Sunday, June 17, 2012

A heritage of wisdom

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Proverbs 4:1-13

TO CHEW ON: "Hear my children, the instruction of a father
And give attention to know understanding." - Proverbs 4:1

Happy Father's Day to all fathers reading!

On this day when we celebrate fathers, we think of them in two ways: as children of fathers and as fathers of children. Solomon, the writer of Proverbs, has skilfully woven both viewpoints into our reading.

First he urges his kids to listen to his advice like he listened to his own father's words. His was a father who made a passionate case for his son's careful attention. Sample David's words as his son Solomon remembers them (New Living Translation):

“Take my words to heart. Follow my commands, and you will live.....Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you. Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do!....If you prize wisdom, she will make you great....She will place a lovely wreath on your head; she will present you with a beautiful crown” (excerpts from Proverbs 4:1-9)

Following that in verses 10-13 Solomon urges his children to follow this advice themselves. He names three reasons why:

1. Their lives will be prolonged (Proverbs 4:10).

2. Their journey will be swifter and smoother (Proverbs 4:11-12).

3. This instruction will be their life (Proverbs 4:13).

"Instruction" is an interesting word and not completely pleasant.

[Instruction (muwcar) means correction, chastisement, instruction, discipline, an admonition, rebuke or warning. Muwcar comes from the word yacar - "to reform, chastise, discipline, instruct." It encompasses chastening both by words and punishments (Proverbs 1:1-3; 22:15). Muwcar includes all forms of discipline intended to lead to a transformed life. - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 809.]

Words of correction, rebuke, warning, or admonishment are harder for a child to take than words of praise, encouragement or affirmation. However, for fathers, they may be the easier, more natural words to give. Paul acknowledges this when he talks about fathers not discouraging their children:

"Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or fret your children [do not be hard on them or harass them], lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. [Do not break their spirit.]" - Colossians 3:21 - Amplified

And so fathers (and mothers) need a balance. For if correcting words are a child's life, a loving parent would not ever want to withhold them. But neither would that parent want to discourage, frustrate, or break the child's spirit.

In this every godly father and mother can be goaded and guided by the principal of love God applies when He scolds us. It's in Proverbs too - Proverbs 3:11-12

"My son, do not despise or shrink from the chastening of the Lord [His correction by punishment or by subjection to suffering or trial]; neither be weary of or impatient about or loathe or abhor His reproof, for whom the Lord loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights" - Amplified.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for my godly father. Though he has been gone a long time, his example still lights my life. As the wife of a father, help me to support my husband's fathering of our children. Amen.

MORE: Words from a wise father

John Piper elaborated on Colossians 3:21 in a 1986 Father's Day sermon. Here is the takeaway from that sermon. Good perspective, wouldn't you say?

The Opposite of Discouragement
Now what is that? I would sum it up in three characteristics.
  1. The opposite of being discouraged is being hopeful.
  2. The opposite of being discouraged is being happy.
  3. The opposite of being discouraged is being confident and courageous.
So I would say that the negative form of verse 21 really implies a positive command as well. It says, "Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged." But it means not only avoid one kind of fatherhood; it also means pursue another kind, namely, the kind of fatherhood which gives hope instead of discouragement; and gives happiness instead of discouragement; and gives confidence and courage.
Read all of "Fathers Who Give Hope"...

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:

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