Celebrating Father’s Day in the Book of Proverbs
Father’s Day is a special day to honor and celebrate the fathers in our lives for their love, support, and guidance. It is a time to appreciate the sacrifices they have made and the lessons they have taught us.
This year, I have been reflecting on how the book of Proverbs highlights the important role of fathers in our lives. As you may recall, the first nine chapters of the book center around a father speaking to his son. In many ways, he serves as an ideal father. Through words of encouragement and warning, he pleads with his son, “Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7). Out of desire to see his son flourish, the father repeatedly emphasizes the importance of attaining wisdom. He stresses how it is a matter of life or death.
In wanting so badly for his son to choose the path of life, the father alternates between instructing him in what is good and protecting him from the destructive influence of evil. I invite you to reflect with me on the gift of a father’s guidance as we celebrate the fathers in our lives, especially our heavenly Father.
The Gift of a Father’s Instruction
When the father in the book of Proverbs first opens his mouth, he is eager to share with his son life-giving wisdom. He makes it clear from the start that his guiding motivation is to see his son thrive. This sets the tone for all the instruction that follows.
Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
They are a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.
The father likens his instruction to the bestowal of a wreath or a necklace – public symbols of honor. In other words, his guidance is aimed at his son’s honor.
The instruction he goes on to give his son is largely centered on showing him what is of value and what is not, what is to be desired and pursued in life and what is to be rejected at all costs. These values, which all center around “the fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 1:7; 2:5; 9:10), serve as the beginning of wisdom. They rightly orient us to God’s world, developing in us the character and skills needed for living well.
Consider how your father’s instruction, or that from a fatherly figure, has served as a garland to grace your head. What are some lessons or values you are most grateful to have learned from him?
How has your heavenly Father’s instruction been similar or different than your earthly father’s? What are some of the ways your heavenly Father’s instruction has helped you experience life to the full?
“For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright.”
What has He been teaching you this year? What values has He been instilling in you?
The Gift of a Father’s Protection
In the next verse (Proverbs 1:10), the father continues with a sense of urgency as he warns his son how he will be confronted with many enticing offers to join in evil. He illustrates how these will come from both men and women. Out of love, the father pleads with his son to avoid their enticing words, for they will only lead to his ruin.
Proverbs 1:10, 18-19
“My son, if sinful men entice you,
do not give in to them….
These men lie in wait for their own blood;
they ambush only themselves!
Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
it takes away the life of those who get it.”
With persuasive words she led him astray;
she seduced him with her smooth talk.
All at once he followed her
like an ox going to the slaughter,
like a deer stepping into a noose
till an arrow pierces his liver,
like a bird darting into a snare,
little knowing it will cost him his life….
Her house is a highway to the grave,
leading down to the chambers of death.
Although warnings are not always as pleasant to receive, they are just as needed. They can be lifesaving.
How has your father, or a fatherly figure, protected you from making shipwreck of your life? Consider the ways his protective warnings have shaped you.
How has your heavenly Father’s protective warnings been similar or different than your earthly father’s?
“He [the LORD] is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for He guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.”
How have you experienced Him as your shield and the One who guards the course of your life? Is there anything you sense Him warning you about now and urging you to resist?
Bringing Joy to a Father’s Heart
In the tenth chapter of Proverbs, the book makes a clear transition from a father speaking to his son to offering a collection of proverbs, mostly attributed to King Solomon. Considering the focus of the first section, it is no coincidence that this second section opens with the proverb:
“A wise son brings joy to his father.”
As fathers, our greatest delight is to see our kids thriving before God as they embody a life of wisdom centered around Him. More than any nicely wrapped trinket, tie, or tool, this is what brings our fathers the most joy this Father’s Day, especially our heavenly Father. If they are alive, I encourage you to share with them from your reflections above. May each day we live put a smile on our heavenly Father’s face.
- All passages are cited from the NIV. ↑