Proverbs 23:25

Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice.
– Proverbs 23:25

This verse finishes the saying on honoring parents. The good outcome of children acquiring wisdom is the rejoicing of the parents. Both father and mother rejoice as opposed to grieving a foolish child (Proverbs 17:25).

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Proverbs 23:24

The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.
– Proverbs 23:24

The word for righteous means just in conduct and character. Such a child brings joy and rejoicing to his parents. Joy and rejoicing in children, as well as the grim alternative, is a steady encouragement and exhortation to parental wisdom in raising children throughout Proverbs (Proverbs 10:1; 15:20; 23:15-16). Children who come to maturity with wisdom are a great delight to parents. The delight is also reciprocal, mature and wise children glory in their parents (Proverbs 17:6). Wise parents lovingly, patiently, and persistently teach their “law” to their children as they grow for the purpose of equipping them to walk in wisdom securely and honorably (Proverbs 1:9; 3:1, 23; 4:8-9, 12; 7:2-3). It is only a foolish and rebellious child who wants his parents to get out of his way (Proverbs 19:26; 30:11, 17; Luke 15:12-13).

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Proverbs 23:22

Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.
– Proverbs 23:22

Verses 22-25 form a saying on honoring parents, or being a wise son. The word for hearken means to listen, to understand. The exhortation to listen extends even to when the mother is old. The word for despise means to disrespect, or hold in contempt. The warning here is against quickly dismissing the counsel of parents (Deuteronomy 27:16; Proverbs 30:11). Honoring parents is a lifelong command (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:2).

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Proverbs 23:16

Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things.
– Proverbs 23:16

The word for reins literally means kidneys, but references to internal organs or parts, such as bones, are intended to speak of being deeply affected within. Rejoicing of the reins speaks of a deep joy and rejoicing of the whole man. The word for right things means even and straight. It is used figuratively to speak of moral uprightness. The parent rejoices when the child grows to speak right things, because this means he has learned wisdom. Speaking right things is the essential cry of wisdom in Proverbs 8:6. Those who have been instructed in wisdom, speak wise things (Proverbs 15:2, 28). Even the Servant of Yahweh speaks wisdom with “the tongue of the learned” (Isaiah 50:4). True wisdom can only be spoken from a heart possessing true wisdom (Proverbs 12:17; 14:5).

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Proverbs 23:15

My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine.
– Proverbs 23:15

Verses 15 and 16 form a saying reminiscent of the fatherly addresses in the first nine chapters of this book. The word for heart is common and can refer to the mind, emotions, the inner being, or even the whole man. If the son’s heart is wise, he has received the instruction and correction of wisdom (Proverbs 1:10; 2:1; 4:1). When children grow up in wisdom, the parents rejoice (Proverbs 10:1; 15:20; 23:24-25; 29:3).

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Proverbs 23:14

Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
– Proverbs 23:14

Verse 14 continues the saying on the necessity and benefit of corporal punishment. Words are not enough to dislodge folly (Proverbs 22:15). The word for deliver means to snatch away and gives a picture of rescue. It’s easy to connect this deliverance with the design of wise instruction and correction to deliver from evil men and strange women who are on the way to sheol (Proverbs 1:29-33; 5:5; 7:27; 9:18).

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Proverbs 23:13

Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
– Proverbs 23:13

Verses 13 and 14 form the next wisdom saying. The word for withhold means to hold back, or keep back. The implication is something being owed or due. In this case, correction is due and the word means chastisement, but can also be put figuratively for discipline broadly. Parents bear the responsibility in the discipline of a child, which involves instruction, correction, reproof, and the rod. To withhold is to defraud the child. Proverbs clearly teaches wisdom is not natural or innate to us. The most hopeful training is started early because a child is not only naturally ignorant, but naturally foolish (Proverbs 22:15). Words alone are not enough to deliver us from our inborn folly (Proverbs 29:15).

The explanation of the second phrase reinforces the need for the rod, though the rod is not the only tool, nor always the best tool. I like the way Robert Deffinbaugh put it: “Correction—yes. The paddle—perhaps. Discipline—always. The rod—sometimes.” 1 Parents have the responsibility for the instruction and correction of their children. The child grows and will either respond to the correction and grow in wisdom, or will reject the correction, be cemented in folly, and be a grief and shame to his parents (Proverbs 10:5; 12:1; 13:1; 15:5; 17:25; 19:26; 29:15).

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Notes:

  1. Robert Deffinbaugh. The Way of Wise (Kindle Locations 3449-3450). Galaxie Software. Kindle Edition.

Proverbs 22:15

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
– Proverbs 22:15

The word for foolishness is common in Proverbs, occurring about 19 times. The word includes the ideas of silliness and stubbornness. Solomon gives the true born-that-way argument. Children come into the world ignorant and obstinate. The heart, or mind, is tied up in foolishness. Wisdom teaches instruction, correction, and chastisement are needed to grow a person in wisdom. How they are progressing in wisdom will be evident in their response to these (Proverbs 1:5, 7, 22, 29-30; 15:5). Chastisement comes through the rod of correction, emphasizing the need for more than just words to drive out folly. Parents must be diligent to instruct, correct, and chastise while their fools are young (Proverbs 13:24; 19:18). To neglect or withhold such correction is a failure to love the child and to reinforce their folly (Proverbs 23:13-14; 29:15). A fool who matures in his folly becomes practically incorrigible (Proverbs 27:22).

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Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
– Proverbs 22:6

The text of this proverb is difficult and translations and interpretations vary. 1 The proverb is clear enough when we keep the teaching of Proverbs as a whole in mind. The word for train up means to initiate, inaugurate, dedicate, or train. The word for way is common in Proverbs to refer to the course of one’s life. There are no words for he should in the Hebrew and the word for go literally means mouth. It is used figuratively for speech. John Gill rendered it literally: “according to the mouth of his way.” The word here indicates the beginning, or entrance. The sense of the first phrase is, “Start a child in his own way.”

The proverb is a warning to parents about neglecting the instruction and correction of their children to drive the natural foolishness from them (Proverbs 19:18; 20:30; 22:15; 23:14). It is neither a guarantee nor a promise that following certain steps with your children ensures they will mature to be wise. Wisdom warns parents not to leave their children to their own devices and wants (Proverbs 10:1, 5; 17:21, 25; 29:15). Parents must diligently bring up their children to be wise, but parents cannot make their children wise. A fool in Proverbs is one who rejects wisdom and goes his own way (Proverbs 1:30-32; 13:1; 15:20). A fool will also bear the consequences of his own folly (Proverbs 9:12; 19:3).

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Notes:

  1. Much could be said about the issues with this verse in terms of translations and the historical survey of interpretations. Commentaries present a range of options beyond the scope of this commentary to explore. I recommend the book, “God’s Wisdom in Proverbs” by Dan Phillips for further study. Phillips has an extensive discussion of this verse and his book is one of the best resources on Proverbs to own. You can find it here.

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