Proverbs 10 begins the same way the Book of Proverbs began – “The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel.” It is entirely fitting that we should find here “The proverbs of Solomon,” because this is where they actually begin. The first 9 chapters of this book are all introduction. So far Solomon has been describing the importance and benefits of “wisdom.” He tells us how simpletons, like us, might have wisdom. He compares the wise and the fools – and to what ends they come. He has already given to us dozens of important proverbial statements, in the context of his introduction. But now he proceeds into his vast collection of material.
Solomon was a true wise man. That isn’t an editorial comment, or the interpretation of a Bible student, because the Holy Spirit tells us. “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.” “Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.” “There came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.” “And the LORD gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him.” The Book of I Kings gives us examples of his practical wisdom, like the case of the baby claimed by two mothers. I must conclude that Solomon was a child of God, and we shall kneel beside him some day in adoration of our mutual Saviour. Was he a sinner? Absolutely. Was he a part time fool? Everyone of us are, even those who are indwelt by wisdom and the Holy Spirit.
By the grace of God Solomon succeeded his father, David, to the throne of Israel. He probably had secretaries and amanuenses whose job was to record the events and transactions of the king. Perhaps at some point, an equally wise man suggested to the king that one of his secretaries specifically record those pithy statements which he made from time to time throughout the day. On some days there may have been dozens and on other days not a single one. Maybe it was from those records that the rest of the Book of Proverbs came. On the other had perhaps Solomon spent time after the evening prayer thinking about helpful sayings. They might have been edited by Solomon himself, or perhaps the Holy Spirit directed someone else. I Kings 4:32 positively states, “He spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five.” That is rather of specific, at least when he came to his psalms.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind in considering proverbs in general. James Strong says that the original word from a root which means “to rule” or “to have dominion.” So he concluded that it suggests a superiority of mental action – ie. words of deep thought. He goes on to say a proverb is a pithy maxim, usually of metaphorical nature; a simile, or a parable. It is concise and powerful language – short and succinct.
And as we shall see, many of Solomon’s proverbs are spoken in Hebrew parallelism – poetry. The idea is expressed in a few words one way and then immediately again in another way. Or as we see with this first proverb, there is the statement and then a mirrored or even reverse image.
“A wise son maketh a glad father; but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.” I wonder how important this first of the proverbs was? Was there a hidden agenda or a cryptic suggestion here? Most likely David was aware of Solomon’s mental acuity. He probably knew that his son was a believer and a worshiper of Jehovah – as he was. No, Solomon was not yet the wise man he was to become, because that was a gift God later gave. But most likely David, at least by faith, caught a glimpse of it. Solomon may have been thinking of his father’s house when he made this statement.
Or probably more likely, he was thinking of his own home and family. Over and over again he has addressed his own children, and pleaded with them to consider wisdom. He had brothers who were fools, and he probably could see tendencies in his sons and daughters.
“A wise son maketh a glad father; but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.” Strong says the word “glad” has its roots in “brightness.” When Solomon looked upon certain of his children, a smile would brighten his face. His heart, which had been beaten down by all the cares and problems brought to him that day, would warm with joy and even pride as his eye fell on one of his choicest daughters or sons. Maybe the consideration of two or three of his children, provided him with incentive to go on recording his proverbs. When he knew that someone was listening and the Lord was actually using him among his children, it almost made all of those wives worthwhile. What is the greatest legacy we can leave in this world? Bank accounts, stock portfolios, a house? Our greatest gift – to the world and to ourselves – is children who glorify the Lord. If they are wise in the Lord, even when they are poor in the world, they are rich and parents are rich in them.
Switching gears, just a bit – do you suppose the Apostle John ever got discouraged in the ministry? There he was, toward the end of his life, exiled from home, living on a small Aegean island. Some might have said his life was a waste; he could have become a wealthy fisherman in Capernaum. But he gave up the good life in order to follow Jesus of Nazareth. Did he ever become discouraged? If he was like the average pastor, I’m sure that he did. But then he thought about certain of his spiritual children – wise in the grace of the Lord. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” – III John 4. It made John’s heart glad to hear that some of his church members were wise in the Lord.
“A wise son maketh a glad father; but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.” Remember that this is Hebrew poetry. Don’t jump to the conclusion that dad should get credit for the wisdom of his children, but if there is a bad seed in the family it is the mother’s fault. The true spiritual equation is that all the bad kids are due to the nature of the father, but if there is any good children it is by the grace of God. This verse could be reversed, and I don’t think the Lord would be displeased.
“A wise son maketh a glad mother; but a foolish son is the heaviness of his father.” The word “heaviness” refers to a “depression of spirit” or simple “grief.” As all Christian adults have experienced – or witnessed in others – unsaved children are among the most grief-causing of all possible family tragedies. In Proverbs 17:21 Solomon reverses his statement here, using the same Hebrew word for “heaviness.” “He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his SORROW: and the father of a fool hath no joy.”
We have learned from experience that deliverance from foolishness is a gift from God. The ultimate deliverance from foolishness is at the root of salvation – the result of God’s saving grace. And the day-to-day deliverance from foolish acts, even in the child of God, is once again a result of the Holy Spirit’s blessing on us as we yield ourselves to Him. On the other hand, if we have learned anything from Solomon thus far in this Book of Proverbs, it is that we parents and evangelists must do all that we can to personally point our children to Wisdom and the feast she has provided in her wonderful house.
“Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors. O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. All the words of my mouth are in righteousness… They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge. Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.”