Solomon speaks of the physical consequences of too much too soon and ignoring Commandment five. Your parents are to be honored.
These two proverbs bring the story of the Prodigal son to mind. He definitely lived ‘down to’ verse 21. He squandered his inheritance because he was young and foolish. The first verse reminds me of ‘lessons’ my father tried to teach me as a child. No. I didn’t curse my parents but I was stubborn. And stubborn children in Israel didn’t live long!
Let’s start with the first parable. With Israel, God’s chosen people, He instilled and commanded respect for one’s parents. Commandment #5 plainly requires it; “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” Exodus 20:12). This is the FIRST Commandment that doesn’t focus on our relationship with God. It is also the first Commandment with a promise. Paul points that out while writing to the Ephesian church.
Paul went on to say, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). I’m going to surmise that Solomon would have agreed with Paul on this point too.
Fathers and mothers are our first teachers. From the moment we are born, they are shaping our lives. There are parents who abuse this relationship; those who do not value the gift they have been given. David writes; “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3). But godly parents are also a gift from God. (I don’t have a scripture for this but I KNOW it to be true.) Fathers and mothers, by their very position in life, are to receive honor from their children.
In Israel, children who were stubborn were to be stoned to death. Pretty harsh treatment, of which I was reminded MANY times in my life. I have a feeling that not everyone adhered to this requirement, otherwise we would have never encountered rebellious children in the stories of the Bible. And we HAVE encountered them! The schemes and plans of David’s sons are a prime example. Rape, murder, sedition, and armed revolt are just a few of the activities David’s sons engaged in. I would chance to say that there were other incidents that we didn’t get to hear about. Solomon’s proverb comes true in Absalom’s case. Absalom, by his very acts, cursed his father and mother. He was out to kill his father. God saw to it that Absalom was trapped by his own ‘crowning glory’ and presented to a man who was known for his ‘zealous’ acts on behalf of David. Joab did exactly what his character prescribed and he killed Absalom, even though David gave explicit instructions that he was not to be harmed. God had HIS way.
I’m going to come right out and say it; some parents don’t deserve the honor commanded by God. Maybe honor because of their position but certainly not respect. These are the parents who abuse their children or refuse to care for them. I think God has a special place reserved for such people, and it’s NOT in Heaven. Time to move on before I get too steamed over how some parents treat this AMAZING gift from God.
The second parable speaks of ‘children’ squandering their inheritance if given too early. I have extended family who have proven this out as well as the Prodigal son did. We are not given the age of the Prodigal son but my extended family members were in their 30’s and 40’s when they squandered what would have become part of their inheritance. Both relatives I’m referring to lost their parent’s homes by mismanaging their own finances. The parent of both these ‘children’ had signed over their ‘inheritance’ before their death as a way to try and help their children out of the mess they had made for themselves. They learned NOTHING by having the increased wealth and they squandered it as well. Both sets of parents are now living with their children, and resenting it to some degree. Their parents also lament what they have lost.
Holding onto the inheritance until death would have prevented the above situation. It probably would have forced the children to examine their lifestyles and come to some hard decisions on how to fix it themselves. In Israel, the inheritance of the children was most commonly property. God put this in place when He gave Israel the Promised Land. God meant for it to be passed down through the family line. This practice put into play by Moses before they even crossed over the Jordan. The tribes of Ruben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh received their inheritance before the whole group crossed over but were required to help their brothers conquer the territory for their inheritance. Notice it was ALWAYS called an “inheritance.” Not a gift for whenever the kids asked for it. Not payment for services rendered. But an “inheritance” which, more often than not, transfers upon death.
I have a feeling that there is an exception to the “inheritance” and death rules. When a man took a wife, his father gave him property so he could farm it and support his family. I believe that this was a portion of their inheritance. What they received upon the father’s death was most likely separate. Neither of these things took place when the Prodigal son asked for his inheritance. That son was not settling down or grieving a father. He was only interested in playing the day away. I suppose what they say is true; “Wisdom comes with age.”
Father God, THANK YOU for my parents! I know they made mistakes in how they dealt with us. But the fact that they LOVED us beyond measure. They did the best they could while always trying to follow Your commands. And I LOVE THEM with ALL MY HEART! I KNOW I’ve made mistakes with my children too. I believe they would say the same about me as it is demonstrated in the things they say and do on a regular basis. I’m TWICE blessed! Blessed to have children and blessed to have godly parents. THANK YOU FATHER for my cup is running over with Your love.
Help me be a child that my parents can be proud of and YOU can be proud of. Also make me the kind of mother my kids can be proud of.