Proverbs 20:20

ESV If one curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness.
NIV If someone curses their father or mother, their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.
NASB He who curses his father or his mother, His lamp will go out in time of darkness.
CSB Whoever curses his father or mother-- his lamp will go out in deep darkness.
NLT If you insult your father or mother, your light will be snuffed out in total darkness.
KJV Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.

What does Proverbs 20:20 mean?

In this verse Solomon castigates anyone who curses his father or his mother. The person who disrespects his parents and insults them breaks God's commandment to "honor your father and your mother" (Exodus 20:12). This commandment promises longevity to those who obey it. Verse 12 continues: "that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you."

Solomon understood this promise, so he writes that whoever breaks the commandment given in Exodus 20:12 will come to an untimely end. The core issue is not merely the relationship to parents, but how the child respects authority, in general. Often, a rebellious son disrespects not only his parents, but anyone who seeks control over him.

Earlier advice warned that allowing a child to grow without discipline was to set them on a dangerous path (Proverbs 19:18). Undisciplined children can become lawbreakers, whose criminal path leads to lengthy imprisonment or capital punishment. Waywardness may include the use of illegal drugs that snuff out a life. God gives commandments for our good, and if we violate them, we will pay a heavy price (Proverbs 3:1–6; 8:34–36).
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