Parental Instruction

Solomon addresses the first nine chapters of the book of Proverbs to “my son” and “my children.” This is no doubt a literary technique, but one that is personal, affectionate, and authoritative. However, there is more to be considered, for Solomon’s counsel also serves as a pattern of counsel given to parents. It is at Solomon’s feet that parents learn what to emphasize to their children as they grow. He provides parents with a vision of himself talking to his own children, and how he spoke to them about challenging subjects and gave them guidance in their quest toward wisdom.

The beginning chapters of Proverbs demonstrate the importance of parents meeting their duty to train their children toward godliness. Solomon’s efforts spent on describing wisdom as something to be desired and sought after above all other things should not be ignored by parents. Parents who rely on the Sunday morning bible class teacher to provide the majority of spiritual instruction has only passed off their responsibilities for an inferior result in their children. Children need a lot of time spent on education. Parents would feel irresponsible if they allowed their children to spend only 45 minutes a week in secular schooling, but is it irresponsible to allow for only 45 minutes a week of spiritual learning in the Sunday bible class setting? Solomon demonstrated his personal responsibility to teach his children the great appeal of living in godly wisdom. The Old Testament is also a witness to God’s view of parental instruction. Deuteronomy 6:7 instructs that God’s word is to be taught by parents to their children; specifically, the words of God should be taught “diligently”. The Hebrew word translated “diligently” literally means to point, sharpen, intensively to pierce. No doubt, the responsibility here is to make very clear what God’s will is. The text continues by addressing the when and where to fulfill this command: you “shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Does this suggest the idea that parents can neglect their duties and limit the spiritual education of their children to an hour or two a week at the assembly? Certainly not. And the New Testament carries the same ideas that we see in the Old; Ephesians 6:1-4 calls upon fathers to head up the spiritual education of their children, saying “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” The book of Proverbs is a grand example of Ephesians 6:4. Fathers and mothers alike should take great consideration to the discussions Solomon has with his children in chapters 1-9. Consider what is important in these discussions. Look at the emphasis he places on the attraction that wisdom has. Consider all the “what’s in it for me?” mentality that children (and some adults) possess. He makes sure his children understand what’s in it for them if they choose wisdom over immorality. Parents, may we all take great care in proving to our children that the everyday life of a Christian is the way that they should choose when they are older. However, for some Christians, their children see their lives as full of anxiety and discontentment. Why would they want that life for themselves too? Brethren these things ought not be so. So we see then the importance of diligent training, and a daily proving that the training leads to a satisfying life in Christ, here and in eternity.

If one were to read through the pages of Proverbs chapter one through nine, they would see a father speak often to his children about obtaining godly wisdom, but they would also hear him speak almost as much about sexual immorality. But fathers generally don’t like to speak of such a topic. It’s forbidden! No, it’s not. Rather, it would seem sensible that part of the training would be to demonstrate why one should not choose any other option than godliness. The “father” in the text has a very clear purpose in mind when dealing with the subject of sexual immorality, which is to tear away all its attraction, to show how ugly, miserable, and deadly it really is. It is interesting that the world tries to portray the immoral woman as someone appealing, but “the father” in Proverbs, makes significant effort to describe the immoral woman as who she really is, while painting a very attractive picture of wisdom. Today the problem remains the same. The world continues to educate children that immorality is the most attractive lifestyle option. Who will teach them otherwise? God answered that question, fathers and mothers. Therefore, we see that the training of children is not just a simple education, but it is also a battle against the teachers of worldliness that are always trying to educate our children, whether through worldly friends, television, internet, and schools. Nevertheless, God has provided parents with the weaponry needed to overcome the world and its influences, through His word. Now then, will parents choose to use it?

Article by Tanner Campbell.