Proverbs 1:15 "My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:"
This is the third time in eight verses; the third time in the first chapter of his book where Solomon addresses his son with affection in order to get his attention. By saying, “my son,” this father is directing his son to their relationship; to the special bond a father and son possess. By saying, “my son,” this father is communicating to his son parental responsibility as well as parental affection. By starting these three verses with the phrase, “my son,” Solomon is telling Rehoboam that what he is about to read was not written flippantly or lightly; the counsel was written with paternal love and should be taken very seriously. By using, “my son” at the beginning of these verses, this father is telling his son that this is more than a general proverb; this is precise counsel crafted in unconditional love for the good of the young man he is responsible for – the young man he loves more than any other young man.
Notice that there is a progression in each of these three verses:
In verse 8, Solomon writes, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father.”
In verse 10, he writes, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.”
In verse 15, he writes, “My son, walk not thou in the way with them.”
This father started with the instruction to heed parental counsel because he knew that a lack of parental counsel in the home naturally leads to an abundance of dangerous counsel outside the home. From there, he instructed his son to reject the enticement of sinners outside the home. Ultimately, he urged his son to refrain his foot from taking the path in life that would lead to his demise.
There are multiple lessons for parents in Solomon’s approach.
Lesson #1 – Parents need to prepare their children for the future in proper order, “precept upon precept” (Is. 28:13). A child will be confused when he is told not to join company with an immoral person if he hasn’t already been taught how to identify the enticement of an immoral person. He will not see the person he is befriending as a dangerous person. Furthermore, a child will be confused when he is told to not listen to an immoral person if he hasn’t already been taught the stark differences between holy and unholy, moral and immoral, righteous and unrighteous, wise and foolish.
A child needs to be taught Biblical principles before a child is expected to identify deception, evil and danger in people. A child cannot identify danger without understanding safety. A child cannot identify evil without understanding righteousness. Therefore, a child needs to be taught and he needs to be taught to value parental counsel. Once a child is taught to value parental counsel, then he can be taught how to identify and refuse the enticements awaiting him. Once a child is taught to identify and refuse the enticements awaiting him, then he can be urged to avoid that path at all costs.
Parents who wait to instruct their children until danger knocks will have waited too long. Parents who wait to counsel their children until they’re hormonal teenagers wholly immersed in peer pressure have waited too long and will lack the foundation necessary to help their children avoid a path that will lead to great sorrow.
Parents, let us follow Solomon’s example and teach our children to value parental instruction. Let us then teach our children the ability to discern good from evil, protector from predator, teacher from tempter. Only then will we have the foundation necessary to be able to urge them to avoid a path that we know will lead to tremendous heartache.
There is a second lesson in these few verses that is even more important.
Lesson #2 – Parents need to prepare their children for the future with sincere love and affection. Not only do the three uses of the phrase, “my son,” show progression in counsel – they show an emotional investment that brings security to a child. Every boy and every daughter longs for security and they look to their parents for that security. From the moment children are born, they reach for the security of mom and dad. Newborns reach for parents when alone on the floor; toddlers run to parents when afraid in bed; adolescents secretly look to parents for affirmation when staring at an uncertain future.
When a father prefaces instruction or counsel with the phrase, “my son,” he is communicating security. When a mother prefaces instruction or counsel with the phrase, “my daughter,” she is communicating security. When a father attaches “my” to the name or nickname of his child, he is subtly giving his child a reason to trust him. When a mother attaches “my” to the name or nickname of her child, she is quietly giving her child a reminder that she is committed to their relationship.
Here in chapter one, Solomon is doing what every parent would be wise to emulate – he is consistently confirming the unbreakable bond a father has with his son. He is reminding his son that he’ll always be his father and that his son will always be his child. He is connecting their hearts and in doing so, he is bringing security to that child. A son who feels secure in his relationship with a parent will be more apt to hear that parent’s instruction because he’ll be less apt to interpret parental instruction as parental criticism. A daughter who feels secure in her relationship with a parent will be more apt to heed that parent’s instruction because she’ll be less apt to interpret parental instruction as parental rejection.
Parents, let us follow Solomon’s example and secure our children with sincere love and affection. Let us consistently and subtly remind our children that they are more than just sons and daughters – they are OUR sons and OUR daughters. Our counsel must be personal for our children if we are going to help them avoid the way of the wicked. Our children need to know that they’re special in our eyes if we are going to help them refrain their feet from the path of the wicked.
Parental influence will only be as good as the relationship a parent creates with his or her child. Parental influence hinges on a parent’s ability to secure his or her child in unconditional parental love.