My Son, Be Wise
My son, be wise, and make my heart glad,
that I may answer him that reproacheth me.
1. This is the only proverb in this section (25-29) that uses the expression, “My son.”
2. This expression was used many times in the early chapters of the book.
3. Thus, Solomon is returning now to an old theme in the book: a father giving counsel to his son.
4. That is the main purpose of the book of Proverbs: to impart wisdom and instruction, especially to the young and inexperienced… from father to son… from parent to child.
My son, be wise…
1. The exhortation to “be wise” is found often in Proverbs:
a. Prov. 6:6 – “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.” (diligent)
b. Prov. 8:33 – “Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.” (don’t be rebellious)
c. Prov. 13:20 – “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” (Not in the form of an exhortation – but the expression implies that we “ought” to be wise… by being careful about whom we choose as friends.)
d. Prov. 19:20 – “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.”
e. Prov. 23:19-20 – “Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. 20Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh.” (Avoid drunkards and gluttons.)
2. This is one of those nuggets of truth Solomon felt was worth repeating.
a. Although in each passage, he adds a slightly different or extra shade of meaning.
3. What father wouldn’t want his son (or daughter) to be wise? The parent wants the child to be wise because of the VALUE of wisdom as outlined in this book and elsewhere in Scripture.
a. This book began with Lady Wisdom crying out to young people to follow her ways and not to become entangled with troublemakers.
b. Wisdom cried out against immorality and the strange woman. Wisdom will keep you away.
c. Wisdom builds her house – it teaches us how to build our homes and families.
d. Wisdom gives us knowledge that prevents us from the punishment of the rod… from God or from the judge.
e. Gaining wisdom is better than gaining gold – money.
f. A wise man accepts reproof and is improved by it.
g. Wisdom teaches us to be obedient.
h. Wisdom teaches us to be diligent in our work and not to be a lazy procrastinator.
i. Wisdom teaches us the value of money and how to use it and save it.
j. Wisdom teaches us to trust in the Lord and not to lean on our own understanding.
k. Wisdom teaches us to use our tongues for good and to think before we speak.
4. The parent wants his son to be wise so that the son can AVOID many of the avoidable calamities in life. (Poverty; alcoholism; prison; STDs, destroying the body, etc.)
Make my heart glad…
1. The fact that a wise son makes his father (and mother) glad is repeated often in Proverbs. This is not the first time this theme has arisen in Proverbs.
a. Prov. 10:1 – “The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.”
b. Prov. 15:20 – “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.”
c. Prov. 23:15 – “My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine. 16Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things.”
d. Prov. 23:24 – “The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.”
e. Prov. 29:3 – “Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance.”
2. The son or daughter who does LOVE WISDOM and applies it to their lives will make their parents glad… will cause them to rejoice.
a. The obvious reason is that a parent loves his child and wants the best for them.
b. It is heartbreaking to watch a child (an adult child) forsake the wisdom and advice they were given, make foolish decisions, and end up suffering as a result.
c. It causes the heart of a parent to rejoice to see his children make wise decisions—to walk with the Lord—and to be discerning.
d. John said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”
That I may answer him that reproacheth me…
1. The command to “be wise” was expressed many times in Proverbs. And the fact that when the child does manifest wisdom it makes the parents glad was also expressed many times in Proverbs.
2. However, this last expression adds a nuance to the meaning of this familiar exhortation.
3. Not only does a wise son make the father glad, but it also enables the parents to avoid criticism and reproach.
a. Most of the reasons given for exhortation to “be wise” had to do with the benefit accrued to the son who chooses wisdom.
b. This proverb speaks of a benefit to the parents of the son who chooses wisdom.
c. Obviously, Solomon did not selfishly want his sons to be wise solely so that he, Solomon, could avoid reproach.
d. The most important reason was of course, for the benefit of the son. Solomon wrote about that benefit often in Proverbs.
e. But in this proverb, he does add this new feature: there is also a benefit to the parents as well.
f. Reproach: Expose; defame; blaspheme; taunt; ridicule; treat with contempt.
g. It saves the parents the embarrassment, shame, and reproach of having to continually excuse or answer for a delinquent son or daughter.
h. A number of years ago we had a singer come to Salem Bible Church. He brought his children up to serve the Lord. He shared the names of each one and what they were doing in life now. When he got to his son, he introduced him as #146-843 – which was his cell number. He was in prison. The son’s foolish behavior not only adversely affected his own life, but it also adversely affected his parents’ lives as well.
4. The reproach of a parent of a foolish son.
a. The parent will be reproached either directly or indirectly and accused of being a failure as a parent.
b. Sometimes that is the case, but not always.
c. Often, like the singer, several kids are brought up in the same family… same home… same training… and they all turn out well except for one. It’s not always the parents’ fault.
d. Some will reproach the parents of a wayward child by accusing them of being overly strict or overly lenient… or perhaps they will challenge your parental skills or methods… or even blame the Bible for a wayward son (“That’s no way to raise a child in the 21st century! Spanking is archaic.”)
e. This is extremely painful emotionally—especially for the mother.
f. Some parents suffer from this kind of reproach—either real or imagined reproach—for many years.
g. Like it or not, in the eyes of many, a child’s behavior is a reflection on the parent.
5. This principle is true in the spiritual realm too. The behavior of a child of God reflects upon our Heavenly Father.
a. Matt. 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
b. I Pet. 2:12 – “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”