Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 23:24
"The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who sires a wise son will be glad in him."
This is a proverb about parenting to parents. Solomon is painting a picture of an adult child who is a delight. It is this image that is so difficult at times to keep in mind through the 18+ years of parenting. At times you want to give up. At times you want to be overbearing. At times you want to just let them make all the stupid choices they want to make. At times you want to take all choice away from them. But Solomon reminds us of the goal -- the sheer pleasure of a child who stays within the boundaries of righteousness. The good son or the good daughter. It will be worth all your effort when you have that take place. So hang in there and keep parenting towards the goal: a righteous person.
This is the Hebrew word saddiq which means just, lawful, righteous. It means conformity to a standard. The idea is that God has given a path that we should live on in terms of right and wrong. Stay on the path. It is the parents’ job to develop knowledge and experience with right and wrong so that a child stays away from wrong and embraces right as the way of life.
This is the Hebrew word gil, which means to rejoice or be glad. The original physical idea of the word gilwas to circle around potentially in a dance of people making a circle and celebrating. One can see a circle of people spinning and excited and laughing becoming the image for joy.
Solomon is saying if you want joy as a parent, raise up a righteous child -- one who lives their life in the lines of God. Conversely, if you want misery and depression and constant heartache then develop a selfish and sinful child who does what they want.
I have watched so many parents die a thousand deaths as their children wander off the good path into a life of sin and selfishness.
Remember parenting is not about saying something once. It is about emphasizing things over and over and over. It is not what you say, it is what you emphasize that they will get. This is why in our family at every mealtime we talk about the Ten Commandments, the Fruit of the Spirit, and the Beatitudes. If there is one thing I want my children to understand through what I say, what they experience, and what we constantly talk about is that life has lines and there are acceptable forms of behavior that are praiseworthy. They must get this. It is not enough to just say it once or let the church say it or hope that the school says it.
This is the Hebrew word yalad, which means to beget, to sire, to bring forth. The imagery in this verse is that the process of giving birth actually takes 18+ years and a parent is not done giving birth until the child is successfully out of the home as an adult. Solomon wants you to see the whole of the child's life when they are at home as a period of being in the womb in a sense. In that they are really in your family womb. So make sure that you work on them so that they come out fully developed morally. He gives us the insight that it is the moral development of our children that will give us joy and gladness when they are adults.
Notice it is not how tall they are or how talented they are or how much money they make that is going to give us deep satisfaction and joy. It is their moral character. I have tragically had to watch parents deal with the constant heartache of an immoral son or daughter.
Solomon wants us to focus on the joy that a child who chooses wisely will be. Every adult who walks the path of righteousness is a blessing to their parents.