Today: [Proverbs 30] Are You Obligated to Honor Your Parents? In chapter 30 of Proverbs we find a concluding compilation of wisdom sayings by Solomon under the pseudonym “Agur the son of Jakeh”. Among other things Solomon warns not to add to the sayings of God or we will be found out to be liars. He also sharply warns us not to dishonor our parents. We know that the scripture teaches us to honor mother and father but are we exempted from this when our parents are in error, or in sin? Many who have been born into abusive, neglectful situations may feel that they cannot honor their parents because of the circumstances of their upbringing. Is this justified? If God does require us to honor mother and father – then on what basis is this carried out under the at times harsh and cruel parenting many have suffered in their childhood?
[Pro 30:1-33 KJV] 1 The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, [even] the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal, 2 Surely I [am] more brutish than [any] man, and have not the understanding of a man. 3 I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy. 4 Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what [is] his name, and what [is] his son’s name, if thou canst tell? 5 Every word of God [is] pure: he [is] a shield unto them that put their trust in him. 6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. 7 Two [things] have I required of thee; deny me [them] not before I die: 8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: 9 Lest I be full, and deny [thee], and say, Who [is] the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God [in vain]. 10 Accuse not a servant unto his master, lest he curse thee, and thou be found guilty.
In Proverbs 30 we find a direct reference to a contributor other than Solomon. Who was this Agur son of Jakeh? Some scholars based on a breakdown of the name suggest that this is a pseudonym that Solomon is using. The phrase Agur son of Jakeh means “one who is without sin who bore the yoke of the Lord”. Others suggest that Agur was a wise man from the east – a gentile contributor of the proverbs compiled in chapter 30. In Rabbinical literature there is reference to the pseudonym suggestive of Solomon struggling as a compiler of wisdom literature in the light of the contradiction in his own life regarding being led astray by multiplying foreign wives to himself. Whichever the case we accept the chapter as canon and consider its verses placed there by the hand of God as infallible writ handed down to us.
The chapter begins by ascribing wisdom to God and observing how ineffable, or past finding out the depths of God’s wisdom treasuries really are to mere mortal men. Nonetheless however lofty the wisdom of God is every word (verse 5) is still a pure word and is a shield to those that put their trust in God. In other words just because we don’t understand some of what God says does not mean we are not accountable or incapable of trusting in the word whether we think it applies to our situation or makes sense or not. Verse 6 goes on to warn us not to add to the words of God lest we come under His reproof and be found a liar. Now no one would be fooled by someone adding to the 66 books of the canon. What are some examples of adding to the word of God? We often add qualifying suppositions to the scripture to make them palatable to our own ideas. For instance in John 15:7 Jesus said “ask what you will and it shall be done” to which we add “but only if it is something you actually need because God won’t answer your wants, only your legitimate needs”. That is adding to the word of God. There are many unqualified faith statements in the scripture and specifically in the words of Jesus that we add religious “caveats” to in order to proactively correct misconceptions that we feel we have the authority to point out. This is adding to the word of God just as wrongly as the person who would take the book of Jasher, or the Gnostic gospels of Thomas and insist they be included in the scripture. We must take God’s word as it is given to us without question.
11 [There is] a generation [that] curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother. 12 [There is] a generation [that are] pure in their own eyes, and [yet] is not washed from their filthiness. 13 [There is] a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up. 14 [There is] a generation, whose teeth [are as] swords, and their jaw teeth [as] knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from [among] men. 15 The horseleach hath two daughters, [crying], Give, give. There are three [things that] are never satisfied, [yea], four [things] say not, [It is] enough: 16 The grave; and the barren womb; the earth [that] is not filled with water; and the fire [that] saith not, [It is] enough. 17 The eye [that] mocketh at [his] father, and despiseth to obey [his] mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it. 18 There be three [things which] are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: 19 The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid. 20 Such [is] the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.
Verse 11 speaks of the generation that curses their father and does not bless their mother. If there was ever a verse that so succinctly describes the Western World this is it. Our culture worships at the altar of youth. Unlike eastern society that deeply venerates the elderly we dismiss them and put them out of everyday life. We warehouse our elderly in institutions and retirement communities and bid them not be too much of a burden or imposition upon our self-referred lifestyle. We consider the thinking of the elderly as outmoded and not relevant to the issues of the day. God says this generation is cursed because they have not honored mother and father. As a young man I sought God at length seeking to find more of His blessing on my life and He gave me Ex. 20:12:
[Exo 20:12 KJV] 12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
For over 20 years I gave consistent and concerted effort to bless and honor and defer to my mother and my father. I moved to the town where they had retired to be a help to them. I assisted my father in his business interests without pay. I deviated my plans and personal pursuits I put on hold in order to make myself available to them. I poured finances in to my parent’s lives sometimes up to 70% of my income in order to be a blessing to them. I understood that as the youngest son I did not have the birthright of the eldest and I was determined that if there was any blessing that could be deferred upon my head through a right and deferential relationship to my parents I would make any sacrifice to pursue that agenda. I set aside my plans. I walked away from a successful career in ministry. I put aside what I wanted. I supported my father in choices he made that were not my choices. When he asked me what I thought – I didn’t give him my opinion, I just echoed back to him what I knew he thought even though it made me very uncomfortable. It was my honor and privilege to do so. When my mother and then my father passed on I was not a son who tore his garments in sackcloth exclaiming “if only I had done this or that or told them I loved them one more time…” To the best of my ability I honored my mom and dad till their dying day and attended them at their bedside when they passed. I pray that the dividend of those choices would be that my “days may be long upon the land which the Lord God has given [me]…”
You may observe “well, Russ you had a good dad and mom but mine were not…” You don’t honor your parents because they did everything right. My parents were godly people but they were not infallible. You honor them as the vessels through whom the breathe of God came down through Adam and gave you life. No one is a mistake. Even those born of rape or incest are not an aberration or mistake. Psalm 127:3-5 and many, many other scriptures say that regardless of the circumstances of your birth or childhood God opens the womb and you are brought forth in life by His sovereignty. From that standpoint you seek the Father as to how and in what fashion you can show honor to your parents, even if they are passed on. The results will be blessing in your life.
21 For three [things] the earth is disquieted, and for four [which] it cannot bear: 22 For a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat; 23 For an odious [woman] when she is married; and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress. 24 There be four [things which are] little upon the earth, but they [are] exceeding wise: 25 The ants [are] a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; 26 The conies [are but] a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks; 27 The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands; 28 The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces. 29 There be three [things] which go well, yea, four are comely in going: 30 A lion [which is] strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any; 31 A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom [there is] no rising up. 32 If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, [lay] thine hand upon thy mouth. 33 Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.
Verses 21-24 speak of 4 things that disquiet the earth:
1. A servant when he reigns.
2. A fool when he is full of meat.
3. An odious woman when she is married.
4. A hand maiden when she is heir to her mistress.
All four of these things speak of dishonorable persons who claim false glory to themselves in the midst of their life circumstances. A servant that reigns is the person who says “when I am in charge – things are going to be done my way…” A fool full of meat makes the assertion that he is justified in his foolishness because he does not suffer lack. This could describe the whole of Hollywood celebrity today who insist they are the carriers of the wisdom of the earth because they are celebrities. An odious woman is an unpleasant or disagreeable woman. A wife such as this often hides behind the security of her marriage while contributing much discord and strife that no one calls her into account for because she is shielded by her husband who doesn’t have the courage to correct her. A handmaid who is heir to her mistress speaks of a master / servant relationship or an accountability relationship that is out of order because the subordinate takes unfair advantage of the emotional connections they have to those over them.
The chapter continues by listing four things that are exceedingly wise.
1. The ants who prepare for winter.
2. The conies (a bird) who builds their nest in protective high places.
3. The locust who have no king (yet are a formidable force).
4. The spider who builds its web constantly and is found even in king’s houses.
Finally Agur son of Jakur ends with four things that prosper in their way for us to learn from:
1. A lion who will not deviate his path for any.
2. A greyhound (fleet of foot who wins the race).
3. The he-goat (who climbs where none else can go)
4. A king (who rules so wisely none can gain say him).
Verse 32 warns us then against being lifted up in our own estimation or if being tempted to be self-promoting rather to lay our own hand on our mouth to save ourselves from the folly of the effort.
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