Being a Good Dad
As I have been working through Proverbs 2 and 3, I can’t help but see that at the time of writing Proverbs, Solomon was being the ideal father in leading his family spiritually.
According to Deuteronomy 6, parents were teaching their children how practically to apply God’s words to individual circumstances in life. Consider this text and notice particularly the italicized portions. Deuteronomy 6:4-25 (ESV) 4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates … 12 then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 13 It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. 14 You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— 15 for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth … 20 When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ 21 then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. 23 And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. 24 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. 25 And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.”
There are four points we can make from Proverbs regarding this instruction.
First, Like verse 6 above, Solomon desired to address his son’s heart- not just address his behavior. Proverbs 2:1-2 (ESV) 1 “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, 2 making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding.” This is the same purpose that Jesus addressed. When the Pharisees confronted Jesus about cleansing rituals, he reminded them it’s not what is outside of us that is the problem. It is what is inside of us that needs cleansing. Matthew 15:16-20 (ESV) 16 “And he said, Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” It is the heart that God’s word must be applied. And Solomon seeks to do that.
Second, as in verse 7 above, Solomon seeks to apply wisdom to every situation in life. As we read through Proverbs, he will address concepts such as marriage, finances, and leadership. But he also doesn’t neglect the difficult and uncomfortable areas that most dads want to avoid- such as the apostate men in Proverbs 2:13-15 and the forbidden woman in Proverbs 2:16-19. Most likely his sons would be familiar with some of their father’s indiscretions. It was after all public knowledge. But Solomon is willing to confront every situation even when it is painful to do so.
Third, Solomon reminds his son of the consequences of obedience to God. Proverbs 2:21-22 (ESV) 21 “For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it, 22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.” This too can be awkward to speak of your kids of heaven and hell, especially in a day and age when everyone wants to live in a Disney World environment. There are eternal consequences to not obeying God. But there are immeasurable benefits. God’s commandments are not meant to be a burden to us but a blessing.
And finally, Solomon reminds his son that perfect righteousness is found in trusting God by being obedient to his commands. Our obedience demonstrates our faith that he is worthy of our trust. Proverbs 3:5 (ESV) 5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Again, notice this trust must come from our hearts. Of course, we cannot obey perfectly. Before such a Holy God our righteousness falls short. That is why we need a righteousness that is not our own- an alien righteousness. That is what Jesus came to be on our behalf. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) 21 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Solomon is pointing his children there need of righteousness that can only come from God.
By addressing the heart, by applying wisdom to all areas of life (even the awkward ones), by warning of the consequences, and by pointing toward perfect righteousness, Solomon presents the model of a good father.
But what about when we are not good and fail to live out our words? Lord willing, next week we will consider how to redeem our personal failures for God’s glory in raising our children.