Props to Pops (Father’s Day, 2023)

Preached June 18, 2023

Glynwood Baptist Church, Prattville, AL

Text: Proverbs 4

Good morning! Please open your Bibles to Proverbs 4.

Happy Father’s Day! We are celebrating dads today. Biological dads, adoptive dads, foster dads, new dads. Men who have been like a father to us even though they aren’t your actual dad. Spiritual dads. This is your day!

We also honor and remember dads who aren’t around anymore. If this is your first father’s day without your dad, we know this day is a bittersweet day for you, and we want you to know we are praying for you.

The other day, I went to the greeting card section at Wal-Mart. I had a hunch, and I wanted to see if it was true. My hunch was this: most people, when they buy their mother a mother’s day card, it’s flowery, and sweet, and has words in gold-foil script, and it may even smell like perfume. But when they buy their father a Father’s Day card, it’s funny and cartoony, and if it smells like anything, its probably either motor oil or bacon. Show of hands: if you got a father’s day card, was it funny or serious?

So I went to Wal-Mart, and I realized I was partially wrong. There are a good share of serious, sentimental Father’s day cards. And, full disclosure, there really are a lot of funny Mother’s Day cards. But there’s a difference between funny mother’s day cards and funny father’s day cards. With funny mother’s day cards, it’s usually kids that are making fun of themselves. “Thanks, mom, for always taking the crust off my sandwiches.” “Thanks, mom, for not freaking out about the tattoo.” I call it the “I love you, Mom, for putting up with me” genre. But with funny father’s day cards, its more often kids making fun of their dads. This is the “We love you, Dad, that’s why we put up with you” genre.

• Dad, in your honor, I’m just going to sit on the couch and rest my eyes for a bit…

• Dads: saying more with less from the very beginning

• I love you dad, in spite of your horrible political views

Now, there’s nothing wrong with dads being able to laugh at themselves. In fact, if you couldn’t laugh at yourself, there might be something wrong with us.

But as we have been reading through Proverbs as part of our 66 in 52 series, I’m realizing that from a biblical perspective, there is way more about being a dad than fixing cars, telling jokes, and grilling meat.

Did you know that the entire book of Proverbs is basically the advice that a father would give to his son? Remember that Proverbs. Of the first seven chapters, six of them begin with “My son.” In fact, 23 verses in all begin with “My Son.” Only Genesis has more. And just to push it a little further, Proverbs has more to say about fathers than any non-historical book of the Bible. So once again, God’s timing is perfect, because we just so happen to be in Proverbs the week of Father’s Day!

With that in mind, let’s read a portion of the advice Solomon gave his son in Proverbs 4. By the way, we don’t know how many sons Solomon had. You would think with 700 wives and 300 concubines you would hear a lot more about his children, but only one son, Rehoboam, is mentioned in Scripture. So as we read this, imagine Solomon is speaking personally to Rehoboam, knowing that one day, his son would be king. But you’ll notice that Proverbs 4:1 has sons in the plural, so this isn’t just for Rehoboam.

We are going to read a lot of Proverbs 4, so I won’t ask you to stand this morning. But it isn’t going to be on the screen, so please follow along in your copy of God’s Word.

Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,
    and be attentive, that you may gain[a] insight,
for I give you good precepts;
    do not forsake my teaching.
When I was a son with my father,
    tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
    keep my commandments, and live.
Get wisdom; get insight;
    do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
    love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
    and whatever you get, get insight.
Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
    she will honor you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a graceful garland;
    she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”

10 Hear, my son, and accept my words,
    that the years of your life may be many.
11 I have taught you the way of wisdom;
    I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
12 When you walk, your step will not be hampered,
    and if you run, you will not stumble.
13 Keep hold of instruction; do not let go;
    guard her, for she is your life.

Now, skip down to verse 20:

My son, be attentive to my words;
    incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Let them not escape from your sight;
    keep them within your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them,
    and healing to all their[b] flesh.
23 Keep your heart with all vigilance,
    for from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you crooked speech,
    and put devious talk far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly forward,
    and your gaze be straight before you.
26 Ponder[c] the path of your feet;
    then all your ways will be sure.
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
    turn your foot away from evil.

This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. Let’s pray.

Right away, you should see a contrast between what the world says or about fathers and what God’s word says about fathers.

What in the world do we think of Dad? How are fathers portrayed on TV, in movies, in commercials?

A few weeks ago, in my Mother’s Day sermon, I talked about how all the best archers in movies were women, while male archers were pretty forgettable. And I had one person come up to me after the service and say, “You want to know why? I’ll tell you why! It’s because our culture has declared war on men! In every single movie or TV show—especially the ones targeted to kids, you’ve got a strong, brave, warrior woman and a clueless, checked out, or “toxic masculinity” man. I’ve thought about that a lot since he said that, and I think there’s a lot of truth to that. Think about it. For as long as there has been TV, both sitcoms and commercials typically have three categories of dads: Dumb Dads, Bad Dads, and Absent Dads.

  • Dumb Dads: For as long as there has been TV, TV dads have usually been portrayed as foolish and bumbling. Ricky Ricardo was constantly being outsmarted by Lucy. Three of the ten longest running primetime shows in history are The Simpson’s (34 years), Family Guy (21 years) and American Dad (20 years). And in all three of them, Dad is clueless. Even Jim Anderson in Father Knows Best often needed to be rescued by his much wiser wife. Have you ever noticed that most of the dads on TV who are competent and wise are single dads? Andy Griffith. Who’s the Boss. Gunsmoke. Why is that?  
  • Bad Dads Then, there are bad dads. Bad dads don’t usually show up in sitcoms, which is a relief, because there’s nothing funny about a bad dad. But there are a lot of portrayals of harsh, stern, and even abusive dads out there. Lately, a lot of people are talking about the Amazon docuseries Shiny Happy People, which is about the Duggar family of 19 Kids and Counting fame.
  • Absent Dads Finally, a lot of TV shows don’t have a dumb dad or a bad dad. There’s not a dad at all.

You might think, “Well, that’s just entertainment. It doesn’t have anything to do with how we see our dads in real life. Well, I hope that’s true. But think about this. Recent studies showed that Americans spent an average of seven hours and forty-three minutes looking at a screen. For GenZ alone, it averaged nine hours a day.[1] For reference, the National Institutes of Health report that the average American averages seven hours of sleep per day. Which means we are looking at screens more than we sleep!

Now, let’s compare this to how much time we are spending in God’s Word. A LifeWay study from 2019 found that only 32% of Protestant churchgoers read the Bible every day. And of those who do read the Bible every day, about seventy percent spend less than 45 minutes a day.  

Do the math. The majority of church goers are not reading God’s word daily, and of those that are, most of them spend around 30 minutes in God’s word.

So, on one hand, most of us spend about 30 minutes a day in the Word. But we spend almost eight hours a day looking at a screen.

If the media is waging a war on men, who’s winning? And if it comes down to what we are paying the most attention to, what did you expect?

So we’ve seen what the world says about dads. Let’s look at what God’s Word says about dads.

How in the Word should we think about Dad?

  1. We obey and honor him because it’s God’s command (Ex. 20:12; Eph. 6:1-3). We get “honor” your parents from the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12). Then, in Ephesians 6, Paul said “children, obey your parents.” Maybe you’re thinking, “when did honor turn into obey?” Well, when is it not?

Notice Paul gives a caveat: obey your parents in the Lord. There’s two ways to look at this. The first is that if you are “in the Lord,” you should obey your parents. One of the marks of a follower of Jesus is that he honors and obeys his parents.

But the second way to look at this is that you obey your parents who are “in the Lord.” What if your parents are not followers of Christ? Do you still honor them? Yes. Absolutely. Do you still obey them? Yes. Unless they are asking you to do something that contradicts God’s Word, you still obey them.

Then Paul adds that this is the first command (actually the ONLY command) that has a promise attached to it: that it will go well for you and that you may live a long life.

  • We listen to him because he is wise (4:1-2).It makes practical sense to listen to your father. Look again at Proverbs 4:1-2:

4 Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,
    and be attentive, that you may gain insight,
for I give you good precepts;
    do not forsake my teaching.

We’ve already talked about how all of Proverbs is the advice of a father to his son. In the opening chapter of the book, Solomon tells you the purpose of the book. Flip back a page: Solomon says that the purpose of Proverbs is,

To know wisdom and instruction,
    to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
    in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
    and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
    the words of the wise and their riddles.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and instruction.

If your Bible has subject headings, do a quick scan of the different paragraph headings in Proverbs: Wisdom brings happiness. Treat others fairly. Avoid seduction and adultery. Enjoy marriage. Do what you need to do to stay out of debt. Avoid laziness. Proverbs just makes sense. And if a father is teaching his children this kind of wisdom, then of course things are going to go well for you, and you are probably going to live longer.

I love the quote from Mark Twain: When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to be around him. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in just seven years.

I noticed something as I was studying Proverbs this week. God is never personally credited with the wisdom. That doesn’t mean that Proverbs ignores God. He’s all over Proverbs. But look closely at Proverbs 4:1-4

  • Listen, sons, to a father’s instruction (not God’s instruction. I give good precepts. Do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, he taught me, and said to me, keep my commandments (not God’s commandments) and live.”
  • Verse 20: My son, be attentive to my words. Incline your ear to my sayings.

Does this mean that Proverbs is just a collection of man’s wisdom? Why doesn’t it say Listen to God’s instruction, or “keep God’s commandments,” or be attentive to God’s words?”

The answer is no. Proverbs is not just a collection of man’s wisdom. If it was, it wouldn’t be part of God’s inspired word. But here’s the thing. Solomon understood that all true wisdom is from God. When he first began his reign, he asked God for wisdom, and god gave it to him. So the truth of proverbs is that a father is only wise if he listens to God.

  • He is wise because he listens to God (Deut. 6.5-9)

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

How in the Word should we think about Wisdom?

  • Wisdom is a woman (4:6, 8, 9, 13)

hokmah is a feminine noun. In English, we don’t assign gender to nouns. But in many other languages, a noun is either masculine, feminine, or neuter. And wisdom in Hebrew is feminine. Now, this by itself doesn’t mean that much. But remember what we talked about last week. In Proverbs, you have Lady Wisdom on one side of the street, and the Woman Folly on the other side of the street. They are both calling out to the simple. One offers the way to life and peace, the other leads to sorrow and destruction, and death.

You see this in the language of Proverbs 4:

  • Verse 6: Do not forsake her, and she will keep you. Love her, and she will guard you.
  • Verse 8: Prize her highly, and she will exalt you. She will honor you if you embrace her.
  • Verse 13: Guard her, for she is your life.

This does NOT mean that the ancient Jews worshiped a goddess, or that the Holy Spirit is feminine, or any of the other things that liberal scholars and the guy who wrote the DaVinci code say. This is metaphorical, symbolic, poetic language.

But since it is metaphorical, then follow the metaphor. If wisdom is a woman, we are to

  • So embrace her like a wife (Proverbs 5)

[Wrap up, invitation]

[1] https://explodingtopics.com/blog/screen-time-stats






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