“Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you, never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee.”
~Proverbs 1:8 (Msg).
The imagery of ‘family’ presents us with literally an infinite spectrum of all manner of emotion. Some are so indebted to their families for their childhood development and the ongoing contributions to their personhood, whilst others still grapple with the abuse they suffered long ago at the hands of family.
Whatever camp we align with—and many of us may perhaps identify with both—we can draw much edification from this passage in Proverbs 1:8-19 so far as advice for life is concerned.
Whether we received the right advice or not—and indeed, whether we took it—is not that relevant in the present reading of the parent’s warning. God’s the parent now.
The very best of warnings come from loving parents. At times they overprotected us, fear driving the love beyond goodness. I’m sure every honest parent can identify.
Notwithstanding, our parents have issued the same advice with remarkable passion and consistency. “Don’t go with them, son/daughter!” is the imperative, for they have vision that we cannot or could not see.
And, yet, still we often went against our parents and did what our wisdom suggested instead, doing what pleased us. It almost always backfired. Our wisdom was revealed later as rank folly. And hopefully this was how we learned, not repeating our folly.
The Message of Proverbs 1:8-19
The idea presented for us in this section is of the little boy or little girl sitting atop the lap of a parent, being chided to one of the most important of all warnings; a warning that pertains not only to childhood, but through the entire lifespan.
“Bad companions” lay in wait. They scoop us up through validation when we’re perhaps at a low ebb, yet once ensconced to their way, we cannot easily extricate ourselves. This is a feature particularly of religious sects, outlaw gangs, get-rich-quick schemes and any other group or individual association that’s not purposed in good. Fear, envy and greed reigns in the hearts of these, and ourselves as we deal with their aggression.
Our best is to listen to the advice of Proverbs and run from these greedy scoundrels promising much yet delivering in the end very little apart from the parity of regret, for in that is wisdom beyond folly.
Our heavenly Parent—from the book of Proverbs—is saying to us this day: “Do not go their way. Go my way of seeking wisdom; it will be for you “a fair garland for your head, and pendants for your neck” (Proverbs 1:9 [NRSV]).
Life will generally go very well and straight-forwardly for us this way.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.