Proverbs’ Instruction for Parents: Proverbs are “rules of thumb” for living a life of faith in God’s world. In chapters 1-9 of this book, Solomon addresses the “son” and encourages him to listen to the “rules of thumb” his father and mother teach him, because this instruction will prove to be a great prize (1:8-9). Parents, especially fathers, should not ignore the emphasis in this book on their role in teaching their kids. Parents are the primary educators of their children in Proverbs, and that role should not be neglected. Topics to Talk About With Your Kids: Teaching must have a goal. Modern educational theory sees knowledge (cognitive skills), attitudes (affective skills), and abilities (psychomotor skills) as the goals of teaching. In Proverbs, the goal of teaching is (1) Faith, (2) Character, and (3) Wise Living.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” Proverbs 9:10—We must cultivate in our children a reverence for God and a personal knowledge of how He works rather than a sense of their own personal achievement. Conversation Starters: Instead of asking your child, “What did you do/learn today at school,” ask, “Where did you see God working today? How did he show you His beauty? His love? For what do you need his direction? His forgiveness?”
“My son, if you accept my words and treasure up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:1-5—We should not just seek passive acceptance of the Bible’s teaching, but rather an active desire by children to seek wisdom for themselves. Conversation Starters: Ask your child, “What is most important to you? If you had one thousand dollars to spend on anything you want, how would you spend it? Where does God rank next to these things? What is it about God that makes him more valuable than things money can buy?” Be prepared to answer these questions yourself.
“Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.” Proverbs 9:7-9—Proverbs focuses on the inner person. Two virtues admired in this book are a teachable spirit (Proverbs 3:11; 9:7) and the treasuring of justice (Proverbs 2:6-9; 6:12-19; 8:5-9). Conversation Starters: Ask your child, “Are you quick to be critical even when you know nothing about the subject being taught? Do you seek the advice of wiser Christians before you make important decisions? Do you find out what the Bible says about the subject? Does it bother you when you are treated unfairly? Does it bother you when others are treated unjustly but you are blessed? Do you feel pain when others are hurting? When you consider the injustice in the world, do you long for Christ to come and repair it?”
“[These proverbs are] for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.” Proverbs 1:2-6—Proverbs are written so that the young and simple can acquire wisdom, discretion, guidance, and sound judgment. Conversation Starters: Ask your child, “Do you typically learn from your mistakes or by listening and receiving counsel from older and wiser men and women? Do you think first or speak first? What do you dream about? Would God consider your dreams to be pure and virtuous? What would you watch on TV if your mom and dad weren’t around? Would God be pleased? Have you ever gotten in trouble because of something you said? Is there anything you’ve said today that you regret saying? Are others encouraged or discouraged by your words? Would you say that your words are “life-giving” or do they destroy and kill? Do others succeed in God’s eyes when they follow your advice? Do you regularly obey God even when it is not popular? Do you think too highly of yourself? Are you aware of any sin in your life? Do you regularly pray for God’s forgiveness and grace to help you live wisely?”
Tim Chester. “On Answering a Fool: Making Sense of the Book of Proverbs.” http://beginningwithmoses.org
Daniel J. Estes. Hear, My Son: Teaching and Learning in Proverbs 1-9. Eerdmans, 1997.
Ian Fry. “God-Centered Teaching.” Children’s Desiring God Conference, 2009.