MAKE OUR PARENTS PROUD
Lord, we cherish Your wisdom over anything else.
Read PROVERBS 23:10–28
10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone
or encroach on the fields of the fatherless,
11 for their Defender is strong;
he will take up their case against you.
12 Apply your heart to instruction
and your ears to words of knowledge.
13 Do not withhold discipline from a child;
if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.
14 Punish them with the rod
and save them from death.
15 My son, if your heart is wise,
then my heart will be glad indeed;
16 my inmost being will rejoice
when your lips speak what is right.
17 Do not let your heart envy sinners,
but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.
18 There is surely a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off.
19 Listen, my son, and be wise,
and set your heart on the right path:
20 Do not join those who drink too much wine
or gorge themselves on meat,
21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor,
and drowsiness clothes them in rags.
22 Listen to your father, who gave you life,
and do not despise your mother when she is old.
23 Buy the truth and do not sell it—
wisdom, instruction and insight as well.
24 The father of a righteous child has great joy;
a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.
25 May your father and mother rejoice;
may she who gave you birth be joyful!
26 My son, give me your heart
and let your eyes delight in my ways,
27 for an adulterous woman is a deep pit,
and a wayward wife is a narrow well.
28 Like a bandit she lies in wait
and multiplies the unfaithful among men.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Open to me your way, reveal to me your joy, enfold me in your light. / For my heart is ready, Lord, my heart is ready.” (David Adam, The Open Gate, SPCK, 1994, p. 17)
The theme of parental joy emerges twice in this section (15, 16, 22–25). Verses 15 and 16 point out that a wise heart and upright speech make a teacher or parent happy. When the son’s lips speak what is right, he follows wisdom (personified as a woman) as an example (cf., Prov 8:6; 16:13). The rejoicing “heart” (in charge of one’s mind; verse 15) and “inmost being” (literally “kidney,” the source of emotion; verse 16) symbolize the totality of a parent’s thought and feeling (Alan Moss, Proverbs, Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2015, p. 103). The instruction depicts great parental pride in children (or students) who excel in wisdom.
“Your father, who gave you life” (22) and “she who gave you birth” (25) frame verses 22–25, speaking of a parent’s gladness at their child’s wise choices in life. The advice to receive a parent’s counsel in adulthood inheres in verse 22: “do not despise your mother when she is old.” Honoring parents by honoring their advice is the point here. The young man is told to buy the truth and not sell it, which means to cherish it for a lifetime. Likewise, he should treasure wisdom, instruction, and insight (23). The motivation is supplied in verses 24 and 25, where parental rejoicing appears in each of the four lines. Just as in verses 15 and 16, the connection between the joy of parents and the wisdom quotient of children is evident. For those who are parents, what makes you proud of your children?
For those who are sons or daughters, what do you do to make your parents happy? For those who are not in a parent–child relationship, what do you do to please our Father in heaven? Is it academic performance, professional achievement, social status, wealth, or fame? Leaving aside the world’s values, the sages remind us that wisdom makes both God and our parents proud.
“Lord, consecrate us, bless us, transform us so that we may reveal Your presence.” (Adam, 1994, p. 92)
Father in heaven, our sole ambition in life is to make You proud of us as Your children who represent You to others here on earth.