“My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; Tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; When you sleep, they will keep you; And when you awake, they will speak with you.” – Proverbs 6:20-22
Such wise and important words from Solomon to his son! In fact, we find them to be wise words that needed be impressed time and again in his son’s ears and heart, as they are an application of the 5th Commandment (Exodus 20:12, WSC 64). They are wise words that Solomon repeats and expands on from his lesson in Proverbs 1:8-9. Christian children today greatly need this lesson as well. With the lure of sin being strong, the craft of the serpent being all too effective in the hearts and minds of young and old alike, and the open brashness of the world seeking to draw Christian children’s minds away from their parents and Christ, the wisdom of these words can’t be emphasized enough. It’s true that God has given much duty and responsibility to parents to shepherd their children in the knowledge and ways of the Lord. However, it’s also true that God has given children duties and responsibilities to their parents. This is so important for children to learn! For our children are often in various stages of being self-absorbed. They are more concerned about their view of their parents duties to them and aren’t mindful of their God given duties to their parents. As there is nothing new under the sun, Solomon gives helpful direction for us and our children in this passage of Proverbs 6.
Notice the two important actions in verse 20 that he taught, and we must teach our children to actively practice in their daily lives- “keep” and “do not forsake”. As we as Christian parents mold, grow, and even restore our relationships with our children, we need to do so in a way that, by God’s grace, they will value and respect the biblical commands and counsel we give. For they need to take God’s Word as the guide and guard for all their actions, just like we do. We need to mold our relationships with them in ways in which they will know our love for them and our interest in their well being, along with them growing in their love for Christ and knowledge of His love. When children have such value, respect, and knowledge they grow in desire to listen, keep, and not forsake.
Know that the action of keeping in the Hebrew, is very similar to what Adam was to do with the garden. One of his duties was to watch and protect it. Likewise, our children need to watch and guard our biblical commands. They also need to not forsake, or not leave or abandon them. The direction of both parents, as they teach and model biblical truth, is to be valued and obeyed. Further, see how it’s not that our children are to appreciate the value but then make up their own mind as to what they do with it. No, they are to keep such wisdom and commands very close to them. Solomon again uses two actions – bind and tie. Remember, Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 6. What was their relationship with his commands, with God’s Word, to be?
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” – Deuteronomy 6: 6-9
See how Moses said his commands were to be in parents hearts. Yet, his commands weren’t only for the blessing and benefit of the parents. They were to pass them on. They were to teach his commands to their children. Whereas they were to bind his words as a sign on their hands, see that Solomon says that should be true continually in our children’s hearts. God’s Word must be written in their heart. It must be hidden there and stay close to their conscience. Solomon also said his son needed to tie them around his neck. This is another metaphor of God’s truth being like close guard of a gold chain to protect from sin. As this is obeyed and carried out, there is great blessing. What are the benefits of this valued, close guide and guard? Our children will be lead by truth. They will be kept by truth. They will be taught by truth. All of this will be the work of God and His grace, whether we’re present or gone.
There is much more to say about the duties of children to their parents. Lord willing, I’ll be spending more time on this subject in the coming weeks. But don’t miss these! Diligently teach your children Solomon’s lessons and pray for them every day. Whether they are obedient or challenging, pray for them and pray all the more for God’s blessing in growing them in listening to, valuing, and keeping your biblical commands and counsel that they would be richly blessed as they are lead, kept, and taught by Christ and His truth.