Monthly Archives: April 2013
The word “fool” occurs nearly 100 times in the Book of Proverbs. That is more times than the word “wise.” That might say something to all of us!
The gospel informs me that before I stick my finger out and call someone a fool, I need to do some looking first to myself. This is particularly true in parenting. How often when we are disciplining our child for a foolish thing that we do it in a foolish manner. Also how often we are disciplining them for something that we have not moved into a wisdom model yet in our own lives. Proverbs and the wisdom of the gospel exposes us.
This does not mean that we not discipline our child, but it does mean that I need to learn to approach them touched by grace and with the clear objective of moving toward my child in wisdom.
To help in doing this, I have found it very useful to identify the type of foolishness that is occurring as best as I can. The Book of Proverbs has 5 categories of fool. The simple, 3 categories of what is translated as fool, and the mocker or scoffer.
Today I will address the simple fool and then add each day another category. The simple fool in the Hebrew is a word that in it’s verb form means to deceive or seduce. This fool is described in Proverbs as someone who might be a follower who is easily led. They are gullible to things told to them. At times they act silly due to their simplicity and they are described as naïve and believing just about anything.
The simple fool will show irresponsibility at times and act without thinking. They do respond in a positive way often to visual aids.
The simple fool is the least severe type of fool and really represents all of us daily. This fool acts because they just do not have the wisdom on what to do yet in a situation. There is great hope in rectifying their foolishness and often they just need instruction. In other words, they acted without knowledge or the fear of the Lord. Though like most of us, they do not prefer discipline, there is hope they will receive it.
A few Proverbs that address the simple fool are 1:22-32; 14:15; and 19:25.
Tomorrow I will address the first level of what is translated as “the fool.”
This week I will be addressing the fool of Proverbs. I will be writing about the different categories of foolishness and want to take a moment to explain the importance of that for parenting.
A common question is how do I discipline my child? I have seen over the years different plans of discipline that give straight formulas. As a former schoolteacher, administrator and parent, I found that these do not work well. Instead I discovered the wisdom of God’s Word as a guiding tool.
Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge, nor is a cartwheel rolled over cumin, but dill is beaten out with a stick, and cumin with a rod. Does one crush grain for bread? No, he does not thresh it forever; when he drives his cartwheel over it with his horses, he does not crush it. This also comes from the Lord of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom. Isaiah 28:27-29
By understanding levels of foolishness, we can try to approach our child and determine if we have someone who is “dill,” “cumin,” or “grain.” Each one is treated differently and one can be crushed by being too harsh and the other worthless by not being hard enough. Wisdom is needed and I hope to give some light on the process this week.
I realize that most of you really have no interest in this topic but I am posting this because my family is passionate about wrestling. It was a very important part of my own personal development as a young man through wrestling from junior high school to 3 years in college. There is no sport that compares to the discipline and work that is required to be a good wrestler. I was stunned when I heard that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recommended that it be dropped as a sport in the Olympics. Wrestling was part of the original Olympics and has always been in the Olympic games. So in the interest of doing my part to try and preserve wrestling, you can watch this 4 minute video and send an email or tweet to the IOC and tell them to keep wrestling in the Olympics. BTW – our last American Olympic champion, Jordan Burroughs, who is a graduate from here in Lincoln, Nebraska, is a young man who loves Jesus Christ as Savior. He continues to work hard toward another world championship and has a goal to repeat as Olympic Champion in the next Olympics (if they have wrestling.)<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/64920300″>Save Olympic Wrestling</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/timjackson”>Tim Jackson Films Library</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Children grow in wisdom when parents move toward their children with God’s Word and the gospel.
Your years with your children are not a sentence for your sin by God but are years of opportunity. The ultimate goal for the Christian home is not worldly success but is an eternal goal that is beyond academics, sports, and career. There is an ultimate way a child should go with eternity as the destination. Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
To train up means to dedicate. For the Christian parent, that dedication is to Christ-centered living. The gospel needs to be the daily focus in the home so your child sees that the means to live life in wisdom is found in and through Jesus Christ. This begins with you, the parent. If you want your child to be passionate about Christ, you pick up your own passion. In Arabic, the term “train up” refers to rubbing the palate of a baby with a date mixture so they will begin sucking motion. It is to accustom a taste and be motivated to take it. Give your child a taste of Jesus Christ and motivate them to continue to dig for the riches of the treasures of wisdom in Christ.
Our children are born with hearts of rebellion that want to keep them immature and foolish. Proverb 22:15, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” I will cover the rod in the weeks to come but it is an instrument that is to drive your child toward wisdom. It is the responsibility of the parent to move first to their own heart and then toward the child’s heart before you move to their buttocks.
Here is a guiding Proverb for you as a parent; “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away form the snares of death.”
In class this Sunday we will look at the fool in Proverbs but with a mirror: 🙂
Your children will grow in wisdom as they move toward you, the parent. We start here with the fundamental commandment to children, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Ephesians 6 points out that this is the first commandment with a promise. Living long in the land does not equate to longevity of breath but “living” is referring to the quality of life as you sit under the blessing of God’s pleasure. In other words, life will go better for you if you honor your father and mother. In situations over the past 30 years when I have been asked to talk with “foolish” children/teens, this is where I start with them. It is amazing how many after a few weeks of changing their direction with their parents find that God is faithful: when disobedient or acting foolish to their parents, life is miserable and when they honor their parents, life seems to go well.
Proverbs clearly divides for the child how they move to their parent or move away. Proverb 15:20 states, “A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish man despises his mother.” 20:20 states, “If one curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness.” To despise is the close opposite of honor. To honor means to literally give value, worth or weight. To despise is to treat as though the object has no value or is worthless. To curse does not refer directly using four-letter words but is a general term to mean that you treat in a lowly manner.
The burden is on the child to honor their father and mother and to learn that it is owed to them to do so by what God has done for them. The parent’s burden is not to think that they have to earn a child’s respect. It is part of God’s design for order and wisdom in the creation. However, the wise parent by moving to their child in wisdom (remembering that Christ first is their wisdom), gives them a model and motivation to do likewise.
The next post is on that topic.
Proverbs has much to say about the roles of everyone in the family. God has designed these roles so that they would be harmonious and represent the intimacy of the relationship that the Godhead has within and the relationship the Godhead has outside of itself with us.
The next 3 days I will break down the relationships into 3 categories:
The relationship of a husband and wife
The relationship of children to their parents
The relationship of parents to their children
Today: A husband and wife show they are growing in wisdom when they are moving toward each other in Christ.
Proverbs 31:10-31 is often viewed as an overwhelming description of a godly woman and a call for all women to be like this one. However, lets begin again with the author’s intention here. Remember that Proverbs was written for the king’s son. This being so, Proverbs 31 tells the son what kind of woman he needs to find. Verse 10 begins, An excellent wife who can find? Certainly a woman should want to aspire to being an excellent one, but the intention of the Proverb is for the king’s search.
Let’s look at the “excellent wife.” First of all the word translated in the ESV as excellent literally means “strength.” In the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (Septuagint) the word is translated as “A manly woman.” The same term is used in verse 17, She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.
There are two summary statements we can give to this woman:
- She knows who she is and does not wonder about herself
- She gives of herself to her family, friends, and to her community
Now what is probably the main reason she is this kind of woman. My proposal from this Proverb is first of all from verse 30 that she is praised because she fears the Lord. Second is that she is surrounded by continual praise that begins with a husband who does so.
A husband by definition of the word is to be a cultivator and nurturer as is implied by the agricultural term of husbandry. And how does he cultivate his wife so she is enabled to be such a woman? See verses 28, 29 “… her husband also (rises and blesses her) and he praises her: “Many woman have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Verse 28 also states that Her children rise up can call her blessed. And where do you think children learn to rise up and bless their mom … it is by you dad!
Men, how is the praising of your wife going? Are your kids not showing respect to their mom? If so, are you looking at your example first? Can’t think of what to praise your wife about? If so, can it be that she would be more enabled to be praised if you would start to praise her?
Tomorrow: Children showing wisdom to their parents
1. The best exercise in the world for children is to let them romp and jump about, as soon as they are able, according to their own fancy.
2. A parent that has once obtained and knows how to preserve authority will do more by a look of displeasure, than another by the most passionate words and even blows. It holds universally in families and schools, and even the greater bodies of men, the army and navy, that those who keep the strictest discipline give the fewest strokes.
3. There is not a more disgusting sight than the impotent rage of a parent who has no authority.
4. I have heard some parents often say that they cannot correct their children unless they are angry; to whom I have usually answered, then you ought not to correct them at all.
5. Nothing can be more weak and foolish, or more destructive of authority, than when children are noisy and in an ill humor, to give them or promise them something to appease them.
6. Let it always be seen that you are more displeased at sin than at folly.
7. Nothing is more destructive of authority than frequent disputes and chiding upon small matters. This is often more irksome to children than parents are aware of.
8. I am fully persuaded that the plainest and shortest road to real politeness of carriage, and the most amiable sort of hospitality is to think of others just as a Christian ought, and to express these thoughts with modesty and candor.
9. Many parents are much more ready to tell their children such or such a thing is mean, and not like a gentleman, than to warn them that they will incur the displeasure of their Maker.
10. It is a very nice thing in religion to know the real connection between, and the proper mixture of, spirit [i.e., matters of the heart] and form [i.e., disciplines like family worship and church attendance]. The form without the spirit is good for nothing; but on the other hand, the spirit without the form never yet existed.
All quotes are taken from Witherspoon’s Letters on the Education of Children, and On Marriage
HT: Kevin DeYoung, http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/
Sorry for running behind … busy days. Here is the final word on our approach for interpreting Proverbs for our class on parenting. As Christians, we want to look at Proverbs from a Christian perspective. To do so, we see that Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10 tell us that it is “the fear of the Lord” that is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. In a few weeks I will cover the fear of the Lord but for now it can be considered an awe or reverence of the Lord that does have an element of terror. An example of the fear of the Lord is found in Exodus 20:20 where the people of Israel have just received the tablets of the ten commandments and the mountain was full of thunder, lightning, the sounds of trumpets and the mountain was smoking. A fear gripped the people so that they asked Moses to speak on their behalf and Moses then tells the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” Proper fear of the Lord leads us to not run away from God, but to approach him carefully and lead us away from sin.
In understanding this beginning, as Christians we find it in being rightly related to Jesus Christ where in 1 Corinthians 1:24 and 30 it tells us that Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God and became to us wisdom. Colossians 2:3 tells us that in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
So to properly use Proverbs in the Christian home, we need to filter our understanding of Proverbs through Jesus Christ. Hopefully I will be able to show how in the weeks to come.
Another rule of interpretation is that Proverbs must be read in the context of all of Scripture and we are not to use a limited view. For example when a Proverb indicates that following a certain path might lead to a form of prosperity, to fully understand that path I need to heed warnings in other part of Scripture to materialism and worldliness.
Proverbs is also part of the genre of Scripture that is written mostly in a poetic format. We need to be careful to consider that the statement is worded in the Hebrew to be more memorable than to express something complete and accurate. Hebrew poetry is usually not written in rhyme but has expressions with rhythm and repetition for easy memorization. An example is Proverbs 6:10 which in English states, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest” in Hebrew (transliterate form) states, “Me-hat shaw-naw, me-hat ten-o-maw, me-hat khib-book, yawd shaw-kab.” Do you catch the rhythm?
The next rule in interpreting Proverbs is that we should not approach in a general sense that Proverbs are promises or case law from God. Each Proverb as a minimum expresses a wise approach to a selected goal but any particular blessing, reward, or opportunity stated is only likely to happen if the counsel is followed, but it does not mean that it is to be automatic.
In reading other wisdom books from the Bible such as Ecclesiastes or the Book of Job, we are reminded that from our perspective the events that surround us are not certain. Proverbs contain actions that we as sinners are trying to accomplish in a fallen, uncertain world. They are however certain to a sovereign God. So Proverbs needs to be understood on its own terms and not always with technical exactness.
Here is an example of a very popular Proverb; 16:3. Commit your work to the Lord,and your plans will be established. Should I take this statement as a direct, clear cut, always applicable statement that if I take any plan I have and commit it to God, it will succeed? You can answer yes, but according to the design and definition of established or succeed to God. However, this proverb is often misapplied as a promise of prosperity according to man.
This is not meant to be a green light to take Proverbs or leave it. We are looking for good interpretation and remember that Proverbs followed is your pathway to wisdom and good judgment.