The book of Proverbs is replete with advice and comments from a father to his “sons” (or daughters). A mother’s guidance to her daughter would be somewhat different than the father’s, but it would help her. In what follows, the “father” speaking in Proverbs wants to help his son and is warning him about potential dangerous friends and difficult situations.

But what if the son or daughter doesn’t want to heed the advice of their parents? Perhaps the son is convinced that his father is out of step with current times and that obeying him is going to take a lot of the joy out of life.

In the following dialogue, the responses by the son are imaginary and from the point of view of a disobedient one. The father’s instructions come directly from chapters and their verses in the book of Proverbs.

Father (1.8): “Son, pay attention to what your father and mother tell you, Their teaching will improve your character as a handsome turban or necklace improves your appearance.”[1]

Son: “Dad, you know that I sometimes wear a necklace and neither you nor mom like it. Do you want me to wear a turban and look like a Muslim or Hindu?”[2] I wish you and mom would listen to me more. Dad, you could get a tattoo like I have and we could be men together. And my earrings would look good on you mom.”

Father (1.10 and 15): “Son when sinners tempt you, don’t give in…. Son, don’t go with people like that, stay away from them.”[3]

Son: “Dad, there’s nothing wrong with those guys. Yeah, they may seem bad but the police haven’t hauled them in for anything. And so what if they get busted? It could be worse. And they share all of the stuff they get. A little pot now and then never hurt anyone. Sure, some of the bad guys go too far, but they don’t affect me.”

Father (1.30, 31): “You never wanted my advice or paid any attention when I corrected you. So then, you will get what you deserve and your own actions will make you sick.”[4]

Son: “You always are telling me that I am doing the wrong thing. I’m sick alright, sick of hearing you tell me things.”

Father (2.1, 9-15): Son, learn what I teach you and never forget what I tell you to do…. If you listen to me, you will know what is right, just, and fair. You will know what you should do. You will become wise, and your knowledge will give you pleasure. Your insight and understanding will protect you and prevent you from doing the wrong thing. They will keep you away from people who stir up trouble by what they say—those who have abandoned a righteous life to live in the darkness of sin, those who find pleasure in doing wrong and who enjoy senseless evil, unreliable[5] people who cannot be trusted.”

Son: Dad, you get this straight and listen to me for once. There are lots of things that show God isn’t always in control—good people die and bad ones live. How can that be ‘right, just, and fair’? A lot of those guys can be trusted.

Father (3.2): “My teaching will give you a long and prosperous life.”[6]

Son: “I don’t believe I’ll live any longer or be any healthier because I listen to you. Besides, God isn’t that interested in me or anyone else.”

Father (3.11): “Son, when the Lord corrects you, pay close attention and take it as a warning.”[7]

Son: “Dad, when God seems to be trying to get my attention, I don’t worry or let it bother me. You can’t claim that he loves me and then hurts or bothers me. Nuts to money and a long life.”

Father (3.21): “Son hold on to your wisdom and insight. Never let them get away from you.”

Son: “At least it sounds like you think I have some common sense. But all this stuff about ‘and then you’ll be happy’ is nonsense. I’m happy, even when I’m out of it. Don’t worry about me losing my common sense—I’ll be OK.”

Father (3.27, 30): “Whenever you possibly can, do good to those who need it…. Don’t argue with someone for no reason when he has never done you any harm.”[8]

Son: “I can’t bother helping someone, even if is a neighbor, just because a chance comes up. I don’t like it when people try to act tough around me, so I teach them a lesson. I’m learning not to be afraid of anything or anybody.”

Father (4.1): “Son, listen to what your father teaches you. Pay attention and you will have understanding.”

Son: “Dad, forget about all that stuff—you have been telling me this since I was a little kid. I’ve given up all that old stuff about being wise.”

Father (4.10, 18, 23): “Listen to me son … the road of the wicked is dark as night[9]…. Son, pay attention to what I say. Listen to my words … be careful how you think.”

Son: “Cut the crap, dad. I don’t take you seriously any more. You think you know everything, but I’m learning my way—on the street with the guys who have been around.”

Father (5.1, 20): “Son, pay attention and listen to my wisdom and insight…. Son, why should you give your love to another woman?

Son: “Dad, you have advice about everything. But if a woman wants me, I go to her and I don’t care if she is married or not. Sometimes a get a bit of guilt but it doesn’t compare with the good time she gives me. I need some fun once ina while and I haven’t gotten into trouble yet.”

Father (6.1, 2): “Son, have you promised to be responsible for someone else’s debts? Have you been caught by your own words, trapped by your own promises?”

Son: “Dad, cut out the talk of money. So what if want to loan my friends some money? You would be surprised how easy it is to get a loan.

Father (7. 20, 24): “Son, do what your father tells you and never forget what your mother taught you…. It can keep you away from bad women.”

Son: “I’ve already told you that I’m not paying attention to your advice. Women that you warn me about aren’t all that bad. I’ll be OK.”

We’ll stop here with our imaginary dialogue. But, would the son really be “OK”? And just what does it mean to be “OK” in our society today?

We read further in Proverbs that wisdom has been “calling out” and making itself available to anyone. Wisdom comes from sound reasoning and should be apparent to everyone. But can a young man or woman reason soundly if they are high on drugs and alcohol, or accepting all they hear without asking God about it?

Suppose the son (or daughter) had a change of heart and instead of arguing with mom and dad said something like this: “Based on your advice, mom and dad, wisdom sounds pretty good. What can I do to get it? Am I too late?”

How would you answer them?

[1] I am using the Good News Bible and will compare it with The Message, a more “free” paraphrase.

[2] Peterson, in The Message (TM) translates “son” as “friend,” “flowers in your hair” and “rings on your fingers” for turban and necklace. The point is that the parents teachings are to improve the son’s character.

[3] TM translates “sinners” as “bad companions.”

[4] TM reads “What if the roof falls in and your whole life goes to pieces?”

[5] TM talks of “losers” who are lost and “can’t tell a trail from a tumbleweed.”

[6] TM says “They’ll help you live a long, long time, a long life lived full and well.”

[7] TM reads “don’t sulk under his loving correction.”

[8] TM puts it this way: “Don’t walk around with a chip on your shoulder, always spoiling for a fight.”

[9] From TM: “But the road of wrongdoing gets darker and darker—travelers can’t see a thing; they fall flat on their faces.”