Father to Son

It is significant that the book of Proverbs is addressed from father to son. Teaching should take place within an existing relationship of trust and love, and that relationship must be cultivated if teaching is going to be effective. An estranged son will not be receptive to the wisdom his father offers. But this is not a democratic or egalitarian relationship. A father’s teaching is backed up by authority. He can exhort his son to remember his teaching and to keep his commandments because he is the agent for communicating Yahweh’s teaching and commandments.

It is also significant that it is specifically this father, Solomon the king, addressing his son. This is a book of kingly training, training in justice and wise rule. The Proverbs communicate the wisdom needed to be true sons of the King, taking dominion over the earth and ruling those who are under our authority so that they flourish. The Proverbs train us as kings in the basic sense that they teach us how to take mastery of life, rather than stumble through life from one crisis to another.

Wisdom involves skill in doing what is fitting and in producing results that are beautiful. The  craftsmen chosen by God displayed their wisdom in the construction of the tabernacle and the fashioning of the high priest’s garments of glory and beauty. A musician displays wisdom in making music; a father displays wisdom in training and guiding his children. There is a “craft” or “art” to each of these endeavors. Overall, the Proverbs teach us how to live skillfully, and how to construct a life that is attractive, fitting, and beautiful.

Paul’s exhortations to fathers to train their children rely on this foundation. Children still need to be trained in wisdom, they still must be cultivated, nurtured, and disciplined. And this, Paul says, rests primarily on the father’s shoulders. It is through the father that this teaching comes, and so it is the responsibility of the father to know what he must teach. A man cannot teach his children the way of God if he himself does not know it. Our children are our masterpieces, our wisdom on display.

Sons and daughters honor their fathers and mothers by receiving this wisdom humbly, by building on this wisdom, broadening and deepening it by the word of God. And we have a Father also, who trains us and disciplines us. We honor Him by remembering His teaching and keeping His commandments. He reproves us and reshapes us because we are His workmanship, His masterpiece. He reproves him whom He loves. He says of His faithful children, “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased.”

 

A good bit of this was taken from Peter Leithart but now I’ve gone and mixed it all up and don’t remember which is which.

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