Proverbs 1:8-9

An Ornament of Grace

8My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

1. This is the first “my son” passage in Proverbs. There are 23 more. (They would of course be applicable to daughters as well.)

2. This is appropriate during our “family series” time—so much in Proverbs is applicable to the family setting… directly or indirectly. This is direct!

3. Several truths should be noted in this verse.

a. It is the responsibility of BOTH parents to teach the children!
• We often think of training children as the mother’s job… the father is off at work all day.
• Not so in the Bible. In fact, the father is especially singled out in Eph. 6:4! “Fathers… bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord!”

b. Each parent will have wisdom in different areas. A wise husband will put to use the unique wisdom of a woman in training children.
• A father may be strong on nurturing a solid work ethic in the child
• A mother may be strong on nurturing manners and etiquette in the child.
• A father might be strong in nurturing a sense of honor and fair play in the child.
• A mother might be strong in nurturing love in the child.

c. The child is to listen to BOTH parents.
• A young boy might think he should listen to his dad, but doesn’t have to pay attention to mom. Not so!
• A young girl might like to think that she has to obey mom, but dad doesn’t really understand girl things—so she doesn’t have to listen to him. Not so!
• The husband and wife become ONE flesh in marriage. They are to behave like ONE flesh in bringing up children too. They must speak with ONE united voice!
• Any disagreement on dealing with issues with the kids must be dealt with in private—NOT before the kids.
• The son here is commanded to obey the instruction of BOTH mother and father. The writer takes it for granted that both parents are saying the same thing.
• The instructions from mom cannot be contradictory to those of dad or the child is being trained in confusion.
• If there is no agreement—the Bible still COMMANDS one voice. The husband is the head of the wife—the head of the household.
• But a wise husband will discuss these issues with his wife—and consider her viewpoint.

4. The father’s instruction

a. Instruction: discipline, chastening, correction.

b. The child is to “hear” = listen; hearken; obey; heed;

5. The mother’s law

a. Law = Torah — law, direction, instruction.

b. The child is to “forsake not” = to leave, cast off or away, reject, cease, abandon, quit, cast down, let fall, forgo…

6. Putting these two concepts together we see the role of the parents:

a. Lay down the law for the child.

b. Instruct the child concerning those laws…

c. Correcting him when he wanders outside the parameters of those laws

d. All three are necessary and vital—and there must be a balance.
• If all we do is lay down the laws and pile up laws—the children will feel oppressed and will become frustrated. (Eph. 6:4—strictly forbids that!)
• There must also be instruction—teaching the child the benefits of the laws—the reasons behind the laws—to protect him from evil and so he will develop a respect for others!

7. While there are slight variations which add new insights, the two phrases are actually a synonymous parallelism.

a. The instruction of the father = the law of the mother

b. Hearing = forsaking not

c. Putting them both together, a child is to hear the instructions and laws of his parents, and he is NOT to forsake them.

8. While these laws and instruction may certainly INCLUDE certain “house rules” (bed time; what to eat, wear, etc.) it would seem to EMPHASIZE the words of wisdom as found in the book of Proverbs.

a. In other words, it seems that the instruction and laws being drilled into the child’s heart mentioned here have to do with lifelong principles… principles which will govern the rest of their days.

b. The words of wisdom found in Proverbs include: the use of the tongue; the use of money and property; respect for elders; diligence vs. slothfulness; wise use of time; avoiding immorality; avoiding association with a foolish man; the pursuit of the knowledge of God; etc.

c. Parents have a responsibility to train a child in wise principles that will set them in a right direction the rest of their lives.

d. Parents have a responsibility to drill these principles of morality and godliness, as deeply as possible into the hearts of their children.

9For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.

1. “They” in vs. 9 refers back to the instruction and the law of the parents.

a. If the parents do their job of drilling this instruction in the heart of their child, and if the child takes heed to the instruction… THEN the instruction will be an ornament on that child!

2. The author may have intended this verse to be a reference to both boys and girls.

a. An ornament of grace unto thy head: would refer to a garland placed on the head of a victorious runner in a race… usually young men. A garland on the head is a sign of victory.

b. A chain on thy neck: may refer to a necklace for a young woman… jewelry. (Although, men wore necklaces in OT times—pharaoh put a necklace on Joseph when he was taken from prison and dressed up.)

3. Regardless of whether he intended to include both boys and girls, the main point is clear: the ornament of grace about the head and the chains about the neck are to be desired! They are signs of beauty… grace…
• Gen.41:41-42 – Joseph was given a gold chain about his neck—and all others had to bend the knee before him! Great honor!
• Dan.5:7 – Daniel was given a gold chain around his neck IF he could interpret the dreams. It was a sign of great honor!

a. THIS is what makes a child beautiful—respect, honor, and obedience towards their parents… wisdom that has been drilled in and has become part of them…

b. It is not a beautiful face or expensive clothes that makes a child attractive. It is a beautiful heart! An obedient, respectful heart!

c. I have seen some obnoxious little brats who had cute faces and were well dressed.

d. I have also seen some physically unattractive children—and yet there was an attraction about them—they were obedient—respectful—well behaved. THAT is what makes a child attractive! THAT is the real ornament!

e. This is similar to what Peter says of the godly woman. (I Pet. 3:1-4)

• Peter is not forbidding women to wear gold jewelry, or to braid their hair, or to “put on clothes”!
• Rather, he is forbidding women to rely on those outward things for their real beauty! Their real beauty is to be found in a meek and quiet spirit!
• THAT is what is of great price—far more valuable than their jewelry!

4. If parents do their job, and the children respond in obedience, THEN those children are truly beautiful! Even if they don’t have fancy new clothes! Even if they aren’t physically attractive!

a. Real beauty—real attractiveness comes from within!

b. Children who PRACTICE the wisdom found in this book will be quite a testimony in the community—in the supermarket—in their school—

5. Those children will be wearing a garland of victory on their heads and a sign of beauty on their neck.

a. That is something the child can wear proudly—or with respect.
• The Awana kids wear their jewels proudly!
• Those jewels represent hard work—training—an accomplishment!
• So too a child who obeys his parents. That is quite an accomplishment, especially in today’s world!
• Obedient children should not feel like a nerd for being obedient. They should be proud of it!

b. It is also something the parent can be proud of—or feel satisfied in.
• It really IS quite an accomplishment!
• When the child is respectful and obedient and honors dad and mom, THEN that child is a victor—and so are dad and mom!
• It is a good thing for parents to praise obedient behavior too—because the garland on the head and necklace on the neck are really invisible… the child may not SEE the beauty of it—but he needs to know. He needs to be told!

6. But not only is this “drilled in wisdom and respect” a sign of victory and beauty when the child is at home. It is a crown they can wear the rest of their lives!

a. That son who listened to his father’s instruction about hard work and diligence will benefit from that the rest of his life! His hard work will pay off and he will wear a crown all his life!

b. The daughter who did not forsake the law of her mother—perhaps the law of kindness in her mouth—will be able to wear that kindness as a necklace the rest of her days! That will enhance her attractiveness the rest of her life!

c. And dad and mom can REST when they look at their grown children and SEE that their hard work paid off!
• When the parents SEE honesty and integrity in their son’s life, they will be seeing the crown of victory on his head! There will be a great sense of fulfillment knowing that all the hours you spent reading those McGuffey readers with him paid off!
• When the parents SEE their daughter show compassion and kindness to others … they can rejoice—knowing that all those lessons about the life of Jesus paid off…
• You see, in a sense, that crown belongs to BOTH the faithful parents AND the obedient children! ALL can rejoice in it!
• It is sort of like when a husband buys his wife a beautiful, expensive gold necklace. The wife can wear it proudly—but the husband can also get a sense of satisfaction from seeing it on her! “Boy she looks good in that! I have good taste!” They BOTH share in the joy of it!
• We might liken this to the proud parents of a young athlete who wins a gold metal at the Olympics! The child worked hard to make it—but so did the parents sacrifice a lot to bring the child to that place. They BOTH share in the glory of that gold metal!
• So too when we do a good job training our children—it is a crown of victory and a necklace of beauty for BOTH the child and parents to enjoy the rest of their lives!