Proverbs 30:17

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.

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How bad is a teenager rolling his eyes at parents? God sent His answer by the pen of Agur the prophet. Birds of prey will rip out the eyeballs of such terrible children and eat them! God will make them a public spectacle with horrific judgment for this wicked crime against father or mother. How much more the disrespect commonly allowed today!

Is this proverb out of place in the 21st century, as most of this effeminate and rebellious generation would say? You must choose – God’s inspired Bible is wrong, or His decreed statutes are right. Solomon’s father David wrote of God’s laws, “Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way” (Ps 119:128).

If you are one of the very rare thinking people still on earth, you know something is wrong somewhere, because the disrespect of authority at all levels and in all spheres is confusing and troubling. The change in a few decades has been great. What is the cause? What is the cure? What is the future of society without a return to honoring authority?

Parents are the first authority children meet in life. If they do not learn to obey and honor parents, they will disregard other authority figures. Even facial dishonor of parents should be punished. God hates irreverent looks, gestures, and attitudes toward parents, so this proverb is added to God’s censure of verbal offences against parents (Pr 20:20; 30:11).

Such a strong stand for parental reverence is lost today, though your grandparents knew it well. The result of rebellious, dysfunctional, selfish, and lazy young people should not surprise you. A prime theme of entertainment today, and a daily event in most homes, is flagrant disrespect of parents. This proverb sounds Neanderthal in the modern world.

But it is the infallible word of Jehovah God, and the man who treats it lightly will eat the fruit thereof – trouble and pain from his children and the LORD (Pr 13:15; Is 1:19-20). Success or failure in life depends on you humbling yourself before God’s word and learning wisdom, no matter what the world thinks or says (Pr 1:20-33; 13:13; 15:32).

Great men of prior generations – highly principled, noble, and of impeccable character – were never allowed the snotty and rebellious words and actions toward parents that are nearly universal today. So you should not be surprised that there is nearly a universal dearth of men and women comparable to those wonderful leaders of yesteryear.

Agur used the eye as synecdoche for facial expressions. And he meant more than just the muscle and mucous membrane that reside in one of your sockets. No eyeball shows disdain for authority without the heart directing it to do so. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, there had better not be irreverence seen in the heart toward either parent.

Mocking is haughty disrespect by ridicule or scorn. We call it “rolling the eyes” or “tossing the head” in disgust or resentment. It is now common, and any idea of punishing children’s looks and attitudes was rejected years ago by most. And everyone suffers the consequences by this arrogant and rebellious generation. But God hates such disrespect.

Despising to obey a mother here is facial expressions of saucy refusal to honor her requests. Most mothers today have given up trying to get teenagers to do anything helpful or productive. They haughtily and lazily intend to make their own plans for their time, and they have no conscience against ignoring, mocking, or defying parental requests.

God presents this rebellious brat as buzzard bait, with the hooked beaks and talons of these birds ripping out eyeballs and eating them. Though politically incorrect in this coddling society, it graphically shows God’s opinion of disrespectful children. Such fools will die under the harsh judgment of a holy God, Who defends His ordained offices.

Both parents are included. Mothers should be esteemed and reverenced comparable to fathers, and a wise father will demand and enforce such respect for his wife. It took two parents to conceive a child, and it is usually two parents that provided everything for that child to reach maturity, if the character of a thirty-year-old today can be called maturity.

Reader, the holy God of heaven chose capital punishment for speaking lightly about parents. Do you agree with God about it? Or do you think such harsh precepts of Moses’ Law are outdated, extreme, and without value? Moses wrote, “Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen” (Deut 27:16).

This last Bible text would make a great responsive reading for a youth conference. Or better yet, it should be written as a song to be sung as a round. James Dobson should have it or the subject proverb above repeated at the beginning and end of his effeminate radio program, “Focus on the Family.” It would create real focus on training a godly family!

Godly readers will agree with the LORD on this topic. He ordered the death penalty for stubborn and rebellious children (Deut 21:18-21). Homes would be happy and parenting easy, if profane children were executed in public for all to see and fear. God also ordered the death penalty for cursing parents (Ex 21:17; Lev 20:9) and hitting parents (Ex 21:15).

Of course, God gave these commandments to Israel 3500 years ago, when the church and civil government were the same. Parents living in a modern society cannot and should not take Moses’ Law into their own hands. But they can learn God’s hatred of disrespect to parents and do what they can to promote godly, sober, honoring children in their home.

When Absalom presumed to oppose his father David, who was also king, the LORD hung him by his hair in a tree for dart practice by his personal enemy (II Sam 18:9-18). When forty-two little children mocked Elisha, he cursed them in the name of the LORD; and God honored him by two she bears tearing them for their jesting (II Kings 2:23-24).

You live in perilous times of a generation given to self-love, child rebellion, and pleasure obsession (II Tim 3:1-5). And this indictment describes Christians, not the pagan world at large, where it is also true (Rom 1:29-31). God’s few ministers must use the hammer and fire of God’s word against such permissive thinking (Jer 23:28-29; II Tim 4:1-4).

Dear parent, starting young, you must train children God’s way. From the earliest days of conscious understanding, children must be taught to reverence parents. Even slight indications of a rebellious spirit – shown by looks, gestures, or attitudes – must be dealt with immediately and severely. There is no room for compromise on this point.

Disrespectful speech, rolling of the eyes, tossing of the head, looking away with the eyes, slamming of doors, blazing eyes of rebellion, wrinkled noses, sullen eyes of disregard, saucy answers, refusal to speak, or foolish eyes of jesting disrespect cannot be tolerated. Correct it early, and your children will give you rest and peace (Pr 19:18; 29:15,17).

If you compromise, you offend the Creator and Judge of parents, and He will bring His judgment on you for neglecting your duty and mocking His laws. Fulfill your divine assignment: prepare your children to serve nobly under all authority. They will be much happier themselves, finding that secure, peaceful, and respectful relationships are much superior to anger, bitterness, and rebellion. You will be happier as well (Pr 23:24-25).

If you believe this proverb, humble yourself before its wisdom, and use the allowable means to enforce parental honor in your home. God will bless you for doing so (Ps 112:1-3; Pr 20:7). Remind your children that opposite this proverb is God’s gracious and incredible promise of a long and good life for honoring parents (Ex 20:12; Eph 6:1-3).

If you are not a parent, but rather a child, or both parent and child, make sure you repent to God and your parents for any past sins of disrespect. Purpose in your heart that you will stand against this profane generation by treating your parents as God intended. Purpose in your heart that when God gives you children, you will raise them by His word.

Jesus taught the honor of parents, and He repeated the death penalty warning (Matt 15:4). Paul taught the duty of parental honor twice (Ep 6:1-3; Col 3:20), and he assumed reverence of fathers when arguing theology (Heb 12:9). This topic is not a revoked aspect of Israel’s ceremonial religion – it is God’s perpetual moral law for children and parents.

Since this proverb has reminded you of the honor you owe your father, then make sure you honor your Father in heaven, for He is offended if you do the former and neglect the latter (Mal 1:6). He is infinitely superior to any earthly father, and He deserves infinitely greater respect and reverence. May all honor be ultimately directed up to God Himself.