Exodus 20:12
Honor your father and mother, so that your days may be long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
A Noble SentimentExodus 20:12
A Promise and a DutyH. Crosby, D. D.Exodus 20:12
Archbishop Tillotson's Respect for His FatherExodus 20:12
Begin RightR. Newton, D. D.Exodus 20:12
Dr. Johnson and His FatherJ. Vaughan.Exodus 20:12
Filial DutyExodus 20:12
Filial PietyExodus 20:12
Forbearance Towards Erring ParentsR. W. Dale, D. D.Exodus 20:12
Honour Thy ParentsExodus 20:12
Honouring a ParentExodus 20:12
Kindness to ParentsExodus 20:12
Lessons from the Position of the Fifth CommandmentF. S. Schenck.Exodus 20:12
Long LifeDr. Talmage.Exodus 20:12
Obligation to ParentsExodus 20:12
Parent and ChildW. Senior, B. A.Exodus 20:12
Parents are God's RepresentativesS. S. TimesExodus 20:12
Pleasing ParentsExodus 20:12
Reasons for Honouring ParentsF. S. Schenck.Exodus 20:12
The Commandment with PromiseJ. Urquhart Exodus 20:12
The Decalogue: -- Man and ManAlexander MaclarenExodus 20:12
The Duties of YouthBp. Harvey Goodwin.Exodus 20:12
The Fifth CommandmentR. W. Dale, D. D.Exodus 20:12
The Fifth CommandmentG. D. Boardmen.Exodus 20:12
The Fifth CommandmentWatson, ThomasExodus 20:12
The Fifth Commandment: the Commandment for ChildrenD. Young Exodus 20:12
The Injunction in ItselfG.A. Goodhart Exodus 20:12
The Law of SubordinationW. J. Woods, B. A.Exodus 20:12
The Parent and the NationW. Senior, B. A.Exodus 20:12
Vindication of God's FaithfulnessBp. E. Hopkins.Exodus 20:12
The Moral Law - General SurveyJ. Orr Exodus 20:1-18


1. This commandment gave the parents an opportunity for telling the children how it originated. Not only an opportunity, but we may say a necessity. It was a commandment to children, through their parents. All the commandments, statutes, and judgments, were to be taught diligently to the children (Deuteronomy 6:7), and this one here would require very earnest and special explanation in the family. It will be seen that it was a commandment which could not be isolated; a self-willed parent could not quote it with any advantage for the sake of upholding arbitrary authority. The Israelite parent had to explain how these commandments were given; he had to narrate the events in Sinai, and these in turn compelled a reference to the exodus and the bitter experiences of Egypt. Parents had well to consider how much depended on themselves in making their children duly acquainted with all the glorious doings and strict requirements of Jehovah. If a parent had to deal with a disobedient and despising child, he was able to point out that this requirement of honouring father and mother was God's most strict requirement, and God was he who had rule and authority over parent and child alike.

2. Thus father and mother were evidently required to honour themselves. No special verbal utterance was here required, telling father and mother to remember the obligations to offspring, and anyway this was not the proper place for it. The commandments here are universal commandments, such as all men incur the temptation of breaking. Thus it was eminently fitting to have a word for children, enjoining upon them the proper feeling towards parents; as all know the filial relation, but all do not know the parental one. One of the merits of the Decalogue is its brevity and sententiousness. No father could expect his children to honour the parental relation unless he did so himself; and in measure as he more and more comprehended the import of the relation, in that measure might his children be expected to respond to his treatment of them. "Honour all men," says the apostle Peter; and to do this we must begin at home in our own life, and put the proper value on ourselves. God has put immense honour on father and mother; and it is the curse, loss, and fearful reservation of penalty for many parents that they do not see what momentous interests have been put in their stewardship.

3. God thus showed his earnest desire to help parents in their arduous, anxious work. The work of a parent in Israel who had weighed all his responsibilities was no light matter. Great opportunities were given him, and great things might be done by him; things not to be done by any other teacher or guide, and he had thus a very comforting assurance that God was his helper. Helper to the father, and, bear in mind, to the mother also. It is worthy of note that father and mother are specially mentioned. She is not left in the obscurity of a more general term. God would give to both of them according to their peculiar opportunities all understanding, wisdom, forbearance, steadfastness, discrimination of character, that might be necessary for their work.

II. AS IT CONCERNED THE CHILDREN. A commandment was not needed to teach children as to the making of some sort of distinction between their father and mother and other men and women. But, in order that the distinction might be a right one, and evermore real and deepening in its presence and influence, such a commandment as this was imperatively needed. As we have said, it was a commandment universal in its scope, because all are or have been in the filial relation, but as a matter of fact it would address itself directly to the young. They were laid hold of as soon as anything like intelligence, power to obey, and power to understand the difference between right and wrong manifested themselves. God came and made his claim upon them, in a way as suitable as any to their childish consciousness. They were to honour father and mother, not because father and mother said so, but because God said so. Plainly the honouring included both deep inward feeling and clear outward expression. The outward expression, important as it was, could only come from real and habitual feeling within. Outward expression by itself counted for nothing. Honouring with the lips while the heart was far removed from the parent would be reckoned a grievous sin against God. The child had to grow up esteeming and venerating the parental relation everywhere. It could not honour its own father and mother and at the same time despise the parents of other children. The promise here given obviously a suitable one for children. To them the prospect of a long life, in the land already promised, was itself a promise agreeable to the limitations of the old covenant, when there could be no pointing in clear terms to the land beyond death; and we may be very sure that, according to this promise, filial obedience had a corresponding temporal reward. - Y.

Honour thy father and thy mother.
I. THE RELATIONSHIP in which we stand to our parents, a relationship based upon the fact that we owe our existence to them, that we are made in their image, that for so long a time we depend on them for the actual maintenance of life, and that, as the necessary result of all this, we are completely under their authority during childhood. This relationship is naturally made the highest symbol of our relationship to God Himself.

II. Honouring our parents INCLUDES RESPECT, LOVE, AND OBEDIENCE, as long as childhood and youth continue, and the gradual modification and transformation of these affections and duties into higher forms as manhood and womanhood draw on.

III. The promise attached to the Commandment is A PROMISE OF PROLONGED NATIONAL STABILITY. St. Paul, slightly changing its form, makes it a promise of long life to individuals. Common experience justifies the change.

IV. There is one consideration that may induce us to obey this Commandment which does not belong to the other nine: THE TIME WILL COME WHEN IT WILL BE NO LONGER POSSIBLE FOR US TO OBEY IT.

(R. W. Dale, D. D.)


1. By doing his best in the way of self-improvement.

2. By habits of care and frugality.

3. By keeping himself in soberness, temperance, and chastity.

II. HONOUR TO PARENTS IS ONLY THE PRINCIPAL AND MOST IMPORTANT APPLICATION OF A GENERAL PRINCIPLE. The apostle bids us honour all men, and again, "In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves."

III. FROM THE CONCEPTION OF LOVE DUE TO FATHER AND MOTHER WE RISE TO THE CONCEPTION OF THE LOVE DUE TO GOD. By what heavenly process shall we melt the cold, hard law which forbids idolatry, into the sweet, gentle principle of heart-worship and love? I believe that in this respect the First Commandment is much indebted to the Second, which is like unto it, "Honour thy father." And so, when God condescends to call Himself our Father, the clouds which conceal Him from our sight seem to break and vanish, and we feel that we can love and houour Him, not merely acknowledge Him, and refuse to accept others besides Him: not merely fear Him, as one too powerful to be safely set at naught; not merely philosophize about Him, and try to express His Infinite Being in some scientific formula of human words. No; but love Him as a father ought to be loved — with all our hearts, and souls, and strength.

(Bp. Harvey Goodwin.)

I. THE PROMISE. Expanded in Deuteronomy 5:16. The promise is of a long and prosperous life. It is so plain that it can admit of no other interpretation. The only question can be, "Is it an individual or a national life that is here meant?" But this is answered, first, by noticing that the command can only be kept by an individual person; and by a nation only as a number of individuals; and hence, as the command is only addressed to the individual, the prolongation of the individual life must be intended. The "thy" of "thy days" must refer to the same person as the "thy"of "thy father and thy mother." It is answered, secondly, that a long national career of prosperity presupposes and implies a goodly degree of personal longevity and prosperity, and that the latter is a cause of the former, while the former could in no sense be considered a cause of the latter.

II. THE NATURE OF THE DUTY ENJOINED, The word "cabbed" is very strong; it strictly means "load with honour," and is often used in reference to the Deity. Obedience is only one of the more prominent practical forms of this honour. The honour strikes deeper than mere obedience — it touches the heart, it bespeaks the affections. It is a reverence inwoven in the very nature, connected with all the chords of being, and so coming to the surface in obedience and outward respect. We notice —

1. That the command is not "Honour thy father and thy mother when they do right." Our parents, like ourselves, are frail, and may commit error. If their error absolved their children from respect, there could be no filial piety in the world. While the honour due to parents will not go to wicked or foolish lengths, it will go to all reasonable and allowable lengths. It will submit to inconvenience and loss; it will hold its private judgment of what is better in abeyance; it will even keep its own clearly superior wisdom subject to the parental prejudice. So long as conformity to the views and expressed wishes of parents does not harm any third party, a right respect for father and mother will gracefully yield and lay the self-denial on the altar of filial piety.

2. The command is not, "Honour thy father and thy mother while thou art a little child." Many act as if they had no parents after they had reached their full stature, and some use this theory even earlier. Now, if to anybody this command is not given, it is to the little child, for in his case nature and necessity teach some degree of obedience and respect to parents, and hence the command is comparatively unnecessary to these.

III. Lastly I would ask if there is not NEED THAT GOD'S WILL IN THIS MATTER BE OFTEN REHEARSED IN OUR EARS. I would say not to little children, "Be obedient to your parents," but rather to parents, "Make your children obedient." It is all in your power. If you indulge your little ones in little irreverences and little disobediences because it looks "so cunning," and foolish friends urge you to the dangerous pastime, then you will have the little disobedient children grow to be big disobedient children, and they will bring down your grey hairs with sorrow to the grave. Or if, through sheer carelessness and selfish laziness, you avoid the active watchfulness and discipline that are necessary to ensure obedience, and to promote an obedient habit, you will obtain the same disastrous result. Beware, too, how, in your anxiety to have your boy a man before the time, you consent to his consequential swagger at sixteen, and furnish him with a night-key as a help to independence, in which you are destroying the bonds of dutiful humility and respectful submission with which God bound him to you to preserve. It is in this way I would apply the Fifth Commandment to young children through the parents, who are responsible before God and man. But I also make the special application of the text to children of maturer growth. Let our continued reverence for parent or parents still living, be of itself a glorious example, deeply written on the thoughts and future memories of your own children. Surround the old age which adorns and honours your household with the tribute of your assiduous care, jealous of its comfort and its dignity, and cover its defects with the mantle, not of your charity, but of your filial love and sympathy.

(H. Crosby, D. D.)


1. It is not an arbitrary edict; but a natural principle, having its constitutional basis in the very essence of the relation which subsists between parents and children. The parent is to his child, in a certain sense, the representative and symbol of God. It is a significant fact that the Romans denoted dutifulness to the gods and dutifulness to parents by the same word, namely, pietas. Allegiance, or amenability to law, this is a constitutional, constituent part of manhood. And it is the parent (father and mother equally) who is the natural symbol of authority. Parentage, in simple virtue of its being parentage, is inherently imperative; it is of the very essence of parentage that it is constitutively and rightfully authoritative. Authorhood, genealogically as well as etymologically, is the sire of authority.

2. But you interrupt me with a question, "Must the child always obey his parents?" In the sphere of fundamental moral obligations, my father and I stand on an equality before God; in this sphere he has no more right to command me than I have to command him. But in the sphere of incidental, shifting duties, my father is over me, and has a right to command me.

II. THE DIVINE PROMISE. Nothing is more certain, at least in a physiological way, than this: Respect for parental authority tends to longevity; filial reverence is itself an admirable hygiene. What was it that gave to Rome its long-continued tremendous power and majesty? It was the patria potestas, or paternal authority, before which every Roman youth unquestioningly bowed; for loyalty is the sire of royalty. Even China herself, although her civilization was long ago arrested and petrified, owes, I doubt not, her preservation through millenniums to the fealty of her children to their ancestral commandments and traditions.

III. THE PARENT IS A SYMBOL OF THE STATE. What the parent is to the child, that the State in many particulars is to the citizen, only vastly augmented. In fact, no sooner is the infant born than he enters the jurisdiction of law. As soon as he is able to notice relations and reason about them, so soon does he perceive that he is under authority. One of the first lessons he learns is this: There are some things which he must do, and some things which he must not do; and these commands and prohibitions awaken the ideas of law and subordination. As he grows older, these ideas become more vivid and dominant. And, finally, when he leaves home to take his position as a member of society, he finds that the authority which had hitherto resided in his parents has been transferred to the State. Accordingly, parental authority is the grand, divinely-appointed educator for citizenship. Loyalty to parental law prepares the way for loyalty to civic law.

IV. OUR THEME IS ESPECIALLY PERTINENT TO OUR OWN TIMES. There are two tendencies in our land and age which make the discussion of the Fifth Commandment particularly appropriate.

1. And first, our age is an age of innovation. Rage and frenzy will pull down more in half an hour than prudence, deliberation, and foresight can build up in a hundred years. Therefore do I lift up my voice in behalf of reverend antiquity; doubly reverend, first, because it is antiquity; and secondly, because, being antiquity, it is an oracle.

2. Secondly, our age is an age of anarchy or moral lawlessness.

V. HUMAN PARENTAGE IS A SYMBOL OF THE DIVINE. The Creator ordained it, not so much for man's sake as for His own sake, meaning that it should serve as the ladder by which we may ascend to His own blessed fatherhood, and joyously feel His paternal sway. And this is majesty indeed. It is told of Daniel Webster that, when a party of distinguished gentlemen were dining with him at his Marsh field home, and one of his guests asked him what single thing had contributed most to his personal success, the famous statesman paused for a moment, and then, with great solemnity, replied, "I think that the most fruitful and elevating influence I have ever felt has been my impression of my obligation to God." Believe me, no man is ever so sublime as when he is consciously loyal to the King of kings; no man is ever so supremely blessed as when he reverently sits at the feet of the Infinite Father.

(G. D. Boardmen.)

1. First, Jehovah is the source of all life. "In Him we have our being." But the parent is God's means by which He imparts life, the human channel through which Divine life creates. The parent is the shrine of Divine power working creatively. The parent, therefore, as the secondary author of life, is to the child a representative of God. A Divine sacredness, a reflection of the Creator, invests parents through whom life came and grew and was begotten into time. In the mysterious law of life, the link between the child and God is the parent.

2. Secondly, it is true that parental honour is here set down as a statute law of Israel, but have we yet to learn that these "Ten Words" express the profoundest principles of human life? We may rest assured that the honour which God claims for father and mother forms the germ of man at his best and noblest state. Plato would fain have reconstructed the Athenian national life without the family life. Disraeli once said in the House of Commons, "The family is the unit of the nation." Plato came to the opposite conclusion, viz., the family life is the bane of the nation. He thought it bred selfishness, that it was detrimental to courage, that it narrowed men's interests and dulled the spirit of patriotism, which prefers country to everything. Blot out reverence for parents and life neither at the beginning nor the end is safe. What is the true wealth of a nation? Is it not patriotic men and virtuous women? But family life alone can produce these; the family life which is overshadowed by a sense of God. Home obedience is the spirit which expands into the fine feeling of the sanctity of law. Parental honour develops into loyalty to the Queen and reverence for the constitution. The love of home and its dear ones grows big with the love of country and with the self-sacrificing energies of patriotism. But so it is also that the decline of home life, the loss of parental and filial feeling, is the sure precursor of national decline. Loyalty, reverence, faith — lose these, and the soul is lost out of the body politic. Its very heart and strength are gone when these are gone. But these are the fruit of home. There are three sources of danger — literary, political, and social.

1. As to the first, all atheistic theories which take away the glory from the head of the parent rob the parental tie of its highest sanctity. When life is only the result of material laws, reverence cannot rise higher than the nature of the fact. A mere flesh and blood relationship will not yield a spiritual feeling. Reverence cannot sustain itself on humanity alone, without God in the background; no, neither reverence for man as man, nor for woman as woman. All lustre dies away, and only commonness remains, barren of the emotions which are the riches of human life.

2. Again, in the sphere of politics it has begun to look wise and liberal, and the only practical thing, to separate civil life from religion, and to draw a line of distinction between Christianity and the nation. The tendency is setting in to look to citizenship in the narrowest sense of commerce and material progress. As certain as moral feeling is the truth of manhood, so certain is it that education or legislation which forgets or ignores the heart is guilty of a fatal defect. When cleverness is divorced from the fear of God, rational selfishness takes the place of honour and faith. It is this radical bias of the heart which will confound all the hopes of mere secularists. Morals need to be sustained in the affections or they are barren precepts only; and they cannot be sustained there except by a power which is able to cope with our radical selfishness and overcome it. We have strong reasons, derived from history and human nature, for believing that Christianity alone is capable of this. The immoral or even the selfish will never think rightly. Stop wrong feeling in one direction, it will burst out in another. Out of the heart are the issues of life. The voice of prudence will never be the law of morals. It is an inference almost as certain as actual fact that the spirit of atheistic communism has had no true home, that is, no true moral training of the heart. It drifted loose from true feeling before it drifted loose from true reasoning, though the two processes were doubtless deeply and inextricably intermingled.

3. But let us turn to the enemies of home in the social sphere. I pass by the danger of conceited superficiality at home. But there is one danger to the English home which must be patent to all, vast, portentous, fearful — the public-house. It swallows up comforts, decencies, and every possibility of religiousness and good citizenship. Materially and morally it works an awful ruin. Homes being deteriorated and parents degraded, then young people abandon them as early as possible. Novelty and sensation are the order of the day. Like a fever it penetrates the very blood. To sit still, to meditate, to enjoy home is getting beyond us. The Church, too, has been compelled to enter into the competition. She must do it to fight against social temptations and moral decline. But let the Church of Christ ever keep her high purpose in view. Let her not degrade herself into a mere rival of sensational amusement. She is the mother of the nation, the ideal of the true home. Let her seek to restore it on the Divine pattern by setting up the family altar and the Word of God. So shall it be well with us, and so will our children live long on the earth.

(W. Senior, B. A.)

The command is reflexive. It speaks to the child and says, "Honour"; but in that very word it springs back upon the parent and says, "Be honourable; because in your honourableness your child shall grow reverent." Of all things in this world the soul of a reverent child is the most beautiful and precious, and therefore of all things in this world honourable parents are the most important. One thing cannot be too strongly insisted on. Parental goodness must be genuine and unaffected, of the heart, flowing easily through the life, in order to evoke reverence. Unreality is sure to be detected by-and-by, and when children find out unreality in those who stand in the place of God — God help them! It never does to give precept instead of example. Children have strangely sensitive natures. They don't see through pretence, but after a while they do more, they feel it. Brethren, there is much talk of culture now-a-days. I venture to suggest, in the light of the requirements of this Commandment, that the finest culture of all lies within the sphere of home life, the life we seem to be in danger of losing. The finest culture would come from the endeavour to be worthy of a child's reverence, and trust, and love. What does it need in the parent to be the child's ideal? It needs the cultivation of truthfulness, and love, and unselfishness. To your own selves, to your own higher nature, you must first be true in order to be true to them. The true heaven of home can only be entered by the parents becoming as their own darling child in innocence, sweetness, and goodness. There is even something higher still. It is through true parentage that the heart of God is best understood, and best realized. He calls Himself "Father," and likens Himself to a "Mother." The names are revelations; they are profound instructions. God wants to shine down into His children's hearts through father and mother. Only two last words.

1. First, to the young unmarried. Some may be thinking of marriage. Well, marriage is of God, but mark the solemn importance with which this Commandment invests it. It is for God also. Marriage means parentage, and parentage involves all this home life, all these influences of which we have been speaking. Are you morally equal to marriage? Are you fit to be a parent when yon think of all that is in this word "honour"? What sort of a mother shall you give your children? What sort of a father?

2. Secondly, a word to the married who have children. It is in the nature of things that parents love their children more than children love their parents. The world is all new, to the young, their interests fly abroad. The parents have more or less gone through that phase of life, and now concentrate their thoughts and hopes upon the children's welfare. The child turns from the parent after the illusions of life, the parent begins to live over again in the child. The child accepts all the thoughts, and love, and sacrifice as a matter of course, unable, in fact, to realize the hidden life below them. Yes, such times bring moments of almost anguish, but parents see. We are only feeling in our turn what our parents felt before over us. Love on, and knowledge of you and reverence shall surely come to your children. You shall have your reward, it may be, even here, in the protecting love which clings to your old age, and warms and beautifies it, and prolongs the joys of home to the very gates of death, and fills beyond them with visions of union and perfect bliss. But if not here, then when the green sod covers you your reward shall come in tears which melt the soul of your wilful boy back into your arms; in memories which make your wayward girl long passionately to be pressed to a mother's bosom. Then, I say, your love shall have its due reward. Only be true and faithful, and kind and upright, and father and mother shall be known at last. Be comforted, your love is never lost.

(W. Senior, B. A.)


1. The political father, the magistrate. These fathers are to be honoured; for,

(1)Their place deserves honour.

(2)God hath promoted kings, that they may promote justice.These political fathers are to be honoured: "honour the king." And this honour is to be shown by a civil respect to their persons, and a cheerful submission to their laws, so far as they agree and run parallel with God's law.

2. There is the grave ancient father who is venerable for old age, whose grey hairs are resembled to the white flowers of the almond-tree. There are fathers for seniority, on whose wrinkled brows, and in the furrows of whose cheeks is pictured the map of old age. These fathers are to be honoured: "thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man."

3. There are spiritual fathers, as pastors and ministers. The spiritual fathers are to be honoured.

(1)In respect of their office (Malachi 2:7; 2 Corinthians 5:20).

(2)Ministers, these spiritual fathers, are to be "honoured for their work's sake."

4. There is the economical father, that is, the master; he is the father of the family, therefore Naaman's servants called their master, "father." And the centurion calls his servant, "son."

(1)In obeying his master in things that are lawful and honest (1 Peter 2:18).

(2)In being diligent in his service.

(3)By being faithful. That servant who is not true to his master, will never be true to God or his own soul.

(4)The servant is to honour his master by serving him, as with love, for willingness is more than the work, so with silence, that is, without repining, and without replying: "exhort servants to be obedient to their masters, not answering again"; Greek, "not giving cross answers."

5. The natural father, the father of the flesh. Honour thy natural father. Children are the vineyard of the parent's planting, and honour done to the parent is some of the fruit of the vineyard.


1. In a reverential esteem of their persons.

(1)Inwardly, by fear mixed with love.

(2)Outwardly, in word and gesture.

2. In a careful obedience.

(1)In hearkening to their counsel.

(2)In subscribing to their commands.

(3)In relieving their wants.It is but paying the just debt. The young storks, by the instinct of nature, bring meat to the old storks, when by reason of age they are not able to fly. The memory of Eneas was honoured, for carrying his aged father out of Troy when it was on fire.

( T. Watson.)

The importance of this commandment is indicated by

1. Its positive form;

2. Its relative place; and,

3. Its accompanying promise.


1. A law of subordination is implied in the relation of a child to its parent.

2. This law of subordination is seen in similar relations to be the foundation of society.(1) Everywhere the older men are in authority, and the new comers must accept subjection.(2) Rank, wealth, station, genius, scholarship, and other phases of power exist around us, distinguishing certain individuals, and enriching them with definite advantages which in effect do subordinate other persons to them.(3) The king is the father of a larger household. Patriotism is the love of home upon a grander scale.

3. The law of subordination being thus the broad foundation of society, and the principle on which it is evidently constituted, this Divine order witnesses for the Divine origin of man. Society is now seen to be not a heap of unconnected sand, but a living tree, whose multitudinous branches, meeting in one stem, have their root in Him "from whom every fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named."

II. SOME OF THE MORE PROMINENT APPLICATIONS OF THIS LAW. All these include responsibility as well as authority in the superior, and therefore rights as well as duties in the subordinate.

1. There is first the typical ease of parent and child.

2. Closely connected with the relation of parent and child, and even influencing it, is that mutual bond of husband and wife which affords the next great instance of the law of subordination. In her motherhood woman is the equal, in her wifehood the subordinate of man.

3. There are manifold other relations which illustrate the law of subordination — teachers and pupils, seniors and juniors, masters and servants, monarchs and subjects, magistrates and citizens, pastors and people.

(W. J. Woods, B. A.)

The position of this Commandment among the others has important teachings. It is the centre, the heart of the whole law. Not only has God given us the power to love, but He has placed us in relationships which call this power into exercise and give it right direction, especially the relationship of parents and children. God says here to parents: "As you love your children, so I love you. As you yearn for their responsive love, so I yearn for yours. I am your Father." God says here to children: "Love your parents, and therein learn to love Me, your Father." The position of this Commandment among the others has a further teaching of great importance. The place of division into the Two Tables of the Law is somewhat indistinct. It is in this Commandment, but whether it belongs to the First Table, or to the Second, is not quite clear. It certainly treats of duties to man, and so must belong to the Second Table. But hold! May not the parents be regarded as the representatives of God? Then it belongs to the First Table. There is certainly a strong analogy in the relationships. The parents are the nearest cause to the child of its being, its continued existence and its welfare, and this through that wonderful thing God has given them, parental love, which allies them so closely to Himself. We need not try to determine what God seems purposely to have left indistinct. In the indistinctness is the lesson. We are apt to consider duties to man separately, but God joins them indissolubly with duties to Himself. The position of the Commandment in this indistinctness also shows its great importance. Considering it as the last of the First Table we see that in order that children shall become men and women worshipping God in spirit and in truth, they are to be taught and trained by honouring their parents. Considering it as the first of the Second Table, we see that in order that children shall become men and women fulfilling their duties in the various relations of life, they are to be taught and trained by honouring their parents. Both religion and morality have their foundations laid in the home life of children.

(F. S. Schenck.)

1. The first and greatest is because God commands. His command is written in our own natures and in this holy law. This reason is above all others and embraces all.

2. Such conduct gives the greatest pleasure to our parents, as the reverse conduct brings to their hearts the keenest suffering. We can never fully appreciate all the care and love father and mother have bestowed upon us in infancy and youth, in sickness and in health, and the yearning of their hearts for our love. Surely we should respond to their love — we should seek their happiness.

3. Such conduct is itself excellent. There is something within us that approves it, and condemns the reverse.

4. The Commandment itself contains a reason for obedience, in that it gives a promise, an assurance that in the providence of God obedience to this Commandment will result in long life and prosperity. This sets forth a general rule in the Divine government of the race, promoting stability in social welfare. The child honouring his parents learns self-control, and obedience to law, submission hearty and prompt to rightly constituted authority as a principle of action. Such a child will in all probability become a man of like character. He will obey the laws of health. Entering business he will obey the laws of success, industry, perseverance, economy, enterprise. His powers under full control, he will be also a law-abiding citizen in society. Such character tends to long life and the enjoyment of the gifts of God. A good citizen enjoys the protection of the state not only, but helps to form a condition of social well-being. The child, on the other hand, who is disobedient and disrespectful to his parents, who sets aside their authority and God's authority, is cultivating a law-breaking character. He will in all probability become a self-willed man, setting at defiance the laws of God and man. Such a life tends to the undermining of health by excesses, to the waste of property by abuse, to the running into dangers recklessly, and to the overthrow of social well-being. Such a character tends to shorten life and to forfeit the gifts of God.

(F. S. Schenck.)

How is a religious son or daughter to act towards an irreligious parent? To answer that question in, detail would require a long discourse. Circumstances sometimes make the duty of a child very perplexing. When a father comes home drunk three times a week, violently abuses his daughter who opens the door for him half dead with weariness and fright, curses her, sometimes strikes her, drinks half her wages and nearly all his own, what ought she to do? The principle which determines her duty is clear. The obligation to honour her father is not relaxed. You are not released from a debt because the man to whom you owe it is a drunkard or a profligate; and so irreligion, or even vice in a parent, cannot release a child from filial duty. The application of the principle to particular cases is, I acknowledge, sometimes extremely difficult. Parental cruelty occasionally becomes intolerable. For a child to remain in some houses is to suffer perpetual misery. But the noble and Christian course, as long as your strength is not utterly exhausted, is to manifest the charity which "endureth all things." If your religion makes you more sensitive to the vices which disgrace the character of your parents, it should also enable you to bear their ill-treatment with more meekness and patience. The consciousness of your own sins should make you more merciful to theirs.

(R. W. Dale, D. D.)

Tenderness and sympathy were conspicuously displayed in the character of the late Dr. Alexander Waugh. A young man of unimpeachable character was desirous of entering upon missionary labour, and was recommended to the notice of the London Missionary Society. He had passed through the usual examination, but stated that he had one difficulty — he had an aged mother dependent upon an elder brother and himself for maintenance; in case of his brother's death, he wished to be at liberty to return home to support her. Scarcely had he made this natural request than he heard the voice of one of the directors exclaim, "If you love your mother more than the Lord Jesus, you won't do for us." The young man was abashed and confounded, and he was asked to retire while his case was considered. Upon his return, Dr. Waugh, who was in the chair, addressed him with patriarchal dignity, telling him that the committee did not feel themselves at liberty to accept his services on a condition involving uncertainty as to the term; but immediately added, "We think none the worse of you, my good lad, for your beautiful regard to your aged parent. You are following the example of Him whose gospel you wish to proclaim among the heathen, who, when He hung upon the cross in dying agonies, beholding His mother and His beloved disciple standing by, said to the one, "Behold thy son!" and to John, "Behold thy mother!"

David Livingstone is said to have learned Gaelic in order that he might be able to read the Bible to his mother in that language, which was the one she knew best.

The celebrated Jonathan Edwards, who had the advantage of being trained by singularly pious and judicious parents, wrote, when about twenty years of age, in his diary: "I now plainly perceive what great obligations I am under to love and honour my parents. I have great reason to believe that their counsel and education have been my making; notwithstanding in the time of it, it seemed to do me so little good."

A little boy hearing a party of gentlemen applauding the sentiment, "an honest man is the noblest work of God," boldly said, "No"; and being asked, "What do you think is the noblest work of God?" replied, "My mother." That boy made a good man. Who can doubt it?

There are some children who are almost ashamed to own their parents, because they are poor, or in a low situation of life. We will, therefore, give an example of the contrary, as displayed by the Dean of Canterbury, afterwards Archbishop Tillotson. His father, who was a plain Yorkshireman, approached the house where his son resided, and inquired whether "John Tillotson was at home." The servant, indignant at what he thought his insolence, drove him from the door; but the Dean, who was within, hearing the voice of his father, came running out, exclaiming, in the presence of his astonished servants, "It is my beloved father!" and falling down on his knees, asked for his blessing.

Frederick the Great one day rang his bell several times, and nobody came. He opened the door, and found his page asleep in an arm-chair. Advancing to awake him, he perceived the corner of a note peeping out of his pocket. Curious to know what it was, he took it, and read it. It was a letter from the mother of the youth, thanking him for sending her part of his wages, to relieve her poverty. She concluded by telling him, that God would bless him for his good conduct. The king, after having read it, went softly into his room, took a purse of ducats, and slipped it, with the letter, into the pocket of the page. He returned, and rang his bell so loud, that the page awoke, and went in. "Thou hast slept well!" said the king. The page wished to excuse himself, and in his confusion put his hand by chance into his pocket, and felt the purse with astonishment. He drew it out, turned pale, and looking at the king, burst into tears, without being able to utter a word. "What is the matter?" said the king; "what hast thou?" "Ah! Sire," replied the youth, falling on his knees, "they wish to ruin me; I do not know how this money came into my pocket." "My friend," said Frederick, "God often sends us blessings while we are asleep. Send that to thy mother, salute her from me, and say that I will take care of her and thee."

An amiable youth was lamenting the death of a most affectionate parent. His companions endeavoured to console him by the reflection that he had always behaved to the deceased with duty, tenderness, and respect. "So I thought," replied the youth, "whilst my parent was living; but now I recollect, with pain and sorrow, many instances of disobedience and neglect; for which, alas! it is too late to make atonement."

Epaminondas, the Theban, after winning a battle, said, "My chief pleasure is, that my parents will hear of my victory."

If you begin to put up a house, and lay the foundation wrong, or to build a ship, and make a mistake in laying the keel, you'll have to take it all down and begin again. Oh, it is very important to begin right! It is so in everything. And it is so in trying to do our duty to our neighbour. The Fifth Commandment shows us how we must begin to do this. We must begin at home. You show me a boy or girl who is not a good son or daughter, who does not honour father and mother, and I will show you one who will not make a good man or woman.

(R. Newton, D. D.)

There is a celebrated charity school in London, called the "Blue Coat School." It bears this name because the scholars there all wear blue coats with long skirts to them. I remember reading about one of the boys in this school, who was in the habit of saving part of his own meals, and all the bits and scraps he could gather from the table after their meals were over. He used to put them in a box near his bed, and keep them there. This led the other scholars to talk against him very much. At first they thought he was greedy, and kept them there to eat at night, when the rest were asleep. Some of them watched him, but he was never seen to eat them. Once or twice a week he used to make a bundle of the contents of the box, and go away with it. Then the boys thought that he meant to sell them and keep the money. They concluded that he was a mean, miserly fellow. They refused to let him play with them. They joked about him, and called him hard names, and persecuted him in many ways. But he bore it all patiently, and still went on, saving and carrying away all he could honestly get. At last they complained of him to their teacher. The boy was watched when he took away the next bundle. He was seen to go into an old, worn-out building, occupied by some of the poorest people in the city. There he made his way up to the fourth storey of the building, and left his bundle with a poor old couple. On inquiry it was found that these were his parents. They were honest, worthy people, whom age and poverty had reduced to such a condition of want that their chief dependence was the food thus furnished by their son. He was willing to deprive himself of food, and bear the reproach and persecution of his schoolmates, in order to do what he could for the support of his parents. When the managers of the school heard of it, they provided relief for the poor boy's parents, and gave him a silver medal for his praiseworthy conduct.

The great Dr. Johnson was a very learned man; he wrote a "dictionary." I know what I am going to say is true. He lived in Uttoxeter. His father was a bookseller, not in a very grand way, because he used to sell his books in the market-place. One day he asked his son Samuel (for that was the Christian name of Dr. Johnson) to come down and help him in the sale of his books in the market-place. Little Samuel was rather a sort of a dandy, a conceited fellow; and he thought it beneath his dignity to sell books in the market-place. "He demean himself to stand in the market.place to sell books, indeed, for his father! He was too great a gentleman for that!" Fifty years passed away, and Dr. Johnson had become now an old man. It haunted him; he could not forget, though more than fifty years had passed, — what he had done to his father, in refusing to sell books in the market-place. He was very sad and unhappy about it. So, one day, the doctor took off his hat, and went and stood in the same market-place, on the very spot where he said he would not stand to sell books for his father. And all the boys laughed at him; but there he stood with his bald head, not feeling the rain, or caring for the boys' laughter, that he might do a sort of act of penance, to ease his conscience! He did not "honour his father" when a boy, and he remembered it fifty years after, and it was a pain to him. A statue to Dr. Johnson now stands on the spot, and this noble act of his is depicted upon it.

(J. Vaughan.)

S. S. Times.
In battle, men will give their lives to prevent the ragged and shot-torn colours of their country from falling into the hands of the enemy. These ragged colours represent their country. The dust-covered messenger who carries private despatches to an embassy in a foreign country is received with all respect, because he represents his king. Even the child who carries an important message is treated with the reverence due to the sender of the message. So parents are to be honoured, not alone as parents, but as the representatives of God Himself.

(S. S. Times.)

That thy days may be long
1. My design is to show you that practical religion is the friend of long life, and I prove it first from the fact that it makes the care of our physical health a positive Christian duty. The Christian man lifts this whole problem of health into the accountable and the Divine. He says: "God has given me this body, and He has called it the temple of the Holy Ghost, and to deface its altars, or mar its walls, or crumble its pillars, is a sacrilege." The Christian man says to himself: "If I hurt my nerves, if I hurt my brain, if I hurt any of my physical faculties, I insult God and call for dire retribution." An intelligent Christian man would consider it an absurdity to kneel down at night and pray, and ask God's protection, while at the same time he kept the windows of his bedroom tight shut against fresh air. The care of all your physical forces — nervous, muscular, bone, brain, cellular, tissue — for all you must be brought to judgment.

2. Again, I remark that practical religion is a friend of long life in the fact that it is a protest against all the dissipations which injure and destroy the health. Bad men and women live a very short life; their sins kill them. Napoleon Bonaparte lived only just beyond mid-life, then died at St. Helena, and one of his doctors said that his disease was due to excessive snuffing. The hero of Austerlitz, the man who by one step of his foot in the centre of Europe shook the earth, killed by a snuff-box! Oh, how many people we have known who have not lived out half their days because of their dissipations and indulgences! Now, practical religion is a protest against all dissipation of any kind.

3. Again, religion is a friend of long life in the fact that it takes the worry out of our temporalities. It is not work that kills men; it is worry. When a man becomes a genuine Christian he makes over to God not only his affections, but his family, his business, his reputation, his body, his mind, his soul — everything. Oh, nervous and feverish people of the world, try this mighty sedative! You will live twenty-five years longer under its soothing power. It is not chloral that you want, or more time that you want; it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

4. Again, practical religion is a friend of long life in the fact that it removes all corroding care about a future existence. You have been accustomed to open the door on this side the sepulchre; this morning I open the door on the other side the sepulchre. Glory be to God for this robust, healthy religion. It will have a tendency to make you live long in this world, and in the world to come you will have eternal longevity.

(Dr. Talmage.)

We may boldly challenge long life, when all the circumstances of it will tend to our everlasting welfare. But God, who knows how frail and yielding the best of us are, and in the series of His Divine Providence seeth what prevailing temptations we shall be exposed unto, doth oftentimes, in mercy, abridge this promise; and takes us from the world, lest the world should take us from Him; and deals with us, as princes deal with duellists, they make them prisoners, that they might preserve them: so God, that He might preserve His people from their great enemy, commits them to safe custody of the grave. And, if this be to be unfaithful, certainly His faithfulness would be nothing else but an art to circumvent and undo us; should He, only to keep that inviolate, perform those promises, which would be to our hurt and detriment. Nor, indeed, can any man, whom God hath blessed with a right judgment and due esteem of things, be willing to compound for the continuance of this present life, with the hazard or diminution of his future happiness.

(Bp. E. Hopkins.)

Exodus 20:12 NIV
Exodus 20:12 NLT
Exodus 20:12 ESV
Exodus 20:12 NASB
Exodus 20:12 KJV

Exodus 20:12 Bible Apps
Exodus 20:12 Parallel
Exodus 20:12 Biblia Paralela
Exodus 20:12 Chinese Bible
Exodus 20:12 French Bible
Exodus 20:12 German Bible

Exodus 20:12 Commentaries

Bible Hub
Exodus 20:11
Top of Page
Top of Page