Wouldn’t every world ruler like to know the secret to real, lasting power? Solomon, whose son would be the next king of Israel, certainly wanted his son to know, so when he put together the book of Proverbs for his son, he let Lady Wisdom tell the secret. It’s a secret that can benefit us all, especially parents. Here it is:
Counsel is mine and sound wisdom;
I am understanding, power is mine.
By me kings reign,
And rulers decree justice.
By me princes rule, and nobles,
All who judge rightly. (Prov. 8:14-16)
When my children were under my authority, had I stood high in a chair and declared to my kids, “Counsel is mine” and “By me kings reign,” I don’t think it would have gone over well. Such authority is not mine. It is God’s. In this passage, His wisdom is personified as a woman. Personification is a great teaching tool often used in literature.
In essence, Lady Wisdom says that the ruler who rules according to God’s wisdom rules well and so the peaceful acceptance of his power and influence for the good are likely to be prolonged. This is because:
- God’s wisdom is His own, not from some other source. God didn’t have to consult someone before acting or writing His perfect counsel, the Bible.
- God’s wisdom is true, so it produces justice. Just rule produces peace and prosperity among those ruled.
- God’s wisdom is sound–valid, reasonable, well-founded, reliable.
- God’s wisdom is understanding–based in knowledge of every fact involved.
- God’s wisdom is powerful–compelling, effective, strong.
Can any other source of wisdom make such claims? So then, the leader who makes rules according to worldly wisdom or personal experience or opinions won’t last in peace because that guidance contains inherent fault lines and hidden sink holes.
Proverbs is a book of principles, not always without exceptions. Because God establishes rulers and has a purpose for evil, He ordains that some despots and evil religions maintain power for many years. But they don’t manage it with a happy or informed people glad to contribute. “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan” and “hide themselves” (29:2; 28:12). People coerced by fear and oppression may sit when the government says to, but they are standing up on the inside. They protest when they can. Tyrants keep power only by constant vigilance and suppression, and eventually undermine their own power, or once they die followers revolt rather than carrying on the same policies.
Apply this to parenting. We tend to parent the way we were raised, or by “common sense,” or by what some parenting book says. We are determined that our opinion about what is best for the child is the correct one. Many parents enforce their rule with anger, gaining outward compliance without inward agreement. Maybe they resort to threats, nagging, or resignation. Children, especially teens, see through the manipulations, probe below and find the weak spots in the parents’ foundation or presuppositions. As they take advantage of the weaknesses, fights erupt, people withdraw into their own private worlds. Relationships crack apart and sink holes swallow good relations, even whole families.
I’m probably not the only parent who wanted to say to my children, “When I was a child…” or “It has been my experience that…” But in the end, my experience is simply my experience; it is subject to interpretation and not authoritative for others. No wonder children challenge the “when I was a child” tactic. They have a point. It misses that authority to which we parents should be directing children for guidance in life.
We see this working out in our society. In the last half of the 1900s, parents turned from God’s Word to the “wisdom” of Dr. Spock and the “understanding” of human nature that psychologists claimed to have discovered. As young people challenged their authority, what could they say? “Dr. Spock said…”? “Dr. Dobson said…”? “When I was a child…”? As parents demonstrated that they did not value God’s Word as authoritative counsel for living and parenting, their children learned that the foundation for their parents’ moral directives was human, not divine, even if it did seem to align with the Bible. Well, one man’s opinion is as authoritative as another’s. The children formed opinions of their own, rejecting the moral influence (power) of parents and choosing to be ruled by other forces in their culture.
But God’s Word is trustworthy bedrock because it is pure truth (John 17:17). So the parent who submits himself to it and then makes policies based upon it because he fears God drives his pilings into the immovable foundation of bedrock. His decisions will be wise and his judgments just and his methods kind, and so children will be more likely to respond well. When children challenge the parent’s rules or decisions, it provides learning opportunities. Parents can drill down to presuppositions, and if those presuppositions are biblical, then the source of authority is not ultimately the parent, but the Lord. A challenge by a child then becomes an opportunity for parent and child to check the Bible, to show the child the value, relevance, sufficiency, and authority of God’s Word. It becomes an opportunity for the child to deal with the Lord Himself at the heart level. Then there will likely be less discord and the children will be far more likely to make faith in God and His Word their own.
This principle of being ruled by God’s wisdom may be applied in the work place, the church, and anywhere someone has a position of authority over another. The source of God’s wisdom is the Bible, where God recorded it for us. Therefore, the counsel we speak to others for living and problem-solving should be biblical wisdom, not man’s ideas and not based on our experience.
Beliefs, right or wrong, guide how we go about administrating the home, the family, or other situations of responsibility. If someone challenges your presuppositions will he find bedrock or sink holes? Are you (am I) making determinations based upon the counsel of Lady Wisdom or personal experience and opinions? Is it obvious to your children that you are submissive to God’s authority in parenting or do they see you asserting authority autonomously?