Proverbs 13:1 (NKJV) 

1A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. 

Paul writes in Romans 8:29 that God has predestined His people to be conformed to the image of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Proverbs assist us in that process, directing us in the way of wisdom and teaching us what it is to imitate our Lord’s character. Today we are instructed to heed our father’s instruction.

Solomon contrasts the wise son with the scoffer. The wise son heeds – listens to and follows – his father’s instruction – his commands, admonitions, and exhortations. A scoffer, however, does not listen to rebuke – he believes that he knows better than his father and so casts his father’s counsel aside.

So, children, especially teens, how are you doing? Are you a wise son, a wise daughter, or are you a scoffer? Does your heart incline to honor your father and so to heed his instruction? Not just to listen without interrupting while he speaks to you, but to listen attentively, striving to understand and appropriate the command or instruction that is being offered? Do you heed your father’s instruction? Do you say to yourself, “I want to be a wise man, a wise woman, and God tells me that the pathway to wisdom is listening to my father, so I want to listen.” Or do you scoff? Do you close your ears, roll your eyes? Oh, you may sit there and hear your father’s voice. But to you is sounds like, “Waw, waw, waw…” Or perhaps you cut your father short, “I know, I know, I don’t need to hear what you have to say.” If that describes you, then beware. “Judgments are prepared for scoffers, And beatings for the backs of fools” (Pr 19:29).

But the words today apply not only to children but to adults. For Paul writes to the Corinthians:

14I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16Therefore I urge you, imitate me. (1 Cor 4:14–16) 

Paul was a father to the Corinthian congregation – and pastors and elders serve in a similar role. So do you give heed to the instruction of your spiritual fathers? Are you listening now? Or are my words just thrumming in your head while you are thinking about all those projects at home or that movie you watched this week or that problem at work? Are you heeding instruction or are you rejecting rebuke? If you’re doing the latter, then it’s no wonder your children are imitating you.

Finally, if you are in Christ, then you are a son and God is your Heavenly Father. So are you giving heed to His instruction? Do you devote yourself to reading His Word and praying that He would help you understand it? Do you incline Your heart to His ways, or do you harden your heart to rebuke? Do you cast His word aside like our first parents and like Israel, God’s disobedient son? Or are you a wise son?

Reminded that we are called to listen to our father’s instruction in order that we might be wise sons and daughters, let us confess that we are often scoffers instead, that we often fail to listen to rebuke. And as we confess our sin to the Lord, let us kneel as we are able.