Intelligence may be inherited, but wisdom is passed on from parents to children and/or is given as a gift from God. When Proverbs refers to a fool, it is not a reference to a person who is mentally deficient, but rather to someone who is arrogant and who has an over-inflated view of himself. Scripture also refers to someone who lives as if there is no God as a fool. Jesus called the rich man a fool who thought that he could spend the rest of his days supplied by the riches he has amassed and never once considered the condition of his soul (Luke 12:16-20). Just when he thought he “had it all” his life was snatched from him and all his riches could not stop death from overtaking him. He was rich in material things but impoverished in spiritual things and therefore, the intent with the parable is to show that this man, though rich on earth, stood before God poor, wretched and naked. He could take none of his wealth with him when he died. His main focus was on the temporary and he gave no thought to things of eternal value. Therefore, when Solomon refers to a foolish son bringing grief to his mother, he is referring to someone who turned his back on God and lived as if the temporary pleasures of this life was all there was to live for.
The sense in this proverb is not to indicate that a foolish son brings grief to the mother alone, but to both parents interchangeably. It is certain that the father will be as much grieved by a son who lives a short-sighted life. Perhaps one could add that mothers often experience that grief on a deeper emotional level as they are often deeply attached to their children in that way. Neither does this proverb indicate that a wise son will bring joy to a father alone. Both parents will experience the joy of the wise son and the affliction brought by a foolish son. Although this proverb refers to a son, it includes both sons and daughters as both have the capacity to bring either immense joy to their parents or immeasurable pain.
Considering this, it weighs heavily on good parents to be concerned about the upbringing of their children –not only their education, but even more so the moral principles laid down in the heart of a child. Many parents are under the mistaken idea that as long as their children go to church or get an education, they will be fine. But this is a delusion, as there are enough examples in life of children who grew up in church, but lacked basic moral and ethical principles in relationships, business affairs and their spiritual life as they entered adulthood. And there are enough examples in the history of mankind about the destruction brought about by educated fools.
This proverb is both a warning and a promise. It warns us of the effects of our children’s behaviour and attitude on us as parents. It also promises us the emotional effects of both a “wise” child and a “foolish” child.This proverb also warns the children of how their conduct affect their parents. Carrying the family name means that when they excel in life, they are not only bringing honour to themselves, but also to their family. And sadly, the opposite is equally true. Children who stray from the right path and follow the ways of criminals and whatever immoral lifestyles they may be inclined to follow, bring not only themselves in disrepute, but they are affecting their entire family’s honour in society. Children should therefore think twice before just blindly following whatever peer pressure they may be under. They should stop to think about how their actions will affect their entire family before they impulsively follow a whim and getting themselves into trouble. A parent’s good reputation is often at the mercy of his child’s behaviour. This may also be true in a spiritual sense that when a child of God does the wrong thing, he is not only affecting his own name, but also the name of the One whom he claims to belong to.
The good news is that parents who raised up a wise child, balancing love and discipline in that relationship, will find that they derive much joy from that child for years to come. This also affects the next generation in that such a wise child will also raise up his own children with wisdom. Also, the wise child himself will have much joy in life as he brings joy to his parents by his good conduct. And this also continues to the next generation in that his own children will not be ashamed to call him their father.
- Proverbs 23:24 (jantzika.wordpress.com)
- Without You, Dad, I Wouldn’t Be the Person I Am Today (psychologytoday.com)