OLD TESTAMENT ADMONITIONS
Let us look together at a few of the Old Testament exhortations to us who are parents or grandparents, for we find both are included.
“Take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.” (Deuteronomy 4:9). A word for each of us there.
“And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thine house, and on thy gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9.)
“And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates; that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.” (Deuteronomy 11:19-21.)
These Scriptures may well give us to understand the urgency of teaching our children the Scriptures. As they get older, schoolwork, and home work, will take up their time; and year by year you will find your opportunities grow less. While they are little children is the time to teach them this blessed Book. When we were children, my Mother used to gather us every day, in our holidays especially, and she would read aloud to us; and make the dear old Book live to each one of us. I feel sure that each child in our family looks back with unmixed and unbounded pleasure to those afternoon reads with our Mother. It was no weariness to us, whatever it may have been to her, to sit and listen to stories from the Bible; and what little we may know of the Holy Scriptures, I am sure we largely learned from her. Our Father, too, taught us in the daily morning and evening readings; and we had an Aunt and a Grandmother, who also taught us these Holy Scriptures. They each one loved them, and we well knew that; perhaps that was the secret that they unconsciously made us love them also.
“A wise son maketh a glad father; but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.” (Proverbs 10:1; See also 15:20; 19:13; 29:3).
In a sense this verse might be taken to sum up much of the teaching of the Book of Proverbs. It has been called The Young Man’s Book, and there is much truth in this saying, though the young women should equally give heed to it. You will note in the verse just quoted, and the verses quoted below, that the word is addressed to the “son” and not to the “father”. It is the father who is speaking. And that father was Solomon. And as we read these earnest, burning words, and then remember Solomon’s son, Rehoboam and all his evil, the tragedy of it seems increased a thousand fold. The fault, as we have seen, lay with Solomon himself, and the seeds of the trouble went back even to David. But that does not lessen the sorrow one feels in reading the Book of Proverbs, with one eye fixed on Rehoboam. Yet all the words are true, and if our children would but heed them, how much sorrow and misery they would be saved.
We will now quote a few of these exhortations to the “son”, which you will note is in reality the very same teaching as we have just seen in Deuteronomy, but from another point of view.
“My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.” 1:8.
“My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: for length of days, and long life, and peach shall they add to thee. 3:1-2.
“Hear ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law. For I was my father’s son tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, let thine heart retain my words; keep my commandments and live. Get wisdom, get understanding; forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.” 4:1-5.
“My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.” 4:20-22.
“My son, attend unto my wisdom, regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.” 5”1-2.
“Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth.” 5:7.
“My son, keep my words and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.” 7:1-3.
“Doth not Wisdom cry? – Now therefore hearken unto me,
O ye children; for blessed are they that keep my ways.” 8:1,32.
“A WISE SON HEARETH HIS FATHER’S INSTRUCTION.”
You will notice that the Scriptures we have just quoted come from the first half of the Book of Proverbs. In the latter part of this Book we find more admonitions to the parents. It may be that in his later life, when he saw that it was too late, and there was no hope, that Solomon learned these lessons that he so earnestly presses on parents today.
When pondering the lessons that Eli and his son teach us, we looked at a number of these passages that exhort the parent to use the rod. We will not repeat these, with the exception of Proverbs 23:13-14: “With hold not correction from the child; for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” This is a Scripture that should burn its way into the heart of every parent. We often forget that God says that the use of the rod helps save our children from hell. The rod is painful for them, and painful for the parent: but how much more terrible for both if the child must suffer the eternal pains of hell, for lack of a few good whippings when it was young.
Another Scripture we do well to seriously ponder is Proverbs 19:18: “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” We can bend the twig when it is young and green, but soon it gets hard and brittle, and there is no hope to bend it then. There is hope for the children when they are young, and surely that is the time to chasten them. There may be times, even when they are older, when they must be whipped: but it is a much more trying ordeal for both parent and child, than when they were little. Let us remember how quickly the time when “there is hope” passes away, and let us take advantage of it for this painful side of the training; so that later on it may not be needed.
There is one more Scripture, we have spoken of already but I would like to remind you of it again, before we leave this most practical Book: it is Chapter 22, Verse 6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” This seems to me to be a very encouraging promise for the parents, and one that we may well take to heart to cheer us on the way, as we seek to train up our children in the way they should go.
The words of the grandfather are ended: but they have greatly condemned him. They have made him feel how he has failed, and how utterly unqualified he was for such a work. But within these pages are Promises and Warnings, Counsel and Encouragement, from Him Who Faileth Not. On these we may rest with implicit confidence. These can surely guide us aright even through these last days when we know that difficult times must come. (2 Timothy 3:1, New Translation.) Our own failure and frailty may often cast us down, but let us ever “look off unto Jesus.” There alone will we find strength for the day. And let us ever and always remember, “GOD IS FAITHFUL.”
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“Who is sufficient for these things?”
(2 Corinthians 2:16)
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“Our sufficiency is of GOD.”
(2 Corinthians 3:5)
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“HIS MERCY ENDURETH FOREVER”