The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother.
Proverbs 10:1. We enter upon a mosaic-work of proverbs, which perhaps hardly admit of any one principle of arrangement except that of moral comparison and contrast. This governs the whole. Life is viewed as containing endless oppositions, to which light and darkness correspond in the world of sensuous perception
I. THE FAMILY LIFE ELICITS CHARACTER. It is a little world, and from the first provides a sphere of probation and of judgment which is the miniature of the great world.
II. THE TRAINING OF THE PARENTS IS REFLECTED IN THE CHILDREN'S CONDUCT. And the conduct of the children is reflected in the parents' joy or grief. Hence the duty of wise training on the one side, loving obedience on the other; that the happy effects may be secured, the unhappy averted, in each case.
III. TO LIVE TO MAKE ONE'S PARENTS (AND OTHERS) HAPPY IS ONE OF THE BEST OF MOTIVES. To see our actions mirrored in their mirth and others' joy, what pleasure can be purer, what ambition nobler? - J.
A wise son maketh a glad father.
(W. Arnot, D.D.)
I. FROM THE IMPERFECTION OF PARENTS ON THEIR OWN PARTS. We all want our children to avoid our faults. Children are very apt to be echoes of the parental life.
II. FROM OUR CONSCIOUS INEFFICIENCY AND UNWISDOM OF DISCIPLINE. Out of twenty parents there may be one who understands how thoroughly and skilfully to discipline. We, nearly all of us, are on one side or on the other. The discipline is an entire failure in many houses because the father pulls one way and the mother pulls the other way. To strike the medium between severity and too great leniency is the anxiety of every intelligent parent.
III. FROM THE EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF CHILDISH SINFULNESS.
IV. BECAUSE OUR YOUNG PEOPLE ARE SURROUNDED BY SO MANY TEMPTATIONS.
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
I. THE HOLY CHARACTER OF A CHILD GLADDENS THE HEART OF A PARENT.
1. He sees in it the best results of his training.
2. The best guarantee for his son's happiness.
II. THE UNHOLY CHARACTER OF A CHILD SADDENS THE HEART OF A PARENT. Especially a mother. All her toils, anxieties, have been fruitless. A heavy cloud lies on her soul.
A foolish son is the heaviness of his mother
I. THE YOUNG MAN NEGLECTFUL OF HIS INTELLECTUAL CULTURE. In all the infinite range of being, after you leave the irrational, until you reach the Divine, there is none whose "education is finished." Every young man ought to be giving diligent heed to his intellectual development and discipline. The word "foolishness" here is the antithesis, not of "learning," but of "wisdom" — two very different things. Learning, in its profoundness, is not possible to all young men. Education, i.e., eduction — a drawing forth, a development. Not a mind infused with erudition, but a mind led forth to think. As thinking is hard work, and most men are lazy, few willingly think. They prefer to buy thought. A true mother's first thought is her child's education. This, however, often errs sadly, in undue forcing, or in undue attention to merely light literature.
II. THE INDOLENT YOUNG MAN.
1. The man who has no regular business. The young man of inherited wealth, or the poor young man who has neither energy nor ambition to rise.
2. The man who, having a business, does not attend to it.(1) In some cases this results from sheer indolence. The man has no bone or sinew in him, no instinct of effort, no adaptation for work. Among men of strong hands he is simply a mistake.(2) In other cases this results from a wrong choice of business. The man got into a sphere for which he had no adaptation either mental or physical. Men are everywhere out of place, maladjusted, and so they fail. And by this first failure some men are hopelessly discouraged.(3) In other cases this results from false theories of success. The man is a believer in good luck and grand chances. He trusts to fortune and waits for opportunity.(4) In other cases the failure results from divided application and energy. The man attempts too much. Ignoring the principle of a division of labour as the grand law of civilisation, he affects the practical barbarism of attempting to do everything. Every efficient thing God ever made does its own work always, and its own work only. Life is too short for the accomplishment of great tasks with divided energies. Be the reason of the failure what it may, the world is full of men who, with a business to do, never succeed in it. Life swarms with indolent and inefficient men. And all such sons are a heaviness to their mother. Mothers want their sons to be something and to do something.
III. THE YOUNG MAN WHO SELECTS A WRONG BUSINESS OR PURSUES IT WITH A WRONG SPIRIT. The grand aim to-day is to get rich speedily. The practical theory is that all business is honourable in proportion to its revenues; but never was a theory more false. All honest business is equally honourable. The young man should engage in no work requiring the slightest violation of dictate of conscience. Evil work may have large revenues, but such success is simply infamous. The man who wins it thus is a disgrace to his generation. Woman's nature is alive with lofty and chivalrous sentiments. A son's spotless honour is his mother's glory.
IV. THE YOUNG MAN WHO MAKES CHOICE OF UNPRINCIPLED, IMMORAL, IRRELIGIOUS COMPANIONS. Choose your companions as you would if they were to go in daily to your mother's fireside. Beware of the young man of fashion. Beware of the sceptical young man. There are those who think freely and speak freely of human nature and of religion — Freethinkers. Beware of the young man of practical immorality. He is a sharper in business, untruthful, a Sabbath-breaker, a profane swearer, a quarreller; his associations are with fast men; he has no reputation for purity.
V. THE YOUNG MAN WHO HAS BECOME EVIL HIMSELF. It seems impossible that, coming from a happy Christian home, any young man should ever go so widely astray. But alas! the strange thing happens. We see it every day. What a fearful "heaviness" this brings to a mother's heart. Parental love becomes agony when a child turns to evil courses. To save you from this dire moral pestilence a parent would gladly lay down life.
VI. THE YOUNG MAN WHO LIVES IN NEGLECT OF PERSONAL RELIGION. To Solomon "wisdom" in its last analysis is personal piety, and "foolishness " is practical irreligion. You may sneer at religion and think it noble and wise to call yourself infidel. Your mother does not. To her religion is a life and power. Surely an impenitent son is a "heaviness" to his mother.
I. THESE TWO YOUNG MEN AT HOME. Children at home. Character begins to be developed very soon. Very little boys may sometimes indicate those tempers and dispositions which, upon the one side shall make the father's heart "glad," or on the other, fill the mother with "heaviness."
II. THESE TWO YOUNG MEN GOING OUT (ver. 5). The great lesson from this verse is, the importance of taking time by the forelock, using advantages when we have them. It does not do to neglect advantages; seize upon them, use them, do everything in its season. Two things young men should not do: they should neither anticipate nor procrastinate.
III. THESE TWO YOUNG MEN GETTING ON. They are now men in business for themselves, having their own responsibilities. Here is an infallible rule: "He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand; but the hand of the diligent maketh rich." Two kinds of slackness of hand: he may do the thing half-asleep, carelessly; he may not keep tight hold on the profits. The man who works with vigour and with thought, whose whole soul and mind and heart work, as well as his hand — he understands the price at which his profits are obtained.
IV. THESE TWO YOUNG MEN IN RELATION TO SUCCESS. "Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, but righteousness delivereth from death." Two men may get rich — the one by wickedness, trickery, wrong; the other by industry, probity, diligence. "Righteousness" here probably signifies "benevolence," "beneficence." The property of the man who is selfish and covetous will do him no good. Riches may be the means of grace as well as anything else. The beneficent man looks at his wealth as a thing which is to be used for God.
V. THESE TWO YOUNG MEN IN RELATION TO CHANGE. In the alteration of circumstance, in misfortune, what a difference there is between the fall of a man who has a thorough character and that of a man who has not.
VI. THESE TWO YOUNG MEN IN RELATION TO THE END. "Blessings are upon the head of the just, but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked." The wicked here means the flagrantly wicked. When the just man grows old he is crowned with respect and love; but the wicked old man receives "violence." The same people, exasperated, unable to bear him any longer, "cover his mouth" and put him out of the way. There is no spectacle on earth so painful as that of a wicked old man.
VII. NOW FOR THE EPITAPH. "The memory of the just is blessed, but the name of the wicked shall rot." The memory of just parents is better than a fortune to the children. The very name of the wicked shall become putrid and offensive. The two great principles which rightly tone the fortunes of the young man are, willingness to learn and uprightness of walking. Everything must be done "uprightly."
(T. L. Cuyler, D.D.)
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