Not Too Old to Speak Nor Too Old to Listen

It’s a simple plan. Read the chapter in Proverbs that corresponds to the day. Today is June 19. Today, read Proverbs 19. Do the same with every corresponding day. On the first of the month, start over. Over 25 years ago, my pastor taught me to read the Proverb of the Day, and I am thankful for the simple instruction.

Reading wisdom day after day reveals repeated topics. Anger, money, and words weave their ways in and out of so many chapters. And then there is the repeated call to pay attention captured in the phrase, “My Son.”

More than 20 times in the Old Testament Proverbs, the dad offers sage advice to his kid beginning with the phrase, “My son.” It’s easy to imagine a scenario where a young father talks to his adolescent son, and that has some merit. For example, when the dad says, “My son, if sinners entice you, don’t be persuaded” (1:10). Every kid needs that counsel.

Yet, a careful reading does not limit the recurring calls to pay attention to a young boy. The subjects under discussion are adult issues. The advice comes from an older man to his older son.

  • How old? I’m not sure, but old enough to talk embarrassingly frank about the bewitching words, alluring actions, and seductive appearance of a woman who wants him sexually (5:3-20).
  • How old? I’m not sure, but old enough to talk legal contracts and the potential dangers of cosigning a document binding him to another man’s debt (6:1).
  • How old? I’m not sure, but old enough to talk about the posture his son should take as a member of the public in relation to government officials (24:21).

Isn’t it obvious God intends for wise counsel to continue beyond the age of 21?

Isn’t it obvious God intends the receipt of wise counsel to continue beyond the age of 18?

The call then is for mature men to be brave and bold, loving and perceptive in what is going on in the lives of their sons well into middle age.

The call then is for maturing sons to be humble and receptive, thankful and interested in the godly words that come from old school minds.

My dad has been with the Lord for more than three years. My only grandfather has been with the Lord for twenty years. I no longer have in my immediate family a steady hand and a familiar voice speaking truth into my ears. Therefore, I look to the few men in our church who are older than I am for instruction, warning, encouragement, and wisdom.

I do have sons and a future son-in-law. I view my responsibility seriously as modeled by the wisdom in Proverbs.

Of course, the model of Proverbs is not confined to the male gender. The Apostle Paul takes up the pattern and applies it to females when he instructs older women to do for adult, albeit younger, women what the wise father in the book of Proverbs does for his adult son (Titus 2:3-4).

There is no end to the responsibility to speak wisdom into the lives of others, and there is no end to learn from the astute counsel of those who have walked with the Lord the road before us.  

As always I welcome your feedback and any ideas you might have for an upcoming Lunchtime Musing.