pastor's blog

On INSTRUCTION | 5.3.2024

My son, hear the instruction of your father,
And do not forsake the law of your mother;
For they will be a graceful ornament on your head,
And chains about your neck.

Proverbs 1:8-9

Solomon began by saying proverbs give prudence to the simple and wise counsel to a man of understanding. In other words, wisdom is not something you get to the end of, and the wise know this and always hunger for more. 

Proverbs instruct the prince who will be king one day on how to rule, and this training begins at home. So Solomon says to hear the instruction of your father and not forsake the law of your mother. One of the strange marks youth is pride, seen in a son or daughter who quickly responds to parents with a dismissive, “I know, I know.” There’s an apocryphal quote attributed to Mark Twain that says, “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 he had learned in seven years.” There’s no need to wait until your 20s to figure out where wisdom resides. 

It’s interesting in this passage that the father’s counsel is described as instruction and the mother’s as law. She may have a softer voice, but a wise son doesn’t miss the strength her torah, her law. If you came from a different planet and tried to figure out what role parents play in kids’ lives by watching TV shows and movies, with few exceptions you would think they are clueless and irrelevant, best avoided or ignored. Solomon says take what your father and mother say and wear it like a crown and expensive necklace. We’re made to delight and be decked out in the wisdom of our parents.  

The 5th Commandment is the first with a promise, and the promise is a prosperous long life: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Eph. 6:1-3). Paul quotes the commandment and promise given to Israel when they were about to enter the Promised Land, and applies it to the Christians in Ephesus, showing it’s given to Gentile kids living in the whole earth, which is where the gospel is spreading. Honor and get wisdom from your parents because it will bless and prosper you.  

This obviously requires fathers to give wise instruction and mothers to speak gracious law. Seek it from your parents and then deliver it to your children.

On Wisdom | 8.25.2023


The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:

To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom,
Justice, judgment, and equity;
To give prudence to the simple,
To the young man knowledge and discretion—
A wise man will hear and increase learning,
And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,
To understand a proverb and an enigma,
The words of the wise and their riddles.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1-1:7

Solomon begins the book of Proverbs giving wisdom about wisdom. Wisdom is for the young and simple, but not just for them. The wisdom of God is not like a puddle that you splash in once and move on, or even like a deep pool where you can swim down and touch the bottom. The young prince will learn how to rule by gaining knowledge and discretion, but the wise grey head still adds to what he knows—he hears, increases in wisdom, and understands.

Wisdom is very practical throughout the book of Proverbs. The word “proverb” is mashal and in its verbal form it means “to rule.” To understand wisdom is to know how to rule, how to make decisions, how to act and live in the situation you find yourself. Self-rule is the place everyone must start, to get dominion over yourself. Fools already know everything and so despise wisdom and instruction. They interrupt the one with wisdom, the one who would help them because they already know. But the fear of the Lord, Solomon says, is the beginning of knowledge. To know anything rightly requires us to acknowledge and fear God. Why? Because He made us and everything else.

The issue here is not intellect. The fool is not a dolt, and Solomon knows an unbeliever can understand that 2 + 2 = 4, though he would not be surprised at our time of spiritual decay there are people denying this. But to know why 2 + 2 = 4, to see the design in the universe and know there is a Designer, and then to honor and tremble before the one who spoke everything into existence, this is the beginning of knowledge. Knowledge here is personal and embodied. It’s given to those who fear and honor Christ in whom are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge.