What does Proverbs 23:22 mean?
ESV: Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.
NIV: Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.
NASB: Listen to your father, who fathered you, And do not despise your mother when she is old.
CSB: Listen to your father who gave you life, and don’t despise your mother when she is old.
NLT: Listen to your father, who gave you life, and don’t despise your mother when she is old.
KJV: Hearken unto thy father that begot thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.
NKJV: Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old.
Verse Commentary:
This kind of plea occurs often in the book of Proverbs (Proverbs 1:8; 4:1; 13:1; 19:20). Parents know how prone children are to go their own way, even when it's unwise. Godly parenting requires patience, consistency, and love, as well as firmness and reasonable discipline. Loving mothers and fathers instruct their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7; Ephesians 6:4). This requires the parents to know God's Word, themselves. Deuteronomy 6:7 commands parents to demonstrate their own love for God's teaching. The verse calls upon parents to teach the statutes and rules diligently to their children at home, outdoors, at bedtime, and first thing in the morning.

Solomon also urges proper respect for older parents. The term "despise," as used here, implies scorn and derision, and might also be translated as "disdain." As parents age, it's easy to become frustrated with or dismissive of them. Yet God commands us to honor parents (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1–3). Those "who gave you life" shouldn't be cast aside when they become old.
Verse Context:
Proverbs 23:22–25 appeals to the example of a godly father. The following section contains a strong warning about sexual sin. That is followed by an extensive, blunt assessment of the dangers of drunkenness. These are all part of thirty wise teachings endorsed by Solomon (Proverbs 22:17–21).
Chapter Summary:
This portion of wise sayings (Proverbs 22:17–21) starts with the sixth of thirty mentioned in chapter 22. These include advice on presenting oneself well to a host, while not being unduly influenced by such hospitality. The passage also speaks on the right time to share wisdom, ethics, discipline, and the joys associated with godly children. Also included are warnings about relationships and those who lack self-control. The chapter ends with the Bible's most strident warning about the dangers of alcohol abuse; this is the eighteenth of the thirty promised teachings.
Chapter Context:
This chapter continues Solomon's collection of the sayings of wise men (Proverbs 22:17–21). These lessons continue through Proverbs 24:34. Here, Solomon addresses his "son," perhaps meaning a student, with warnings about money, gluttony, speaking in the company of a fool, dishonesty, withholding discipline from a child, keeping company with drunkards, and the abuse of alcohol. The description of alcohol's risks is the most extensive such caution given in Scripture.
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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