HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
Some time ago I was arrested by the words of the Centurion in the Gospel of Matthew:
“For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, “Go” and he goes, and to another, “Come” and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this” and he does it” (Matthew 8:9).
Up until this time I had always understood the Centurion to say that he was a man of authority, not a man under it. Perhaps this is some kind of euphemism. But I believe that it is a biblical principle (and one that is evident in life) that no man is fit for authority who has not learned to be subject to it. After all, even our Lord learned obedience (Hebrews 5:8).
I believe that Proverbs teaches us that we can tell much about the character of a person by observing his relationship with his parents. Note these passages:
A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke (13:1).
A fool rejects his father’s discipline, But he who regards reproof is prudent (15:5).
A wise son makes a father glad, But a foolish man despises his mother (15:20).
A foolish son is a grief to his father And bitterness to her who bore him (17:25).
He who assaults his father and drives his mother away Is a shameful and disgraceful son (19:26).
Listen to your father who begot you, And does not despise your mother when she is old (23:22).
The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who begets a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her rejoice who gave birth to you (23:24-25).
There is a kind of man who curses his father And does not bless his mother (30:11).
All of these passages point to the fact that a good son is a godly man, and a godly man makes a good husband. Any man who is not a good son will not be a good husband.
There is one more proverb which has to do with parents. Frankly, I find it troublesome, but it informs us that we must seek to learn something of the home life of our mate before we marry him–or her:
Under three things the earth quakes, And under four, it cannot bear up: Under a slave when he becomes king, And a fool when he is satisfied with food, Under an unloved woman when she gets a husband, And a maidservant when she supplants her mistress (30:21-23).
There is a common thread that runs through each of these four unbearable situations–one gets something which he is unaccustomed to and which he will find difficult to handle once he has it. A slave has only known authority over him, yet when he becomes king his authority is absolute. His temptation will be to abuse his newly acquired authority. A fool would normally know only poverty and deprivation. With a full stomach, he will hardly know how to behave. Certainly, much of his incentive will be lost. A maidservant who now has authority over her mistress will be inclined to get even by making life miserable for her former mistress. She who once felt abused and oppressed will give her mistress a taste of oppression. So too with an unloved woman. Since she has never known genuine love, she may very well presume upon it and by trying to drink this new cup to the full make her husband regret the day he vowed to be faithful in his love toward her.
I realize that some of you have come from homes in which there was little or no love. You may wonder if this proverb condemns you to a life of loneliness. I think not. Certainly, God’s grace is sufficient for every need. But it should warn us that those who have not known love in their childhood years will have a tendency to abuse it in marriage. A mate who has not been loved by parents should not take this out on the marriage partner. And the one who marries a mate who has been unloved should be sensitive to the kind of problems such a childhood produces. The sins of the fathers (and mothers) are passed along, to later generations (Exodus 20:5).
Throughout the Book of Proverbs, we have seen the teaching of the father and the mother, instructing and warning the child. Unfortunately, that is not the way every home operates. I am sure most of us are not entirely happy with the way we are raising our children. This means that we may learn a great deal about our mate by giving thought to the home environment in which he or she was raised. Proverbs imply that the influence of the home has a great deal to do with a child’s success in life as a partner in marriage. Here is a factor we cannot afford to overlook.