Written by Dr. Robert Hooker
Proverbs 29:17-21 says, “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul (vs17). Where thereis no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he (vs.18). A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer (vs. 19). Seest thou a man thatis hasty in his words? thereis more hope of a fool than of him (vs. 20). He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length (vs. 21).”
Note that last verse. This passage may be the greatest passage in the Bible for working with young people.
Notice what it says in Proverbs 29:17:
1. A son should be corrected
2. A son that is corrected will give you rest (give comfort or allow you to live in quiet or peace)
3. A son corrected will give delight to your soul (to live cheerfully, in pleasure).
Next, look at 29:18. There may seem to be a shift in thought here, but really, there is not. This entire passage is a counseling passage and this verse is primarily speaking about having a vision for the people that we will be helping and counseling. We must understand that if we, as parents and leaders, want the promises, we have to keep the law. We must follow the commands we are given starting with the command found in Proverbs 29:17 to “correct thy son.” If we don’t have a vision for “our sons” and follow the command we won’t see the desired result. Next, in Proverbs 29:19, we find an incredible teaching that illustrates why many times those that we are attempting to teach and influence are not receiving what we are trying to give. Why? Because a servant will not be corrected by words. Even though he understands what we are saying and what we are trying to accomplish, he will not receive it. Again, Proverbs 29:20 may seem like a change in thought, but it is not. In fact, the man who is “hasty in his words” is the man who verbally tries to get the servant to obey when the scripture clearly says he will not. Failing to heed God’s word is clearly a foolish and intentional act against God’s word. This leads us to the final verse that we will discuss- Proverbs 29:21, and the real point of this lesson.
This verse says, “He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length.” God is teaching us how to have real, life-changing influence with people, especially young people. God is teaching us how to have real results in our counseling and in necessary correction of those we lead. How? By taking the relationship from a master (employer, counselor, leader)/servant relationship to a father/son relationship. God says that it can be done and, if He is teaching us that it can be done then, it should be done. The key to acquiring this kind of relationship comes from the realization that it will not happen because we, as the leaders, command or demand it, but by long, careful, and loving efforts by us. “Delicately” is the key word. When we make the servant a son then we will receive the promise of verse 17. Moreover, God is also telling us that it is not just physical offspring that we can have this relationship with, but anyone with whom we are willing to develop a father/son relationship. And, when we do, the promise is that they will receive our instructions and give rest and delight to our souls. Now for the final thought. Just as it is a shame when we fail to develop a father/son relationship with those we counsel and lead and therefore struggle with their follow-ship and compliance, it is more shameful when we allow our relationship to our biological children to be nothing more than a master/servant relationship. How sad it is when we allow work, play, or the enjoyment of possessions to take up so much of our time that our own children feel like nothing