The book of Proverbs paints pictures of various topics that wisdom affects. A primary focus in the book is the consequences of choices people make. Proverbs reveals the grave consequences for rejecting wisdom. Solomon writes, “Good understanding giveth favor; But the way of the transgressor is hard” (Proverbs 13:15). The life of the fool is likened unto making your way through a “hedge of thorns” (Proverbs 15:19). When a person rejects wisdom for foolishness they bring trouble (Proverbs 15:6; 21:23), destruction (Proverbs 13:13), mischief (Proverbs 28:14), and calamity (Proverbs 22:) to their lives and the lives of those they touch. The foolish experience trouble, destruction, mischief, and calamity in life because of the poor decisions they make. The fool will have evil companions (Proverbs 1:10-14; 4:14-19; 13:20; 20:19; 24:1-2; 28:9), participate in sexual immorality (Proverbs 5:7-9; 9:14-15; etc.), be too lazy to work (Proverbs 6:6-11; etc.), use filthy language (Proverbs 4:24-27; 8:7-9), hunger and thirst for riches (Proverbs 11:4-6, 27-28; 13:7-8, 11; 18:11, 23; 23:4-5; etc.), have an angry disposition (Proverbs 19:19; 29:11), bear false witness (Proverbs 19:5, 28; 25:18), seek revenge (Proverbs 20:22), scoff at others (Proverbs 21:24; 22:10; 24:9; 29:8), and harden their hearts against God’s laws (Proverbs 29:1). All such foolishness brings regret, troubles, and sorrows now and forevermore.
Both the wise and foolish have a choice in the direction of life they choose. When we read a proverb we understand that each man will read that piece of information and do with it what his heart desires. Family and friends have a great deal of influence upon the decisions one makes in life. The final decisions and direction one chooses; however, belongs to the individual. The proverbs are often termed “general truths” for this very reason. God delivers his divine expectation for man yet he leaves man with the choice as to whether or not he will follow the instructions and receive the eternal benefits.
One may describe a general truth as the “natural order of things.” Solomon writes much about what God’s expectations are for man in the form of natural order. Consider these examples. It is the natural order of things that man gain understanding and knowledge yet not all men do (Proverbs 8:9). It is the natural order of things that a beautiful woman have discretion yet not all do (Proverbs 11:22). It is natural for kings to rule with justice and equity yet not all do (Proverbs 8:15; 16:10). It is the natural course of life that a gray headed man be righteous yet how many times have you personally witnessed a perverted gray haired man (Proverbs 16:31)? It is the natural course of life for a man to have children and those children have their own children (Proverbs 17:6). Sometimes; however, a man’s children have no children. It goes against nature for the wicked to be justified and the righteous condemned (Proverbs 17:15) and punished for their good deeds (Proverbs 17:26) yet how many times has the opposite occurred? It goes against the natural order of things for those who are due punishment to be spared the chastening rod yet this happens quite often (see Proverbs 19:5). Again, it goes against nature for the fool to have luxury and the servant to rule princes yet it happens (Proverbs 19:10). Are we beginning to see the point?
A beautiful proverb depicting the natural order of God’s divine expectation is found at chapter 22:6. Solomon writes, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Some; however, have erroneously concluded from this passage that if a child grows up to be a wicked and foolish man the parents failed to properly “train him up.” While this may be the truth in many cases it cannot be the truth in all cases. Like the general truths above we see that it is God’s expectation that such a child remain faithful but that is not always the case?
It is Jehovah’s divine intention and consequentially the natural course of events for the young man or woman that was raised in a Godly home with Godly expectations to hold on to those divine principles all their lives. Unfortunately some choose not to follow divine council even though they were raised properly. Such a one goes against Jehovah’s standard and the natural course of this life. They choose to sin.
Consider the fact that if a parent is reproving a child they are inferentially trying to bring them up in the way they should go (see Proverbs 15:5, 31-33). Consider also the fact that if a son is bringing “shame” (Proverbs 17:2; 19:26-27), “sorrow” (Proverbs 17:21), “grief” and “bitterness” to his or her parents that this inferentially states that the parents are obviously concerned with spiritual matters and are trying to raise the child in the way they should go. Such parents understand their God ordained roles in the home (see Proverbs 4:7; 7:1-4; 19:18; 23:23). The parent’s hope is that by taking the rod to the child he or she will be changed for the better (Proverbs 19:18). Unfortunately, many are not men or women of Biblical integrity even though they were taught to be so.
The book of Proverbs illustrates that there are few who follow through with their spiritual integrity. Jehovah’s divine expectation for all man is to be saved from their sins yet many will reject Him (2 Peter 3:9). Just because it is Jehovah’s expectation of man to do right does not mean that all men will do right. Let us not be simple users of God’s word but rather spiritual engineers and mathematicians who know the proof of our faith (see Acts 9:22).
Are the parents unquestionably the fault of any and all children who reject truth and wisdom in this life? Solomon answers the question and Ezekiel confirms the truth. Solomon writes, “Even a child makes himself known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right” (Proverbs 20:11). Will the son be wise or foolish? Solomon writes, “A wise son hears his father’s instruction; but a scoffer hears not rebuke” (Proverbs 13:1). The wise hear and give heed yet the foolish do not. Each individual has his own choice to make. A parent can do all that is possible to make their child godly yet in the end it is up to that child. Ezekiel writes, “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins it shall die… the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20).
Those who would charge ALL parents who have a wicked son or daughter with erroneously bringing up their children based on Proverbs 22:6 have made a grave error. Such a person convicts Adam of sin for producing a wicked son in Cain (see Genesis 4:1-8). Cain chose to be wicked. Adam did not make Cain wicked (1 John 3:11-12). Those who charge all parents with error for having a wicked son or daughter convict Noah (Genesis 9:20-27), Isaac (Genesis 25:27-34), Aaron (Leviticus 10:1-6), Eli (1 Samuel 2:12), Samuel (1 Samuel 2:12), and the loving father of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) with sin. Furthermore, to draw such a conclusion is to point a condemning finger at Jehovah our Almighty God. The scriptures often depict Jehovah as a father to his people. He trained them in the way they should go (Jeremiah 10:23). The Lord’s children; however, chose the sinful directions they took (see Jeremiah 6:16-19; Malachi 1:6). The Father’s words often hardened their hearts rather than bringing about their obedience.
Dear brethren, some will give heed to God’s laws and some will not (Romans 9; John 12:37-43; Matthew 13:10-16; Acts 18:5-6). As a parent, we do all within our power and responsibility to see to it that our children love the Lord God with all their heart, mind, and soul. Their lives; however, are just that, it belongs to them to do what they will. Though a parent’s heart may be broken, due to their child’s wickedness, it is not always the parent’s fault. General truths reveal God’s divine expectation and the natural order of things. Unfortunately, many take the road of fleshly desires (see Romans 8:5-8).