What does Proverbs 1:8 mean?
ESV: Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
NIV: Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching.
NASB: Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction, And do not ignore your mother’s teaching;
CSB: Listen, my son, to your father's instruction, and don't reject your mother's teaching,
NLT: My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
KJV: My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
Verse Commentary:
Exodus 20:12 commands us to honor our mother and father. This goes beyond simple obedience, and includes the ideas of respect and consideration. In the New Testament Paul points out to us that this command is the first which comes with a promise (Ephesians 6:1–4). Paul also commands fathers to raise their children in the "discipline and instruction of the Lord." Here in the first chapter of Proverbs, we see Solomon giving the same exhortation to follow the wise instruction of your parents.

This suggestion is especially poignant, coming from Solomon. Although he was blessed by God with incredible wisdom (2 Chronicles 1:11–12), Solomon didn't always choose to use it. The book of Ecclesiastes records how he pursued many things, other than God, and found them to be empty and pointless (Ecclesiastes 2:9–11). In the end, Solomon came to the conclusion that following God's will is by far the most important goal of our lives (Ecclesiastes 12:13–14).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 1:8–19 is a warning against foolishness and the allure of sinful behavior. Solomon begins this warning by appealing to his children to honor their parents' teaching. As any parent knows, it’s often best to outline a negative behavior before stating the consequences of that behavior. The example used seems extreme, but it is meant to point towards an obvious conclusion.
Chapter Summary:
Proverbs Chapter 1 provides a clear description of the purpose of the book. It is stated plainly who wrote the book, the lineage of Solomon, and to whom he was writing. Solomon gives four distinct purpose statements in the opening verses. The essence of these is to explain why he is writing the book as well as the source of his inspiration. Solomon concludes with a warning against sinfulness and a personal plea for his children to act wisely.
Chapter Context:
Proverbs Chapter 1 is clearly born out of Solomon’s life history. Solomon held himself back from no earthly pleasure, he had everything he could ever desire, and in the end he saw the foolishness of his actions. Chapter 1 is Solomon’s reflection on his own life, how he had all the wisdom of God available to him, and yet chose to follow after foolish desires. Other chapters detail the advice which this experience allows Solomon to give.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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