Category Archives: Parenting

A Special Son

Proverbs 4:3-4

“For I was my father’s son, tender and only [beloved] in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.”

“Father’s Son”

The first thing that arrested my attention in these verses was the words “father’s son.”

Why do these words stand out so much? Could it be that Solomon was speaking as if he had been an only child? Could it be that of all the children of King David, the one who turned out well was the one who was treated special?

Solomon was not David’s only son, nor his first. Yet, Solomon grew up differently. Even before he asked for wisdom from God, he was well on the right path, unlike his brothers Absalom and Adonijah. Could it be, because of the mistakes that David had already made, he didn’t want to repeat them with Solomon? Could it be he didn’t want another son hanging from a tree?

“My Mother”

Can you imagine what kind of mother Bathsheba must have become? She evidently was not the kind of queen mother who sent her children away to be cared for by nannies. No, she evidently doted on Solomon. She must have cherished and protected him, for he was “tender” (delicate, weak) in her eyes.

Solomon was not Bathsheba’s only son, either. But if we are to understand Solomon correctly, he was definitely treated in a unique way (“only beloved”).

“And live”

Can you picture Solomon remembering the face of David? His father had already had two sons try to take over his throne, and both had died. Surely he couldn’t foret hearing his father cry, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” – (2 Samuel 18:33).

What kind of pain must have been written in the wrinkles of that broken father’s face? As Solomon remembered, did he try to pass on his wisdom in the same way?

Solomon says, “Let thine heart retain my words; keep my commandments, and live.” Was he thinking of his rebellious brothers? Could he see their bodies in his mind’s eye as he looked upon Rehoboam? Oh, if only Rehoboam had listened (See 1 Kings 3).

A Prayer

Oh, God! Am I passing on the wisdom of my godly parents? Do I take my parenting seriously? If the wisest man in the world could mess up as much as he did, what chance do I have of rearing god-fearing children? Lord, my hope is in You. Your Spirit is my strength. Let my children see You in my actions, and where I fail, blind their eyes. Give me a broken heart for my “tender and beloved.”

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Father Knows Best

Proverbs 4:1-2

“Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.”

Father Knows Best?

Mark Twain may have disagreed with Proverbs 4:1-2. He is widely quoted as having made the following statement:

‘When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.’

Few children willingly listen to a parent. I certainly didn’t, but my generation did not have any choice. Solomon obviously did take note of his father’s instruction and experience. Unlike Solomon, King David did not grow up in the opulent surroundings of a palace. He spent his early years in the fields and on the hills, where the instruction of his own father would have been supplemented by the hands-on experience he describes to Saul prior to his encounter with Goliath (1 Samuel 17:32-51).

The Most Important Thing

The most important thing that David could have taught Solomon from all his experience was to trust God. Trust/faith in God enabled David to fight bears and lions, to defeat Goliath, to manage Saul and his moods, to survive being on the run from the vengeful Saul, and to become a king who generally exhibited wisdom.

Before he died David again demonstrated great wisdom through the instructions he gave to Solomon from his deathbed (1 Kings 2:1-9). It is interesting that David says to Solomon; “Thou art a wise man.”

Wisdom in Action

The fact that Solomon had learned from David is evident in the words of 1 Kings 3:3: ‘And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father.’ It may have been the wisdom passed on by David that led Solomon to answer in the way that he did when God appeared to him in a dream and asked; “What do you want? Ask and I will give it to you!” (1 Kings 3:5 NLT)

Solomon answers God by acknowledging his inadequacy for the task ahead. Instead of putting in an order for fame and wealth, Solomon asks for an understanding heart, i.e. wisdom. It is evident that Solomon had listened intelligently to his father, and that he had already sought to be a man of knowledge and understanding. What an example! I wonder how I would have answered such a question from God when I was Solomon’s age?


Welcome Correction

Proverbs 3:11-12

“My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”

 

Correction

I have yet to meet a human being who enjoys being corrected, or disciplined for errors, mistakes, or any form of wrongdoing. I well recall the unpleasantness of discipline exercised by parents and teachers when I was growing up. Physical punishment was the norm at school in my day, and the threat of a visit to the headmaster’s study generally had the desired effect on pupils.

Most of us do not like to imagine God as a Headteacher or Principal with a list of punishments to be levied for misdemeanors. But Scripture teaches that every one of us will one day stand before God and answer to Him for the way in which we have lived our lives (Romans 14:10-12).

Feared, or Welcomed?

Inevitably there will be times during our journey on earth when we will face corrective action from God. The question we must consider is whether correction from God is a form of discipline to be feared, or a process of discipling that is to be welcomed?

While Proverbs teaches that we should fear God, the above verses confirm that if God corrects us it is because He loves us and wants to delight in us as He trains us to be disciples.

Abba Knows Best

The use of the word father in verse 12 is important. The writer is defining the relationship that God desires with those He created. Jesus confirmed that God is a loving Father who delights in His children when He referred to God as ‘Abba’.

If God needs to discipline His children He will. It may not be pleasant, but it is vital if we are to grow into spiritual adulthood. Is that what you desire?

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. (1 Corinthians 3:1-2)


Trust the Guide

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

My Dad

Unlike me, my dad was brought up in a rough and tough home. At the age of 14, for his birthday, he received his first moonshine still. In high school he was one of the “protectors” who protected for a fee. Up until he met my mother in the middle 1960’s he was still running white lightning through the hills of Tennessee and building drag cars.

As a high school senior my dad benched 300 lbs.; ran track; threw shot put; was the state heavyweight wrestling champion; loved to fight; and could drink away a paycheck. But just a few years later, on the living room floor of my mother’s house, he gave his heart to Jesus Christ, and nothing stayed the same.

My Dad’s Guidance

My father was a wise man, but make no mistake about it, he earned his wisdom the hard way. And I did my best to follow his instruction, because I figured he knew what he was talking about. He had seen and done a lot, and he had the scars to prove it.

One day he told me, “Son, sin is fun. Alcohol tastes good. The devil has a lot to offer. But let me tell you, when you have friends bleed to death in your arms you’ll realize sin ain’t worth the price.” Spoken like the humble preacher he was.

When I got old enough to run wild, I didn’t. When I could drive, I drove safely. When I dated, I saved myself for marriage. Was I perfect? Absolutely not! But every time I came close to messing up I would remember my dad, his words, and his example. That remembrance helped direct my path.

Solomon’s Dad

Solomon had a father, also. His name was King David, and he also knew the cost of sin, the feeling of spilled blood.

God gave Solomon wisdom, but some of it came through the words of David, Solomon’s rough and tough dad. I wonder if the above verses were based on the following advice given years earlier?

As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. – 1Chronicals 28:9 NKJV

Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. – Psalm 37:3-5 KJV

Solomon surely took his father’s words to heart. Our Father asks us to do the same.

A Prayer

Lord God, I am so tempted to do things my way. I am tempted so often to trust my own feelings, to follow my heart. Help me, Lord, to acknowledge that you have traveled this way before. Help me to listen and pay attention as you guide me through the curves of life, making them as good as straight.

Related Link: “First Post” – A tribute to my father, Rev. Terry L. Baker.


Listen and Receive

Proverbs 2:6-9

“For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. 7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. 8 He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints. 9 Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.”

Verse six seems to be the continuation of the thought started in the first five verses.

Solomon is saying “if you listen to me and seek the wisdom of God, you will find treasure – treasure that is found in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. But the crucial connection is “incline thine ear unto wisdom, [and] apply thine heart to understanding.”

Listening

One of the hardest things for a child to do is listen to the widom of an elder. If you are a parent, or play one on T.V., then you know that teenagers are the worst offenders. Believe it or not, teens know everything. They have no desire to listen to instruction, especially if if goes against the grain of their vast experience.

But Solomon wants his son to understand that in order to grow in wisdom and understanding, especially without having to suffer needlessly, he needs to listen. And if he will listen to the Lord, wisdom and understanding will come from “out of his mouth.”

Access Granted

The Hebrew word that is translated in verse 7 as “layeth up” is tsaphan (Strong’s H6845).The idea is of something that is hidden, secret, inaccessible, and guarded. This means that true wisdom from God is not accessable by worldy or fleshly means. It can’t be mined or extracted from the soil of life. It hast to be heard.

An attentive, listening ear is all that is required to gain access to the secret treasures of the Almighty. They can’t be bought. They can’t be bargained for. They come at the expense of time and humilty.

Next Level

Much like the video games children (and too many adults with nothing better to do) play, where each level unlocked provides tools to succeed on the journey to the next, the storehouse of God’s wisdom provides what we need for the journey ahead.

Notice how that when accessed, God provides three things: a buckler (shield), divine protection, and understanding. He watches over our paths and gives us invaluable insight into the working of life. But He also give us a “buckler,” a shield, a piece of armour.

What most young people, and adults, fail to realize is that danger lurks aroung the corner. And no matter how straight God makes our path, He still wants us to bear a shield. His wisdom is a strong defense against the arrows and spears of the enemy.

The Buckler

Interestingly, though, the KJV translators used the the word buckler instead of shield. Why? Maybe it’s because a buckler is more than just a static, defensive piece of armor. A buckler was also a weapon. Bucklers were smaller shields which could be used not only to deflect the enemies blows, but could also be used as a “steel fist.”

Never forget that the same shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16) which can “quench the firey darts of the wicked” can also be used to fight back. The tools God gives those who listen to Him will not only protect us, but will enable us to advance.

 

(originally published 4/09/12)


Ornamental Wisdom

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.

Parents

It is interesting that verse eight of Proverbs 1 includes reference to both a father and a mother. Not one or the other, but both. Solomon in his wisdom knew that balance was required, and that a family requires two parents to provide guidance and instruction to children. This is what God intended from the beginning (Genesis 2:24).

Going to school in the 1960s just one of my classmates did not have two parents. The reason he grew up with only a father was that his mother died giving birth to his sister. Fast forward to now and many children can rely on only one parent, even in Christian circles. While many single parents do a magnificent job, it was not God’s intention for a family to consist of one parent.

Ornament of Grace

Although verse eight appears to be directed at the young, there is a significant challenge to parents in verse nine. Initially any new parent is likely to be more overwhelmed by the gift of the child, rather than by the challenge of parenting that lies ahead. The challenge and the responsibilities are clearly defined in the prose of these verses. The instruction of a father and the law of a mother are to be an ornament of grace around the head of a child and chains around his neck.

The Hebrew word used for grace also translates as kindness and beauty, something precious to be attached like an ornament or a necklace. And that is a challenge. Do we consistently parent with grace, with kindness? Can our children respect us sufficiently to learn from our instruction? It is important that they can and do.

What do your children see in you?


The Journey Begins Again!

Proverbs 1:1-7

The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; (2) To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; (3) To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; (4) To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. (5) A wise [man] will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: (6) To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.

Welcome!

Welcome to the first day of the third run of Proverbial Thought. Our 7th anniversary!!

Seven years ago, on this day, we started out on an ambitious project: write daily thoughts and commentary about every proverb in the Book of Proverbs. It took us almost two years to make it all the way through. We are now going to re-post updated versions of those daily thoughts, but with one major change – they will post morning AND evening every day!

Our prayer is that every day, morning and evening, you will come here and find helpful and encouraging wisdom from God’s Word.

The Introduction and Purpose

As the above verses point out, the author of Proverbs was the son of King David, Solomon. According to the Bible, Solomon was the wisest man in the world, and “men of all nations came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom” (1 Kings 4:34 NIV). Of all the teachers in the world, we could learn from no better. Not even the lonely, grey-bearded gurus secluded on snowy, hard-to-reach mountain tops are wiser.

In verses 2-4 Solomon outlines the purpose of the book: know wisdom. Solomon knew that all the knowledge in the world was worth very little without wisdom. What is wisdom? Wisdom is the ability to take something learned and be able to apply that knowledge in a useful, profitable, and healthy way. It’s the ability to make sound judgments and right choices. It is what is needed in order to not act like a fool, even though one seems to know everything.

Don’t be a Fool

It is no coincidence that the official first day of this blog was planned for April 1st, April Fools Day. Fools despise wisdom and instruction. Fools deny there is a God (Psalm 14:1). However, Solomon believed. As a matter of fact, it was from God that Solomon received his wisdom (1 Kings 3:12). He should have known better than anyone, then, that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. But the ultimate wisdom is not found in the words of men, nor in the Proverbs, alone. Wisdom is found in a Person.

Many men and women will try to seek God through earthly, man-centered wisdom, but to no avail. The Wisdom that leads to God, the Wisdom that “stretches out [His] hand” (Prov. 1:24), is none other than Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:30 says that God made Jesus “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” for us. He took what was “foolishness” in the world’s eyes (Christ crucified) and turned it into the only Way (1 Cor. 1:23-24). All the wisdom of the Proverbs can be found in Him.

Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. … It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” – 1Cr 1:22-24, 30-31 NIV

On this first day of April – the first day of this devotional (the third time through) – seek Wisdom – seek Jesus.

Don’t be a fool; be wise!