Proverbs 13:1 says, “A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.” Where the emphasis lies can be easily discovered in this brief verse. Some emphasis lies on the verbs of the verse – heareth occurs twice in this proverb.
Like many other proverbs, this verse has a heads and a tails – a positive, followed by a negative. This time, however, the positive and the negative are both connected to the same verb – heareth. In essence we have those who hear their father’s instruction and those who scorn it.
Positive hearing in this verse can be understood as asking for instruction, loving it, approving of it, delighting in it, seeing the advantages of instruction, being agreeable to it and applying it. It is as if the writer intends the son in discussion here to be the display of instruction. He says, “Do you want to see the benefits of instruction? Here, look at my son. Watch what is has done.”
Here is what the Bible says. You know this. Just a reminder. Honor your father and mother. This is the first commandment with promise that it may go well with you and that you might live long on the land. One way to honor your father is to empathize with the long, hard challenge of raising children. It seems to me that your dad has put in years into this job of raising you, if not more if you have brothers and sisters. I would encourage you to honor your dad by empathizing with this enormous difficulty of getting the balance right. You are going to do it yourself someday, perhaps, and I’m sure you will want your kid to be patient with you.
The negative side of the verse reveals that not hearing fatherly instruction means that you mock, scoff, make jest of, disregard and reject instruction it. There are sons in the Bible who fit that description.
The sons-in-laws of Lot burned in Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18-19) because they rejected the instruction of their patriarch. True, Lot’s message was inconsistent and self-serving. Lot’s own lifestyle did not clearly model the wisdom of Scripture. However, the fact remains that in the end his sons-in-laws perished because they rejected his instruction. This teaches us that when your dad is flawed in many of his decisions, you and I are still required to listen and appreciate the few solid instructions he gives.
Another example that comes to mind are the sons of Eli (I Sam. 4:1-11). Hophni and Phinehas were slain because of their disobedience to known instruction. Again, their father Eli was not a perfect example and he bears part of the blame for what happened to his sons, but it was Hophni and Phinehas who were held responsible in the end for their behavior.
In both of these examples, one remaining fact cannot be ignored: even imperfect fathers have instruction to give and we are accountable for what instruction we have received. There is a principle here for young people: you cannot dismiss everything a parent says because they are not perfect in certain areas. They are still our parents and we are responsible to obey them. Remember what the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” There are two principles here to remember:
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