Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.
Honor your parents. Your life depends on it. Parents will weaken with age, but you still should honor them. God ordained parents, and He handpicked yours. He will generously reward those who honor parents (Eph 6:2-3), but He will destroy rebels (Pr 20:20; 30:17).
God planned for children to arrive in life helpless, so they do. He also planned they would grow to successful maturity under the affectionate care, instruction, and rule of parents. But this wise family relationship also depends on children honoring their parents.
God created the offices of father and mother, but He also chose the very persons who are your father and mother. When the great God brought you into existence, He did not ask you or your parents. He planned and executed a blind date for the three of you based on His perfect knowledge of all circumstances and possible outcomes of the arrangement. Humble yourself before your God-chosen parents. Obey them. Honor them. Love them.
The law of God and the rule of nature are to reverence fathers (Ex 20:12; Lev 19:3; Mal 1:6; Eph 6:1-3; Heb 12:9). The LORD commanded death for offenders, even for speaking lightly or showing facial disrespect (Deut 27:16; Pr 30:17). Proper growth and maturity to face life, the orderliness of society, and the peace of homes depend on honor to fathers. It is dangerous times when this basic standard is compromised (Isaiah 3:5; II Tim 3:1-2).
Daily life with a father for 20-30 years exposes you to his faults and weaknesses, which can lead to familiarity. But the God of heaven has a warning for you – I chose that man who brought you into existence, and I expect you to listen to him and obey him as you would Me. Do not let familiarity dull his honor, because I chose him as a god for your life. If you despise him, you despise Me. And I will not accept such scornful rebellion.
The thing you should be most content about is your father. God chose him. God chose his ability, education, wealth, intelligence, looks, personality, opportunities, successes, and failures for His own glory and your perfection. No other father would have worked as well for you. The eternal counsel of heaven connected you two, and any discontentment or disrespect from you is treason against the design of a benevolent and sovereign God.
Hearken to your father. Listen to him, and obey his advice. He knows more about life than you can grasp, even if it were explained to you. He knows you better than you know yourself. He cares about you and your future more than you do. Your short-term view of things is foolish and vain. His affection for you, his desire for your success, his sense of responsibility, and his experience and knowledge come together to form his advice. Save yourself a great deal of pain in life and judgment from God – hearken unto your father.
Isaac submitted to his father tying him on an altar as a sacrifice (Gen 22:9). Jacob obeyed his father to travel far away and pick a wife from cousins (Gen 28:1-5). Joseph honored his father and sought his blessing on his children (Gen 48:8-14). Moses, ruler in Israel, reverenced his father-in-law, a Midianite (Ex 18:7-12). And the Rechabites carefully obeyed a distant grandfather, though he had lived 300 years earlier (Jer 35:6-10).
With age your father will lose his strength and wisdom, but he is still the one God chose to beget you. His declining abilities are no grounds for you to disrespect him. He might not have the power any longer to enforce his rule, but by this time you should be more conscious of his authority and right over you than ever before. Respect him in old age out of principle and thankfulness, rather than out of childish fear or habit or necessity.
Blind and hardened fools disobey their fathers, and the sin is compared to the perverse depravity of sodomy (Rom 1:30). Such a child is a terrible calamity to parents (Pr 17:25; 19:26). The perilous times of the last days have arrived, when even Christians allow children to disobey and dishonor their parents (II Tim 3:1-2). Their permissive approach to life and religion, choosing fables instead of doctrine, will destroy them (II Tim 4:3-4).
Your mother was introduced to you in the prime of her life. She was attractive, energetic, and intelligent. It was carrying you and bringing you up that dulled those traits. Her body gave you every nutrient for growth for nine months before you were born, and for nine months or more after you were born. A lifeline tied you to her before you were born, and you cried for her after being born, as if you still needed and wanted that lifeline.
She loved you and did more for you than ten wives could or would. She patiently adored, pampered, praised, and doted on you in ways a wife will not. She was a tireless servant in providing food, clothing, bedding, and countless other comforts for your existence, though you never gave her even a “thank you” for years. She suffered through your infatuation with girlfriends, who combined and squared would never do as much for you.
She was the weaker sex in her prime, in God’s opinion (I Pet 3:7). But as she gets older, taking care of you and then worrying about you, she will lose more strength and wit. She will fear things she once mocked. She will forget names, places, and how to do simple tasks. She spent herself caring for you, and now there is little left. What will you do? Ignore her in her weakened condition, or give her greater glory and honor and care?
If you hurt her in any way in her old age, the God of heaven will take retribution now and in the world to come (Pr 20:20; 30:17; Rev 21:8). If you do not fully take care of her in old age, then you have denied the religion of Jesus Christ and are worse than a pagan infidel, no matter what church you attend, or what Bible version you read (I Tim 5:4,8).
Ruth obeyed and tenderly served her mother-in-law Naomi in her old age (Ruth 2:17-23). Solomon, with regal authority and glory like no other, honored his mother with a seat at his right hand and promised to not reject her request (I Kgs 2:19-20). And the Lord Jesus Christ, though greatly stressed with the torments of crucifixion and the reconciliation of His people, gave assignment to John for the tender care of His mother (John 19:26-27).
If you are a child, you have just read your duty. Let it be your great pleasure to attentively heed your father’s advice, whether in his presence or on the other side of his grave. What should you do this very day to honor your aging mother? See to it quickly. If your parents are far away, you can call, text, email, mail, or visit. If they are inaccessible, what about your in-laws? If you have honored your parents, what about any grandparents?
If you are a parent, and your children show you little or none of this honor or care, humble yourself before the God of heaven and confess your sinful indulgence, careless inconsistency, reversal of roles, overbearing criticism, or permissive environment that cost you the esteemed position of beloved parents (Pr 22:6; 31:28). The merciful God of heaven is able to help you recover lost years, if you repent in humility (Joel 2:12-27).
If you are a Christian, you have another Father far greater than your earthly father, Almighty God Himself. He has done more for you than all natural fathers combined. You owe Him all the reverence and obedience you can possibly muster. You call on Him frequently, every time you need or want help, and He has never failed you a single time.
The sober words of truth from Peter to you about Him are these: “And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear” (I Pet 1:17). You should fearfully hearken to God your Father and never despise Him, even far more than your earthly father and mother.