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Rev. Bruinsma is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Kalamazoo, Michigan.

… and the glory of children are their fathers. 

Proverbs 17:6We have already considered in our last article the first part of this verse, which speaks of children’s children being the crown of old men. When the family unit is preserved from one generation to the next, then fathers and mothers are able to see their children’s children. Their grandchildren are about a father’s feet as jewels which bedeck his royal crown. Families with legitimate children and legitimate grandchildren are of great joy and satisfaction to a man and his wife. Such children beautify the home!

But then, there is the other side of the picture—a side that is often overlooked. So much emphasis can be placed on the satisfaction that children bring to a home and family that often times forgotten is the truth that the “glory of children are their fathers.” Fathers and mothers bring joy and gladness to a home too. The word for “glory” here in this verse speaks of shining forth in royal splendor. Children view their father and mother as royalty. These two people are the hub of their lives. God has placed them there to rule over them. Children see them as wielding that authority. And though because of sin they can at times chafe under the rule of father and mother in the home, nevertheless, they are proud of their parents. They see in them what other people do not see. It does not matter to them if father is poor and has little to give them in the way of this life’s possessions. It does not matter if father is not very intelligent. They admire him and stand before him in awe. There is very little that dad can do wrong. He is the glory of his children!

One of my earliest childhood memories is walking home from school and seeing my father standing on the scaffolding of a house laying brick. Every day I could not wait to get out of school so I could walk past the house where my father was working just so I could shout, “Hi ya, Pa!” He was no regal figure standing up there in his work clothes, but he sure was royalty to me. He was the greatest! One of my earliest childhood memories of my mother was when I went through a time that I could not fall asleep at night. She would come and sit for a time on the edge of my bed and run her fingers through my hair until I fell asleep. She may not have been a queen sitting on a high throne, but to me there could be no one finer in splendor. My father protected me. He was my strength. My mother comforted me with soft words and gentleness. Mothers and fathers are the pride of their children. That is my dad! That is my mom! Now that I am older there is only one regret: I did not tell them enough how much I loved them. There is no one quite so noble as father and mother.

Why is it that divorce so utterly ruins a child? When, after years of being there with his children, father simply walks away from his family to pursue his own selfish desires, it utterly devastates a child. When mother neglects her children to look for her pleasure outside of the home, it hurts her children. Children’s pride in and love for mother and father are shattered! A parent is the one sure thing in the life of children. Then suddenly the children are deserted by the one they thought to be the greatest person in the world. Their life is torn apart. The foundations of their lives are shaken. All this is true because fathers are the glory of their children.

That, then, is the other side of the picture.

But there is an underlying assumption that Solomon makes in this wise instruction concerning families. Solomon writes in verse 1 of this chapter, “Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.” It is better to sit somewhere all alone and eat a dried-up crust, than to sit in a house full of riches and have nothing but quarreling and strife. The Scriptures are filled with examples of parents who filled their homes and the hearts of their children with bitterness. I wonder what Jonathan thought of his father, Saul, when Saul spent his life pursuing after Jonathan’s godly friend David? I wonder what the God-fearing Hezekiah thought of his father Ahaz, who sacrificed to idols and ripped apart the temple of God in Jerusalem? Were these fathers truly the glory of their children? The underlying assumption in this passage is this first of all: godly and pious parents are the glory of their children. Solomon addresses the members of a covenant home in this verse. He is speaking here about mothers and fathers in whom God has worked by His grace and Spirit. These parents are a glory to their children. Why? Because God has beautified them with salvation! God has made such parents to see their sin and has therefore led them to the cross of Jesus Christ to find forgiveness. Father and mother have been made righteous in the blood of Christ, whom they believe was slain for them. They have been cleansed in the blood of the Lamb, so that they in their lives and in their families seek to bring glory to God. They fear God, they love God, they seek God because the life of our Lord Jesus Christ dwells in them.

Because of this work of salvation in their hearts, they have fellowship with the ever blessed God. They are His covenant friends, and that friendship becomes evident in their homes. They live in the midst of their families in communion with God. They view the children God has given them as a covenant blessing. It is but natural therefore that these children come to share in the same covenant fellowship with God. As a result, there is genuine joy and happiness in the home. The home becomes a place of peace, safety, and security. Outside of the home there may be all kinds of turmoil and strife, but in the home I can be with father and mother who love me. There all the troubles of life can pass me by.

Covenant parents are the glory of their children.

Covenant parents do not bring shame and bitterness upon their children. On the contrary, those children tossed to and fro between father and mother, bandied about like a tennis ball, end up hurting and ashamed. These often times grow up as bitter young people. Our society and much of the church world are filled with these bitter children. These parents are not the glory of their children!

But again, that is only half the picture. There is also the assumption made by Solomon in this verse that godly children and godly grandchildren are the crown of old men. When children are rebellious, selfish, and vain, these are not a crown, but they bring shame on father and mother and grandfather and grandmother. Solomon reminds children of this constantly in Proverbs. Just read further in Proverbs 17. In verse 21 we read, “He that begetteth a fool does it to his sorrow, and the father of a fool hath no joy.” Or again, we read in verse 25, “A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.” Such foolish, ungodly children are not a crown to parents, and especially not to grandparents. When children walk in disobedience and rebellion they not only dishonor and grieve father and mother but their grandparents too. This is true because children are not merely the concern of godly parents but of godly grandparents as well.

Covenant children are a crown to old men!

God has worked by His Spirit and grace in the hearts of covenant children so that they too have come to know their sin and their need for the cross of Christ. They, knowing the joy and peace their parents have found at the cross, desire to share in that. Fellowship with God, therefore, is their desire too. There is no greater joy to parents and grandparents than to see their children and children’s children stand with them in church singing praises to God. There is no greater joy than to see a son or daughter stand up in church and confess his or her faith. Or, to use the words of the apostle John in III John 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”

When I am old—if the Lord chooses to spare me that long—I want to see my children and my children’s children sitting around me. I want all of us together (at the suggestion of my grandchildren) to open up the Psalter and sing the roof off my house! I want to see joyful children, sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, all of whom see the value of a good, solid Christian home. I want to see them loving God, loving the truth, and loving the church! Is not that the crown of old men: children who love the Lord? If only we could be made to see the glory, the splendor, of that kind of home: homes where Christ dwells! That is the home and family of which this Word of God speaks to you and me. What saint does not desire that more than anything else?

But all of this means that there is work to do. Godly homes and families do not simply fall from the sky. I know that salvation is a gift of God. But parents must realize that our God is a God of means. God has chosen to work in the hearts of children by means of the godly labors of father and mother. And those labors are not easy! To establish the family of which this verse speaks takes daily labor—a labor that does not cease. We can become all sentimental over the picture that this passage draws for us, but there is much heartache and much hard labor that goes into establishing this godly home of which Solomon speaks. That labor is this: train up children of the covenant in the fear of the Lord! That is a difficult, arduous task which God places in the hands of fathers and mothers. It begins in the morning and goes on into the night, only to be taken up again in the morning.

Yet, it is this work that bears the richest of dividends in our lives. When we become grandfathers and grandmothers then these children and our grandchildren will indeed be our crown! Then we will be able to enjoy the fruit of our labors. May God give grace to covenant parents to train up their children!