pay attention and gain understanding.
2 For I give you sound teaching;
do not abandon my instruction.
3 When I was a son to my father,
tender and the only child of my mother,
4 he taught me and said,
“Let your heart lay hold of my words;
keep my commands and you will live.
King Solomon's father was King David. From verse 3 and 4, we get a picture of King David. If you've studied King David, you've seen him as the young shepherd writing poems and guarding his father's sheep; the young teen who killed Goliath; a young man who soothed King Saul's migraines with his music and songs; the bestfriend of Saul's son, Jonathon; a young warrior; the leader of a band of desperados being chased by King Saul; King of Israel; an adulterer and murderer; a repentant. Now we see into another part of King David... as a father. From these verses, evidently King David did not neglect to teach his children godly wisdom. As a king, he surely had tutors for his children so they would be educated and ready to rule in a pinch. Solomon was his chosen successor on the throne so he would have received an education and training in all things. But Solomon says King David personally taught him godly wisdom... "When I was a son to my father... he taught me". And now, King Solomon is trying to teach his son what his father taught him about godly wisdom. It wasn't something they left for paid teachers to do. It wasn't something King David, and King Solomon, left for their wives to do. It wasn't something they left for the religious leaders or the Temple to do. All that is important, but King David and King Solomon saw it as a personal duty to teach their children godly wisdom. They did not assign that responsibility to someone else. They knew they were responsible, and personally invested in their children, therefore, who better to teach them spiritual truths?
These fathers were intentionally teaching their children spiritual truths. They didn't expect others to do it for them. They were committed to passing on godly wisdom because they realized it was the most important thing they could pass down to the next generation.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
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.
2 Timothy 3:14-15 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Psalm 78:1-8 (NLT)
1 O my people, listen to my instructions.
Open your ears to what I am saying,
2 for I will speak to you in a parable.
I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—
3 stories we have heard and known,
stories our ancestors handed down to us.
4 We will not hide these truths from our children;
we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the LORD,
about his power and his mighty wonders.
5 For he issued his laws to Jacob;
he gave his instructions to Israel.
He commanded our ancestors
to teach them to their children,
6 so the next generation might know them—
even the children not yet born—
and they in turn will teach their own children.
7 So each generation should set its hope anew on God,
not forgetting his glorious miracles
and obeying his commands.
8 Then they will not be like their ancestors—
stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful,
refusing to give their hearts to God.
The duty of the parent/guardian is to teach their children godly wisdom and spiritual truths. To make sure, being committed and consistent, in teaching your spiritual beliefs. If they are taught, then it becomes between them and God. If they are never taught, it is on your hands. It is the duty of the parent(s)/guardian(s) to teach. It is the duty of the children to listen and pay attention.
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
Listen - שִׁמְע֣וּ (šim·‘ū) - Verb - Qal - Imperative - masculine plural
Strong's Hebrew 8085: To hear intelligently
pay attention - וְ֝הַקְשִׁ֗יבוּ (qashab, wə·haq·šî·ḇū) - Conjunctive waw | Verb - Hifil - Imperative - masculine plural
Strong's Hebrew 7181: attend, cause to hearken, give heed, incline, mark well, regard
A primitive root; to prick up the ears
Notice the word for "pay attention" comes from the primitive root meaning "to prick up the ears".
That means they are hearing what you say. It's not "blah blah blah" background noise. It's very difficult to engage the attention of children today as they only have about a 10 second attention span. Teachers are very challenged to teach children in classrooms because they are trying to engage 25-40 students and keep their attention long enough to impart information. But you only have to teach your children, not that many. Surely you can find ways to get their attention and focus!
You also have to know something about that which you speak. Maybe you didn't have good training on spiritual truths when you were growing up. Maybe your parents didn't teach you these things. Maybe they didn't take you to church. Maybe you had NO training at all. But that doesn't give you a pass. If you are a parent, or have children you are responsible for, you need to fulfil that responsibility. You feed them, you cloth them, you bathe them, you take them to school and to the doctor. Those are responsibilities. But don't neglect your spiritual responsibility to them.
If you feel inadequate to train your children in godly wisdom and spiritual truths, you can rectify that. Begin reading your Bible, attending church, attending Bible studies, reading Christian self help books, having discussions with your pastor. Most of all, realize, as a born again Christian, God has sent the Holy Spirit to live in you in order to train, teach and empower you to be the Christian God calls you to be. So pray and ask God to use the Holy Spirit within you to teach you how to train your children in the ways of God. It's important to take your children to church but don't just drop them off and pick them up. You go and receive training, teaching and prepare yourself for those deep questions that your children will one day ask.
Be sure and spend some quality one-on-one time with each child. Ask some probing questions. Try to get some dialogue going and then give them godly wisdom. Read a Bible verse to them as you put them to bed and say a prayer with them. Do Christian activities with them such as going to church, serving food at the homeless shelter, taking gifts to a nursing home, getting Christmas gifts ready for children in need, etc. You want to model Christian values and beliefs in front of your children.
Google something like, "parents teaching children spiritual truths" and you will find some resources and activities to get their attention.
Don't neglect your duty as the spiritual head of your household. If kings could do it, you should. You know they had to be busy, but King David and King Solomon weren't too busy to teach their children the most important lessons of all. If you want your children to go to Heaven, then teach them about Heaven, about Jesus, about salvation. Then it's up to them to make the choice. But if you never teach them, they may not realize they have a choice. Heaven is not the default. You are either saved through Jesus Christ or you go to hell. If you make no choice, the default is hell. Give your children the advantage of a choice.
- Did you have parents who took their responsibility for teaching spiritual truths and godly wisdom seriously? Or did your parents neglect that responsibility? Or did they delegate their responsibility to others?
- How did your parents help, or hinder, your knowledge of godly wisdom, spiritual truths, the knowledge of Jesus Christ and the gospel of salvation?
- How did your parents (guardians) affect your decision for Christ? For some, their parents had little effect on the most important decision they ever made. For some, their parents greatly helped their children in making the most important decision of their life. For others, their parents stood in their way, trying to drag them from Jesus Christ. Those parents may be from a different religion or they may practise the religion of atheism. They hate Christ, they hate Christians, they hate the Bible and they will try anything to keep their children from choosing salvation through Jesus Christ.
- Have your parents (guardians) been supportive or hostile to your choice of Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?
- Do you feel adequate in your spiritual knowledge and godly wisdom to answer questions by your children? Why or why not?
- Is there anything you can do to increase your biblical knowledge and godly wisdom so you will feel more confident?
- Do you have questions? How can you find answers to your own questions so you will be prepared to answer the questions of your children? Write down your own questions. Then seek answers in the Bible, from your pastor, from Christian self help books on the subject. Believe me, there is plenty of knowledge, explanations and instructive teaching on any subject that you have a question about. You aren't the only one in the world with questions and you aren't the only person to delve into a subject to learn more. So take advantage of what's out there to learn what you want to know.
For all my studies on Proverbs click HERE.