— The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son makes a glad father, But a foolish son is the grief of his mother.
The actual proverb here declares that family ties make certain that one is never completely independent.
One’s actions always affect the others in the family.
Here, the contrast is between a ‘wise son’ and a ‘foolish son.’
These two characterizations find much press in Proverbs.
The ‘wise son’ is mentioned elsewhere in ; ; (cf. also , ; ; ).
The ‘foolish son’ is met in ; ; (cf. also ).
The ‘wise son’ is also contrasted with ‘a scoffer’ (), ‘a foolish man’ (15:20) and ‘he who keeps company with harlots’ (29:3).
The word ‘foolish’ here comes from the Hebrew word so commonly used in these Proverbs to describe
the thick-headed, stubborn individual who refuses to listen to others.
The effect of the ‘wise son’ is that he makes his father ‘glad.’
The word describes a joy that affects the whole of a person:
heart (; ; ),
soul (), and
The effect of the ‘foolish son’ is that he brings his mother ‘grief.’
Such a son brings much hardship upon his parents (, ; ).
Indeed, he not only hurts them; he personally ‘despises’ them ()!
The father and mother are mentioned separately,
one is more susceptible to hurt and
the other more prone toward joy,
but as a classical way to indicate that the whole of the family shares in the follies and triumphs of other family members.
No child can avoid bringing either joy or pain to his parent’s lives (, ; ; ; ).
While an age of greater independence is desired by all, one never outgrows one’s responsibility to, or effect upon, one’s family.
What capacity for pain we take on when we hold our first child in our arms! But, oh, how our opportunities for joys untold are expanded at the same time!
The child who has been prayed over, instructed, and disciplined will in the Lord’s time choose the path of wisdom and so bring joy to his father.
Many a mother, alas, has grief brought to her by her foolish son.
In such cases, has not indulgence instead of restraint, pleasure instead of godliness, the world instead of the Bible educated the child?
—The wise in heart will receive commands, But a prating fool will fall.
The heart is the seat of true wisdom, and a teachable spirit is the best proof of its influence.
For whoever knows himself is grateful for further light.
As soon as the commands come down from heaven, the well-instructed Christian will accept them, like his father Abraham (; ).
But look at the person who professes to be religious but is devoid of this wisdom in his heart.
We find him a man of creeds and doctrines but not of prayer.
He prefers to ask curious questions rather than listen to simple truths.
He is occupied with other people’s business and neglects his own.
He wanders from church to church and from house to house like a chattering fool.
He will come to ruin and fall into disgrace, beaten with the rod of his own foolishness.
Let us look at this picture as a beacon against the foolishness of our own hearts.
Wisdom is demonstrated in one’s response to authority.
The one with understanding ‘will receive commands.’
Wisdom is found in the humility of living under authority and in cultivating a teachable spirit (; ).
The fool stands in contrast as one who is unteachable and reveals as much through his speech.
The phrase ‘a babbling fool’ is, literally, ‘a fool of lips.’
Though the meaning is not perfectly clear, it appears that the phrase describes one who rattles on, talking when he should be listening.
Their verbal responses prove they are prideful, unteachable, and hard of heart. The word for ‘fool’ describes one who is morally insolent.
Such a one refuses counsel (; ; ; ) and mocks at sin (14:9).
In his folly, he has nearly passed the point of no return (; ).
Such ‘a chattering fool’ (niv) will ‘be thrown down.’
This rare verb is found elsewhere only in verse 10 (where the second line is identical with v. 8b) and in .
The translation ‘thrown down’ comes closer to the literal meaning of the verb than does the niv’s ‘comes to ruin.’
But the idea is that of defeat.
Whereas the one who has learned to hold his tongue, listen and learn comes to success,
the one who is quick to speak and slow to learn (cf. )
soon defeats himself by his attitude and actions (cf. , ; ).
— Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, But a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.
This proverb concerns what it takes to steer a person’s life. The first character is ‘the discerning.’
He has come to the place where he can look at two things and see what God sees in them.
He can distinguish wrong from right, good from bad, better from best.
He has, through practice in applying God’s word, learned to discern God’s way in this world ().
What a word for we who live in an age of relativism!
We are told today that such discernment is not only useless, but evil.
Rather, we must just accept any, and every, voice as equally true.
But, that is not the way of wisdom, it is the way of folly.
The person who has learned to so distinguish God’s way is a person worth listening to, for wisdom is found on his lips.
He has been teachable, now he can teach. He has taken the path of learning, now we can follow and learn from him.
The wise have listened to God and learned, and now they are teachers.
However, he ‘who lacks understanding’ can be steered only by one means: sheer force. Indeed, only ‘the rod’ will move him.
Even then, it is doubtful that he learns anything, for the same is needed over and over again (; ).
Like a dumb animal, he responds not to revelation, wisdom, understanding or discernment, but only the immediate pain of the rod (; , ).
The “rod” awaits ‘him who lacks understanding’ and proves it by opening his mouth (cf. , ).
The discernment he could have gained through God’s word has been lost and he is void of any sense of reality (; ; ; , ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ).
— Wise people store up knowledge, But the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.
Solomon showed that he deserved the title of “wise man” by the way he used to store up knowledge.
No wonder that wisdom is found on the lips, for “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” ().
By daily reading and meditating in the sacred volume, he had make his soul a library of Christ.
If you store up knowledge when you are young, what a valuable treasure will be accumulated, although it will only be enough to meet the coming trials.
Add something every day to your storehouse.
For lack of sound wisdom the fool only opens himself to his own ruin, for he is in constant rebellion against God.
The wise man does not rest upon wisdom already gained, but he keeps seeking, digging, yearning to acquire more wisdom (cf. ).
To taste of wisdom is to desire more.
To be satisfied with God’s understanding is to instantly become hungry for more insight into His ways.
The wise do not flaunt their wisdom.
They are not reticent to share it when it will be helpful, but they do not feel constrained to spout it off in a demonstration of their understanding.
That is the way of the fool.
He runs off at the mouth, spouting the pseudo-wisdom he has stumbled across (cf. , ).
Cliches, platitudes, truisms roll from his lips, but they gain him only ‘ruin’ (cf. ).
The New Testament affirms the same lesson: ‘If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless’ (; cf. 3:1–12).