My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me.
Children can hurt a father two ways! Or they can reward him both ways! Godly character and conduct by a child makes a father glad, and it enhances his reputation before others. Children may easily please and honor their father by being wise as defined by Solomon.
When a man takes a strong stand for truth, wisdom, and righteousness, his children can make him or break him. They can break him in spirit, by crushing his heart (Pr 17:21,25; 19:13; I Sam 2:27-36). They can stain his reputation, by giving an occasion for enemies to criticize or condemn him (I Sam 2:12-17,22-25; 8:3-5).
On the other hand, if his children live the truth, wisdom, and righteousness their father exemplified and taught, they can both rejoice his heart and give him powerful credibility to silence his detractors. Every father waits and wonders at various times in his life to see what his children will do to his legacy – destroy it, or exalt it.
Children are a wonderful blessing from God (Pr 5:15-18; Ps 127:3; 128:3-4). They are like arrows in the hand of a mighty man, in that they can assist their father and leverage his character and wisdom by multiplying his influence in the world (Ps 127:4). When a man has a quiver of them – a large family – he can be bold toward enemies (Ps 128:5).
But this only works when children are wise and righteous. If they are foolish and wicked, they give their father no advantage. They actually harm him and any cause he pursues. They are a blot on his character and reputation, for his enemies can malign him for his evil offspring. Only noble and prudent grandchildren are a crown to old men (Pr 17:6).
This matter of obedient children for the reputation of fathers is so important that God requires his two church officers – bishops and deacons – to have faithful and obedient children (I Tim 3:4-5,12; Titus 1:6). A man with unruly children at home that he cannot control indicates he would not be able to take care of a church of Jesus Christ.
Solomon was a good son to David. Hiram, King of Tyre, had always loved David very much, and he rejoiced and thanked God on David’s behalf, when he became acquainted with Solomon (I Kgs 5:1-7). And this was after David’s death! Though his enemies might have easily reproached David for his other sons, they had to stand in awe of Solomon.
But Eli’s sons broke his heart, brought God’s severe judgment, and caused Israel to hate his family and God’s worship (I Sam 2:12-17,22-25)! Samuel, who should have learned from this terrible calamity, had wicked sons as well that ended his rule over Israel (I Sam 8:3-5). Simeon and Levi caused their father Jacob’s reputation to stink among the Canaanites (Gen 34:30). Foolish sons can break a father’s heart and ruin his reputation.
If children can make a man glad and great, even before his enemies, then training them should be of the utmost importance. No wonder Abraham took it seriously (Gen 18:19). No wonder Joshua took it seriously (Josh 24:15). No wonder it is a command throughout the Bible (Pr 22:6; Deut 4:9-10; 6:4-7; 11:18-19; Ps 78:1-8; Joel 1:1-3; Eph 6:4)!
Fathers! Do not neglect this duty. If you are slothful in this matter, you will not only ruin your children, but you will also bring much future pain into your life, much grief into your wife’s life, and ruin your personal and family reputation (Pr 17:21,25; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15,17)! What can and should you do today to sharpen your arrows?
Children! Do you understand your duty to honor your parents? God has commanded it, but you can also bring joy to their hearts by being wise and righteous, and you can silence their critics by your noble and virtuous character and conduct. Do not neglect this opportunity, for such things have a way of coming back to punish you (Pr 1:31; Gal 6:7).
The highest compliment and most precious gift you can ever give to a minister of the gospel is your righteous life in obedience to his teaching of the scriptures. Seeing you bear spiritual fruit in your life blesses and gladdens his heart, and a fruit-bearing church defends his reputation against those opposing his doctrine or attacking his person.
The Lord Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of His Father, answered forever the reproaches of God’s enemies. The Son of the woman obeyed perfectly and died obediently, triumphing over the devil in an open show (Rom 8:32-34; Col 2:13-15; Rev 12:7-11). The Father announced His great pleasure and promoted Him over all (Eph 1:20-23; Phil 2:9-11).
Reader! If you claim to be a son of the living God, what is your conduct doing to Him and for Him? Are you gladdening His heart by your wise and sober life? Are you adorning His doctrine and silencing the enemies of the gospel by your virtuous conduct and speech? You have a glorious privilege and important duty. Fulfill it cheerfully today!