Proverbs 30:17

The Eye that Mocketh His Father

The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.


1. This proverb seems to point back to the thought in vs. 11: a generation of those who disrespect their parents.

2. Vs. 17 makes another statement concerning the son who curses his father, namely, the consequences of a disrespectful life and lifestyle.

3. As we consider the words of Agur, it is good for us to keep in mind that these are proverbs. They are kernels of truth – statements of generality that are not to be understood as literal truth in all situations. They are not promises or prophecies, but proverbs.

4. In essence, this is yet another “you reap what you sow” proverb with a specific application.

The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother

1. Vs. 11 – “There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother.”

a. This sort of disrespect has been a perennial problem. It has existed since the fall of man. It is nothing new.

b. Children disrespect their parents—and cause much hurt to their parents. Then they have children who grow up and show disrespect to them. What goes around comes around.

2. Mocking one’s father

a. Mock: Scoff; ridicule; speaks words which disparage;.

b. Note that the mocking is with the eye.

c. They may mock verbally—but not all mocking is verbal.

d. It is possible to mock with one’s body language—and especially facial expressions (the rolling of the eyes; the raising of the eyebrows; etc.)

e. You can mock and ridicule someone without saying a word.

f. Perhaps they mock an elderly father’s feebleness or lack of strength or a lack of memory. They may mock their commands.

g. Mocking is also expressed as an attitude of heart—and that attitude can be expressed in lots of different non-verbal forms.

h. God knows the heart.

i. And of course this goes for demonstrating a lack of respect elsewhere also: teachers, kings, senators, presidents, bosses…

3. Despising one’s mother

a. Despise: To scorn, deride, to have contempt for another.

b. The term does not mean to “hate,” but to show contempt.

c. Prov. 23:9 – Fools despise wisdom. They have contempt for wisdom because wisdom calls their folly into question and exposes it for what it is.

4. The Scriptures mention this societal and sin problem often:

a. Prov. 20:20 – “Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.”

b. Lev. 20:9 – “For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.”

c. Deut. 21:20-21 – “And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. 21And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.”

d. Deut. 27:16 – “Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.”

e. This is an ancient vicious cycle… from generation to generation.

5. In Judaism, it should not have occurred, but it did.

a. Remember that Israel was a nation.

b. You became an Israelite simply by being born – the natural birth.

c. You became a son of the covenant in Israel through natural birth.

d. Thus, very few in Israel were genuinely saved. Some were—but most were not.

e. Nevertheless, their culture was so influenced by the truth of God’s Word, that there was a stigma attached to being disrespectful to one’s parents.

f. That cut down drastically on the occurrence of this kind of disrespect… but it still occurred and was addressed several times in the Old Testament.

6. However, as Christians, this cycle should not continue. The cycle should be broken because Christ is able to change the heart.

a. It is addressed in the New Testament as well.

b. Col. 3:20 – “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.”

c. Eph. 6:2 – “Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)”

d. There should be a deep sense of respect among genuinely born again Christians.
• Children for parents (Eph. 6:2)
• Youth for their elders (Lev. 19:32)
• Wives for their husbands (Eph. 5:33c)
• Congregation for church leaders (Heb. 13:17)
• Citizens for governmental leaders (I Pet. 2:17)

e. This sense of respect and honor is to be shown because it is Biblical and right before God—not because it is a cultural issue.
• There was a day when the culture promoted this—but no longer.
• Today youth seems to be honored and glorified.
• Yet, regardless of what our culture says, the Bible is the truth and is to be believed and obeyed.

7. Yet, in spite of what the Bible says and in spite of what should be, there are still those who mock their father and despise their mother.

a. In graphic, figurative, and poetic language, Agur states the consequences of this lack of respect.

b. His language is designed to capture your attention and paint a picture in your head.

c. That ugly picture painted in your head will hopefully make you think twice before transgressing in this area.

d. Sometimes a picture (even a verbal picture) is worth a thousand words.

e. Do you remember the ad against drug use?
• The announcer showed an egg and said, “This is your brain,” and then as they fried the egg he said, “This is your brain on drugs.”)
• The picture sticks with you. So does the verbal picture of Agur.

The ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and young eagles shall eat it.

1. The point Agur is making in the proverb is NOT that if a child mocks or disrespects his parents that birds will immediately swoop down out of the sky and pluck his eyes out.

a. Rather, the picture that is painted here is that of a dead body lying out in the wilderness and birds of prey eating the carcass, and yes, even plucking out the eyeballs and eating them. It is a delicacy for ravens!

2. This picture should be put in its social and historical context.

a. In the Old Testament, a decent burial was extremely important.
• It was important to be buried with your fathers with the proper fragrant spices and incense and to have many come to the funeral and weep excessively.
• II Chron. 16:13-14 – the burial of King Asa.

b. To die without a decent burial was the highest form of disgrace.
• II Kings 9:10 – Jezebel died and there was none to bury her. Dogs ate her flesh.
• Jer. 16:3-4 – God’s judgment was a lack of a decent burial for them, their sons, and daughters. Without a burial, they were considered as “dung” upon the face of the earth.
• Rev. 19:13-18 – When Christ returns, the armies of the world gather to fight against Him. Those armies are destroyed, and as a final insult and disgrace, their bodies lie unburied—and the birds of prey come and eat their flesh… presumably, including their eyeballs.
• This was the highest form of disgrace.

3. Agur’s point to the youth who do not show respect for their parents and for elders in general: this is what will happen to you!

a. If you treat your parents and the elderly in a disgraceful manner, disgraceful treatment will come around to you!

b. Perhaps your children will grow up to mock and despise you—as you did to your parents.

c. This is not part of a Hindu-like karma. Rather, this is a very natural principle of life: you reap what you sow.
• Bad behavior begets more bad behavior.
• If you sow seeds of disrespect, expect to reap a crop of disrespect.
• God used similar language to describe the consequences of Judah’s rebellion: “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee.”
• It is poetic justice—but also divine justice.
• You’ll get what’s coming to you one day.
• Rebellious children who disrespect parents and all authority usually beget children who disrespect parents.
• Note also that it was the EYE that mocked the father. The eye is a window into the soul. It reveals what is going on inside – the inner man.
• It is the eye in particular that is mentioned for the grossest insult and disgrace in death. It is a hideous picture.
• It is a hideous picture because this kind of disrespect is hideous to God.
• The respect (or lack thereof) we show to parents, leaders, elders, and rulers, and others in authority is an expression of our attitude towards God—the ultimate Authority over us.