Because “a foolish son is a grief to his father and bitterness to her who bore him” (Proverbs 17:25), parents who desire to have a joyous future with their children ought to be keenly concerned about imparting the commandments and principles of wisdom to them. In each of the first eight chapters of Proverbs, there is explicit instruction given by Solomon to his offspring. Wise children are no accident. Proverbs 4:1-4 provides several distinct traits of the parents whose children are wise.
To have wise children, a parent must teach spiritual truths to the point of thorough understanding. “Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding” (v. 1). Successful spiritual instruction is diligent, continuous, and daily (Deuteronomy 6:7), because the key to learning is repetition, repetition, repetition. The key to understanding is repeated practice, practice, practice.
To have wise children, a parent must teach good, healthy doctrine. “For I give you good doctrine; do not forsake my law” (verse 2). Healthy (or sound) doctrine is the authoritative will of God as revealed in the all-sufficient Word of God. Its rejection results in people with itching ears who foolishly believe spiritual fables (2nd Timothy 4:3-4).
To have wise children, a parent must start early in a child’s life. “When I was my father’s son, tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, he also taught me, and said to me: ‘Let your heart retain my words; keep my commands, and live” (vv. 3-4). Timothy’s instruction in the Holy Scriptures, which can make us wise for salvation, began as an infant (brephos). Therefore, Paul’s exhortation to him was “you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of” (2nd Timothy 3:14-15).
“A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is the grief of his mother” (Proverbs 10:1).