Deuteronomy 5:16
Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
Confide in Your ParentsDeuteronomy 5:16
Duty of ChildrenT. Dwight, D. D.Deuteronomy 5:16
Filial ReverenceDeuteronomy 5:16
Honor to ParentsJ. Orr Deuteronomy 5:16
Honour Thy Father and Thy MotherK. H. Caspari.Deuteronomy 5:16
Reverence Due to ParentsBarnes, AlbertDeuteronomy 5:16
The Duty Which Children Owe Their ParentsR. S. Candlish, D. D.Deuteronomy 5:16
The Fifth CommandmentR. Wardlaw, D. D.Deuteronomy 5:16
The Fifth CommandmentDean Farrar.Deuteronomy 5:16
The Fifth CommandmentS. Walker,. B. A.Deuteronomy 5:16
The First Commandment with PromiseJames Owen.Deuteronomy 5:16
The Foundation CommandmentPlain Sermons by Contributors to, Tracts for the TimesDeuteronomy 5:16
The Promise of Long Life and ProsperityThomas Ridglet, D. D.Deuteronomy 5:16
The Secret of SuccessDeuteronomy 5:16
The DecalogueR.M. Edgar Deuteronomy 5:1-21
Reminiscences of HorebJ. Orr Deuteronomy 5:1-33
The Divine Plan for the Conduct of Our Life on EarthD. Davies Deuteronomy 5:6-21

We prefer the arrangement which regards the fifth commandment as the last of the first table - honor to parents being viewed as honor to God in his human representatives.

I. PARENTS STAND TO THEIR CHILDREN IN THE RELATION OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE DIVINE. They represent God as the source of their offspring's life; they have a share of God's authority, and ought to exercise it; but much more ought they to represent God to their children in his unwearied beneficence, his tender care, his exalted rectitude, his forgiving love. With what intelligence or comfort can a child be taught to think of a Father in heaven, if its earthly parent is wanting in dignity, kindness, truthfulness, or integrity? How many fathers are thus spoiling for their children their whole conceptions of God! And with what anxiety and care should earthly parents study to leave such an impression on their children's minds as will make the idea of God delightful and consolatory to them, while inspiring them towards him with proper feelings of reverence!

II. PARENTS ON THIS ACCOUNT ARE TO BE HONORED BY THEIR CHILDREN. They are to be regarded with affection, treated with respect and deference, promptly and cheerfully obeyed, and, where needful, liberally supported (Matthew 15:4-7; 1 Timothy 5:8). Even the failure of parents to do all their duty to their children does not exonerate the children from the obligation of treating them with respect. Young people need to be reminded that failure in this duty is peculiarly offensive to God. We are told that when Tiyo Soga visited this country, a particular thing which astonished him was the deficiency in respect for parents compared with the obedience which prevailed in the wilds of Kaffraria.

III. THE HONORING OF PARENTS HAS ATTACHED TO IT A PECULIAR PROMISE. Length of days and prosperity. The promise is primarily national, but it has fulfillments in individuals.

1. A special blessing rests on the man who shows his parents due respect. That has often been remarked.

2. There is also a natural connection between the virtue and the promise. Respect for parents is the root at once of reverence for God and of respect for the rights of others. Hence the place of the commandment in the Decalogue. It engenders self-respect, and forms the will to habits of obedience. It is favorable to the stability, good order, and general morals of society. It therefore conduces to health, longevity, and a diffusion of the comforts of life, furnishing alike the outward and the inward conditions necessary for success. - J.O.

Honour thy father and thy mother.
I. THE DUTIES of children are, in the language of the Decalogue, summed up in one word, "honour" — "Honour thy father and thy mother." No word could well have been more happily chosen. The duties required by it seem to be reducible under three general heads:

1. Reverence. There may occur cases in which the parental character is as far as possible from all that could inspire either reverence or love. But still, how much soever this may be the case, there is a respect due to the person of a parent, for the very relation's sake; just as there is an official respect due to the person of a magistrate on account of the station he occupies, independently of the claims of personal character. This respect is not the dictate of any servile fear. It is associated with love, and is proportional to it. It might be defined a reverential familiarity.

2. Obedience.

3. Maintenance. This, of course, comes into application only in certain circumstances, but the obligation is universal.

II. THE MOTIVES to the fulfilment of this duty are necessarily very much the same as the motives to other duties.

1. The express command of God. Notice the extraordinary energy of the Word of God on this subject (Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 20:9; Deuteronomy 27:16; Proverbs 20:20; Proverbs 30:17). And such declarations of the Old Testament have their confirmatory counterparts in the New (Colossians 3:20; 2 Timothy 3:2, 3; Romans 1:30). Observe with what characters the disobedient to parents are classed.

2. The manner in which God has made the paternal and filial relation the image of that which subsists reciprocally between Himself and His people. We are taught to cry unto Him — "Abba, Father!" And this is ever felt by the renewed soul to be the most delightful and endearing view of the Divine Being.

3. The obvious propriety and equity of the precept. "This is right." Nature itself teaches this. The very use of the phrase "natural affection" implies this lesson. The instinct is strong on the part of both parent and child. Yet the affection of the child is not solely instinctive, but in no small degree springs from the early experience of affection and care and kindness on the part of parents. I might show you also how right it is on the two-fold ground of the law of equity and the law of gratitude.

4. The special promise annexed. How is it to be understood as to Israel? How as to us?(1) As to the former question it is only needful to say that it cannot be understood as a promise of long life to every obedient child individually. Were it so interpreted, then no dutiful son or daughter in the land of Israel could ever have died young. The language refers evidently to the continued possession of Canaan by the people collectively, not to longevity in that land to each obedient individual.(2) How is this promise to be understood as to us? The land of Canaan consisted in this, in its being the subject of promise and its being obtained by faith — a faith manifested in obedience, "working by love." The heavenly inheritance must be obtained in the same way.

(R. Wardlaw, D. D.)

Those who consider the circumstances of the case, and the large share which symmetry always played in the mind of the Jews, will readily believe that on those two tables which lay enshrined in the Ark, the Ten Words were carved in their briefest form, each occupying a line, and that there were five on the first and five on the second table. It may be objected that then this Fifth Commandment, the law of reverence to parents, which is a duty to man, will stand with the first four commandments, which are duties to God. But it is the special dignity of this commandment that it is a direct part of our duty to God. Our parents are not merely our neighbours; they stand to us in a special and in a Divine relation. During our early years they stand to us in the place of God. "Honour thy father and thy mother." We are hidden to honour because love is instinctive and spontaneous. If honour towards our parents is love combined with reverence, the love must be honour touched with emotion. The word "honour includes love. There can be no true honour without love. Of course a reciprocal duty is implied. The obliteration of this instinct on either side is one of the worst signs, on the one hand, of savage dishumanisation, on the other of civilised degeneracy. Filial affection, however, though instinctive, may depend on education. The Jews, from whose wisdom we may learn so much, insisted upon it with intense earnestness. It lay at the basis of the first sweet patriarchal life. The modern canaille of the world care nothing for their parents, but only for themselves; but the deepest feelings of the best men have been always mingled with their love to their parents. The sacredness, or shipwreck, of this love has furnished to literature some of its most impassioned themes. Nor is it otherwise in history. Many of the most pathetic scenes in the records of human life turn on parental and filial love. Think of Aaron's stricken silence when his two eldest-born, Nadab and Abihu, died by the fire of God, and Aaron held his peace. Think of Jacob's wail over his lost Joseph. Think of the hero David's outburst of weeping over Absalom. Think of the noble Pericles placing the wreath on the brow of his dead boy, turning aside to hide the tears, the strong heart at last broken, which amid all the calamities of war and pestilence and the murmurs of the people had continued unsubdued. Think of Titus, so moved by the false accusation of intriguing against his father that he hurried back from Jerusalem with headlong speed and burst into Vespasian's presence with tears, Veni, pater; Veni, pater — I have come, my father; I have come." Think of our proud Norman King Henry I:

"Before him passed the young and fair,

In pleasure's reckless train;

The seas dashed o'er his son's bright hair;

He never smiled again."

Or of Henry II, when among the signatures of his other rebellious children he saw the name of his youngest and best-loved John. Or the great Frederick Barbarossa crying out bitterly on his son's death, "I am not the first who have suffered from disobedient sons, and yet have wept over their graves." Think of the wretched Henry IV of Germany, treacherously arrested by his own son, falling on his knees before him with the cry, "Oh, do not sully thy honour and thy name; no law of God obliges a son to be the instrument of Divine vengeance against a father!" Again, how often has the thought of a mother been present even at the closing moments of life! When the young and gallant boy, Prince Conradin of Hohenstauffen, last of his race, was dragged to the scaffold at the age of sixteen, undaunted to the last he flung the gage of defiance among the multitude, but as he bowed his fair young face over the block he murmured, "Oh, my mother, how deep will be thy sorrow at the news of this day!" And when Sir John Moore lay dying on that disastrous field of Corunna, the name of his mother was the last upon his lips. The truest men have never blushed to give public proof of this filial devotion. No record of the late James Garfield, the murdered President of the United States, won him warmer sympathy than the manly kiss which he gave to his aged mother before the assembled multitudes on the day of his supremest elevation. I can but glance at a difficulty. "Are we to honour those who are dishonourable? Are we to reverence those to whom no reverence is due?" I answer that we must not be like those Jews whom Christ so bitterly rebuked because they tried to shift off one duty by another. Our parents have loved us, their children, in spite of all our intractableness, our waywardness, our indifference. Are the children to show no forbearance to the sins of their parents? Alas, for earth if unworthiness is to sever the bonds of love and of duty! The bonds of nature which unite us to every member of our families are indissoluble bonds. I knew a mother once whose boy was convicted of stealing at school. She lived in the outskirts of a little town, and so deeply did her boy's shame weigh on her spirits that for years afterwards it was only in the deep twilight that she would ever enter the streets of the town by which she lived. St. Paul calls this Fifth Commandment "the first commandment with promise," and at that promise I must now glance. But perhaps you will be troubled with a doubt whether this promise holds true. Good sons, alas! die, cut off in the flower of their youth, who dearly loved their parents and truly honoured them. Yes, but that death may be in God's sight the reward — longer days in the better land. Oh, is it not true that, as a rule, the promise literally holds good, both to nations and individuals? Individually, even the boy who loves and honours his parents will, as a rule, be more prosperous, be longer lived, be more happy, be more blessed, than the bad son. It is so in the nature of things. A distinguished officer in the army told me that, in the experience of a long life, he had found that, and exactly the same had been said to him by an old admiral, who said of all the midshipmen who had passed under his rule he had never known one fail to turn out well who wrote weekly his loving letter to his home. "Show me a boy who loves his mother," says a recent writer, "and I will show you one who will make a faithful friend, a noble lover, and a tender husband: show me a boy to whom home life has no attraction, because it is too slow, and I will show you, never to trust that man with anything which constitutes the happiness of others." But the main intention of the promise was not individual, it was national; and all history has contributed its national fulfilment. "The cornerstone of the national life," it has been said, "is the hearthstone." Why was one Spartan worth ten other Greeks upon a battlefield? It was because Spartan boys were trained in parental obedience. Nor was it otherwise with Rome in her noblest days. The irresistible grandeur which arrayed her warriors to conquer was founded on the paternal authority. Coriolanus spared Rome only at the tears of his mother, Volumnia; and when Virgil wrote the great epic of the Republic he could find no greater name for his hero than Pater — father, and Filius — faithful. When Greece produced perfumed dandies like Alcibiades, and when Rome produced a jewelled debauchee like Otho, God began to wipe out their glory as when one wipeth a dish and turneth it upside down. And when Napoleon, who knew something of the glory of nations, was asked what, was the chief want of the French nation, he replied in the one word, "Mothers." "Oh, thou who hast yet a mother," said Richter, "thank God for it." Do not burden long years by remorse for unthankfulness to parents, for though you may show tenderness to the living, it is too late for kindness to the dead. When King James IV, of Scotland, was a boy he stood against his father in arms. He made his manhood one long penance for that sin. In remembrance of it he wore under his robe an iron belt, and to that iron belt every year he added a new link an ounce in weight that the penance might be heavier every year. And we have all one father to whom we are unthankful and rebellious children; God's prodigals, to whom His only begotten Son on earth gave such loving obedience. God's prodigals are we all. By seeking the aid of His Holy Spirit to obey His commandments, we become more and more His true children, "accepted in the Beloved."

(Dean Farrar.)

Observe it is not said, bear a natural affection toward thy father and mother, but honour and reverence them. Natural affection there will be till children grow altogether reprobate; but there may be much of this where there is little or nothing of the reverence commanded. A child who is very wicked toward God may have much natural affection for his parents. But to honour and reverence them as bearing God's authority and from a sense of duty to God, this is the main point and the only mark Of a truly dutiful child. First, there must be an inward acknowledgment of their dignity and authority upon the heart. Secondly, there must be an outward expression thereof in a becoming behaviour.

1. From hence it is evident that the first duty of children to parents, and that also without which they can do no part of their duty to them upon a right principle, is to reverence them as immediately appointed by God to direct their education, Honour them; have regard to their authority over you. Respect that authority as God's appointment.

2. The second duty of children is cheerfully and humbly to attend unto their parents' instructions. When parents are teaching their children the ways of God, examining into their conduct, showing them the sinfulness of their nature and the danger of such and such wrong courses; when they are warning them of the evil of certain sins they are most liable to, as self-will, idleness, pride; when they are giving their children directions on these heads, and requiring their careful observance of them, they are acting in the character of parents; and it is the duty of children humbly to hearken and carefully to observe such instructions.

3. The third duty of children is cheerfully to submit to the parents' discipline. By this I mean the religious discipline or government of the family.

4. It is the duty of children cheerfully to submit to the corrections of their parents and humbly to profit by them. By correction I mean any method the parent uses for restraining the vices of his children.(1) They must be humbled for their fault whatever it be, whether lying, or swearing, or idleness, or company keeping, or whatever else. They must not deny they have done amiss, and set about to excuse themselves, as, if they could escape their parents' displeasure, all were well enough.(2) They must be grieved for having incurred their parents' displeasure. For that they must principally be grieved, and not for the correction they have brought on themselves.(3) They must submit to the chastisement; not be angry with their parents for doing their duty to them, but confess they deserve and need the correction. A hard lesson for a proud heart.(4) They must seek God's forgiveness and their parents'.

5. Have you cheerfully submitted to the disposals of your parents? Children of the one sex must not affect any other schools or callings than their parents provide for them, nor those of the other such dress or pleasure as their parents do not see fit for them.

6. It is the duty of children to submit reverently to the directions of their parents in all lawful things.

(S. Walker,. B. A.)

Maurice says, "Many writers begin with considering mankind as a multitude of units. They ask, How did any number of these units form themselves into a society? I cannot adopt that method. At my birth I am already in a society. I am related, at all events, to a father and mother. This relation is the primary fact of my existence. I can contemplate no other facts apart from it." This commandment, then, has respect to the home life. Home is one of the sweetest words in our language; it speaks to us of heaven. It has been "childhood's temple and manhood's shrine"; it has been the safeguard of purity, the shield against temptation, the bulwark of all that is true and holy. Many a young man has been checked in his career of wickedness, and awakened to thoughtfulness and penitence by the remembrance of his early home. Here is the place where domestic virtues are cultivated, where the seeds of character are dropped into the mind and heart, where the holiest affections are kindled, and around which undying memories and associations gather. The mariner, as he treads the deck in the night watches, the missionary and the emigrant remember with gratitude and affection the old home; and the Australian settler sends up a cheer for the old land, and still calls it by the sweet name of "Home." It does not require a palace to make a home. There may be no architectural beauty, or abounding wealth, or costly furniture, or more costly paintings, or great luxuries; the dwelling may be a humble one. While children are commanded to honour their parents, the parents are to see to it that they deserve honour. Cowper said —

"My boast is not that I derive my birth,

From loins enthroned, or nobles of the earth

But higher far my proud pretensions rise,

The son of parents passed into the skies."

It is a blessed thing to be able to say truly, My father was an upright man, a truthful, conscientious man, a Christian man; my mother taught me to pray, she prayed for me. As Thomas Fuller says, the good parent "showeth them, in his own practice, what to follow and imitate; and in others what to shun and avoid. For though 'the words of the wise be as nails fastened by the masters of the assemblies,' yet, sure, their examples are the hammer to drive them in, to take the deeper hold. A father that whipped his son for swearing, and swore himself while he whipped him, did more harm by his example than good by his correction." Let the parents be worthy of honour; and let the children learn to "honour their father and mother." This is God's command; and it is enforced by the obligations under which we are laid to our parents. And there is a promise annexed to this command. Paul speaks of it as "the first commandment with promise" — the first that has a specific promise attached to it. And the promise is, "that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." The penalty of disobedience to this command was death. "He that revileth his father or his mother shall surely be put to death." "If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken to them: then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; and they shall say unto the elders of the city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear." And when the people stood on Mount Gerizim and on Mount Ebal, one of the maledictions that came from the summit of the latter was this, "Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother" — and all the people responded "Amen." The curse fell on Ham and his descendants for dishonouring his father. And whenever you see a family or a people, among whom these filial and parental ties are lax, you see the beginning of the curse that will surely fall. But here is a promise to the obedient, "That thy days may be long upon the land," etc. This was not only true to the Jews, but it is true now. Blessings rest on the heads of obedient, as contrasted with disobedient children. The Jews were about to possess Canaan; and as the Canaanites would be cast out because of their sins, so the Israelites would keep the land only by their obedience. Sin in their case, as in the case of the Canaanites, would produce bitter fruit; but obedience would be blessed. And this was the greatest earthly blessing they could obtain, long life in the promised land. It is also true now that obedience to God's laws, a holy character, tends to the preservation of physical life and vigour.

(James Owen.)

Plain Sermons by Contributors to, Tracts for the Times.
I. The keeping of this commandment PRODUCES A CERTAIN TEMPER OF MIND WHICH WE CALL MEEKNESS. So far as anything like peace can be obtained in this world it can only be obtained by obedience to God; and this cannot be shown but by obedience to those whom He has set over us.

II. The temper of obedience being therefore the very foundation of all true piety, GOD HAS SO APPOINTED IT THAT MEN SHOULD BE ALL THEIR LIVES IN CONDITIONS OF LIFE TO EXERCISE AND PRACTISE THIS HABIT OF MIND, first of all as children under parents, then as servants under masters, as subjects under kings, as all under spiritual pastors, and spiritual pastors under their superiors.

III. IT IS IN THIS TEMPER OF MEEKNESS, ABOVE ALL, THAT CHRIST HAS SET HIMSELF BEFORE US AS OUR PATTERN. Christ was willingly subject to a poor carpenter in an obscure village, so much so as even to have worked with him at his trade. He, alone without sin, was subject to sinful parents.

IV. THE MORE DIFFICULT IT IS FOR CHILDREN TO PAY THIS HONOUR AND OBEDIENCE TO PARENTS WHO MAY BE UNWORTHY, THE MORE SURE THEY MAY BE THAT IT IS THE NARROW WAY TO LIFE AND THE STRAIT AND DIFFICULT GATE BY WHICH THEY MUST ENTER. True love will cover and turn away its eyes from sins and infirmities. For this reason there is a blessing unto this day on the children of Shem and Japheth, and a curse on the descendants of Ham.

(Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times. ")

Honour your parents, i.e.

1. Obey them.

2. Respect them.

3. Treat their opinions with regard.

4. Treat their habits with respect.

5. Provide for them when sick, weary, old, and infirm.

( A. Barnes, D. D..)


1. To exist in the thoughts. Here the whole course of filial piety begins; and if not commenced here will never be pursued with any success. Thoughts are the soul of all duty. His affections towards them ought ever to be reverential, grateful, warm, and full of kindness.

2. The same exercises of filial piety are to be manifested in the words of children.

3. The same spirit ought to appear in all the deportment of children.


1. Uniform and faithful.

2. Ready and cheerful.


1. Every considerate child will feel his filial duty strongly urged by the excellence of this conduct, and the odiousness of filial impiety.

2. Considerate children will find another powerful reason for filial duty in the pleasure which it gives their parents.

3. The demands of gratitude present a combination of such reasons to every such child for the same conduct.

4. The great advantages of filial piety present strong reasons for the practice of it to children of every character.

5. The declarations of God concerning this important subject furnish reasons at once alluring and awful for the exercise of filial piety.

6. The example of Christ is a reason of the highest import to compel the exercise of filial piety.

(T. Dwight, D. D.)

The duty which children owe to their parents arises so naturally out of the relation between them that the Lord Himself makes His appeal on this very ground, in pleading His own cause with His people and His own rights over them. "A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is Mine honour? and if I be a master, where is My fear? saith the Lord of hosts" (Malachi 1:6). A son honoureth his father. It is natural, it is right and fitting that he should do so.

I. THE MOTIVE OF THIS DUTY MUST BE A REGARD TO THE WILL OF GOD (Ephesians 6:1). "Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord" (Colossians 3:20). Honour, then, and obey your parents in the Lord, from a desire to please Him, and a regard to His commandments.

1. These directions show on what foundation a parent should study to have his authority placed: the sure foundation of the authority of God. It is a delegated authority. As such from the very first he should use it. As such he should seek as much as possible to have it from the very first recognised. Let the child very soon learn that it is God who has committed him to your care and subjected him to your control; and as he grows to maturity, be you content to have not the first, but the second place in his respect and love. It may be very gratifying to your parental pride to see how much he will do, and how much he will sacrifice, for the sake of pleasing you. But it is far more important to perceive that he does all and sacrifices all in obedience to you, for the sake of pleasing, not you, but that God who has commanded him to honour you.

2. It is on the commandment of God, then, that this duty of honouring father and mother must rest. Do not trust your discharge of this duty to natural affection, or natural conscience, or reason, or gratitude, or honour. Alas! these are all frail supports of any human virtue. You may think that you are treating your parents with all the reverence which the highest notions of the parental character could require. But you do not honour them at all in any real religious spirit, except in so far as you honour them for the sake of that great God who first of all subdues you to Himself and then subjects you to them.

3. It may be remarked that the view now given of the duty which children owe to their parents is altogether independent of the character and qualifications of parents and the opinion which children may have of them.(1) Are your parents unfit for their high charge, or, in your estimation, unworthy of it? Have they failed to secure your confidence, our esteem, your love? Still you will feel that deference is due to them "in the Lord." You will be willing, on His account, to honour them, "bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things," if by any means, for your sakes, they may be themselves brought to honour Him for whose sake you so dutifully honour them.(2) Are your parents such as your hearts could wish? Are they like-minded with yourselves — possessors of the same grace? Blessed is your lot, believing children of believing parents. Yours is an easy task, to honour a father — a mother — so truly honourable. Still, forget not the special commandment of God. It is not enough that you honour them as all Christians honour one another, as high in rank, made kings and priests to God. You must further honour them simply as parents.

II. THE EXTENT OF THE DUTY WHICH AS CHILDREN YOU OWE TO YOUR PARENTS may be gathered partly from a review of some of the particular precepts and instances in Holy Scripture on this subject, and partly from the application of the general principle of this direction, "Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee."

1. On the subject of filial duty the Word of God is very full and explicit in its precepts and examples. Thus —(1) Respect, reverence in heart, speech, and behaviour, is strongly enjoined (Leviticus 19:3; Deuteronomy 27:16; Proverbs 28:24).(2) Obedience also is enjoined — obedience both active and passive. You are to do the will of your parents. You are to submit to their chastisements (Proverbs 1:8; Proverbs 3:1).

2. The general principle of this direction confirms the view of its extent which these particular precepts and instances give. "Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee." The ground or reason of this duty is the commandment of God. The duty therefore must be as extensive as the commandment, which is altogether unlimited. No exception is allowed; no room left for any reservation.

(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)

This command begins the second "table" of the law, which is occupied with our duties toward our fellow men. We are to fear and love God; but in that fear and love lies the ground of our reverence for His representatives. This commandment does not concern children alone. Every man has his part in it — in youth, manhood, and age. Order is to reign in all conditions of life — a Divine order. Rulers in home, state, and church rule according to this order, and are to be obeyed according to the will of God.


1. Parents who spend toilsome days and sometimes sleepless nights in order to provide for their children, hope that in old age they will be eared for by these children. How often, alas! is it otherwise, and the parents are regarded as a burden by undutiful children! They blame the evil times, etc., whilst the real cause lies in their own forgetfulness of God's Word, their own careless lives, and lax fulfilment of their parental duties.

2. Why ought children not to despise their parents? Because in them they honour the Divine order. They have a holy office. God has given them a part of His power, His right, His majesty. Serve them, children. Be helpful to them in labour, in sickness, in age; help them from your superfluity, and even in your poverty as you may. Comfort them, pray for them, obey them. Do what they require, even when it is hard to do so; and when they depart, let it he said to their honour that they have left God-fearing children. Love and esteem them. Give them a chief place in your heart. Remember how they eared for you in youth, etc., and think that neglect of them can never lead to blessing (Proverbs 20:20; Proverbs 30:17, etc.). And if father and mother are gone from earth, or if you have left your home, remember you are still servants and children of the heavenly King and Father.


1. Princes and governors must also be held in honour as appointed by God. But, say some, all rulers are not the fathers of their people; many of them seem to live for themselves rather than for the people, etc. There is a cheap kind of popularity to be earned by the propagation of such ideas at the present day. Think of what would be the result if any man of honour subjected to the same criticism as those in high places — every word noticed and every action, every hasty exclamation, everything misconstrued, and added thereto lies, etc. — how would the life of many even good men appear after such an ordeal?

2. Princes and rulers also are men like ourselves, neither better nor worse. They are like the parents we are commanded to honour; and like them, they are to be honoured because ordained by God. And if children hear their parents lightly slandering "the powers that be, those children may be expected to become rebellious.

3. Then we must remember that even a bad government is better than none at all. A slave is he who obeys those in authority simply from fear of the sword, h freeman obeys according to the will of God.


1. These also are of the Lord. They are appointed to instruct the Church and the youth of the nation, to exhort, warn, etc. For this they shall give an account.

2. The young ought to honour them. Those who despise them despise those whom God has appointed to this honourable office. It is no glory to make a man's office hard and bitter to exercise.

3. Those set over the community as pastors should receive this honour. "To pass by the church and school is the shortest way to Bridewell," says the proverb. And who are sometimes to blame for this? Careless parents, as the thief asserted when he said, "My father built the gallows — and he wasn't a carpenter." On the parents' attitude toward the Church and her pastors will depend the children's, very likely, in later years.

4. And if young people are taught to despise those whom God has appointed ministers of His word, what will be their attitude to the Word itself? Men should honour in those appointed to the office of teachers and preachers the Divine order by which men are trained intellectually and spiritually.

(K. H. Caspari.)

The Emperor Decimus intending and desiring to place the crown on the head of Decius his son, the young prince refused it in the most strenuous manner, saying, "I am afraid lest, being made an emperor, I should forget that I am a son. I had rather be no emperor and a dutiful son, than an emperor and such a son as hath forsaken his due obedience. Let then my father bear the rule; and let this only be my empire — to obey with all humility, and to fulfil whatsoever he shall command me." Thus the solemnity was waived, and the young man was not crowned — unless mankind shall say that this signal piety towards an indulgent parent was a more glorious diadem to the son than that which consisted merely of gold and jewels. That thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee. —

1. That the lives of some good men have been short, need not be proved.

2. How such dispensations of Providence may be accounted for, consistently with this promise.(1) When God takes His saints out of the world when young, it is sometimes a peculiar instance of compassion to them, in taking them from the evil to come.(2) They are, at their death, possessed of a better world, which is the best exchange.(3) Old age is not a blessing, unless it be adorned with grace.

3. We shall now inquire how far, or in what respects, we are to hope for and desire the accomplishment of the promises of temporal good things.(1) Temporal good things are not to be desired ultimately for themselves, but as subservient to the glory of God; and long life in particular is a blessing so far as it affords more space to do service to the interest of Christ in the world.(2) They are to be desired with an entire submission to the will of God, and a resolution to acknowledge that He is righteous, and to magnify His name, though He deny them to us, as considering that He knows what is best for us, and may do what He will with His own.(3) We are to desire that God will give us temporal good things in mercy, as pledges of eternal happiness, and not in wrath. Thus the Psalmist says, "There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord, lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us."

4. We shall now inquire with what frame of spirit we ought to bear the loss of temporal good things, which we have been encouraged by God's promise to hope for. In answer to this, let it be considered that if God does not fulfil His promise in the way and manner which we expect in granting us temporal good things, yet —(1) We must justify Him, and condemn ourselves; for none can say that he does not forfeit all blessings daily. Therefore we are to say He is a God of infinite faithfulness, but we are unfaithful, and not steadfast in His covenant.(2) We are not to conclude that our being deprived of temporal good things which we expected is a certain sign that we have no right to or interest in those better things that accompany salvation; as the wise man says, "No man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before him."(3) We are to reckon the loss of temporal good things as a trial of our faith and patience, and endeavour, under such disappointments, to make it appear that the world was not the main thing we had in view, but Christ and spiritual blessings in Him were the spring of all our religion.

5. It may farther be inquired, What are those things that tend to make a long life happy, for which alone it is to be desired? And it may be observed that though in the promise annexed to the Fifth Commandment we have no mention of anything but long life, yet the apostle, when explaining it, adds, that they shall have a prosperous life, without which long life would not be so great a blessing. Thus he says, "That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long upon the earth." Now there are three things which tend to make a long life happy.(1) Experience of growth in grace, in proportion to our advances in age, according to that promise, "They shall bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing."(2) When we retain our natural abilities, and that vigour of mind which we have formerly had. This some are deprived of through the infirmities of old age, whereby they may be said to outlive themselves.(3) Old age is a blessing when our usefulness to others in our day and generation is continued.

(Thomas Ridglet, D. D.)

Make them, above all others, your confidants. They are the best and most disinterested friends you will ever have in this world. Cultivate the habit of consultation with them. On things great and small seek their advice. A daughter will never come to shame, a son never to dishonour, that does so. Especially consult them in relation to your reading and your companions. There is to me something very beautiful in the intimacy of the father and a son, to see them walking side by side, perhaps arm in arm, in familiar converse in the street, the old man and the young in all the confidence of a hallowed friendship! It gives a satisfaction like a fair broad landscape at sunset. I know stalwart sons who today consult their mothers as in the days of yore, when they stood little higher than her knee — they are not low in my esteem, and I deem those mothers very happy in them. Nor need we confine these thoughts wholly to sons. The beauty of intimacy between parent and child is not theirs alone. When does a daughter appear so attractive as when showing her love to father or mother — as when employed in some way lightening their cares or relieving their burdens? It would not be far from wrong were I to say to a young man who is looking with some degree of interest for a life companion: — Would you know what kind of a wife she will make upon whom now you have your eye? Ask what kind of a daughter she is now. If she be indolently selfish, leaving care and work to her mother; especially if she be unloving or undutiful, beware of her; she is not likely to make you happy. If she be an affectionate and self-denying daughter, if she is intimate and confidential with her parents, you have in that the best promise of happiness in the future. The eye of mother or father, beaming with delight as it rests upon a daughter's form, moving lightly in their presence, is an unspoken recommendation of untold value. But, whether the eye of friend or admirer is observing her or not, a daughter should cultivate this feeling of confidential intimacy with her parents; there is safety in it for her and unbounded happiness for them.

A Christian merchant, who, from being a very poor boy, had risen to wealth and renown, was once asked by an intimate friend to what, under God, he attributed his success in life. "To prompt and steady obedience to my parents," was his reply. "In the midst of many bad examples of youths of my own age, I was always able to yield a ready submission to the will of my father and mother, and I firmly believe that a blessing has, in consequence, rested upon me and upon all my efforts."

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