Proverbs. Wisdom For Children and Parents.

Key Notes: Husbands and wives. Children and their discipline. Children's obligation to parents. Guidelines for modern children.

Unlike other Bible books, Proverbs is given largely in single sentences,or two complementary clauses. It is meant to be savored in small amounts. Yet it is possible to organize its contents around well-defined topics. The unity of its ideas emerges from this method of study. For example, when analyzing material on the Fool, it became apparent that five different and fairly coherent pictures of fools could be assembled.

There are twelve studies in this series. The topics found and compiled are parents and children; the fools,  talk, work, wealth, time, neighbors and friends. They provide us with salty wisdom. Lastly, proverbs containing the word "LORD" were compiled and classified. The fear of the Lord, his care for prosperity and poverty, His knowlege of the human mind, righteousness and justice were compiled as well as references to His sovereignty and discipline. The praise of the virtuous woman, Proverbs 31, is not reproduced here in its entirety. It stands by itself apart from the material on women covered in other chapters.

These lessons carry a minimum of comment because the proverbs are quite easy to understand. The text speaks for itself. The lessons were compiled using the NRSV text of "MacBible" but its use does not imply an endorsement of that translation.

First, we consider husbands and wives because discipline begins in the home. The purpose and practice of discipline of children comes at the end. The failure of discipline is at least part of the reason why the fool is so prominent in Proverbs.


Husands and wives.

Find your partner with God's help.
"House and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD." (Prov.’:14)
"A capable wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. " (Prov. 31:10–12)

Your wife can make you or break you.
" A good wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones." (Prov. 12:4)
"House and wealth are inherited from fathers but a prudent wife is from the Lord." (19:14)
"Wisdom {of women} builds her house but folly with her own hands tears it down." (14:1)
"Who can find a virtuous woman, for her price is far above rubies. (Prov. 31:1. Read the whole chapter.)

Husband, love your wife, and stay home with her.
" Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. May her breasts satisfy you at all times; may you be intoxicated always by her love." (Prov. 5:18–19)
"Like a bird that strays from its nest is one who strays from home." (Prov. 27:8)

Love is better than good cooking. Don't nag.
"Better is a dinner of vegetables where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it." (Prov. 15:17)
" It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and fretful wife." (Prov.21:29)
" A stupid child is ruin to a father, and a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain." (Prov. 21:13)

Beware the jealous heart.
" Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who is able to stand before jealousy?" (Prov. 27:4)


It saves the soul.
"Do not withhold discipline from your children; if you beat them with a rod, they will not die. If you beat them with the rod, you will save their lives from Sheol." (Prov. 23:13–14)

It adds years to the life. It  keeps one from wasting the years, from pitfalls and futility.
"Hear, my child, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered; and if you run, you will not stumble." (Prov. 4:10–12)

It enhances the worth of the child who is disciplined.
"Hear, my child, your father’s instruction, and do not reject your mother’s teaching;  for they are a fair garland for your head, and pendants for your neck." (Prov. 1:8–9)

It enhances the reputation of the parents and makes them happy.
"Be wise, my child, and make my heart glad, so that I may answer whoever reproaches me." (Prov. 27:11)
"The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who begets a wise son will be glad in him." (Prov. 23:24–25)
"Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice." (Prov. 23:25)


Content and methods of discipline.
"My child, if you accept my words and treasure up my commandments within you...then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk blamelessly, guarding the paths of justice and preserving the way of His faithful ones." (Prov. 2:1,5–8)

Discipline is the knowledge of God, coming from God, spoken by the parents.
"Hear, my child, your father’s instruction, and do not reject your mother’s teaching." (Prov. 1:8)
" Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.
 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be a healing for your flesh and a refreshment for your body.
Honor the LORD with your substance and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.
My child, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of His reproof, for the LORD reproves the one he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights." (Prov. 3:5–12)


It is a demonstrated discipline.
"My child, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways." (Prov. 23:26)

It is verbal discipline.
" A wise child loves discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke." (Prov. 13:1)
"Discipline your children while there is hope; do not set your heart on their destruction. " (Prov.’:18)

Discipline must be done while the child is young. For boys, there is a lot of work to do.
"Folly is bound up in the heart of a boy, but the rod of discipline drives it far away." (Prov. 22:15)


Children are responsible early in life.
"Even children make themselves known by their acts, by whether what they do is pure and right." (Prov. 20:11)

They must listen to the aged with respect.
"Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their parents." (Prov. 17:6)
"Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old." (Prov. 23:22)

Cursing  and striking parents is forbidden. Children should be able to rejoice in their parents.
" Those who do violence to their father and chase away their mother are children who cause shame and bring reproach (Prov.’:26)
"If you curse father or mother, your lamp will go out in utter darkness." (Prov. 20:20)
"The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures." (Prov. 30:17)

Parents' belongings are not community property.
"Anyone who robs father or mother and says, 'That is no crime,' is partner to a thug." (Prov. 28:24)

The successful raising of children is an art requiring great wisdom and grace. It is a full-time job. Paddling children has become almost taboo. Although use of a switch or ruler was common in public schools 60 years ago, it is now illegal in schools and penal institutions. A movement began in 2001 to ban all corporal punishment of children. But then "Why are our children out of control"? is a current problem. Consider some basic guiide-lines.

1. The child needs fences, and boundaries and must know the limits that may not be exceeded, such as getting off the sidewalk into the street or eating cat-litter.
2. The child most realize that there are consequences for transgression--going beyond bounds. Three stings on the buttocks to a three-year-old may prevent a potential disaster such as being struck by an automobile. A light stick (e.g.. a paint paddle) stings but does no damage. It is a magic wand in the hand of a conscientious and wise parent, capable of calming a minor tempest, and speaking a different message than a hand or belt.
3. There are house rules and God's rules. House rules include cleaning up your room. God's rules forbid stealing candy from the store, for example. House rules are loosely enforced; God's rules are taken seriously. Parents are under God's rules to the same extent that the children are. Lying is strictly forbidden. Empty threats and extravagant praise are lies.
4. The parent's discipline is vital to the child's and should have begun in the parent's own childhood.
5. Providing resources--games, books, music, art--distracts the child from useless pursuits. My sons were given many tools for wood-working and had no interest in wandering the streets at night. It is "the expulsive power of a new affection" to quote an old preacher.
6.The Proverbs repeatedly say "Hear, my son, your father's instruction and reject not your mothers' teaching" (Prov.1:8). Although women spend more time with children, discipline begins when the father teaches the Proverbs.