The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.
I. THE AFFECTING OBJECT: "A child left to himself." Allusion is probably intended to the natural impetuosity of a horse.
1. A child left without religious instruction. Parents are enjoined to "train up a child in the way he should go": not the way he would go. Education must have its foundation in Scripture. The spirit of the age requires that parental instructions should be of a decidedly Scriptural character. The work of instilling Divine truth must be commenced early. Train them to early habits of industry, to diligent reading of the Scriptures, and to constant prayer.
2. A child left without fervent prayer. Do you know the way to a throne of grace, and can you forget the child of your affections? If you do not pray for him it is not likely that you will pray with him.
3. A child left without a good example. Children understand actions better than words. The parent who, by his ungodly example, betrays the confidence of his child by leading him in the way of sin when he should guide him in the paths of piety and peace is guilty of a species of cruelty difficult to be described.
4. A child left to himself is one without salutary restraint. Instruction should be enforced by authority. If you lose your influence, the child will assume it and rule you, when you should govern him. In compelling obedience the happy medium should be observed between too much harshness on the one hand and too great laxity on the other. Eli does not appear to have failed either in instruction or example, but he is censured for withholding restraint. Let there be energy of character, efficient discipline, the tenderness of love blended with firmness of decision, and there will seldom be a necessity for adopting any painful or severe measures.
II. THE PARENT'S DISGRACE. The duties and responsibilities of parents are mutual. It must, however, be admitted that a mother's influence is more powerful, her appeals more touching, her access to the heart more easy. But how many parents have passed days of sorrow and nights of sleeplessness in consequence of the misconduct of their offspring! Much of your future happiness is in the hands of your children. Look at the nature of things. A field without cultivation would speedily be overgrown by noxious weeds. Appeal to experience. Who are the Sabbath-breakers, the drunkards, the lawless and disobedient, the scoffers at Divine things? Are they not the persons who, in their childhood and youth, were left to themselves? Examine facts. David was brought to shame by Absalom and Adonijah. Hophni and Phineas brought Eli to shame.
1. A word of expostulation. You are leaving your children to themselves because you have never felt the value of your own soul. Think of your own comfort. Think of your country's welfare. Think of the approbation of heaven.
2. A word of exhortation. Your danger is great. Repent and believe the gospel.
3. A word of encouragement. The Christian parent has much to animate him in the conscientious discharge of his duty. All the promises of God, the experience of the past, and the hope of the future encourage his affectionate endeavours to train up his children in the fear of the Lord. He must not; however, expect harvest in spring.
(James Cottle, B.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.