© 2019 Philip M Spence
There is much wisdom to be found in the book of Proverbs which was written primarily by King Solomon who was both a king and a father. He possessed both a father’s authority and kingly authority. In the book of Proverbs, he instructs his son very clearly regarding all aspects of life and leadership.
At one point in his writings, Solomon gives his son keys to exercising authority and submitting to that authority. In Proverbs 23:26 he says, “My son, give me your heart,
and let your eyes observe my ways”. In this instance Solomon is exercising his authority as a father toward his son.
Firstly, Solomon addresses the reader as ‘My’ son.
Solomon is here affirming that he is the father, and the relationship is that of a father to his son. This statement by Solomon in Proverbs 23:26 is not a blanket leadership instruction; it is an appeal from a father to his son. The fact that Solomon calls him ‘My’ son shows his commitment to his son. It also reveals the basis upon which Solomon calls his son to follow him.
Our Heavenly Father has made us His sons and has affirmed this relationship strongly in His Word. He calls us to follow Him in the same way that Solomon appealed to his son. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father is not that of master and slave, or boss and employee. We are His sons!
This statement from Solomon is also relevant to spiritual fathers and their sons in the faith. The Kingdom of Heaven on Planet Earth is built on this leadership model. We are sons who become fathers who raise sons who become fathers, and so it goes. This is the generational nature of the Kingdom of God.
Secondly, Solomon instructs his son to give him his heart.
To give his father his heart means to totally give him his will, intellect, and feelings. It means to give the centre of everything a person is, to another person. As a father, Solomon had given the centre and totality of himself to his son, and then instructed his son to do likewise in return with him.
Our Heavenly Father has given fully of Himself to His sons in the Kingdom. He loved us when we were His enemies. He loved us despite our sin and fallen nature. He loved us so much that He sacrificed His only Son to make a way for us to be able to respond to His heart extended toward us.
Submitting to one another and honouring one another are instructions in the New Testament. These instructions are key elements of Kingdom relationships. These instructions are for all believers, not just followers or those further down the chain of command.
The only way we can bypass all the world’s pecking orders and submit to each other, is to give our hearts fully and totally to one another, those who the Holy Spirit has made overseers over us, and of course, our Father in Heaven.
Thirdly, Solomon instructs his son to guard his ways.
This focus is not always the way sons operate; they tend to want to do their own thing until they mature. The instruction from Solomon requires the son to focus his vision on knowing and guarding his father’s paths. This necessitates seeing and understanding his father’s ways. For a son to be able to observe and understand not only what his father does, but why he does it, requires the giving of his heart to his father.
To guard a father’s ways, a son must know and understand the ways of his father. This comes about when a son trains his eyes to observe his father in all circumstances of life, business, and relationships. Knowing a father’s ways is more caught than taught which is why the ability to observe, learn and replicate is so crucial to guarding a father’s ways (Matthew 28:20).
The ability to observe, learn and replicate is heightened when a son gives his heart fully and completely to his father. When a son withdraws his heart from his father, he loses the ability to observe, learn and replicate the ways of his father. He lives in reaction and rebellion to his father’s authority, determined to not become like his father. This is the betrayal of his father’s ways instead of guarding them.
As sons of our Heavenly Father who possesses all authority, we are called to guard His ways. We must come to know His ways, and not just be enamoured by His acts (Psalm 103:7). We do this by observing, learning, and replicating His ways. As we grow in our understanding of His ways, we will conduct ourselves accordingly.