By Scott Chandler
I have been blessed to be the parent of four boys and Grandad to 10 grandchildren. It has been the best while at the same time the most challenging thing in my life. I’ve had time to consider why that is the case, and why Proverbs is such a valuable book to study and implement in my life and hopefully in the lives of my children.
The reason for this, and the challenge of it, is seen in Proverbs, but comes from far earlier in the history of the Jewish nation. Ever since the giving of the Law (the first five books of the Old Testament), the Word of God has moved the people of God to repentance and action. When Israel turned from God to their own ways, it is the reading of the Word that brought them back to the Lord their God. Shouldn’t it be exactly the same for us today?
I am struck by the simplicity and power of Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” This is the command of God to parents! I would add grandparents as well, especially with FaceTime, Skype, and all the other technology we have to connect with our families from huge distances. What exactly is God asking of us in this passage? This is actually the prelude to our looking to the Bible and specifically Proverbs for wisdom and instruction.
Notice that these verses are not optional. He refers to the words hecommandsare to be on our hearts. The things he is about to say are not up to our discretion.
Two aspects of these verses jump out at us here. First, the Word of God is to be in our hearts. Not just read occasionally or even daily, but placed permanently in our hearts. Parents, are you ready for the challenge of this passage? When was the last time you committed a passage of scripture to memory? Was it only one verse or a whole paragraph? How do we expect to be able to counsel our children and grandchildren unless we knowwhat the Bible says? It is absolutely right to know where to look for a particular passage, but to have that passage on our hearts means we can instantly recall what God has said and apply it wisely. If you haven’t memorized any Bible verses in a while, or ever, how about starting with Deuteronomy 6:6-7?
Now we come to the second part of this passage that has implications that can last for generations. Why does God say we are to have the word in our hearts? So we can diligentlyteach its principles to our children. Not in a lazy, when I feel like it way, but with clear and predetermined purpose. If you have children, you know that they are not always thrilled about learning from their parents, especially after they turn 13 and become much smarter than you are. That is why it takes diligence, especially in looking for every opportunity possible to apply the Word of God to their lives. All four of my boys will tell you that they knew when one of Dad’s “sermons” was about to begin, but they will also say that some of those talks are still in their hearts.
But it’s more than having a formal time of devotions or Bible reading around the house that touches and changes our children’s lives. It’s the everyday talks while you’re in the car. When you ask your child to help change the oil or paint the cabinets, or any other parent/child activity are great times to apply what you have memorized from God’s word to their lives. That’s exactly what he means when he says, “shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Be looking for the chance to teach all day, every day.
Why study Proverbs? So we can have the word in our hearts and touch our kids’ lives.