Proverbs 20:20

Whoso Curses His Father or Mother



1. This is a very simple proverb.

2. It addresses rebellious children and basically makes one point: your lamp will be snuffed out!

3. It doesn’t take a lot of hermeneutical skills to get the point. In fact, one could hardly miss the point here.

4. This proverb almost doesn’t need to be taught. It simply needs to be read. It speaks for itself.

Whoso Curseth His Father or Mother

1. Exodus 20:12 – Here Solomon speaks about a son who clearly violates the fifth commandment.

a. This commandment came with a promise: that thy days may be long upon the land… and “that it may go well with thee.” (Eph. 6:1-2)

b. Children who honor their parents have learned to submit to authority.

c. Children who honor their parents are much more likely to fear GOD because they have learned to fear and respect their parents.

d. Children who obey their parents are much more likely to obey the laws of the land.

e. Children who honor their parents by doing what their parents expect of them are much more likely to do what their bosses expect of them… and thus succeed in life.

f. Children who honor their parents by submitting to their discipline and have learned to do their chores… will most likely be disciplined throughout their lives… at school… at work… wherever they are… and thus things will go well for them.

g. A child who learns to honor their parents, submit to them, and obey them… will discover that those are traits that will easily be transferred to other areas of life.

h. God’s Word sets forth a PROMISE for those children: things will go well for them all throughout their lives.

2. Solomon’s proverb is the flip side of that same coin.

a. Cursing one’s parents is the OPPOSITE of honoring. It is the polar opposite.

b. Cursing defined:
• Strong’s: Be trifling; be of little account; lightly esteem; to seem insignificant.
• Dict. Of Bib. Lang.: Disdain; despise; be vile; i.e., be in a state of contempt for an object, showing little regard or value to the object.
• A different form of this Hebrew word is used in Deut. 27:16.
» Translated: “Setteth light.”
» The meaning is the virtually the same.
• I Sam. 17:42-44 – Goliath spoke of David as if he were an insignificant nothing…
» Goliath cursed David—to him, David was nobody of any importance. (vs. 43)
» He thought he would just trample over David and think nothing of it.
» When it says that Goliath cursed David, it did not mean that he swore at him and used profanity.
» It means that he belittled David. He had no respect for this little squirt whatsoever.
» When Goliath looked at puny David, he thought to himself, “Who does he think he is? How dare he confront me? Doesn’t he know how big and important I am?”
• This is the term Solomon used of a child “cursing” his parents.
» He is not speaking of a child who uses profanity against his parents.
» He is speaking a child who shows utter disregard for them… belittling… insulting them… showing no respect for… considering them to be insignificant… someone to be trampled over…
3. When a child curses his parents, he demonstrates the attitude of Goliath toward David: “Who do they think they are? How dare they confront me? Don’t they know how big and important I am?”
4. It is this attitude of contempt… disrespect… not valuing their parents that Solomon describes here.
5. It is the exact opposite of the attitude of honor that God’s Word commands… in BOTH testaments.

3. Just as children who HONOR their parents can expect that things will go well for them as a result… (good consequences) children who CURSE their parents can expect BAD consequences of their attitudes and actions.

a. Children who curse their parents… will probably have no regard for other authority figures in life… and will curse them too.

b. Children who curse their parents are likely to curse their teachers in school… and pay a price for their big mouth.

c. Children who have no regard for their parents and curse them… will probably have no regard for their boss later in life… and curse him. That one may bounce from job to job his whole life.

d. They are also likely to curse the police… and the judge…

e. This rebellious, self-willed young person cannot expect much good in life.

f. His life will ramble on from bad to worse…

g. Things will NOT go well for him. His life will be miserable.

h. He should not expect much comfort, rest, or success in life.

i. The days of his life are likely to be short but not sweet.

His lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.

1. Solomon speaks about what children can expect when they do NOT honor their parents… when they curse them… treat them lightly…

2. Solomon uses a figure of speech to describe the CONSEQUENCES of their ungodly attitude towards their parents: your lights will be put out!

a. Lev. 20:9 – The death penalty was to be applied in such cases of rebellion against one’s parents. (Moses uses the same word for curse.)

b. Matt. 15:4 – Jesus quoted Moses, repeating the death penalty as the Law’s punishment for this sin.

c. The death penalty was the consequence of such rebellion.

3. Solomon uses figurative language to speak of applying the death penalty: snuffing out one’s candle.

a. This is euphemism for death… or the END of something: snuffing out the candle.
• A life that continues was thought of as a shining light…
• At death, that light is snuffed out… extinguished.

b. This was a common figure of the speech in the Bible.
• It was used several times in the book of Job.
• Solomon used it several times too.
• Prov. 24:20 – There is no reward for the wicked. When it comes time for rewards to be distributed, his candle shall be put out. (Candle here = same word as lamp; not a wax candle, but an oil lamp,)
• Prov.13:9
• Rev. 2:5 – Jesus used this illustration of the church in Ephesus: if they did not repent, He would remove (snuff out) their candlestick. In other words, that church would go out of existence. They would no longer BE a light and a witness for Christ… the end of the church.

c. “Obscure darkness”
• Obscure is the term “pupil of the eye” – the black center of the surface of the eye ball.
• The expression is a figure of speech literally translated: “black pupil darkness.”
• That was a figure that came to men TOTAL, utter, and complete darkness.
• When a person dies… he is in utter darkness… the darkest kind of darkness.
• His candle is snuffed out (his life comes to an end) and he is thus in total, utter darkness.
• The Lake of Fire is spoken of as “outer darkness” where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

4. Thus, Solomon uses the strongest language… a graphic figure of speech to demonstrate the awful consequences of a child who is an utter rebel against his parents… and shows no regard for them.

5. Prov. 30:17 – Here is an even MORE graphic picture… but the point is the same.

a. Obviously, the point of the proverb is not just to pass along information about what happens to such a person.

b. The point of the proverb is to be a WARNING to young people NOT to follow that route!

c. The message to young people is: HONOR your mother and father! Things will go well with you.

d. If you DISHONOR them… expect to have your lights put out… one way or another… sooner or later…

e. This proverb also serves as a good warning to parents to do your best to make sure that your children learn when they are very young to honor their parents.

Back to Top

Back to Proverbs Ch. 20 Index

Back to Main Proverbs Index