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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Proverbs 10:1

Chapter 10 begins the second major section in the book of Proverbs and also begins what we think of as proper proverbs. It is a collection of wise sayings in memorable form, usually a two-line, parallel structure. Chapters 10-22 are the “Proverbs of Solomon,” containing 375 proverbs and they divide into two major divisions. Chapters 10-15 have an antithetical parallel structure, meaning they are formed by two lines that contrast. They often contrast the good and the bad. There are 185 proverbs in these chapters. Chapters 16-22 contain 190 proverbs that have a synthetic parallel structure, meaning the two lines compare similar things or the second line continues the first. These proverbs often compare the good with the better or the bad with the worse.

There is no obvious order or topical arrangement to the proverbs in this collection. These proverbs speak to various subjects, such as speech, ethics, learning, wealth, relationships, etc. The change in style between the two sections is discernible, indicating a deliberate arrangement, but there is no further structure apparent. These proverbs are inspired sayings of Divine wisdom that apply the law to the individual person.

The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son in the heaviness of his mother.
– Proverbs 10:1

The first phrase is the title, or heading, of this section. This first proverb is a two-line contrast. The first line has a wise son and a glad father. The second line has a foolish son and a grieved mother, as heaviness indicates. This proverb also illustrates the multi-layered meaning of proverbs in general. The more we meditate on them as we go through life, the richer they become to us.

The obvious teaching on the face of the proverb is that a wise child is a blessing and cause of joy to his parents. The contrast is that a foolish child brings shame and grief to his parents. There is instruction both to children and to parents. The proverb gives encouragement and warning to children to keep the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12), which is the first with promise (Ephesians 6:1-3). The proverb also gives the same to parents, because it is the responsibility of parents to properly instruct their children and in so doing or neglecting they will bring themselves blessing or grief (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Proverbs 22:6; 23:15-16, 24-25).

This proverb is also one sample, or type, of the broader category of human relationships. We are connected to others and the choices we make and the way we go affects others in our sphere. Though each individual has to seek wisdom and to keep the wisdom they find, that doesn’t happen in a vacuum without any connection to others around us. Whether we pursue wisdom or not will affect husbands, wives, parents, children, extended family, neighbors, co-workers, etc.

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Proverbs 1:8

My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
– Proverbs 1:8

Verse 7 made plain there are two ways of life—wisdom and folly. The foundation for wisdom is the fear of the Lord. The first major section of proverbs begins here in verse 8 and runs through chapter 9. It could generally be titled, “A Father’s Instruction to Seek and Find Wisdom for Life.”

The admonition is to hear. The same word is used in verse 5 and means to hear intelligently. It means to listen attentively. The son is admonished to hear the instruction and law of his father and mother. Not only is he to hear, but he is also not to forsake his mother’s law. Forsake conveys the thought of casting off in the sense rejecting. It is a more deliberate action than simply forgetting or neglecting.

There are various layers to this verse, so we will consider just a couple. Instruction means discipline and can refer to training and correction. It encompasses the whole life training received from parents. A degree of humility is enjoined upon the son. He must acknowledge the greater wisdom of father and mother and submit to it, rather than rejecting it. The verse also hints to the fact that the son will encounter other ways, which will compel him. That is made plain in verse 10 and throughout this section. As he is assailed by other ways of folly, he is to cling to the wisdom of father and mother.

Lastly, the picture presented is neither of parental infallibility nor of lifelong spoon-feeding of children by their parents. The essence of wisdom is discernment and when coupled with the fear of God, leads to discerning the way of righteousness. The earnest desire and plea for the father is for the son to grow in wisdom. He wants him to mature and come to the full stature of a man not blown about by every wind of philosophy. This is plain in places like Proverbs 4:7 and Proverbs 2:1-5.

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