A Wise Son (and Daughter): Proverbs 13:1

A Wise Son (and Daughter): Proverbs 13:1

A wise son hears his father’s instruction,
    but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
Proverbs 13:1, ESV

Solomon begins this section of his wise sayings by addressing his son, seeking to impart wisdom to him. There are many times he does that throughout the book of Proverbs. However, this instruction and effort to teach and guide is not reserved only for sons — daughters should also take note of this, lest they become fools in their understanding and actions. A few items to note:

First, it is the wise son (or daughter) who listens. Solomon uses the word “hear” in this verse, but the idea is not restricted to the child’s physical ability but to exercise what is being taught. Of course, this assumes a willingness to hear and do what is heard. Second, the instruction doesn’t come from just anyone. No, the instruction is given from a father to a child. The assumption is that the father desires to impart good things to his children as one who has learned from his father before him and is now learning from his heavenly Father. Fathers (and mothers) have lived much longer than their children. Of course, that is obvious. What is often not so apparent to the child is that this means they have years of knowledge and experience stored up. It is from that deep well that parents teach and instruct their children. The wise son (and daughter) listen to those things because they come from one who has walked the road they are currently traveling. Third, the instruction is not the wisdom of this age. Solomon was taught by his Father, King David. He was a godly man (but still a man) who learned from his father and so forth. He also learned from his heavenly Father. He was a man after God’s own heart. Presumably, David taught Solomon the things of the Lord. That means the instruction is rooted firmly in the unchanging Word, which contains the wisdom of the omniscient God. Fourth, sometimes, that instruction will contain rebuke and correction. Parents must correct their children. It is their responsibility to emulate their heavenly Father in loving discipline. If that is avoided, the child will not grow to be wise of heart and action but rude, self-centered, and godless. Yet, like the instruction before it, the child must listen. Rebuke that is not heeded profits very little, if anything. You can typically tell when a child is resisting the rebuke of his parents. Solomon calls it “scoffing.” What is a scoffer? According to one source, a scoffer is “a person who mocks or makes fun of someone or something, often of religion or moral values.” When a child is not listening to the instruction and rebuke of his parents, he is not wise but a fool. No, the child may not always understand everything the parent is teaching. No, the child may not always like what is being said. Yet, a wise son (or daughter) listens to their God-given parents because they know more than they do. Only a fool pretends to know more than those who have gone before them.  

A wise son (or daughter) will trust the instruction of their parents. A wise son (or daughter) will receive correction, rebuke, and discipline because a wise son (or daughter) knows it is for their soul’s good.