King Solomon, of ancient Israel, wrote these proverbs as a father to his son — wisdom for a future dad. So also, these ten-minute devotions from Proverbs are a gift to new dads who have taken up the blessed privilege of parenting. They are by no means exhaustive, for I write as a father repeatedly humbled by my weaknesses. By God’s grace, I am learning through both successes and failures how to raise my children as my heavenly Father is raising me. Our family is certainly not the model of perfection, but fellow travelers seeking to follow the path of God’s wisdom. Every bend in the road presents still further challenges, yet by God’s all-sufficient Word “the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17).
I have written primarily to Christian dads, but all are invited to peer through this window of biblical parenting. I hope you will read these verses from God’s Word, consider the practical wisdom they offer, and be drawn in by the beauty of God’s design for your family.
Each of these forty devotions begins with a Proverb to be memorized. I encourage you to write down each one to reflect on throughout the day and treasure in your heart. You will be blessed by the overflowing benefits of God’s enduring wisdom. I also share humorous anecdotes from our own family’s experience to demonstrate how the wisdom of Proverbs applies to everyday life. Each devotion includes an explanation from Scripture and ends with a simple prayer to direct your heart to God. Consider writing your own prayer of response or ideas for application in the space provided. May you be blessed by the reading and application of God’s Word!
Day 1: The Fear of The Lord
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
My three boys learned many proverbs on our ten-minute drive to school. For example, I would call out, “Proverbs 1:7, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” and they would repeat: “Proverbs 1:7, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
Then I would say, “Fools despise wisdom and instruction,” and they would echo, “Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
We would do this multiple times until they could cite the verse from memory. And if one of them learned it before the others, he would then teach his brothers until they could all recite it in unison.
After memorizing each verse, we would discuss it together: “What does it mean to fear the Lord?”
“To love him and obey him because of who he is.”
“So why is the fear of the Lord the beginning of knowledge?”
“Because if we love God and obey his Word, we will grow in knowledge about the world God has made.”
“What does it mean to despise?”
“It means to hate—to refuse to listen.”
“But why does the fool despise wisdom and instruction?”
“Because he doesn’t know what’s good for him.”
The Proverbs became a catechism encouraging our children to meditate on God’s Word. We trained them to store up God’s Word in their hearts as an investment in their spiritual bank for future withdrawals. For example, a few days later, one boy expressed his terror over a scary, spiral staircase, which led to our backyard. So I said to him, “I know it feels scary, but you don’t need to be afraid. You can trust me.” We discussed the difference between healthy and unhealthy kinds of fear. Then I said to him, “Remember Proverbs 1:7?” Once he recited it, I explained, “If you fear the Lord, you will not have unhealthy fears. You can trust the Lord and you can trust daddy as the one God gave to protect you.”
He replied, “I’m still afraid, but I will go up-and-down the scary stairs.” And he did it! His legs were trembling, but he did it! Then he did it again and again! His brothers were cheering and he was exuberant. That night during our family worship he prayed without any prompting: “Thank you, Jesus, for helping me go up-and-down the scary stairs.” Now I am certain my boys will face greater dangers in life than scary stairs, but I want them to store up God’s Word in their hearts for those crucial moments of faith. Dads, remind your children (and yourself) that depositing God’s Word in your spiritual bank will pay abundant dividends in the long-run.
The fear of the Lord comprises two complementary aspects that you must possess: reverent obedience and worshipful joy. By illustration, imagine being a crown prince. Any citizen, including the prince, may be lawfully executed for crimes of treason, so your fear of the king keeps you from rebellion. Yet the king is also your father to whom you run for loving embrace. In that embrace, your fear of the king — your knowledge of his power and sovereignty, his might and justice also serves as your protection. You feel absolutely safe in the arms of the most powerful person in the land.
So also, the fear of the Lord becomes your security as you rest on his unchanging attributes. You are commanded to obey him, yet that is also your desire. Now you are motivated both by the joy of his presence and the fear of his displeasure. You tremble at God’s justice should you break his commands, yet rejoice in praise because “the fear of the LORD is a fountain of life” (Prov. 14:27). The fear of the Lord is both reverent obedience and worshipful joy.
Dads, as you study Proverbs, realize that God has given you sufficient strength and wisdom. He shows you what will happen if you follow his Word and what will happen if you don’t. So if you desire to raise God-fearing children, then you must first fear the Lord yourself.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Show me how to both revere your holiness and delight in your love. Teach me how to be a good father by trusting in you as my heavenly Father. Equip me to raise God-fearing children who love you and worship you as well. In your Son’s name, Amen.
LifeWork: Write down one way you will apply today’s Proverb.
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