August 20, 2017

How Much do we Love our Children? (2)

Ben Strohbehn

This is the second of three parts • One • Three

From Dr. Strohbehn’s introduction to part one:

In essence Solomon says that the more dearly he was loved by his parents (“I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother”), the more carefully was he taught (“he taught me also,”), Do we love our children that much? Enough to respect the relationship? Enough to regard the responsibility? Enough to reverence the reward?

Part One covered the point “Do we love our children enough to respect the relationship.”

Do we love our children enough to regard the responsibility? David did, thus Solomon wrote, “He taught me also.” Educating children is a tremendous faith-for-the-familyresponsibility, and one that is too easily shifted to some other institution apart from the home. The home, however, is the place where God put the responsibility to teach, for the home exerts a continuous, unbroken influence over the individual, an influence which begins in infancy and continues for a lifetime. Thus, the home is potentially the greatest teacher.

Though we should not minimize the value of formal education, learning extends beyond the schoolroom and instruction in the “three R’s.” Formal education has to do with the systematic development and cultivation of the mind whereas informal education has to do with developing character. The responsibility for informal education, building character, rests heavily on parents. However, many parents, if not in theory, then certainly in practice, are attempting to transfer their responsibility for informal education to the school, believing that parental responsibility ends when formal education begins. But education in the school can never be a substitute for education in the home. Moses certainly understood that training and discipline, not foolish indulgence, are the truest evidences of parental love, for he wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children” (Deuteronomy 6:6·7). The Apostle Paul instructed in Ephesians 6:4, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Do we love our children enough to regard the responsibility to train up our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6)?

Parents often ask the question: “When does the education of a child begin?” One wise educator, upon being asked this question, is reported to have replied, “Twenty years before the child is born.” He was right. What parents are determines what they teach, and what they teach will determine what their children will become. The fact is, of course, that parents are always teaching, either for good or for bad, though they are not always aware of it. Consequently, parents need to know what constitutes good instruction, and most parents want to know what to aim for in child training. Thus, they should pray, as did Manoah, the father of Samson, “teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born” (Judges 13:8). Let us review the words of Solomon as he referred to the instruction received from his father: “He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.”

Yes, David faithfully taught Solomon; he taught him many things. We take note especially that David taught his son, Solomon, about position, about priorities, about purity, and about prayer.

In I Kings 2:1-3 Solomon receives instruction from King David concerning the position to which he had been called as his father’s successor: “Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies …. “ David spoke to his son, not only as a dying man, but also as a wise and loving father. He was concerned first for the character, and next for the circumstances: “Show thyself a man,” he said. One cannot help but think of some today who suppose they show their manhood by outdoing the sins of their fathers; but in David’s sense, to show yourself a man is to prove yourself wise, virtuous, and loyal to the heart of God. David knew well the importance of the Kingship of Israel, and he knew well the instruction Solomon needed to assume the responsibility of his new position. Thus, David taught, “Keep the charge of the Lord thy God … that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest …” Do we love our children enough to teach them about the responsibility that goes with position?

David taught Solomon about priorities, and parents today could well afford to follow the example. In I Chronicles 28 King David assembles the people of Israel before him to review the workings and blessings of God during his reign. He tells them that the responsibility for the governing of the nation and for the building of the Temple was to pass to Solomon. David then turns to his son and presents to Solomon a charge to help him keep his priorities in proper order as he assumes the position of king. Listen to David’s charge: “And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever” (I Chronicles 28:9). What profound words! What solemn instruction! In Proverbs 4:5-7, we sense Solomon’s appreciation for his father’s teaching as he enlarges upon what he was taught: “Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”

We cannot escape the extreme earnestness of David’s exhortation; neither can we overlook the obvious contrast in present-day parental instruction by example which says, “Get wealth!” But when the consequences of the two opposing philosophies are considered, we should have no difficulty discerning what to teach our children about priorities.


The Faith for the Family biography on original publication: Dr. Ben Strohbehn is a native of New Plymouth, Idaho. He holds degrees in Christian Education, including a Ph.D. All were awarded by Bob Jones University. After a number of years on the faculty of BJU, Dr. Strohbehn entered the pastorate at First Christian Church, Wakarusa, Indiana. He is currently the pastor of the Bible Baptist Church of Kokomo, Indiana.

This article originally appeared in the March/April 1973 edition of Faith for the Family, and appears here by permission.


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