A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.
Two horrible things can happen to a man. He can marry an odious woman, or he can have foolish children. Both are disasters and make marriage and children very sober matters. The persons and relationships that should be for help and pleasure become like enemies. It is wisdom to carefully consider these potential threats and avoid them at all costs.
This proverb is priceless. The two matters at stake are very serious – an unhappy marriage or shameful children. Either one tortures and destroys a man over many years. A man enduring both faces daily pain hard to describe in words. But God gave this proverb by King Solomon to save you from both evils, and He reduced it down to one single, simple rule. Glorious wisdom! Incredible mercy and kindness! Keep reading!
Contentious women know how to get a man, a foolish man. They decorate the outside, their physical appearance, by many means, to capture his eyes. They hide and disguise what is inside, their character defects and faults, by a show of grace, respect, submission, and love. These efforts are made until the wedding is over. Then the odious wife makes her appearance (Pr 30:21-23)! And what a hideous and ugly sight she is! Poor fool!
The careless man now has a disease worse than cancer – he has fallen into the torments of hell on earth – he has fallen under a curse worse than death (Eccl 7:26). He must go home to this wretch every day for the rest of his life, and he has to sleep with her! He quickly learns to work extra hours, take up hobbies like hunting, or build a detached workshop to get away from the noise of this nagging and brawling creature (Pr 21:9,19; 25:24).
In public he tries to hide her, but how can he? She is as obvious as a huge sow attached to a small piece of gold jewelry (Pr 11:22). The poor man cannot avoid his great shame, for everyone sees he has married a repugnant and revolting corruption of the fairer sex (Pr 27:15-16). He knows both friends and enemies whisper about his horrible life at home.
A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband, but the woman here is rottenness in his bones (Pr 12:4). So bitter is the pain of the wrong woman that Solomon thought it worse than death (Eccl 7:26). And he listed an irritating wife as one of the great curses of earthly life (Pr 30:21-23). The poor husband cries, “O precious death, take me from her!”
A contentious wife will question, discuss, debate, or oppose most anything. She presumes her ideas are at least as good as his. She constantly talks back. She is proud, stubborn, and self-righteous. She cannot follow; she must lead. She asks too many questions, makes too many suggestions, and does not cheerfully obey. She loves to correct her husband, who never gets the facts just right! She will not receive correction meekly. She always has a reason why tonight is not a good night! Or why the next morning is not night!
The continual dropping here is a very rainy day (Pr 27:15). You cannot stop it; it keeps on dropping. You cannot stop her noise and resistance. These are not pleasant raindrops on a secure roof; they are the irritating drops of a leaking roof that destroy tranquility and peace. Any man who has tried to sleep near a leaking faucet understands perfectly. She is torture! The foolish son may be cast out; the contentious wife must be endured. The foolish son is in his room; the contentious wife is in your bed! Take me, precious death!
Therefore, let every man take great care how he marries and how his sons marry. Young fools do not know how to judge women, so fathers must help them, lest they are consigned to fifty years with this woman. Fathers, by the very nature of the relationship, you have more experience in marriage to a woman than your son has in the ignorance and folly of childhood and youth. You have been married longer than he has been alive!
It is a shame this rebellious generation thinks they can make this far-reaching decision on their own. So there is an epidemic of dysfunctional marriages, divorces, and adultery. Young man, it is far better to be lonely and frustrated in your own house and bed than to marry an odious woman and have to live and sleep with her for your entire future. There is something worse than being single and lonely – being married to the wrong woman!
If you have married poorly, dear man, repent of your folly and allow no more. Marriage must be managed by the divine rule of subjection, and if you compromise here, the dropping will continue (Gen 3:16; I Cor 11:3,8-12; 14:34-35; Eph 5:22-24,33; Col 3:18; Tit 2:5). If she professes any fear of God, bring her to her Creator’s throne and show her both His wise design and sentence of judgment (I Tim 2:13-14). If this fails, Christian husband, bring her to the church by our Lord’s prescription (Matt 18:15-17; I Cor 6:1-8).
Every man who has a virtuous wife (Pr 31:10-31), gracious and kind, meek and quiet, should first thank his Father in heaven for such protective mercy and then take the good woman out for dinner and praise her a few times. She deserves it. You owe it. God has saved you from a life of soul-sapping, heart-rending, mood-altering, body-denying agony.
Let every woman examine herself in the only honest and true mirror in the world – the Bible (Jas 1:21-26; Ps 19:7-14). After seeing your blemishes and defects, make the required changes for the reward. Reject the foolish fantasies of society and your selfish thoughts about yourself (Ps 119:128; Is 8:20). Read God’s opinion, as you just have. Then prove your own work and rejoice in yourself (Pr 14:14; Gal 6:4-5; I Pet 3:1-6).
A foolish son is also a horrible thing in a man’s life. It can steal the joy and life out of your soul, knowing that you generated and trained an idiot. The Preacher saw foolish sons, for he had foolish brothers, and his son Rehoboam was a fool. Read his pain and learn the sober lesson (Pr 10:1; 15:20; 17:21,25; 23:15-16,24-25; 29:3,15). It is wisdom to learn from the mistakes and pain of others – so pay attention and grasp this lesson.
A calamity is very grievous affliction or adversity; it is deep distress, trouble, and misery. It is a painful disaster. It is the turning of things upside down. It is a catastrophe and tragedy that bleeds the vitality from a father’s heart. This does not overstate the grief caused by a foolish son, for a son instead should be the joy of his father’s heart. And where a father could be thankful and honored, he is instead bewildered and despised.
Fathers! Train the foolishness out of your son, while there is hope (Pr 22:15; 19:18). Here is a calamity you can avoid (Pr 29:17). Save your son! Save yourself! If you neglect his training, he will default to foolishness (Pr 29:15). His training is a commandment (Pr 22:6; Eph 6:4), and the Preacher tells you what will work – the rod and reproof (Pr 29:15; 23:13-14). See the comments on 26:1. A loving father will train his son, and he will start early; a hateful father will neglect him to the hurt of them both (Pr 13:24; 8:33-36).
If you are too busy, too tired, too reserved, too slothful, too interested in other things, or use any other excuse to avoid training him, you will bear your burden. Calamity and shame will come, unless you repent and beg for God’s mercy and the recovery of lost years when you should have done your simple duty (Pr 29:15; 13:15; Gal 6:5; Joel 2:25).
If you have a foolish son, repent and beg God to help you recover him (Joel 2:23-27). Bring your authoritative and loving instruction to bear by whatever means you have. Further compromise will bring greater pain in the future, as with Eli (I Sam 2:29; 3:13). If your son fears God, bring him before his Creator and remind him of his duties (Eph 6:1-3). If he persists and is a church member, bring him before the church (Matt 18:15-17).
Every man who has wise and noble sons should first thank God his Father for such protective and kind mercy and then praise and honor his sons for their faithfulness. There is nothing that should loose a father’s wallet as quickly and as wide as a wise and obedient son. Being overbearing all the time will discourage them (Col 3:21; Eph 6:4).
Let every son, of any age, examine himself in the only honest mirror – the word of God (Jas 1:21-26). Are you a joy to your father? Or are there things you know you should be doing better? Correct them! Reject the insolent notions of your wicked generation and your rebellious thoughts of folly. Read God’s opinion about young men, as Proverbs clearly declares. Then prove your own work and rejoice in yourself (Pr 14:14; Gal 6:4-5).
Both dangers to your happiness and success, an odious wife or a foolish son, are solved by one simple rule – the fear of the LORD. If you marry a woman that truly fears the LORD, you will have a jewel for life (Pr 31:30; I Pet 3:1-6). If you teach your son the same fear from early days, he will rejoice your heart (Ps 34:11; Eccl 12:13-14). It is this simple, and the only wise God and history’s wisest king wrote it down for you. Priceless!
Dear Christian reader, what kind of a wife and son are you to your Husband and Father in heaven? Does your Bridegroom rejoice in your constant fidelity, passionate love, and joyful submission? Or are you an odious stench in His house? Is your Heavenly Father pleased with the blessing of adopting you? Or are you a son that needs to be chastened often? Let every reader examine himself to fulfill his Husband’s and Father’s desires.
And further, dear reader, the proverb teaches the disappointment of this world’s greatest privileges and pleasures, even though ordained by a perfect Creator. The very things prized very highly, marriage and children, can so easily bring the greatest miseries. Without His grace, all is vanity and vexation of spirit! Here is the great lesson that God alone must be the portion and the treasure of your soul (Ps 73:25-26; Matt 6:19-21).