My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: (9) For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.Proverbs 1:8-9
Solomon has begun the book by laying out the purpose of the literature. The purpose of these Proverbs is to give wisdom and instruction to the young, to the simple, and to those that will listen. This culminated to the most foundational beginning and primary truth. That truth is that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”.
It is in that context that Solomon begins to speak to his son. We as readers get to lean in and listen to this instruction. Certainly we can believe that any father would give their son the best advice they can give. There is little incentive to give your own children bad advice. They bear your name! God granted Solomon his request for wisdom, and so the ability to read the kingly advice of Solomon to his son is of utmost value.
Solomon tells his son to “hear” the instruction of thy father. The word translated “hear” does not just mean to physically comprehend what is being said. The word means to physically comprehend with an inclination towards obedience. Listen and obey the instruction of your Father. The idea is continued in the parallelism of the phrase. “Forsake not the law of thy mother”. Clearly this is not just speaking about physically listening, but also obeying.
In verse 9 he references “they”. What is “they” referring to? It is referring to the instruction of the father, and the law of the mother. This instruction and law will be an “ornament of grace”. The word for ornament is used twice in proverbs. It is used here, and also in Proverbs 4:9.
She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.Proverbs 4:9
The picture of this word is a wreath or a crown on the head. It is something that decorates the person wearing it. The idea is that this instruction and law will bring favor to your life by the obedience the son gives to it. Similarly they will be “chains about thy neck”. To wear jewelry and crowns at this time would be a sign of prosperity, favor, and riches.
Solomon is saying that heeding the instruction and law of your parents tends to lead to life, favor and blessing.
For children still living in their parents’ home, the application of this verse is pretty direct. There is blessing and favor for the child that listens and seeks to obey the guidance of their parents. The new testament repeats this directive and promise.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. (2) Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) (3) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.Ephesians 6:1-3
For the adult not in the home, the truth is no less direct. We should remember and not forsake the wise instruction and guidance handed down to us from our parents. If your parent wasn’t particularly wise, it doesn’t mean that there is not anything wise you could learn from them. There are others older and wiser. There are elders you may have access to in your local church from which to gain wisdom and instruction.
In the context of this passage, we all have access to the wisdom of the Lord contained in the scripture. We should heed the wisdom and instruction contained in the pages of scripture. When we obey the wisdom given to us it will bring us blessing.
- What is something that you are doing that is unwise?
- Is there anything that your parents taught you to do that you are forsaking?