Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 4:4
"Then he taught me and said to me, 'Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live'"
Solomon is remembering back when he was just a boy and how David, his father, would take him aside and talk with him about how to live and what to do in various situations. This makes a radically important impression in Solomon's life, and it is an important rite of passage for parents and children to participate in. It is the work of parenting.
To be a parent means to try and shepherd your children through the various choices that are out there so that they will have a great life. If they can avoid some of the mistakes that you made, they will be better off. If they can make the right choices that you made and that you would now make, they will have a much better life. Your children, however, are seeking to be independent and establish their own identity separate from you.
Notice Solomon's admonitions here in this proverb through his father's mouth: Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live. You must begin to make decisions like I would make them or you will be embracing a life of death, needless pain, separation, and loneliness. Don't go down that road.
David's commandments, which were passed on to Solomon in these intimate encounters, were based on the Ten Commandments and the two great Commandments. This is why God could inspire and include Solomon's admonitions to us. It is absolutely imperative that you pass on to your children that fact that there is a way of life and a way of death in this life. One way pulsates with life through choosing to honor, respect, and cultivate other’s ideas, needs, and interests. One is purely selfish, constantly asking the question, “What do I want?”
It is important that children realize that many times the right choice is counterintuitive. The way to really live is to get a little less of what you want and more of what everyone would want.
When David taught his son Solomon, he was carrying on an important function of fatherhood – teaching his children about life. Our culture has reduced fatherhood to a paycheck and a distant enforcer. God's role for fathers involves active relationships with their children and teaching life's lessons to them when they are ready to listen.
I recommend to parents and, especially, fathers that they set up a regular time to get together individually with their children. It should be the same time each week so that it is remembered. It should be with each child individually. Notice how Solomon says that David taught ME. He took time out of his busy schedule to spend time with ME and teach ME important things I need to know. Notice that there is a focus on interaction on important issues. As a child gets older, it is important that there is more listening and questions. A teenager needs to know that they have been listened to before they are willing to interact or hear what you have to say.
I recommend that you memorize the nine major relationships of life and be prepared to ask questions about how each of these is going in their life. If there are problems, questions, or difficulties, they will come out as you show specific interest in their life. Each week they may want to talk about a different relationship or the same relationship. Stay with the topic that they want to talk about. Be careful that you do not do all the talking and telling. Ask instead, "How do you think you should handle it?" or "What do you think you could do?"
As for those teens who are reading this, you have probably already made choices that have destroyed friendships or damaged grades or peace with your parents. It is important that you realize that your choices will largely determine the amount of peace you have in your life. That is why David drilled into Solomon, “Keep my commandments and live.” If you do not keep God's commandments, then you will not have much life or peace. This is not a game where you can always proclaim that it is time to start over. This is life and the choices that you are making will create a life worth living or a hell on earth. Ask yourself the question, “If I were to really do what my parents wanted me to do, what would it look like?”