Although the focus of this verse is an entreaty to gain understanding, the key is to listen to our elders. We must not only respect those that have spent more time here; we should gain wisdom from them.
Proverbs 4:1-4: “Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction;
pay attention and gain understanding.
2 I give you sound learning,
so do not forsake my teaching.
3 For I too was a son to my father,
still tender, and cherished by my mother.
4 Then he taught me, and he said to me,
“Take hold of my words with all your heart;
keep my commands, and you will live.“
With Age Comes Wisdom
Experience is the best teacher. There is no way to argue against that. Every type of talent, skill, and pursuit is improved through practice. Thus, the more we live life, the more we see, and the better we become at living. There is no guarantee that getting older will bring wisdom. However, we should not ignore the instructions of those that have gone before us.
A sort of corollary to age bringing wisdom is that we seem to become more comfortable sharing our lessons learned. Therefore, fathers tend to “wax poetic” to their children on a regular basis and sometimes even have some wisdom to impart.
Do Not Roll Your Eyes
How many times have our kids rolled their eyes at us or did we do the same to our parents? This verse goes to the heart of that response. The wise among us listen intently when wisdom is being imparted. Whereas the foolish are preparing a response in their head. If this seems like a recurring theme in Proverbs, it is. Oe of the most important steps to becoming wise is the one that involves learning from others.
Teaching Children this Wisdom
Is there anything harder in parenting than teaching a child to listen to a parent? Nope, I don’t think so either. This is one of those things that is so difficult because we have to teach by example. That means that every time we show disrespect for our parents or spouse we are modeling the wrong behavior. Therefore, we have the challenge of listening to our spouse for wisdom and not down-playing advice from our parents. If our children are to listen to us then we have to show how that should look. Our attention needs to focus on our parents and spouse in a way that allows them to impart wisdom to us.
When a child is taught that the proper attitude towards parents is one of respect they will adopt it. We bemoan the lack of respect in the younger generation, but how much respect have we shown our parents? Listen carefully and openly to your parents, so your kids see the proper way to behave and absorb wisdom. This is not easy for many of us. However, the payoff is more than worth it.