Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 17:6
"Grandchildren are the crown of old men, and the glory of sons is their fathers"
The word grandchildren is the word ben which could mean son or grandchildren or any descendant. In this case, the translators of the NASB have used the term grandchildren because of the term old men in the proverb. The idea is not necessarily that it is the children of your children that cause you to have a crown but your children and your children's children. Remember, it was not very common that one would live long enough to see their grandchildren.
Realize that Proverbs is always trying to get people to see value and to not be fooled by the way that the world wants you to live. With that in mind, I think it may be best to see this proverb as a warning shot across the bow of career-oriented men.
Solomon is saying that when you get old, it is not your position or the pile of money or anything like that that will be the crowning achievement of your life; but instead it will be your children, so don't neglect them. Don't try and build your life around your position or your business or your hobby, etc. – ignoring your children. For when you get old, it will be your children and how they are living and whether they want to have anything to do with you that will determine whether you think life has been good to you.
Notice that he uses the word crown – the Hebrew word is atara which means crown or wreath or designation of honor and importance. In other words, I am important because of the relationship of my children and what they have achieved.
This whole section of the Proverbs is about the value of relationships – LIFE IS RELATIONSHIPS and it is so common to miss the real point of life. Look, he says, you have this amazing set up: When you are old all you will want is to have a relationship with your children and grandchildren; and when your kids are growing up, all they want to do is brag about their fathers. Don't be so busy doing this world's stuff that you miss connecting. Unfortunately this is what happens all the time. When the kids are the most interested in their dads, he is too busy making a name for himself in the world. When he is most interested in them, they are too busy or bitter at him to take the time for him.
God, through Solomon's insightful perspective, is trying to get us to be wise and make choices that deepen and preserve relationships with our children and our parents. Make the sacrifice and spend the time; it will be worth the investment. You will never get to spend as much time as you and the other person want potentially; but invest in these radically important relationships with your children and, when they are older, your parents.
Remember that wisdom is making the triple-win choice or action – the one where God is glorified, the other person or people are blessed, and you are profited. In this case it is about spending time and interacting with your children or your parent when you might rather be doing something else that is more personally pleasurable or even worldly profitable. But ultimately it is not wise in that it leaves you relationally barren. Wisdom looks for key relationships to build up, making investments in them.
What are the investments that you need to make in your children's lives to deepen your relationship? It might be time spent doing something they like. It might be learning something that they are fascinated by. Make the investment. It will be worth it. Remember, it doesn't matter if you are famous or rich but that your family loves you.