“The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” (KJV).
My wife and I have been married for almost 19 years, and we have four children that are now between the ages of 12 and 17. From the time they were young, we have always made our family devotion time a priority. No matter how busy our lives get, we always endeavour to gather together around the table at dinner time to share a meal together, connect, pray and read the Bible together. Sometimes we have read through a family devotional booklet, and other times we have simply read through a passage right out of the Bible and discussed it together.
When our children were much younger, we were reading through a little devotional booklet with wisdom Scriptures from the book of Proverbs. During that time, we came across the above Scripture from Proverbs 30:17. We told our kids, “You better make sure you don’t give your parents a dirty look, or the birds will come and pluck out your eyes!” Raised eyebrows and pensive glances soon followed, and I’m sure at least one of them was wondering if that would really happen. For some reason, this became one of their favourite Bible verses – or, at least one that they talked about the most!
Understanding Wisdom Literature:
From the time I graduated from Pacific Life Bible College in Surrey, BC in 1999, I taught there as an adjunct professor of Bible Research and Hermeneutics until I moved to Manitoba in 2007. One of the textbooks I used for my Hermeneutics class was Fee and Stuart’s How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. This excellent little volume explains how to accurately interpret the different genres of Bible literature – history, poetry, epistle, apocalyptic literature and the like.
In this book, they wrote: “The Book of Proverbs is the primary locus of prudential wisdom – that is, rules and regulations people can use to help themselves make responsible, successful choices in life… Proverbs teaches what might be called old fashioned basic values.” They also go on to explain that the Proverbs are generalizations, that is, that they express the normal course of events, and therefore, they are not to be viewed as absolute divine promises or guarantees. In other words, if you mock your parents or disobey them, this doesn’t literally mean that a bird will come and pluck your eye out. So what is this Scripture saying then?
In simplest terms, Proverbs is saying that it is wrong, bad and sinful to disrespect or dishonour your parents. Although there may not be an immediate consequence, sooner or later, you are going to reap a negative result in your life for sowing the seeds of rebellion. The wages of sin, the Bible warns us, is death. So don’t mock your parents! Honour, obey and respect them, and God will bless you for it.