Monday, March 11, 2013

Proverbs 29:17 A good parent

Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.

All through Proverbs, Solomon weaves his theme of father and son . . . many of the verses allude to the fact that it will delight him as a father (as it will delight all parents) if his son takes in and lives the training that he has been given. Solomon says it will give him peace to know that his son grew up into a gentle but strong king, who has both wisdom and understanding.

Are you a parent, or a grandparent?

Have you watched and worried over your children (or grandkids)?

Have you, as many others before you, wrung your hands, cried, and grieved over your child? Or your children?

Oy.  I'm guilty as charged.

I've been torn up with grief many more times than I ever dreamed. I've kicked myself and chided myself, and that's after wondering where I went wrong. Guilt? By the barge-load.

Any wonder why Solomon's story was a comfort to me? Yes, I'm just like any other parent who has well-intentioned friends who quote, "Train up a child . . . " and that didn't encourage my heart. The story of Solomon's son (Rehoboam) resonated with me, though.
Why? Well, Solomon was the wisest man of his fact, some commentaries note that there had been no one any wiser before him, and there have not been many wise men since then! At least, not blessed by God with the understanding that Solomon showed.
This wise king started his reign in the full glory of a perfect relationship with our Father. God rewarded that relationship, that hunger for him, with blessings both tangible and intangible. (Of course, later on he strayed from the path and began to marry "foreign" wives who brought idol worship and worse into his kingdom, but right now let's concentrate on the good things he did, OK?)

Here is the point I wanted to make --- despite having advice, instructions, and examples, Rehoboam made horrible choices. He lost a huge portion of the kingdom because of that.

To me, this proves one thing beyond a shadow of a doubt: Our children are independent moral agents and bad ones can be raised by good parents and good ones can be raised by bad.

Yes, it is our responsibility to raise our children (and for some of us, our grandchildren) in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord." (Eph. 6:4)  And the verses that exhort us to comfort, instruct, praise, and nurture our children far outnumber those that say to discipline them physically.

It is also our children's responsibility as independent beings, having the blessing of free will, to make good choices. All the hand-wringing and grieving in the world cannot change that. Absolutely, we must pray for them and encourage them. But there will still be times when all we can do is pray, and then comfort them when the consequences come. 

As a parent, I'm not the best. I've had epic failures, and I'm still learning. But if Solomon the wise king could have a son who went astray, who am I to think that my kids will be perfect? I'll just pray that if my kids stray, they come back --- Rhehoboam did:
 So the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The Lord is righteous.”
When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying, “They have humbled themselves so I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some measure of deliverance, and My wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by means of Shishak.
(II Chronicles 12:6-7)


Belinda said...

It's very hard to not feel guilty or feel that you have failed when a child or grandchild chooses a negative path. It's upsetting and we hurt for them as well as ourselves. But as we are only responsible for sowing the seed, we are only responsible for the witness we are, and how we led our children/grands in the true Way.

They will make their own decisions and sometimes we won't agree. It's human nature. Hopefully, they will go back to making wiser choices and we will feel less worried. In the end, there's nothing else we can do but pray and give it to God. Easy to say, hard to do!!

Lisa said...

Been there, done that (doing) too and it's hard when you ache for your 'child', no matter how old he/she may be. I know I made the best decision(s) for that child, with what I knew at the time... and that's helped a lot with the 'guilt' feelings.... and I pray for her every day as there's nothing else I can do for her now. I really appreciate the way you worded this whole piece... particularly that our children are 'independent moral agents..... with the free will to make good choices.' Also, sometimes, some have to learn the 'hard' way?

My hope is that somewhere along the way, something from the foundational early years will be a small kernel of thought... remembrance... that may grow into a miracle of change. Thank you.