Proverbs 28:24

Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer.
– Proverbs 28:24

Robbing parents was a serious violation of the law (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16). The act pointed to in the saying is probably not the nighttime B&E larceny variety. The idea is likely more along the line of the son who is a waster in Proverbs 19:26. He may squander his parents’ wealth (Luke 15:11-32), and refuse to support them in old age (Mark 7:10-13). He may be a perennial moocher, draining his parents resources (Proverbs 18:9). The middle line of the saying reveals a hardened conscience, like that condemned by Jesus in the practice of corban. The result is becoming a destroyer, and Paul said worse than an infidel (1 Timothy 5:4, 8), which is another shameful association (Proverbs 28:7).

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 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.

Proverbs 20:20

Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.
– Proverbs 20:20

Incorrigible children were worthy of death by the law (Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 20:9). The law demanded the honoring of parents by children, as also in the New Testament (Ephesians 6:1-3). We infer from the law that honor is due to parents first because of their office and not their person. The modern, western ideal is to judge whether the person is worthy of honor or not. That is not in question in law. Children can bring shame to their parents by laziness (Proverbs 10:5), pride (Proverbs 11:2), failing to live up to their teaching (Proverbs 17:2), and squandering their wealth (Proverbs 19:26). Children may also sin more seriously by despising, mocking, and cursing their parents (Proverbs 15:20; 20:20; 30:11, 17). The consequence is serious in the image of their lamp being put out in obscure darkness. This imagery is used elsewhere to speak of judgment and death for those who refuse wisdom (Proverbs 13:9; 24:20).

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Proverbs 20:11

Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.
– Proverbs 20:11

The word for child covers from an infant to an adolescent, and is translated young man in the fatherly addresses that begin the book (Proverb 1:4; 7:7). Here the context is supportive for understanding a young child is meant, and this fits with the later use of this word as well (Proverbs 22:6, 15; 23:13; 29:15). If we place this proverb with these other parenting proverbs, then the proverb instructs parents in discernment. Parents must interpret the actions of their child and either reinforce it if good, or correct it if bad. Motives and character are revealed in the actions of a child, just as with adults. Foolish parents turn a blind eye to what is behind the action and deal only with the action.

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Proverbs 19:18

Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
– Proverbs 19:18

The word for chasten means to chastise, or to discipline. It can be used literally in terms of corporal punishment or figuratively in terms of instruction and verbal correction. The intention seems to be to include the whole range of meaning in the rearing of children, both the rod and instruction. This proverb speaks of discipline in terms of hope and opportunity. Wisdom teaches that discipline must take place early, or soon when needed (Proverbs 13:24). This wisdom word is to parents. Folly is already there and doesn’t have to be added (Proverbs 22:15). Neglect by the parents, or laziness, leaves no hope and misses the opportunity (Proverbs 23:13-14; 29:15). The word for hope means expectation. While we cannot make our children be wise, we can correct their folly and instruct them in wisdom. There is hope in doing so (Proverbs 29:17).

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Proverbs 15:20

A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.
– Proverbs 15:20

The word for glad means to brighten, or cause to rejoice. A son receiving and walking in wisdom makes a father glad. This is a persistent theme in Proverbs (Proverbs 10:1; 23:15-16; 29:3). Parents cannot make their children wise, but they continually instruct and correct in hope they will receive wisdom. When the children receive correction and instruction, parents are blessed in numerous ways and rejoice. The contrasting line is a different perspective than the usual. The focus is not as much on the effect on the mother, but rather on the son who is foolish. Such a man is hardened and dishonors his parents (Proverbs 23:22; 30:17), and sins against God (Exodus 20:12; Leviticus 19:3).

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