Proverbs 23:15-16

A Father’s Joy


1. Here we have the 12th of 30 wise sayings in this section of Proverbs.

2. Solomon appeals to his son several times in this chapter.

a. vs. 15 – My son…

b. vs. 19 – Hear thou, my son…

c. vs. 26 – My son, give me thine heart…

3. This is a pretty common desire – fathers desire to see their sons do well… to be wise… to make good decisions… to walk with God.

4. The previous verses (13-14) the author addressed the parents and spoke of the value of disciplining a son.

a. It won’t kill him. (vs.13a)

b. It might even save his life. (vs.13b-14)

5. This duo of proverbs (vs.15-16) speaks to the fact that a father’s joy (in an earthly sense) is tied to his son’s lifestyle.

6. Verses 15 and 16 are tied together as a unit… as a parallelism… a synthetic parallelism – one that builds upon the previous.

15 My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine.

1. In the first part of the parallelism, the father makes a simple statement to his son: if your heart is wise, then my heart will rejoice.

2. In other words, in an earthly sense, the joy of a father is linked to his son. This is a positive theme Solomon mentions two more times in Proverbs.

a. Prov. 27:11 – “My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me.”

b. Prov. 23:24-25 – “The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. 25Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice.”

c. These proverbs are entirely positive – speaking of the fact that a wise son brings JOY to his father and mother.

3. Of course, this implies that the reverse is true also: son, if you have a foolish heart, my heart will be grieved.

a. There other proverbs which speak of the joy a wise son brings to his father, but also includes the other side of the coin – the grief that a foolish son brings to his parents.

b. Prov. 10:1 – “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.”

c. Prov. 15:20 – “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.”

d. Prov. 29:3 – “Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance.”

4. Solomon seems to emphasize the positive side—since it is mentioned in all six of these passages, while the negative side is mentioned only three times.

5. Note that these are issues of the HEART.

a. Heart refers to our innermost being.

b. It involves our mind, emotions, and will.

c. It is the whole inner man… the whole inner person.

d. It is the inner LIFE of a person.

6. Thus, Solomon is saying that a wise son brings JOY to the whole inner life of a father.

a. It is a joy of mind.
• Thoughts of his son bring joy.
• It affects his attitude.
• Naturally parent’s minds constantly go to their children.
• And when your mind is continually drawn to a wise child, your mind is continually drawn to a source of joy to one’s inner thought life.

b. It is a joy of heart – it affects the inner emotions.
• Though we are not to live BY our feelings, yet feelings are a part of life… the way God made us.
• We are made in HIS image—and God feels.
• There are many influences that affect our feelings and emotions, but one very strong influence is our children.
• Solomon’s point here is that

c. It affects the father’s will too.
• If your son is wise and makes good decisions, that will affect in a good way the choices you make concerning him.
• If your son is wise, then you will give him more liberties that he might grow and mature.
• If your son is wise you can trust him in carrying out chores and responsibilities.
• That too brings joy to a father.

7. III John 3-4 – Of course there is great application here to the spiritual life.

a. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”

b. This is certainly true of those you have led to the Lord… or those you have taught in the Lord… or your own flesh and blood sons and daughters!

c. It is a real joy to see children demonstrating wisdom by walking in the truth. In fact, there is no greater joy.

d. I’m not sure if John meant that literally or if it is hyperbole or if it was intended to be limited to the human and earthly realm.
• I tend to think it was meant as hyperbole.
• Consider verse two. “I wish above all things that you mayest prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers.”
• We often make greetings like that even today.
• I think it is fair to say that John was not MORE concerned for his physical health and well being than he was for his spiritual health and well being.
• However, that is a common way to greet folks… and the precise meaning should not be pressed too much.
• The literal method of interpretation allows for such expressions.

e. One might well argue that the joy of the Lord is an even greater joy than the joy of seeing our son walk in the truth.
• In fact the joy of the Lord trumps all earthly joys… and it even trumps and supersedes all earthly circumstances… good and bad!
• But either way, his point is well taken: there is nothing like this kind of joy!
» It brings much greater joy than to see your son be at the top of his class at Harvard.
» It brings much great joy than to see your son become a millionaire or a billionaire.
» It brings greater joy than to see your son become president of the United States.
• The joy of the Lord is a much deeper joy, unlike any other.
• It is deeper and richer than any joy we receive from earthly circumstances.
• Of course when our son walks in the truth—that earthly joy can actually BE an expression of the joy of the Lord.

f. However we understand John’s words here, one thing is clear: the father’s joy is connected to the son’s walk.
• That is true of a father with his son in the flesh.
• It is also true of a son in the faith.

16 Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things.

1. The second part of this proverb is found in the next verse.

a. This part of the proverb BUILDS on the first section.

b. Vs. 15 said that a father’s joy is linked to his son’s wisdom.

c. Vs. 16 says that a father’s joy is linked to his son’s speech… or the wisdom expressed verbally.

d. Thus, this parallelism is building on the thought of the previous thought. This is called a synthetic parallelism.

2. The father rejoices.

a. Reins defined: kidney
• This organ was poetically used to represent the inner man much in the same way we use the heart (another organ) to represent the inner life of a person.
• Reins is used as a virtual synonym for “heart” in verse 15.
• So far, the proverbs are parallel.

b. Rejoice: Solomon uses a different word for “rejoice” in this verse than in the previous passage, but probably just for variety. The terms are synonyms.
c. Thus, the RESULT is the same in both verses – the father rejoices… the father has joy.

3. The CAUSE of the joy is where the author builds upon verse 15.

a. A wise heart causes the father to rejoice.

b. Right speech also causes the father to rejoice.

c. “Right things” defined: (One word) = evenness, uprightness, straightness, fair, level.

d. It is sometimes translated “equity” in Proverbs.

e. A son who speaks honestly causes his father to rejoice.

f. A son who speaks with fairness and level and even in his speech causes a father to rejoice.

g. Solomon seemed to be speaking about good, old fashioned honesty in speech. You can trust what his son says—and that delights the father.

4. Matt. 15:18 – Of course, what comes out of a person’s MOUTH is connected to what is in his heart.

a. Thus, putting the two points of this proverbial thought together, the father rejoices when he sees inward integrity of heart manifesting itself as outward integrity of life.

b. That causes the father to rejoice.

5. Of course there is great application to our relationship to God our heavenly Father in all of this.

a. How much must GOD rejoice when our heart is full of His wisdom?

b. How much JOY do we bring to our Father in heaven when we study proverbs and apply them to our lives?

c. How much rejoicing does God do when sees spiritual wisdom and discernment practiced in the lives of His children?

d. How much joy do we bring to God when we SPEAK right things? When our mouths are filled with His Word? When our mouths are used in sharing the gospel? When our mouths are used in teaching His Word or encouraging others in the faith?

e. Yes, we can bring joy to God in some very simple ways: storing wisdom in our hearts and speaking wisdom with our mouths.

6. There is also great application to those we lead to the Lord… our “sons in the faith.”

a. I Thess. 3:8 – “For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.”
• Paul’s LIFE was linked to the spiritual well being of the Thessalonians.
• His life was complete… full of joy IF they stood fast in the Lord.

b. I Thess. 2:19 – “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.”
• The believers in Thessalonica were a source of JOY to Paul.
• When they walked with God—Paul had joy.

c. This is just a fact of life – in both the natural and the spiritual realm. In some ways, the life and joy of a parent is linked to the well being of their children.