“A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.” (Proverbs 10:1)
The tenth chapter of Proverbs serves as a hinge: here, the renowned “Proverbs of Solomon” begins. A collection of pithy statements of wisdom flows until the end of the book. Often times these statements are coupled with contrasting statements, and sometimes they stand alone. Commentators and preachers have taken different approaches as to how to break them down; some have preached from a single verse, others expound on a theme that recurs throughout Proverbs, and still others divide the chapters into sections, highlighting a major concept around which the pithy statements are built. While all these approaches have merit, for our series on Proverbs, the third option will be considered.
Chapter ten is no exception to the repetition found throughout the book. In the first sixteen verses, wisdom, diligence, knowledge, righteousness, and blessings are highlighted, as they have been previously and as they will be again by Solomon. However, the key to gaining practical insight amongst these repeated themes is to study the structure and angle of each chapter, and determining what sets that course for the terse statements. The structure of chapter ten suggests a common theme revolving around the first verse, wherein Solomon declares that a wise son makes a glad father. At this point in Solomon’s address to his sons, he turns the attention away from them and unto himself, as if he is saying, “Sons, I’ve given you many admonitions thus far, but I’d like you to know that you fulfill my joy by obeying these commands.”More than simply doing what these proverbs suggest out of mere obligation, the father is concerned about the motivation and spirit of his sons’ behavior.
What motivates you to walk in wisdom? Treasure (v2)? Blessings (v6)? Life? (v16)? While these are certainly good results of wise living, this section of Proverbs teaches us that a chief motivating factor for God’s children should be our desire to please him. Our heavenly Father has given us so much and desires the very best for us. We, his children, ought to reflect the sentiments of the Apostle Paul: “we make it our aim to please him” (2 Corinthians 5:9b).