“My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother” (Prov. 1:8). The Second Sunday in May has traditionally been deemed as Mother’s Day to honor mothers everywhere. All of humanity should have to admit that good parenting is a key to a productive and successful life from birth through childhood and even beyond. Solomon closed the book of Proverbs with a chapter beginning with the words, “The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him” (Prov. 31:1). The law (torah in Hebrew meaning direction, instruction, law) of one’s mother is the general instruction that mothers would give to their children. The exhortation is not to forsake or leave a mother’s teaching. Consider some things found in Proverbs about children and their mothers.
- Admonitions for Making Wise. “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: . . . For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman” (Prov. 6:20, 23-24). The combined and unified teaching of both the father and mother go a long way to helping the inexperienced find their way through the maze of problems in life. Wisdom calls for the older generation, especially parents, giving to their children what is both proactive and preventive instruction. Proverbs closes with words from a mother who said to her son, “Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings. It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink” (Prov. 31:3-4). All children would do well to listen to such teaching.
- Appreciation from a Wise Child. Proverbs is replete with passages warning children about wrong attitudes toward the teaching of parents. A wise child is seen as one who shows appreciation for the instruction of father and mother. A foolish son is seen as one who creates problems. Solomon wrote, “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother” (Prov. 10:1). “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother” (Prov. 15:20). “He that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother, is a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach” (Prov. 19:26). “Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old” (Prov. 23:22). “Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer” (Prov. 28:24). “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it” (Prov. 30:17).
- Admiration from a Wise Child. Proverbs closes with the model wife and mother. It is written of her children and husband, “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her” (Prov. 31:28). This instruction of a mother to her son (cf. Prov. 31:1) shows that she was seeking the best for her son when it came to choosing a wife and future mother of his children. A mother who practices and teaches the law of the Lord is indeed a blessing. Honoring such women for the sacrifices made over the many years is truly an honorable act.