The Lessons of Your Father

Bible Book: Proverbs  1 : 8-9
Subject: Fathers; Father's Day; Home, Christian; Dad

Don Fleming, a prolific author and Bible teacher from Belmont, Queensland, Australia, explains, “Having introduced his subject, the writer now gives the first of a series of lessons on the value of wisdom. Throughout these lessons he speaks as a father to a son, drawing from his own experience to give advice and warning (8-9).”1

Rev. Matthew Henry (1662-1714) writes, “Let them have regard to their parents as their superiors (v. 8, 9): My son, hear the instruction of thy father. He means, not only that he would have his own children to be observant of him, and of what he said to them, nor only that he would have his pupils, and those who came to him to be taught, to look upon him as their father and attend to his precepts with the disposition of children, but that he would have all children to be dutiful and respectful to their parents, and to conform to the virtuous and religious education which they give them, according to the law of the fifth commandment.

He takes it for granted that parents will, with all the wisdom they have, instruct their children, and, with all the authority they have, give law to them for their good. They are reasonable creatures, and therefore we must not give them law without instruction; we must draw them with the cords of a man, and when we tell them what they must do we must tell them why. But they are corrupt and wilful, and therefore with the instruction there is need of a law. Abraham will not only catechize, but command, his household. Both the father and the mother must do all they can for the good education of their children, and all little enough.”2

To properly respond to the lessons of your father is important:

I. Receive the lessons of your father with readiness.

Rev. Matthew Henry writes, “To receive them with readiness: ‘Hear the instruction of thy father; hear it and heed it; hear it and bid it welcome, and be thankful for it, and subscribe to it.’”3

Proverbs 1:5 and 7 reads, “A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel. . .  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  Proverbs 9:9 reads, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”

Proverbs 3:7 reads, “Don’t be wise in your own eyes.”  Ann Cetas writes, “Just before our church service began, I overheard a young man behind me talking with his mother. They were reading an announcement in the bulletin about a challenge to read one chapter of Proverbs each day for the months of July and August. He asked his mom, ‘What will we do with chapter 31 in August since there are only 30 days?’ She said she thought there were 31 days in August. He responded, ‘No, there are only 30.’ 

When it was time in the service to greet each other, I turned back toward him and said hello. Then I added, ‘August does have 31 days.’ He insisted, ‘No, it doesn’t. There can’t be 2 months in a row with 31 days.’ The singing started, so I just smiled.

This brief encounter made me think about our need to develop a teachable spirit, seeking wisdom beyond our own. In Proverbs 3, the attitude the father recommends to the son is one of humility: ‘Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD’ (v.7). In chapter 2, he says, ‘Incline your ear to wisdom . . . ; search for her as for hidden treasures’ (vv.2, 4).

Knowing whether August has 30 or 31 days doesn’t matter much, but having a teachable spirit does. It will help us gain wisdom from God and others. Reading a chapter from Proverbs each day next month may give us a start.”4

On Proverbs 1:8, Dr. George Lawson (1749-1820) comments, “It is here supposed that parents will instruct their children. They are monsters rather than parents, who do not love the fruit of their own bodies. Love will dispose persons to do all the good they can to the objects of it; and the best thing that can be done for children, is to teach them the fear of the Lord. To be careful about providing the supports of life, or raising portions for children, without taking care of their souls, is like taking care of the clothes, and being indifferent about the body that wears them.”5 In addition, Dr. Lawson writes, “Children are required to hear, and reverence, and obey the instructions of their fathers. Next to the duties we owe immediately to God, the commandments require us to obey our parents in the Lord*. He that despiseth his earthly father, is no doubt a despiser of the Father of spirits. A proper regard to the wise and godly instructions of parents, gives a happy presage of good behaviour in after life. Vice and ruin, on the other hand, are the ordinary consequences of irreverence to these natural guardians of our tender years.”6

II. Retain the lessons of your father with resolution.

Rev. Matthew Henry writes, “To retain them with resolution: ‘Forsake not their law; think not that when thou art grown up, and no longer under tutors and governors, thou mayest live at large; no, the law of thy mother was according to the law of thy God, and therefore it must never be forsaken; thou wast trained up in the way in which thou shouldst go, and therefore, when thou art old, thou must not depart from it.’ Some observe that whereas the Gentile ethics, and the laws of the Persians and Romans, provided only that children should pay respect to their father, the divine law secures the honour of the mother also.”7

Jeremiah 35:1-19 reads, “The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, ‘Go to the house of the Rechabites, speak to them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.’ Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habazziniah, his brothers and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites, and I brought them into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door.  Then I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites bowls full of wine, and cups; and I said to them, ‘Drink wine.’ But they said, ‘We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, ‘You shall drink no wine, you nor your sons, forever. You shall not build a house, sow seed, plant a vineyard, nor have any of these; but all your days you shall dwell in tents, that you may live many days in the land where you are sojourners.’  Thus we have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, or our daughters,  nor to build ourselves houses to dwell in; nor do we have vineyard, field, or seed.  But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us.  But it came to pass, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, ‘Come, let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans and for fear of the army of the Syrians.’ So we dwell at Jerusalem.’  Then came the word of the LORD to Jeremiah, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, ‘Will you not receive instruction to obey My words?’ says the LORD.  ‘The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, which he commanded his sons, not to drink wine, are performed; for to this day they drink none, and obey their father’s commandment. But although I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, you did not obey Me.  I have also sent to you all My servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, ‘Turn now everyone from his evil way, amend your doings, and do not go after other gods to serve them; then you will dwell in the land which I have given you and your fathers.’ But you have not inclined your ear, nor obeyed Me.  Surely the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them, but this people has not obeyed Me.’’ ‘Therefore thus says the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will bring on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the doom that I have pronounced against them; because I have spoken to them but they have not heard, and I have called to them but they have not answered.’’ And Jeremiah said to the house of the Rechabites, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Because you have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts and done according to all that he commanded you, therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not lack a man to stand before Me forever.’’  Jeremiah recounts the Rechabite’s steadfast obedience to Jonadab’s command.  This is in stark contrast with Israel’s disobedience to Jehovah’s law.

III. Reiterate the lessons of your father with reverence. 

Proverbs 1:9 reads, “For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, And chains about your neck.”  Honor your parents and God will honor you and when God honors you, your parents will receive honor again!

Dr. E. H. (Edward Hayes) Plumptre 1821-1891), former professor of pastoral theology at King’s College in London, writes, “To the Israelite’s mind no signs or badges of joy or glory were higher in worth than the garland around the head, the gold chain around the neck, worn by kings and the favorites of kings (Genesis 41:42; Daniel 5:29).”8  Genesis 41:42 reads, “Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.”  Daniel 5:29 reads, “Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.”

Rev. Matthew Henry writes, “He recommends this as that which is very graceful and will put an honour upon us: ‘The instructions and laws of thy parents, carefully observed and lived up to, shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head (v. 9), such an ornament as is, in the sight of God, of great price, and shall make thee look as great as those that wear gold chains about their necks.’ Let divine truths and commands be to us a coronet, or a collar of SS, which are badges of first-rate honours; let us value them, and be ambitious of them, and then they shall be so to us. Those are truly valuable, and shall be valued, who value themselves more by their virtue and piety than by their worldly wealth and dignity.”9

Dr. George Lawson explains, “Young people are generally fond of fine clothes, and of ornaments to their bodies; but with regard to this, Solomon here sets their notions right. Reverence to parents, a dutiful regard to their instructions, and the wisdom which is learnt from them, is by far the most beautiful ornament. It will make the face to shine; it will be a chain to the neck; it will be a graceful ornament, more beautiful than a crown of gold, to the head. With such ornaments was our Lord himself arrayed, while he dwelt among us. He was subject to his parents, though himself their Maker and Saviour*. Young people are generally disposed to hearken to advice; but because human nature is in a corrupt state, they are generally more prone to follow bad advice than good. Having therefore exhorted them to reverence and to obey God and their parents, he now proceeds to warn them against hearkening to the enticing words of seducers to sin, ver. 10.-19.”10  Proverbs 1:10-19 reads, “My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent.  If they say, ‘Come with us, Let us lie in wait to shed blood; Let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause; Let us swallow them alive like Sheol, And whole, like those who go down to the Pit; We shall find all kinds of precious possessions, We shall fill our houses with spoil; Cast in your lot among us, Let us all have one purse’— My son, do not walk in the way with them, Keep your foot from their path; For their feet run to evil, And they make haste to shed blood.  Surely, in vain the net is spread In the sight of any bird; But they lie in wait for their own blood, They lurk secretly for their own lives.  So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; It takes away the life of its owners.”

Proverbs 6:20-35 reads, “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.  For the commandment is a lamp, And the law a light; Reproofs of instruction are the way of life, To keep you from the evil woman, From the flattering tongue of a seductress.  Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, Nor let her allure you with her eyelids.  For by means of a harlot A man is reduced to a crust of bread; And an adulteress will prey upon his precious life.  Can a man take fire to his bosom, And his clothes not be burned?  Can one walk on hot coals, And his feet not be seared?  So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife;

Whoever touches her shall not be innocent.  People do not despise a thief If he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving.  Yet when he is found, he must restore sevenfold; He may have to give up all the substance of his house.  Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul.  Wounds and dishonor he will get,

And his reproach will not be wiped away.  For jealousy is a husband’s fury; Therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.  He will accept no recompense, Nor will he be appeased though you give many gifts.” 

Ephesians 6:2-4 reads, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  ‘Honor your father and mother’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’  And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Emphasis mine)

Remember Ephesians 6:4 is written to Christian fathers, who are to bring their children up in the training and admonition of the Lord.  In addition, remember, a child is to obey his parents in the Lord.  These verses picture a Christian home where both parents and children are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.  In the words of Baylus Benjamin McKinney (1886-1952), “God give us Christian Homes!”     


Dr. Vance Havner (1901-1986) lamented, “There is no authority in the home, in the school, or in the church.  The principal of a high school said recently to teachers, ‘Now don’t tell the kids to obey.  That’s out.  Tell them to cooperate, but not to obey.’  Cooperate is not the word my daddy used.  If I hadn’t cooperated, he’d have operated.”11

Hebrews 12:3-11 reads, “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.  You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.  And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:  ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.’  If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?  But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.  Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?  For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.  Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

Receive the lessons of your father with readiness.

Retain the lessons of your father with resolution.

Reiterate the lessons of your father with reverence. 

1Don Fleming, AMG Concise Biblical Commentary, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publications, 1994), 221. Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp. 

2Matthew Henry, An Exposition of all the Books of the Old and New Testaments; In Five Volumes, Vol. 2 (London: W. Baynes, 1808), 19.


4Our Daily Bread, Ann Cetas, “A Teachable Spirit,” August 31, 2011, Accessed: 05/28/15 .

5George Lawson, Expositions of the Book of Proverbs, In Two Volumes (Edinburgh: W. Oliphant, 1821), 1:8.

6Lawson, Proverbs, 1:9.


8The Holy Bible, According to the Authorized Version (A. D. 1611), with an Explanatory and Critical Commentary, ed. Fredric Charles Cook, (Proverbs Commentary and Critical Notes), E. H. Plumptre (London: John Murray, 1873), 4: 530.

9Henry, Exposition, 19.  

10Lawson, Proverbs, 1:10.

11Vance Havner, When God Breaks Through: Sermons on Revival, ed. and comp. Dennis J. Hester (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2003), 43.  

Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Don’t Miss the Revival! Messages for Revival and Spiritual Awakening from Isaiah and

Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice [Both available on in hardcover, paperback and eBook] & /   / (251) 626-6210

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