Throughout the chapters of Proverbs, a number of key teachings are repeated and re-emphasised. Such teachings include diligent pursuance of wisdom, guarding one’s mouth and striving to remain righteous. Chapter 13 begins with another one of these critical teachings: Submission to the instruction of our parents.
“1A wise son heeds his father’s instruction,
But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”
Why should we heed the instructions of our parents? I have 3 points to share.
Firstly, with age comes experience. Our parents have been alive for longer than we have. It would therefore be natural to assume that they have seen and experienced more of life and its challenges. One might argue that the modern world differs greatly from what it was like in the past. Perhaps our parents might not know as much about technology and connectivity as compared to us. However, as children, our level of understanding of life is a percentage of that of our parents. For example, we are probably less capable of analysing and identifying the nature and origins of dysfunctional behaviour (e.g. excessive drinking, experimentation with novelties).
Also, we tend to be more focused on what is at hand rather than the big picture (e.g. play over studies). We are directed more by emotions as compared to rational thinking (e.g. physical violence over thoughtful discussion). In order to avoid the pitfalls of naivety, let us choose to yield to the sound counsel of our parents, especially when what they say is backed by the Bible. God has appointed them as our guides in the perilous journey of life. Let us yield to their advice, and live.
Secondly, we obey because they instruct out of love. It is always difficult to rebuke someone whom you love greatly. The fear that the person might isolate you as a result of your admonitions is always there. Our parents love us deeply. However, they take the risk of scolding us when necessary because they know it is for our own good. A classic example would be their nagging at us to hit the books. It is immensely tiring for parents to keep up a repetition of the same message. They also understand that what they have to say might be irritating, loathesome even.
Yet, they do it that we might have a better chance of success in society. As we grow, we understand better why they did what they did: out of love. Parents want the best for their children. When they instruct, it is out of their best interests for us.
Thirdly, we listen because the Bible tells us so, over and over again! The same message would not be repeated if it did not hold importance. God esteems obedience to parents so highly that He offers us the incentive of long life in Exodus 20:12. This message is reiterated in Ephesians 6:1-3. If we submit to our parents in the Lord, He will bless us. This is the promise He made.
Also, Proverbs 1:8-9 tells us that the advice of our parents will be like ‘a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck’. Through obedience, our heads are adorned with wisdom: we think prudently. Our necks, which support our heads, are beautifully decorated: we direct ourselves with abundance and glory that sapience brings. Proverbs 8:18-19 speaks of wisdom as follows:
“18Riches and honor are with me,
Enduring riches and righteousness.
19 My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold,
And my revenue than choice silver.”
As long as our parents guide us according to the wisdom of God’s word, we would do well to listen to them for our own benefit. However, if we indirectly reject His commands by being disobedient, the consequences are dire.
“13He who despises the word will be destroyed,
But he who fears the commandment will be rewarded.”