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Wisdom for the Family

There are a great many proverbs that deal directly with wisdom as it relates to family relationships. Throughout them all, the common theme is that a heart of wisdom results in a life of righteousness that brings joy and gladness to the family. The opposite truth is sounded as well, as a serious warning: a foolish heart results in an ungodly life that brings shame and sorrow to the family.

The first subject is the good man. A good man fills his home with joy by providing an inheritance, by disciplining his children, and by walking in his integrity. A good man works hard to provide for his family both now and in the future (Prov. 13:22), both financially and through a legacy of godly character. Prov. 29:17 promises that faithful discipline will bring rest and delight to the home by inculcating wisdom. The good man also walks in his integrity (Prov. 20:7), keeping his word, being loyal to his friends, and faithful to his wife.

The second subject is the excellent woman. This woman blesses her family by glorifying her husband, reproving her children, giving them instructions and commands, and by managing all the affairs of her household with wisdom. In Prov. 12:4, such a woman is called a crown to her husband. Prov. 29:15 teaches that a mother’s discipline imparts wisdom, but neglecting this task brings shame. Proverbs begins with the instruction not to forsake your mother’s teaching (1:8), and Prov. 31:10-21 shows how a woman crowns her husband as everything she does honors him and blesses their home.

The third subject is the wise son or daughter. The wise son is marked by listening to his parents, getting and keeping wisdom, and continuing the family legacy of wisdom. We see this listening commanded throughout Proverbs, but especially in 23:22-23: Listen to your father, and do not despise (by not heeding) your mother. Buy the truth (How? By listening) and do not sell it (How? Not listening). Prov. 17:6 calls the wise son or daughter to continue living in the wisdom of their parents. This is what makes “Grandchildren…the crown of the aged.”

The first corresponding warning comes against the troublesome man. Listen to Prov. 11:29: “Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind.” In place of the inheritance that the good man provides, the foolish man leaves his family nothing but hot air as he wastes his time and money on foolish and sinful pursuits. The troublesome man also withholds discipline, and Prov. 23:13-14 teaches that this makes the difference between life and death, honor and shame, joy and grief. The father who does not discipline is a man who troubles his own house.

The second warning speaks against the shameful woman. She’s like a cancer in the bones of her family, destroying peace and harmony with her quarreling. A quarreling wife is mentioned four times in Proverbs (19:23; 21:9, 19; 25:24), usually in the context of how far away from such a woman you should try to get: the attic or the desert! God calls women to examine their hearts and root out this troublesome sin before it damages the family.

The third warning concerns the foolish son or daughter. Prov. 10:1 says: “A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.” The foolish son is marked by mockery, disobedience, despising parents, and violence. Prov. 30:17 warns that the birds will pluck and eat disrespectful eyeballs, and Prov. 15:20 and 23:22 tell children not to despise their mother by disregarding her teaching or considering her advice to be worthless. When folly has taken deep root, foolish children go so far as to commit acts of violence against their parents (Prov. 19:26), and God warns that all such behavior is shameful and reproachful.

Instead of these foolish behaviors, God points to the way of wisdom. He describes a home where excellent wives and faithful grandchildren crown the home with joy. We see obedient, honorable sons and daughters giving rest and delight to their parents. We see blessing and an inheritance that extends over many generations, and we see souls saved from death. Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?

Of course it does. When God shows us this picture of a joyful home, He is giving us a picture of His home. God shows us His fatherly provision and discipline, His motherly instruction, and how He manages and rules the world like the excellent wife rules her house. Jesus shows us how a wise Son relates to His Father. He listens to His Father, grows in wisdom (Luke 2:52), and carries on the family legacy by living as the exact representation of the Father’s image (Heb. 1:3). Because of this, God is well pleased with His beloved Son. In these proverbs, God is giving you the wisdom that brings gladness to the heart of heaven. Walk in this wisdom, and enter in to the joy of your Father.

Posted on Wednesday, November 18, 2015 by CJ Bowen