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Texts for the Week: Prov. 5:3–14; Matt. 19:5; 1 Cor. 7:3, 4; Prov. 13:22; 14:26; 17:22; 23:13; 31:10–31.

Memory Text: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5, 6, NKJV).

Opening Question: Can you bring to mind any favorite sayings, proverbs, or anecdotes that teach wisdom?

The lesson this week is entitled “Wise Words for Families.” It consists of a perusal of some of the advice found in the biblical book of Proverbs. Proverbs is a very interesting book that is made up of wise sayings many of which are attributed to the ancient King Solomon. It is an interesting book to read because of its pithy and often humorous sayings.

Do you have any favorite sayings that we might bring to mind here?
The proverbs range over all kinds of subjects and have lots of good things to say. We will look at some of these as they pertain to a number of areas that are of interest and concern to families.

The first area of focus in the lesson is on marital fidelity. A key set of verses is Proverbs 5:3-14. Here the wise man reflects on the dangers and the after-effects of illicit relationships particularly sexual ones. Sexual interest is pretty strong in the human experience. If it is not bridled, it can run rampant and cause all kinds of chaos in human lives. The biblical ideal, is for sex to be experienced within the bounds of marriage where there is love, commitment and security. Sex, beyond its ability to produce off-spring, is a powerful bonding agent between humans, one that plays a significant role in marriage. When sexuality is reduced to being merely an instrument of pleasure, its capacities are diminished and people can easily feel used and even abused. In our day, illicit sex carries with it the specter of sexually transmitted disease too, some of which cannot be remedied. A firm commitment to the divine design for sexual expression is not only prudent. It is best.

In the book of Proverbs, there is quite a bit of good advice for fathers, too. The following verses are some good examples: Prov. 13:22; 27:23, 24; Prov. 14:26; Prov. 15:1, 18; 16:32; Prov. 15:27. We know that fathers have a very significant impact or effect on their children. Fathers provide support, a sense of security, guidance, modeling, discipline, and love. Fathers need to give priority to their families, more so than they give to their work. It should be noted that perhaps the most significant thing a father can do for his children is love their mother consistently and openly. A father’s integrity is also something of great value to his family.

The matter of discipline always seems to come up when we talk about fathers. The old rule had to do with the use of the stick or cane. Interestingly, while Proverbs does speak of the rod, it speaks much more of discipline with love. The goal of discipline, after all, is not just to punish or instill fear as a means of control. Discipline is to be administered with an eye to the future. Discipline should be done within the context of hope for a good future for the child. We discipline now with the intention of directing the child toward a good adulthood.

Another point made in Proverbs, albeit somewhat indirectly, is the value of humor. For example, there is a famous text (Proverbs 17:22) that says, “A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drives up the bones. (NKJV). There are some humorous proverbs as well. The point seems to be that lives lived with good faith and a dose of good humor can be very good. Humor, after all, enables us to deal with sometimes difficult things without being crushed by them.

It seems we cannot leave this lesson without talking about the famous chapter that talks about a noble wife, chapter 31. This chapter extolls a virtuous and productive wife. It is probably best to see this as a statement of an ideal rather than a set of directives for women to achieve if they want to be considered noble. The list of things is so long and notable that it seems not possible for any one person to achieve or do all the things listed in this chapter. Piling these expectations on one person is likely to produce despondency more than anything else. At the same time, the chapter is enlivening to read for it depicts a man who is quite charmed and impressed with his good wife. That is something that certainly should be aspired to.

The main point to be taken from this lesson is that life is best when families thrive, when fathers are noble and good, when they have integrity in life and in relationships, when their love for their families is evident and well demonstrated by their actions, when discipline is carried out in love and with an eye to the future, when mothers engage in noble enterprises, when they exhibit love for their husbands and children, when there is good humor, when the family is devoid of some sort of always present low grade relational malaise.

Questions:

  1. How do the qualities on exhibit in Proverbs 31 compare to the ideals modern society holds out for women?
  2. What might be said or done to help prevent people from slipping off into illicit sexual relationships and the carnage they tend to produce?
  3. What might be done to help restore those who have made a mess of things? Can sexual sins, or serious relational sins be redeemed? Are you willing to receive a relational sinner back into your life? What are the blessings, and what are the dangers of doing that kind of thing?
  4. How might individuals and families keep the ideals laid out by God through scripture in the forefront of their minds and experiences?

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