bright future. People who follow their parent’s instruction are attractive and coveted. On the other hand, a child who rejects the instruction of his parent is seen as a problem child with trouble ahead. Those who are rebellious and disrespectful to their parents are typically unattractive and unwanted.
Children who grow up with and listen to wise parents will eventually see the wisdom they were given as valuable as anything this world has to offer. In time and with age, the person who possesses the wisdom of father and mother will cherish their instruction just as one would cherish garland & gold.