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“For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words; keep my commandments, and live” (Proverbs 4:3- 4). Thus does Solomon give us a glimpse into the royal palace at Jerusalem when David was king. Does it surprise us that the son of “the man after God’s own heart” should describe his relationship to his parents in such an affectionate and appreciative manner?
How will your children remember you? A friend of Gypsy Smith tells of attending a meeting of some businessmen with the famous evangelist. He recalls:
“I was sitting next to him at the speaker’s table. As he arose to speak he asked me to mark carefully his closing words. When the moment arrived he lifted high his well-worn Bible. ‘How many of you men can recall a saintly mother and a Godly father who loved this Book, read it, lived it, and seeped it into you?’
“Practically the entire group, with moist eyes, raised their hands. Then, quietly, Gypsy drove home his point. ‘With all your influence today, how many of you are so living that your children will remember you for your faithfulness to this same Book?’ It was a tense moment. I felt the impact more than Gypsy did, for I knew a few there whose children were real problems.”
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?
Do we love our children enough to respect the relationship? David did, and, thus Solomon could write, “For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.” Because the parent-child relationship is sacred it should be respected, “considered worthy of esteem.” Because “children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). He expects the relationship to be respected. The patriarch Jacob introduced his children to Esau saying, “The children which God hath graciously given thy servant” (Genesis 33:5) an introduction that showed respect for the parent-child relationship.
How sad today when parents “say” they love their children, but do not love them enough to respect that relationship. To some parents today children are not a heritage, but a hindrance. Parents have been heard to say that children had hindered their attainment of higher educational goals, their purchase of a new car or new home, their vacation trip to Europe, or the purchase of a vacation cottage at the lake or beach. Does this parental “regret” (rather than respect) explain why many young people today complain that “nobody loves them?” Parents, are today’s teens playing “second fiddle” to our materialistic desires? Are we allowing those whom God intended to be blessings to become burdens?
Perhaps the great need today is for parents to take a new look at those “whom God hath graciously given them,” remembering also that the Bible refers to their children as “an heritage” — a gift — an inheritance to be highly treasured and spiritually trained. Recently I was asked to visit a sixteen-year-old high school youth who, after attempting to take his own life, had been committed to the psychiatric ward of a nearby hospital. Here was a handsome-looking young man who seemed to have everything going for him until he landed on “frustration avenue” where “no one seemed to care.” He related that he and his parents argued constantly, that there was obvious conflict between his parents, and that even his high school girlfriend had “jilted” him. “Nobody loves me,” he said. What helplessness and hopelessness was evidenced as he talked! But what interest he showed when I presented God’s love through Jesus Christ to him. Praise the Lord he was willing to accept the free gift of God’s love. As a result of further counseling, he was able to re-establish proper communication with his parents. The parents had obviously been shocked into the realization of their failure and neglect, and had become aware that the God-given relationship to this son must be respected.
One wonders how many more teens and children are living in a “nobody loves me” situation. Will someone be able and willing to reach them in time? Will parents awaken before tragedy hits? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every child and teen today could say as Solomon did, “I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.” Whether or not they can depends upon whether as parents we love our children enough to respect the relationship.
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.