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Pondering Proverbs as a Parent – 10 Years Later

This Sunday, we begin a new series at Rolleston Baptist Church through Proverbs.

Proverbs Series

I love the book of Proverbs.

Nearly 10 years ago, I spent a month blogging through the book of Proverbs, one chapter per day. I called my simple blog series, “Pondering Proverbs as a Parent“.We were still living in the States at the time. My children were 1, 2, & 4!

Our lives have changed dramatically in the years since. Yet the timeless truths of God’s Word never change.

These blog posts are rough & unedited. I share them here as they may still prove helpful to some family.

You can download a PDF of the whole series – Chapters 1-30, Diagram for Chapter 31, Chapter 31.


Pondering Proverbs as a Parent – Summary Post

Pondering Proverbs as a Parent

Almost a year ago I finished a series of posts through the book of Proverbs with the above title. Currently I preparing for a sermon at the end of December on Proverbs 9 and a Youth Camp next month on Proverbs 1 – 9.

So I thought I would place the post from last year back on top as it might prove helpful to others.

This post provides links to all 31 posts in this series – one post for each chapter in Proverbs.

You can also download a PDF file containing the full text of all the posts here.

  • Proverbs 1 Proverbs 2 Proverbs 3 Proverbs 4 Proverbs 5 Proverbs 6
  • Proverbs 7 Proverbs 8 Proverbs 9 Proverbs 10 Proverbs 11
  • Proverbs 12 Proverbs 13 Proverbs 14 Proverbs 15 Proverbs 16
  • Proverbs 17 Proverbs 18 Proverbs 19 Proverbs 20 Proverbs 21
  • Proverbs 22 Proverbs 23 Proverbs 24 Proverbs 25 Proverbs 26
  • Proverbs 27 Proverbs 28 Proverbs 29 Proverbs 30 Proverbs 31

    Pondering Proverbs as a Parent – Chapter 31

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    Partnership In Marriage

    As we come to the end of Proverbs we find this wonderful chapter, a chapter that has so often been relegated to ladies’ Bible Studies and Christian Woman’s Literature.[1] However, there is a problem with this:

    Proverbs 31 was written to a man!

    [You can download a PDF file with a structure diagram of Proverbs 31 here.]

    Whoever King Lemuel was, these words represent instruction he received from his mother. Just like the rest of Proverbs, these instructions were probably given to the king by his mother prior to marriage, possibly even just before. His mother is instructing him on marriage and leadership.

    There is no question that verses 10 – 31 provide many wonderful principles for a Christian lady desiring to be a godly wife and mother to follow however, this is not the primary purpose of this portion of Scripture.

    Take a look at “Diagram A” from the above structural pictures.

    This chapter is made up of two negative commands, one positive command and one positive rhetorical question (which we will see in a shortly is in essence a positive command).

    vs. 3 => He is to avoid women (plural) because they will steal his strength/virtue

    vv. 4-7 => He is to avoid strong drink (involving his mouth)

    vv. 8,9 => He is to pursue right speech (involves his mouth)

    vv. 10a – 31 => He is to pursue one woman of virtue/strength

    So what is going on in verses 10 – 31? What do I mean my “pursue” a woman of virtue?

    Another misunderstanding of this passage arises from the use of the word “find” in verse 10.

    “Who can find a virtuous woman?”

    We tend to use the word find in the sense of “Oh, look what I found!” You are just going about life, minding your own business and wham, “I found a virtuous woman…let’s get married.” The problem is this word for “find” is never used this way in Proverbs. Anything of virtue/Wisdom is never just stumbled upon. To “find” anything of virtue/Wisdom one must be diligent, one must work. In fact Proverbs is clear that if one just bumbles through life, that individual will end in destruction.

    The second idea this word may have is the “Intentional discovery of a known goal due to planning and effort.” Although this is common, we have already seen the “goal” (i.e. this Proverbs 31 woman). This is common in Proverbs. Wisdom exists, it is out there and God has clearly shown us how to “find” it, but we must be diligent in our pursuit. However, this woman described in Proverbs 31:10-31 did not exist when he met her or even married her. She has grown children, she is established in the community. The end goal is known, but it did not exist on the wedding day.

    The final idea this word has in Scripture is the “Intentional discovery of a known but non-existing goal due to planning and effort.” This is the idea here. The goal is known it is clearly taught in Scripture, but it does not actually exist to it fullest extent on our wedding day.

    The instruction to husbands is, “can we follow the blueprint laid out in Scripture, in Proverbs and specifically Proverbs 31 and with God’s help disciple our wives toward Godliness?”

    Even here, the end goal is known, but she doesn’t just automatically pop out of a hat after 20 years of marriage. Yes, this is a great passage of Scripture for ladies to come to, to learn the qualities of a godly woman. However, more critically and central to the purpose of the passage, this is a passage of Scripture for husbands to come to, to see how they are dong at discipling their wives. The husband is 100% out for her best.

    Notice also “Diagram B” in the structural pictures.

    Here we see the structure of verses 10 – 31. Notice verse 23 serves as the thematic center of this portion of Scripture. This pictures the other half of the partnership of marriage.

    The wife’s activity, role and desires are centered on her husband. Everything about who she is and what she is called to do in this passage results in her husband “fully trusting her” (vs. 11) and his recognition for leadership (vs. 23). She is 100% out for his best interest.

    What we have here is a husband and a wife who are completely selflessly, self sacrificially, humbly focused on the other.

      1. They promote one another.
      2. They support one another.
      3. They help one another.
      4. They sacrifice for one another.
      5. They accept one another.
      6. They care for one another.
      7. They depend on one another.

    The result – vv. 28-31 – A HOME FILLED WITH JOY AND PRAISE!!

    There should be no question of the benefit our having this kind of marriage will be on our children. The best pre-marital counseling in the world would be to grow up in a home for 18+ years where this type of marriage was modeled.

    [1] Although I did hear an Anglican minister once on an NPR interview claim that this chapter represented the height of sexism. That it was written by a sexist Ancient Near Eastern male and if anything was a picture of what women should not be, rather than what they should be.

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    Posted by on 09/12/2005 in Uncategorized


    Pondering Proverbs as a Parent – Chapter 30

    [As an aside, these next two posts will not even address who “Agur son of Jakeh” or “King Lemuel” are. Whether they are different names for the same person, whether one may be another name for Solomon himself, or even whether they are Jewish. Although I have and can have those discussions, in the end they really have no impact on my responsibility to live out the truth of these texts which are inspired of God and included in His Word.]

    vv. 1 – 6 => These first six verses echo the final five chapters of Job (38 – 42). What we see here is really the pinnacle of Wisdom the ultimate purpose of pursuing Wisdom, the supreme goal in Biblical parenting!

    To know God!

    What (rather Who) is the Pinnacle of all Wisdom – God.

    What is the ultimate purpose for pursuing Wisdom – to know God.

    What is the supreme goal in Biblical parenting – that our children might know God.

    Not just to know about God and not to know the god I can fit in my head, but to know the God of the Bible.

    The God Who is bigger, greater, more holy, more wise, more powerful that anything or anyone I can possibly imagine.

    The God Who holds the winds and the waters, the God Who establishes the ends of the earth, the God Who’s every word is true.

    The God Who is our shield and refuge!

    The more we know Him the more clearly we see ourselves, our weakness, our frailty, our humanness compared to His complete “Otherness.”

    Oh that we would know Him! Oh that our children would know Him!

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    Posted by on 08/12/2005 in Uncategorized


    Pondering Proverbs as a Parent – Chapter 29

    vs. 1 => As we have seen in other places vs. 1 of chapter 29 reminds us of the critical importance of responding correctly to reproof.

    Like all the other principles in Proverbs this is extremely important for all of us at every point in our lives, but this is an especially important lesson to teach our children.

    If our children develop a habit of stubbornness – “stiffening their necks” – in their youth they will be walking the path of a fool and heading for sure destruction in their futures. The difficulty is, a humble response to reproof does not come naturally, it is learned and must be taught.

    Notice this verse does not refer to the type of reproof. Although, if I am the one giving reproof I should do it in a loving and appropriate way, if I am the one receiving reproof the issue isn’t the way the reproof is being given, but my response to it.

    This happens to all of us. Someone points something out in our lives that may be very true, but because the do it in a unkind or unloving way, we justify our actions, miss the opportunity for spiritual growth and change, and focus on their unloving attitude rather than our need to change.

    We need to model for and teach our children to humble themselves and receive reproof with a thankful heart. Not that it is great joy to find out you have a tumor and you need surgery, but it is good to find this out so that you can have surgery and be relieved of the problem and prevent things from getting worse.

    vs. 11 => Do children or adults, “just need to vent?”

    I hear this quite a bit.

    “Well, he just needs to vent, let him get it all out and then he will be fine.”

    For children it is something like this…

    The Mom or Dad does not give little Johnny the drink he wants, he starts to throw a fit, Mom and Dad look at each other and say, “hey it’s not that big a deal, if he wants juice instead of milk, he can have juice.”

    Certainly in most cases whether little Johnny gets juice or milk is not a big deal. However, the way he expressed his displeasure in the first drink that was given to him IS A BIG DEAL!

    Little Johnny who has learned that venting his anger is a tool to change circumstances he does not like into circumstances he does like will become big John someday who will be the man who, “just needs to vent.”
    The Bible calls that boy and that man a “fool.”

    For little Suzie it might not be an all out screaming type vent of her anger. It might be the silent, manipulative pouting, the “I’ve got Daddy wrapped around my finger, watch this” kind of maneuver.

    Both actions are wrong, both are unbiblical, both are characteristic of a fool, not the wise.

    Again controlling one’s spirit does not come naturally. It certainly is not encouraged by the word around us. It must be modeled and taught.

    We must be diligent and intentional with regard to teaching our children to control their spirits and to not allow their emotions to control them.

    Or maybe the wisdom in this article is the better option! Behave or Else

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    Posted by on 07/12/2005 in Uncategorized


    Pondering Proverbs as a Parent – Chapter 28

    As I ponder Proverbs 28 two verses immediately stand out to me.

    ESV Proverbs 28:13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

    This verse very pointedly illustrates the importance of parenting for the purpose of getting to our children’s heart. Their entire futures are dependant upon this. One of the overriding principles to guide our children in is the central importance of confession and repentance. We must demonstrate, illustrate and educate our children on the basic Biblical principles of confession and repentance.

    True confession and repentance comes from the heart. Initially (and by initially, I mean for the first several years and off an on for the rest of their lives, just like ourselves) confession and repentance will only come after confrontation. Eventually, we want them to grow so that they are practicing self-confrontation and coming to the place of confession and repentance without having to be confronted by us or someone else.

    This also underscores the importance of calling sin, sin. It is not that they were naughty, or cute, or well they are two (you know those “terrible two’s”), or he is a boy, or it is just a phase they are going through. No Sin is Sin. Jesus died for sin, not phases or cute naughty behavior. We confess and repent of sin.

    NAU Proverbs 28:14 How blessed is the man who fears always, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

    In the ESV this verse states, “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord always…” The problem is Lord is not in the verse. Secondly the word for fear in this verse is not the typical word in Proverbs for the concept of “the fear of the Lord.” (NOTE: I do like the ESV, but the fact that it often does not italics word that are supplied is a weakness.)

    I believe this verse is not talking about “fearing the Lord,” but “fearing the consequences of sinful choices.”

    All through Proverbs we have seen two choices. Choose Wisdom and receive blessing, choose to reject Wisdom and the consequences are painful. There is a healthy fear of the consequences that will come into one’s life if one chooses sin.

    Sometime go through the book of Deuteronomy and see how God instructs his children Israel. He lays before them over and over again two choices both of which have consequences. He spells out the choices and the consequences and then He calls them to choose right.

    We need to do the same in our parenting. Our children need to know, experience, feel, etc. that there are consequences for their choices – both positive and negative. In doing this we will develop in them a healthy desire for the blessings that come from choosing right and a healthy fear of the negative consequences of choosing wrong.

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    Posted by on 06/12/2005 in Uncategorized


    Pondering Proverbs as a Parent – Chapter 27

    Living by Faith: Verse one of chapter 27 is like the ultimate understatement after 26 chapters of Proverbs. As we have seen throughout the book, Proverbs as a general principle looks at each decision we make as possibly the last decision we will ever make. We must not presume we have tomorrow. Choose Wisdom today.

    Of course, James 4:13-17 echoes a similar theme in the fruitless sin of boasting about tomorrow and not considering the Lord’s will.

    In both passages the idea is not, to not think about tomorrow or the future at all. Proverbs is very much against that. We see in Proverbs the wisdom in working hard during the harvest so one has provision for the winter, etc.

    The idea is to boast – to be confident in one’s own ability to control the future, taking no consideration of God. It is living life as a practicing atheist.

    This is really what is means to live by faith. It is not being reckless and foolish, not being responsible. It is prayerfully considering God’s will and pursuing it with all that we are, even if we don’t understand how it will all work out.

    It is “being faithful where I am today so I will be in a place for God to use me tomorrow.”

    It is unlike that our children will learn this if they do not see us living this way!

    Friendship: One very significant lesson we can teach our children is how to be and have truly positive, spiritually beneficial friendships.

    The Lord has blessed our oldest daughter with a generally friendly personality. Not that there are not times when we have to work with her to be friendly, but these are the exceptions. Most of time, everyone, even strangers are her “friends.” Just the other day while at the store, ever other kid she saw she was saying, ‘Hi’ to and saying, “This is my friend.” All during the Thanksgiving holiday, if you asked her “what are you thankful for?” Her response was, “my friends.”

    That is great. I don’t want to stifle that. However, not all those people are really her friends and at four years old that is fine. But as our children grow I want them to learn what it means to be a true friend and to have true friends.

    vv. 6, 17 => Then need friends who will be honest with them and not just tell them what they want to hear or what makes them feel good. They need friends who truly want to see them grow in their relationship with the Lord and care enough to challenge them along the way. They need to be the same kind of friend to others.

    We as adults and parents need the same thing.

    The Proof is in the Pudding vs. 11 => If you are committed to practicing the Biblical model for parenting you will never run out of critics!

    Unbelievers, Christians, family, friends, doctors, etc. will be lined up to tell you that you are being too strict, you are not being strict enough, you are doing this wrong, you are not doing this, etc.

    We must be committed to knowing and obeying God’s word and not meeting the expectations of everyone around us. Of course, one of the greatest joys is getting into a good church where others are doing the same thing!

    However, not that “ends justify the means” necessarily, but as we follow God’s Word even the critics can’t argue with the end product.

    By God’s grace and to His glory, I don’t know how many times other parents of young children have told us how much they want the same product they seen in our children. The sad thing is that (so far) more often than not, once we share with them the Biblical principles we are striving to obey, they don’t want the effort and sacrifices involved!

    Let’s just keep on keeping on!
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    Posted by on 05/12/2005 in Uncategorized


    Pondering Proverbs as a Parent – Chapter 26

    Chapter 26 of Proverbs can be divided into three sections:

    1. vv. 1 – 12 => Instruction for a future leader on becoming a discerning leader.
    2. vv. 13 – 16 => Instruction on the vice of laziness for a future leader.
    3. vv. 17 – 28 => Instruction for a future leader on how to avoid causing inter-personal conflicts.

    As in chapter 25 this chapter is particularly focus on the royal courtroom and the necessary instructions for a future leader of the kingdom. However, these instructions are obviously helpful and necessary for anyone in any position of leadership.

    A Discerning Leader. One thing Wisdom is necessary for, especially for those in leadership is for discernment. A leader, due to the very nature of being in leadership over others, must possess discernment. He must be capable of asking the right questions, evaluating someone else’s skills, gifts, and character. This is critical because one of the facets of leadership is not doing everything yourself, but delegating – identifying who is capable and qualified for a particular task and then developing their leadership further by enlisting their service in the task. However, even though the task has been delegated and a certain amount of responsibility has been give away, ultimately the one in leadership is still responsible. Wise discernment will protect the leader from giving responsibility to the wrong person.

    Laziness. There is probably no quality less fitting for a leader! Certainly, a leader needs to be able to balance his priorities and he needs rest for sure, but he must not be one who is give to laziness. One who will allow areas for which he is responsible to be neglected as a result of his inattention.

    Avoid Causing Inter-personal Conflict. One of the items that come with leadership is confrontation and addressing conflicts as they arise. It just comes with the package. However, there is no glory in creating conflict or making a conflict worse that what it is by dealing with it poorly. For conflicts that arise between people under our leadership sometimes the best thing to do is stay out. Other times, if we have to get involved, how we speak, how we address the issue will be the key in whether we be some partial at fault or do we contribute to the peaceful resolution of the original problem.

    As I look to lead my home as a husband and father, I must ask myself if I am functioning in my role consistent with these principles.

    As I look to develop godly leadership in my son, I must seek to model and instruct him toward this kind of Wisdom.

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    Posted by on 02/12/2005 in Uncategorized


    Pondering Proverbs as a Parent – Chapter 25

    Chapters 25 – 27 of Proverbs are given to us in a uniquely different form than the previous chapters as well as the ones that follow.

    Chapter 25 begins by telling us that these are the Proverbs of Solomon which were copied by the men of Hezekiah. It seems likely that these Proverbs were not given by Solomon in the exact form we have them now. Rather the men of Hezekiah took what may have been separate Proverb statements given by Solomon and then combined them to result in what we now have in these three chapters. Most of the statements as they are now span two verses and form antithetical parallel thoughts making extensive use of simile.

    The setting for these Proverbs seems to be the royal court. In a sense all of Proverbs would have originated in that setting since they are from Solomon and were given to his children. However, these are a bit more focused on the proper conduct of those who were of royal blood and who were future leaders.

    (A very helpful resource on these chapters is, Raymond C. Van Leeuwen’s Context and Meaning in Proverbs 25-27 which is part of the SBL Dissertation Series – #96.)

    Because of this focus these chapters are great wells of principles describing God’s qualifications for leadership. These chapters will provide much for parents who desire to train their sons to be leaders and their daughters to recognize real biblical leadership qualities in a man.

    Principles of a godly leadership:

    1. A godly leader is humble – he does not pursue leadership or his own recognition. (vv. 6, 7 & 27)
    2. A godly leader is a man of his word – he does what he says and does not make commitments he cannot keep. (vs. 14)
    3. A godly leader returns good for evil. (vv. 21, 22)
    4. A godly leader is honest and trustworthy. (vs. 18)
    5. A godly leader looks to resolve matters with others without involving unnecessary individuals. (vv. 8 – 10)
    6. A godly leader is able to discern the character of others. (vs. 19)
    7. A godly leader is a man of self-control. (vs. 28)
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    Posted by on 01/12/2005 in Uncategorized


    Pondering Proverbs as a Parent – Chapter 24

    The other day I was prompted to think about how we train our children to respond to correction.

    On the one hand we certainly want them to see that they cannot obey God without Christ. We want them to see that God desires them to know Christ and to conform them into His image. We want them to see that one very important help God has given them is their parents. We want them to see that disobedience is sin, it is sin against God and that they are in need of forgiveness.

    On the other hand I don’t want to breed in them a heart that is so set on being perfect that when they do fail they are tempted to just give it all up. We all fail, we all sin, we all are in daily need of forgiveness. I don’t want to breed in them a response pattern of wallowing in their sin and staying down.

    I want them to accept correction, seek forgiveness and get up and go on striving to please God.

    Proverbs 24:16 “for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.”

    They will fall, that is inevitable. God does not want them to stay down. Part of training our children to respond to God’s correction through us, is to teach them the true meaning of Biblical forgiveness.

    Jeremiah 31:34 “And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.“”

    Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

    Our children must understand that true forgiveness is impossible separate from the blood of Christ. They must understand that in Christ God offers a forgiveness that is total, complete and sufficient. They cannot earn His forgiveness for their salvation and they cannot earn His forgiveness for individual sins. It is not a matter of, “if I feel bad enough, if I beat myself up enough, if I wallow in depression long enough, then I will feel forgiven!” God forgiveness is not conditioned upon me, it is rooted in the work of Christ.

    When God forgives, He promises never to “remember” our sins anymore. God cannot forget, He is omniscient. However, He can choose not to “remember” our sins against us again. When God forgives we can be certain He is not going to bring it up again and throw it back in our faces. (Jer. 31:34)

    Of course, this kind of forgiveness is expected of us toward our children and our children to us as well. (Eph 4:32).

    Like all other aspects of Wisdom this is not just taught with our words, but must be modeled with our lives.

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    Posted by on 30/11/2005 in Uncategorized

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