The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother. (Proverbs 10:1 ESV)
One of the things that I love about reading through the Book of Proverbs is how readily applicable so many texts are. If, on a given day, you happen to wonder “What can I, as a new creation in Christ, do right now to please my Father who is in Heaven?” Simply open to the Book of Proverbs, read through some of the chapters, and you’re sure to find some immediate instruction. If you happened to begin reading at chapter ten the immediate application you would have is – make your father and mother glad.
Now, some people have not known their earthly parents, others have had their parents pass away, others may have been estranged from one or both of their parents. There could be a number of reasons why it would be difficult or impossible for some people to heed the application side of this wisdom verse. Should you happen to be in the above categories let me encourage you – take hold of this truth and apply it by extension where appropriate (i.e. perhaps as it relates to ‘spiritual parents in the faith’ or your relationship with God) and/or share this truth with younger people so they might walk in God’s wisdom. It’s worth remembering that a large part of the Book of Proverbs is directed towards the edification of youth (Prov. 1:4).
Solomon’s opening pithy statement is that a wise son makes a glad father, while a foolish son brings grief to his mother. We’ll give our attention to the first half of that statement but don’t miss the Hebrew parallelism in the introduction of the sorrowful mother. The second statement (“a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother”) reinforces the first point but in a different way. Furthermore, though it goes without saying, a wise son makes makes a glad mother as well.
With that being said, an appropriate question is: how does a wise son make a glad father?
We’ll consider our answer through the lens of the Proverbs.
A Wise Son is Teachable
A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes. (Prov 13:1)
A Wise Son Knows God
To have a fool for a child brings grief; there is no joy for the parent of a godless fool. (Prov 17:21)
A Wise Son Forsakes Folly
A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the mother who bore him. (Proverbs 17:25)
A Wise Son Loves Wisdom
A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth. (Prov 29:3)
In short, a wise son (or daughter) is a teachable, God-centered person, who receives correction and embraces/ follows the precepts of wisdom.
Whether or not you have the opportunity to exhibit such qualities in the presence of your earthly parents, it’s worth remembering that walking in the manner described above is well-pleasing to the Father of all new creations in Christ. And while there are many Scriptures that speak about behaviors that God either loves or loathes, you can be assured that when you are trusting in Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins, and walking in the grace-wrought behaviors listed above, the Spirit of your heavenly Father is not grieved but glad.