Lecture 21: Wise Parents

Course: Proverbs

Lecture: Wise Parents

I. The Teaching of Musar and the Torah

A. Taught By Both Parents

This is the second lecture on the home. The first lecture was on Wise Spouses. The fundamental characteristic of both is the Fear of the Lord, a mission to God’s Word, with a spiritual humility and faith in him. We now come to Wise Parents and here I didn’t develop anything by way of introduction. First of all, we need to realize that both the mother and father are involved in the teaching of the child as I have said all along. We have already seen that a reason for marriage is pro-creation, but that has to be combined with education. So by the time the child reaches puberty they are prepared for the responsibility for reproduction and forming a new family unit. Both parents are involved in this instruction in regards to Torah or the Law of Moses. But Torah actually means catechetical teaching and with that the Ten Commandments are not really law as there are no penalties attached to them immediately. They are the values of the community, the rights that are bestowed upon one another. The Law is the teachings of the community and so they are both involved in teaching and instruction as in Musar to prevent folly and provide discipline. This instruction model suggests that optimal disciplinary responses begin with less severe tactics, such as reasoning, but proceed to firmer disciplinary tactics when the initial tactics achieve neither compliance nor an acceptable compromise. This is consistent with many studies showing that a combination of reason and punishment is more effective than either one alone. These comments are by Robert E. Lazelere. Note that Musar can be verbal instruction or discipline. For the NIV when it was verbal, it was translated instruction but when it was punishment, it was translated discipline but it was the same word in Hebrew but it has two different applications whether it is verbal or corporal.

Both parents are involved in the teaching. This is shown in Proverbs 8:1, the scene between the preamble and the prologue of the address, admonition and motivation and those ten lessons from 1:8 through 9:18. Now when you actually begin the second collection, the Proverbs of Solomon in 10:1a; we see that the wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother. When you see the father addressing the son, you should also understand that this includes the mother. As she is involved in the teaching process, she must have been taught becoming a wise daughter. In 3:21 it says that she speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Before continuing, we must deal with Paul in 1st Timothy 2:12-3:1 who doesn’t permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. He is actually dealing with how a woman asserts herself in leadership. I’m suggesting that Paul is reflecting on the creation account, the man was formed first and then the woman which matches 2:18-25 where you have the gift of the bride’s story as it wasn’t good for the man to be alone and so the woman was formed to help the man. Next, we see that the woman was deceived and this matches 3:1-14 where the serpent deceived Eve. I think Paul is picking up on this. She was deceived but I don’t think Adam was deceived which makes his transgression even greater because he did it willfully. Then it says that she shall be saved through child bearing if they continue in the faith; I presume that it’s the children that continue in the faith. She is saved through any loss of leadership because she is going to give birth through a seed that is going to destroy the serpent. And this seed is Christ and his Church and that matches 3:1 that now you have the overseers who have been raised in the home with Godly parents and now they are in a position of leadership. So the God of Satan will soon crush the serpent under your feet. So the seed of the woman is ultimately the church that will defeat Satan. In other words, she shall be saved from any loss of leadership through childbearing of children who remain in the faith and they in turn become the leaders in the church. An old saying by W Wallace is, ‘the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.’ The mother has profound influence upon the child.

B. Motivation for Children

One such motivation was that both parents were involved in the teaching process. We saw this in the prologue along with other types of motivation. There is also the fact that, this was life. It is eternal and you will be victorious as shown in Proverbs 1:8-9. ‘Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. The will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. This is point of victory as the garland was used in the cult of the dead as victory beyond the grave from the Egyptian idea of eternity. They not only show the benefits of wisdom but also the consequences of folly as shown in 3:31-35, ‘do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways, for the lord detests a perverse man but takes the upright into his confidence. The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous. He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble. The wise inherit honor, but fools he holds up to shame. So there is the consequence of death and also there is humiliation. In a sense, both the child and the parents are motivating each other in this process but it is addressed to the child who wants to please the parents and want the praise of their parents. (Note that one student says that it was his mother spent hours and hours with him reading Bible stories to him. The lecturer comments that his mother and father would discuss and perhaps argue over justification and sanctification which involves learning and growing in the Lord. And the lecturer illustrated that the sun provides us with heat and light. We feel the heat but we don’t see it and wee the light but don’t feel it. They are very distinct but inseparable and that the way I see justification and sanctification. The proof of justification is sanctification.)

Another motivation was the Proverbs themselves and how they motivated the parents. The love for the child is also motivation for the parents. So we see that discipline is done out of love and not out of anger. They regard the child as both tender and cherished. Cherish here really means uniquely valued. A sign of love was telling the child, in this case Solomon, to take hold of my words with all his heart; keep the commands, and you will live. In Leviticus 19:17-18, ‘do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.’ So if you see wrong and if you don’t correct it, you become a party to it. In Proverbs 3:11-12, my son, do not despise I AM’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because I Am disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.’ This is the love of God. C.S. Lewis says when you are doing a chock drawing do it quickly and it is there for the moment and finish with it, but when you are producing a painting, work with it until it becomes perfect. In Hebrews 12:5-6, ‘and you have forgotten that word of encouragement that I address you as sons: My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punished everyone he accepts as a son.’ Disciples is done out of love. It is so much easier to let the child go and not discipline the child but the result of lack of discipline is death (Proverbs 23:14).

The child is in need of correction. In Proverbs 19:27 they will stray from the words of knowledge but the rod of discipline will drive folly far from a child (22:15). Solomon actually stopped listening to instruction thus he ended up straying from truth; this is a sad end for Solomon. He wrote the Proverbs in his youth and then became occupied with his own house. Children today have no knowledge of God’s love and discipline and you can see what is happening to them. It is like the field that was overgrown with weeds, but yet this can be overcome with wisdom and discipline. So it is the nature of the situation that in creation, it is hostile but it can be subdued and the natural heart is hostile and depraved but it can be corrected in God’s grace. Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint, but blessed are those who listen to wisdom’s instruction (29:18). We have to have a vision for the things of God and the life he wants us to live. And it is exciting to see what God can do through us, but we need the faith to believe it and not be defeated by it, especially with our children.

II. The Belief in Musar and Torah

A. Discipline and Instruction

Having recognized depravity, they believe that teaching will have its fruit. In 23:13, do not withhold disciple (musar) from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save him from death. This imparts wisdom and when he grows older, it will remain with him. This is quite a known verse, ‘train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it,’ in 22:6. We have seen children raised in the faith and they walk away from it and we as parents live with that reality. That leads some people to say that proverbs are probability and not reality. Ignatius says to give him a boy until the age of seven, and he is mine for life. There is a lot of truth to this as the first seven years of a child is most important. This is a truth but not the whole truth about raising a child. The book is addressed to youth, not parents; it is holding the child responsible for listening to Solomon’s teachings. The child has to make a choice of which way they are going to go and that is what this is saying. Train up a child and it will have a permanent effect but it doesn’t mean the child is like a robot and going to be a clone just like their parents. But Godly training will affect the child permanently. Children are being raised in a context of no discipline and without the Bible and thus they end up having no commitment. They think they are free but in fact they have been trained to think that way or rather brainwashed to think that way which closes their minds.

B. A Choice

Ezekiel 18:20 say that the one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parents share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them. The child thus has a freedom to make their own choice in life. The Godly training a child receives will always be with them even though they have a choice to go their own way. Even with children that rebel, they still have a sense of what is right and Godly. In disciplining a child the parents should have respect for the child’s dignity as it says in 4:3. When parents are loving and firm and communicate well with the child, the children are exceptional competent and well adjusted, whether or not their parents spanked them as preschoolers (Diana Baumrind). Through love, children are admonished not to give in to sinful ways, not to even consider that and especially easy sex when they become a teenager, for the result is death. Proverbs and Solomon show the child by taking them into the reality of sin and expose that sin for what it is. And this reality of evil and sin relates to various kinds of people, the mocker, the simple and the wicked. These are the people we must deal with everything as they hate us for what we are. All you get from them is dirty filthy talk and wickedness because we have the Lord in our life.