“When the wicked increase, transgression increases…Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” (Proverbs 29:16-18)
Our world seems to grow more and more ungodly, which should not surprise us. From Proverbs 29 we learn that as evil increases God’s laws are transgressed. When the truth and revelation of God are absent, wickedness increases and people do not care about God, his law, or the gospel of Jesus Christ. The “prophetic vision” in Proverbs 29:18 is usually interpreted as teaching and preaching that includes biblical doctrines and the call to faith in Jesus Christ. Where there is no confidence in God, there is turmoil, confusion, and disorder.
A child who is confused or uninformed about God will be like the world in chaos. Her ability to reason, make good choices, and practice self-control will be severely hindered as her sin drives her to be disruptive, even to herself. But when she is disciplined, there is rest for the parents, implying that she I also at rest, and genuine delight follows. Discipline takes the form of teaching from God’s Word and biblical training. Satisfaction and contentment do not come from silence, but from consistent guidance and active instruction. Hard work rather than an easy, quick fix are required for the development of wisdom. “What modern people want is almost a form of magic…The way you would guide a youth or adult is to speak to them so they understand and can make decisions without being led by the hand in every instance…Modern people want a technique for guidance, ‘five steps to good decisions.’ [But] God offers wise character, hard won over a lifetime.” (1)
Old Testament language speaks of devotion to God and his ways as “keeping the law.” Is it the moral law in view here (not the ceremonial law)—the Ten Commandments and statutes relating to righteousness? We know that we are unable to obey God’s moral law because of our inborn sinfulness. So how might this child be expected to honor God’s law and receive his blessing? John Gill says this about verse 29, “not the moral law, which no man can keep perfectly, but the law of faith…the doctrine of the Gospel, where it is preached; that attends to it, values and esteems it, receives it by faith, and with meekness.” (2) We cannot control a children’s response to God’s Word, but we can teach and use the wisdom of the Bible for verbal instruction in how to live in a world full of temptations and distractions from what is essential.
Wouldn’t you like to have a live-in mentor and guide who knows God and his precepts? Will you pray for and be faithful to God’s calling as a wise parent or grandparent, to share his wisdom with our younger generation? Rest and delight for your heart will be your reward for your faithful obedience by offering them eternal hope in Christ.
(1) Keller, Timothy, “God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life (Proverbs),” Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition, p. 225.
(2) John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-29.html