For I give you sound teaching, do not abandon my instruction
This proverb speaks of a deep fear that many parents have – that their child will listen to them and agree with them when they are at home; but at some time later when they are in college or sometimes even earlier, they will abandon all the rules, ideas, and values that their parents have taught them.
Solomon is acting as a spiritual father here and wants to anticipate this dynamic. Don’t get rid of this stuff later. What I am teaching you is sound teaching; it is the stuff that will last. Don’t think that it was okay when you were a little kid but now you need to follow the “modern” ways of looking at things. In whatever century or period of time all the way back to Solomon’s time, the “modern” way has been another name for the selfish way. Now there are advances in knowledge, but these advances do not abrogate moral knowledge especially that given by revelation of God.
sound teaching: This phrase sound teaching comes from two Hebrew words tob and leqah. They literally mean good and learning. The idea is that what Solomon is teaching is beneficial and it is new information. Solomon is saying that I am giving you information that you have not had before, and it will significantly benefit you. You will rejoice if you follow it, but do not make the mistake that many people make in later moving on to some other new information that happens to tickle your intellectual or moral antenna. This is the stuff you should stay with because it is good, beneficial, and righteous.
abandon: This is the Hebrew word azab which means leave, forsake, loose. The idea is clearly this tendency for young people to forsake the teaching that gave their life meaning when they learned it at home and in the community that shaped them. They grow up a little and they need to update their learning about God and begin to trust Him and find Him reliable at this new age, but they do not need to scrap all they learned to embrace some new philosophy that seems more adult and able to handle the dog-eat-dog world. I am tired of seeing young men and young ladies destroy the innocence and joy in their lives for some selfish, secularized values. Often these same youth come back to God and church and their parents when they have a family of their own, always ashamed of what took place during their period of rebellion. Some never make it back from their rebellious years. It may be average to rebel, but it is not normal. Normal is what God says ought to happen. Too many kids stop using their faith and the values that God injected into their life and then they say that Christianity didn’t work for them. Christianity was not tried and found wanting; it was not tried.
The power of God’s wisdom is sufficient for every age and stage in your life. Your understanding of God’s wisdom and what to do in particular situations may need to be expanded and understood in new contexts, but it is still worthy of your trust. DO NOT BELIEVE THAT YOU HAVE GROWN PAST YOUR FAITH. No, you have only wanted to become more selfish and your faith will not allow you to do that.
instruction: This is the Hebrew word torah which means law and is where we get the title for the first five books of Moses. Now it is important to talk about the nature of law more than a minute. Laws are boundaries in which individuals in authority and society say that behaviors beyond this line are not allowed. Laws are by nature negative. They are trying to boundarize the selfish impulse inside of each person. God has said in the Ten Commandments that individual behavior becomes a threat to the individual, others, and the society as a whole when it goes beyond these ten places. It is not because God is an ogre and He wants to limit our fun and enjoyment of the world. He just knows how He set up the world and the tolerances of the moral order for selfishness. It will not sustain order when selfishness is pushed past these limits. We see the consequences happening all around us as people believe they have the right to be as selfish as they can get away with: children permanently scarred by the divorce, abuse, adultery, and anger of their parents; women and children permanently scarred by the selfishness of men; men permanently scarred by the selfishness of the men and women around them. When selfishness is allowed to reign, love grows cold, the innocent suffer, and the society becomes morally polluted and begins to break down.
In this case Solomon is stating the fact that he is going to give moral boundaries that his pupils should follow. They may seem restrictive, but they will benefit you in the long run. These are his laws or boundary markers.
On this note, every family has boundary lines which they say people should not do this or not do that. Sometimes it is these restrictive boundary lines that the children rebel over when they leave the home. This is often the attempt to differentiate themselves from their parents. This is fairly typical and does not have to constitute rebellion. Each child needs to be able to establish the personal boundaries they will adopt that will keep them from violating God’s law. Some children will adopt a different personal boundary than their parents had. This is okay as long as it is still inside of God’s clear moral boundary.
Coming back to the point of this proverb – have you needlessly abandoned a Godly philosophy of life only to find the new selfish out-for-#1 philosophy is not working out like you thought? Abandon it and come back to God and accept the forgiveness that is in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
If you are a youth, drink deeply of the wisdom in this book called Proverbs. There is no need to learn a different or better philosophy of life later. This is the only one you will need.
* This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material. The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.