July 14, 2019
Good morning. My name is Michael Talley and it’s great to worship together this morning on a Family Worship Sunday. It’s good to have some extra kids in the service this morning. We have been studying the Proverbs this summer, which as we have seen is a book of wisdom to help train and form children. We are not going to be able to cover all 31 chapters in 8 weeks, but we do hope to expose you to this brilliant book so that you can dive in on your own. Josh Hayes preached an incredible message on Proverbs 9 last week. That message officially ended the long introduction to the book. The first 9 chapters are an extended conversation between Solomon and his son. And in these chapters, Solomon has been encouraging his son to live a life of wisdom. He wants his son to fear the Lord. This conversation came to an end in chapter 9, where Solomon presented wisdom and folly as two women. Each has spread a feast and each has sent out an invitation. The question was left hanging in the air: which feast will you attend? Will you go to Lady Wisdom’s feast and live, or will you go to your own funeral at Lady Folly’s feast?
If you have listened to Lady Folly’s call, you probably won’t care to read any further. Just crank up the music, drown out the voice of God, & do what you want. But if you desire wisdom, you will turn the page and find 20 chapters of short, God-inspired statements to help guide you in a life of wisdom. (over 600). This is what most think of when we think of the Proverbs. We will spend the next 4 weeks working through this section.
How should we cover this section? We are accustomed to studying texts line-by-line. And generally, that is the best way to approach a Biblical text. But as we have seen, this genre is unique in many ways. Solomon has stuffed little nuggets of wisdom into Easter eggs and spread them across his yard. His son now has the joy of seeking out wisdom. Over the next four weeks, Josh and I will compile four different stacks of wisdom according to different themes. We’re going to look at family, money, words, and work. How do wise people navigate these practical issues? These aren’t the only themes in the book, but they are some of the most prominent themes. But before we jump in, I want to let you know how much fun I had
And so this morning we are going to look at the family. There are few things in life that are more lovely or more complex than family. The family is incredible because God designed it himself. Most of us didn’t decide to get married because we read a book on the benefits of marriage. No, we started a family because we saw a pretty girl and started doing stupid stuff to impress her. God created us with a desire to get married. Because this is God’s design, the home can be a place of great comfort and joy.
But the home is not always comfortable or joyful. There are 2 major forces working against God’s plan. The first is internal. Every one of us is deeply broken by sin. And that brokenness is on full display when you put 4 or 5 people together in a 1500sqf home with 1 toilet. Because of our sin, the home can be a difficult place. The second force is external. The family unit has been under a major attack in our country for the past 50-60 years. Our culture has glamourized divorce, legalized abortion, & pushed the sexual revolution. We have been encouraged to live for ourselves. These forces have slowly eroded our confidence in the family. There
How should we make sense of our family? Is it possible to build wise homes in a broken world? Yes. The Proverbs paints a remarkable picture of the home. Listen to Pr. 24:3-4 By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established;
 by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
The Proverbs envision a home that is filled with God’s wisdom & presence. This would be a good verse to pray through as you walk throughout the rooms of your home. We want to give God glory in everything we do. If we do not consciously seek to build our homes with God’s wisdom, we will build it on the passing trends & philosophies of a lost & dying world. We will do what feels right. That is not wise. Jesus said it himself: the wise man builds his house upon the rock so that it can withstand the storms of life.
Let me give you an example of how foolish it would be to build your home on the whims of a lost and dying culture. Did any of you built an igloo last December when it snowed 20”? My kids and I were able to build a massive shelter after the snow. Here’s the crazy thing: it was actually quite warm and cozy for a few minutes. But we didn’t move in. And that ended up being smart because our igloo eventually melted. There is nothing left of it.
Here’s my point. You can build a fancy and comfortable home with the best wisdom our world has to offer. You don’t need to listen to God’s word to get married and have kids. You can do what feels right. And it might actually work out for a while. It might look nice and comfortable. But it will melt. The sun will shine and dissolve your work. The Proverbs – and Jesus – admonish us to build our homes upon the wisdom of God so that it will last.
The Proverbs will give us a brilliant picture of a family that is built on God’s wisdom. We will look at some of the main relationships that occupy most homes: husbands, wives, parents, children, and grandparents. I want to say right up front that the picture presented in the Proverbs the ideal family. Because God created us with the desire to get married and have kids, this picture will seem good to most of us in the room. I hope these principles inspire us. But I imagine that they will discourage us as well because none of us have the ideal family. If these descriptions are painful to work through, don’t check out on me. Nothing reveals our need for a savior quite like family. We will get to the gospel. Let’s pray.
Let’s start with husbands & wives. We’ll go ahead and establish this right off the bat: the Proverbs exalt marriage. Pr. 18:22 says: He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD. This is a powerful word to our current society. As I have already mentioned, people are getting married later than ever. There are a lot of factors that have influenced this trend, but I think a lot of emerging adults have simply never seen a solid marriage. Why would you rush to get married if it will only end in heartbreak? (If you grew up in an igloo that melted, why rush to move in another one?) The Bible reminds us that marriage is a good thing. As you read through the Proverbs, you will find several examples of why it is good, but let me give you three.
First, marriage is good because husbands and wives are in love. They are romantic partners. In Proverbs chapter 5, Solomon warned his son against the empty allure of the adulterous woman. And so he counsels him to enjoy his wife. This is one of the best ways to stay away out of marital trouble. Stay intoxicated with your wife. Listen to v 18: Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth… The next few verses will go on to tell you how to enjoy your wife, but it’s a family worship Sunday, so I’ll let you read those on your own. But the point is clear: a healthy marriage involves romantic love. Remember, this was written in a society where marriages were often arranged. People often married for security/practicality. But the Proverbs remind us of the pleasures of marriage. The marriage covenant is a picture of God’s great love for us, and so we should expect it to be joyful and passionate. If you are married, let me ask a simple question: do you enjoy your spouse? Are you intoxicated? I realize that every marriage in this room is at a different place, but the Proverbs would encourage us to set the trajectory of our marriage toward one another. This might be difficult to hear if your marriage has gone cold, or is going cold. But think of 1 small step you could take to move toward one another? It could be as simple as a goodnight kiss. But either way, the Proverbs encourage romantic love.
Second, marriage is good because husbands and wives are friends. In Proverbs 2, Solomon once again warned his son about the adulterer. She forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God. That word companion speaks of a close and intimate friend. According to the Proverbs, your husband or wife should be your closest friend. You should burn with love, but you should also enjoy one another. This might be as simply enjoying the same type of recreational activities. I have learned to enjoy puzzles since I’ve been married to Laura, and she has learned the starting OL for the Carolina Panthers. It’s good to spend time with one another. But friends also share a common purpose. Husbands & wives are companions on the journey of life (they share in the discipline). This involves a lot of talking and dreaming and planning. Is this the trajectory of your marriage?
Finally, marriage is good because husbands and wives encourage one another. They build each other up. This is one of the key roles of a husband or a wife in the Proverbs. Proverbs 12:4 says: An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones. A wise and godly wife will be like a crown on her husband’s head. She will make him sit up a little straighter. She will bring out his best. Compare this with the nagging or quarrelsome wife. If you have ever casually read through the Proverbs, these texts have certainly jumped off the page. Proverbs 21:9 – It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife. Proverbs 19:13 – a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain. Pr. 21:19 – It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.
I heard a comedian say that he bought a cactus for his apartment, but within a few short weeks, it died. And then he said, “Great ladies, I’m less nurturing than a desert!” Apparently, you have a better chance of thriving in a desert than with a nagging or quarrelsome spouse. The goal in marriage is not to tear one another down, but so many marriages drift toward this constant attack. The goal of marriage is to serve your spouse as he or she transforms into the image of Christ. You cannot encourage your spouse if you are always picking and critiquing. Now, there is room for godly critique in a marriage, but it must be offered in a spirit of love. In fact, when criticism has entirely vanished from a marriage, you have stopped loving one another. Proverbs 27:5–6 says:  Better is open rebuke than hidden love.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. We must speak the truth in love to one another as we grow in godliness.
And so, the Proverbs remind us that marriage is a good thing. Husbands and wives are in love, they are friends, and they build each other up. That is ideal and we should aspire toward these. But again, I realize that most of the marriages in this room don’t live up to these ideals. The Proverbs set the bar impossibly high. If you are discouraged because your marriage hasn’t cleared that bar, don’t check out yet. There is hope.
But for the moment, let’s keep going. Is there anything more difficult than living in a home with another sinner? Yes. It’s trying to live in a home with a lot of little sinners. Let’s look at the relationship between parents & children. The Proverbs are filled with parenting advice. And according to the Proverbs, the parent’s primary job is to teach their children wisdom. We have seen that wisdom is the fear of the Lord. So it will be impossible to parent our children if we are not walking with God. We might raise competent, successful, & rich kids. But if we have not taught our children to fear the Lord, we have only helped build a fancy igloo. We have not helped them build their own life on the wisdom of God.
How can we do this? The Proverbs show us at least three gifts we can give our children. The first gift we can give them is a refuge. Don’t you want your kids to be safe? Don’t you want to protect them and keep them healthy? Proverbs 14:26 shows us how. In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. There are a lot of ways you can try to keep your kids safe. You can get a security system. You can get the best health insurance and cover them with the finest oils. You can buy the safest car on the market and get the safest car seat. Those are great. But the best refuge you can give them is to teach them how to worship Jesus. This is one of the main reasons we do family worship services. We want our children to see the adults raising their hands to worship Jesus. That’s the refuge our kids need.
The second gift we can give our children is a feast. We want to teach our children to enjoy Jesus. We want them to believe in Jesus, but we also want them to taste and see that the Lord is good! We can dine with lady wisdom every night around the dinner table. You might be thinking: I don’t have enough money to provide my children with a feast every night. Yes, you do. Listen to these verses. Proverbs 15:6 – In the house of the righteous there is much treasure… Proverbs 15:17– Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it. You don’t need the latest technology to amaze & engage your children. You just a Bible, a table, and a heart that is deeply in love with Jesus. And maybe a few herbs. For whatever reason, this verse makes me think of the March family in Little Women. They weren’t rich, but they had the best home on the block. They had treasures in every room and they feasted on love. Are you feasting at your home? Are you teaching your children how to enjoy Jesus?
The third gift we can give our children is discipline. Wait, discipline is a gift? Yes. We live in a society that shuns discipline. The secular wisdom of the day says that children come out pure and untainted. If we give them the right environment, they will blossom into a thriving adult. They have all the good stored up inside of them. We shouldn’t discipline; we should encourage. That sounds nice, but it doesn’t line up with the Bible, and it doesn’t line up with reality. The Proverbs have a different view of children. Proverbs 22:15 says: Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. According to the Bible, children come out crooked. Psalm 51 says that we were brought forth in iniquity. That word means bent. Our hearts are curved in on themselves. The job of a
There are many tools for disciplining our children, but the primary tool in the proverbs is… the rod. Proverbs 13:24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. A loving parent will pick up the rod. But what does that mean? Is this a mandate to spank? This is hard for a lot of young parents because our world detests spanking. Some European countries have outlawed spanking and I would not be surprised to see a similar move in our country in our lifetimes. How should Christian parents think about the rod?
Here are a few thoughts. In the Bible, the rod is a figurative symbol of authority. God has given parents a tremendous amount of authority in our children’s lives. We need to take our role seriously. For the record, I do believe that the “rod” includes spanking, but it does not always need to include spanking. We need to consider the personality and age of the child. But here’s the bottom line: God has put parents in charge. He has given them the rod.
The Proverbs have taken us into some murky waters because we all know that the rod can be abused. I want to be as clear as I can be: when the rod is held in the hands of an angry, vindictive parent, it is not discipline; it is child abuse. If you spank out of anger or frustration or to just get your kids to shut up, you are in a dangerous place. Bruce Waltke says: “Parents who brutalize their children cannot hide behind the rod-doctrine of Proverbs.” If you are out of control when you discipline, I want to admonish you to find help. For the sake of your children and the sake of your soul, seek out a godly mentor to help you.
Because discipline is easily abused, many people shy away from it altogether. But that is just as dangerous. If we stop disciplining our children, we have stopped loving them. The rod in the hands of a gentle and tender parent is a powerful tool. Our discipline must be loving and consistent. But it must also be uncomfortable. Hebrews 12 says this:  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. If the training is not painful, it is not training. Proverbs 29:19 says that we need more than words in our discipline. You can’t talk the folly out of a child. This would be like weeding your garden by pulling up a bench and having a conversation. Please stop growing right there… Stop! Discipline is painful. And the parents that love their children will understand it. As Derek Kidner says, the hard way to wisdom is better than the soft way to death.
As we close this section, let me say a brief word to our children. It is a family worship Sunday, so I know we have more children in the room than we usually do. And so, if you are coloring on one of the connection cards or trying to replace the spring in one of our pens, let me get your attention. I want to encourage you this morning – because the Bible speaks to children quite a bit. You are growing up in a very hard world. Our society has placed a lot of pressure on you. Everyone expects you to be the next Lebron James or Alex Morgan. I can imagine that many of you are already stressed out of your minds. The Bible keeps it very simple for you. Honor your parents (That is how Paul summarizes the Proverbs teaching for children). Honor your parents. They are not perfect, but they do deserve your honor. Pay attention to your mom and dad. Be kind in your words and in your actions. If you can learn how to honor their loving authority in your life, you will learn how to honor God’s authority in your life.
Before we close, I’d like to say a brief word to those who have already raised their families. The Proverbs have quite a bit of advice for grandparents. You play a crucial role in the family’s life and in our church’s life. Proverbs 17:6 – Grandchildren are the crown of the aged… Proverbs 16:31 – Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. Proverbs 20:29 – The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.
The gray hair is a symbol of age and experience. The Proverbs are clear that when you combine age and experience and long life of fearing God, you get a type of wisdom that you cannot get any other way. And this type of wisdom is absolutely critical in the life of a family. Young men are strong, but the glory of the old man is his grey (or bald) hair. I was thinking about this last week at our children’s camp. It took a lot of energy to pull off a weeklong day camp. Our church needs the strength of young men & women. But we are absolutely helpless without the glory of our grandparent’s wisdom. Whether or not you have grandchildren, if you have feared God for a long time, your church is hungry for your presence and wisdom.
I could keep going, but we need to close. Let me try to summarize this proverbial family. I have described a picture of a husband & wife who are passionately in love with one another. They are sitting by a fireplace, enjoying a nice game of scrabble. They are complimenting each other and reading Bible verses. The children are in bed – they are safe, happy, & obedient. The grandparents have just stopped by to drop off some cookies and to pray with you.
Let me ask you a question: WHO LIVES LIKE THAT? Nobody in this room. If you do have the ideal family, you wouldn’t need to come to church. We haven’t gathered this morning to pat ourselves on the back and try a little harder. We have gathered in this room because we have failed. This room is filled with broken and hurting people. There are single people and divorced people and lonely people. Maybe you’re frustrated because you said something to your wife that you swore you’d never say. Maybe you blew up in anger toward your children this week? Maybe this message discouraged you because you have a wayward son or daughter. How can we make sense of the Proverb’s teaching on family? The Proverbs show us the ideal family, but they don’t tell us how to get there. Once again – we need to remember that Solomon didn’t even get this right. He had divine wisdom from God and failed – 700 times! His son, Rehoboam, walked away from God and fractured the kingdom. We cannot live up to these standards.
But we do have hope because the Bible is not simply a book of good advice. It is a book of good news. There is one who fulfilled every line in this book and his name is Jesus. He lived the perfect life. Jesus was the perfect son. Jesus did listen to his father. Jesus gave his perfect life as the perfect sacrifice for this room of broken sinners. And in doing so, he became the perfect groom for his bride, which is the church. If we want godly families – and we do – we will need more than just good advice. We do not have the ability to build a godly family. But we serve a powerful God who is able to meet us in our weakness. He can forgive us and build something better than we ever imagined.
And so if your family has broken you down and brought you to your knees, do not despair. If you are disappointed or frustrated, do not lose hope. God does his best work when all hope is lost, and every dream has died, and every plan has failed. Our God is powerful enough to raise Jesus from the grave. He is able to bring forth something new and broken out of the ashes of your brokenness.
Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.