Proverbs 4:1

Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.

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Children, do you attentively listen to your father to learn what he has to teach? Fathers, do you teach your children? Expect their attention? Give wise instruction? All Christians should listen attentively to the instruction of their Heavenly Father and His ministers.

Children are God’s gift to married parents (Ps 127:3). They arrive without understanding (Pr 22:15). They need to be taught and instructed, or they will default to the depraved impulses of their wicked hearts and/or the world’s profane ideas (Pr 1:8; 6:20-23).

There was no Scripture in the world until 1532 BC. No man had a single verse of the Bible for 2,514 years. All the instruction came by word of mouth, from father to son. With men living as long as 969 years in the case of Methusaleh (Gen 5:27), there was also word of mouth from grandfathers to grandsons. This proverb is very important.

In 1532 BC, God gave the Ten Commandments to Israel. One of them had a promised blessing attached to it: the commandment for children to honor their parents (Ex 20:12; Deut 5:16). This honor, which extends to all ages of parents and children, included obedience to their instruction (Lev 19:3; Eph 6:1-3; Col 3:20). Child obedience to parents was enforced in this just and holy nation under God by the death penalty (Deut 21:18-21).

Children, you must pay careful attention to hear and obey the instruction you receive from your parents, especially fathers (Pr 23:22; 30:17). You are a fool if you despise your father’s teaching (Pr 15:5). When you are old enough to think you know something, your father already has more wisdom than you can imagine exists in the universe!

Fathers, your duty is certain and important. You must train your children in the fear of the Lord and perpetuate the truth of God through them and their children (Pr 22:6; 29:15; Gen 18:19; Deut 4:9; 6:4-9,20-25; Josh 24:15; Ps 34:11; 71:18; 78:1-8; Is 38:19; Joel 1:1-3; Eph 6:4). Paul assumed that fathers exhort, comfort, and charge children (I Thes 2:11).

Ministers are spiritual fathers (I Cor 4:14-15; II Cor 6:13), who are duty-bound to be diligent in their teaching (I Tim 4:13-16; II Tim 4:1-4). And it is the duty of their hearers to attentively hear their instruction and obey it (I Thess 5:20; Heb 13:7,17).

God your Father teaches by the ministry of His word (Luke 8:4-18), by your conscience (Pr 20:27), by chastening (Pr 3:11-12), and by the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:17; 3:14-19). It is your solemn duty to attentively hear all that He teaches by any of these means.

Dear reader, are you obedient in the duties of this proverb? If you are a child, you must heed any parental instruction. If you are a father, you must teach and train your children. Both fathers and children should humble themselves to hear God and His ministers.

Jesus Christ heard all His Father taught, and attended to all His instruction, for He declared plainly that He always did those things that pleased Him (John 8:29). Even when the duty seemed overwhelming in Gethsemane, He heard and obeyed His Father’s will over His own (Matt 26:39). Let His holy example thrill and provoke you today.