Take Heed, Young Man! (Proverbs 6:20-21)
My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. 21 Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. —Proverbs 6:20-21
Often it seems that parents and peers are in a wrestling match for the attention of children. But these verses remind us that a son must exert effort of his own to follow the instruction of wise parents.
The kind of instruction given to the young man in Proverbs 6 is common throughout Proverbs. Proverbs 1:7, for example, uses very similar words. In both places the father’s commandment and mother’s teaching are there to keep the child out of destructive, sinful living. Dad and Mom are working together to pass on a unified whole of wise instruction that will bear good fruit in the life of their child. Within the context of Proverbs 6, we find that the parental instruction is meant to keep the young man out of the arms of the adulteress woman (Proverbs 6:24).
Will this instruction have the impact it was meant to have? It will, only if the young man will “keep” and “forsake not” the wisdom his parents have given him. We all know how easy it is for us to wander off the path of wisdom. Other people, the devil, and our own flesh snatch it away from us as they wiggle in with ungodly influence. Wise teaching withers on the vine as we neglect it and don’t put it into practice. The young man here is to bind wise parental instruction on his heart and to tie it around his neck. In other words, he must embrace it and keep it as a close counselor to him always. It is intended to have a lasting effect on him, such that he lives his life by it well into the future.
Godly parents who teach their children the wisdom of God are a gift that should not be taken lightly. This passage assumes that godly parents will not only instruct their children in the ways of the Lord, but also lead their children to heed the instruction given. The role of young people in the home is to listen to wise instruction and learn to live by it. Ultimately, this wise instruction is to lead them to Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).
How are you growing in your ability to help your children listen to and follow your biblical instruction?
In what ways are you leading your children to Jesus through your daily instruction?
How are you growing in your ability to follow the same godly wisdom you seek to pass on to your children? Do your children see you running to Jesus for the help you need, seeking him in repentance and faith when you fail?
Gil McConnell is lead pastor and vocational elder at Meadow Creek Church in Andover, MN. Formerly he served for 14 years as the Pastor for Children & Family Discipleship at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mounds View. He is a graduate of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis and Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY. He and his wife JoAnna have five children.