18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.
Number five in the Ten Commandments has not only a commandment, but a promise as well. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you (Exodus 20:12). The following from Proverbs 23 hearkens back to Deuteronomy 21
19 Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path:
20 Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat,
21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.
22 Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.
The verses of the day seem unduly harsh to us today, but read through them again and notice they are not simply about a stubborn and rebellious son. Nor is it simply about a son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him. No this is about a son who is a glutton and a drunkard.
Additionally, the parents have tried disciplining their son and yet he still defies them while engaging in the behavior of a glutton and a drunkard. Note this is not a child, but a young man – likely mid teens who could leave, but has chosen to remain and doing his best to eat and drink his mother and father out of house and home. Instead of taking his share, double share if he is the first born (vv 15-17) and leaving, he remains.
As far as stoning such a son to death, Ellicott’s Commentary quotes Rashi
Rashi says that the Law cuts short the man’s career, anticipating what its close will be. When he has spent all his father’s money, he will take to the road, and become a public robber. It is better that he die innocent of such crimes than guilty. We can hardly adopt this view of the case; but it contains one feature that is terribly true.
Not to be forgotten is what Matthew Henry has to say about drunkenness in his commentary on theses verses. When reading what he has to say it helps to remember he lived in a time (1662-1714) when other drugs were truly unknown
There is nothing that draws men into all manner of wickedness, and hardens them in it, more certainly and fatally than drunkenness. When men take to drink, they forget the law, they forget all law (Proverbs 31:5), even the fundamental law of honoring parents.
While it is not something we would have in our law today, it would have been rare then for verse 21 says
Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.
Note the conclusion: All Israel will hear of it and be afraid. How many times do you think a child or young adult would have to hear about it before their behavior changes.
We have a grandson who, when he was 4 or 5, once observed a physical therapist putting her shoulder to my knee (I had both replaced weeks prior) to the point of tears running down my face. Our grandson said to my wife who was sitting nearby knitting, “Grandma, that woman is making Grandpa cry!” She calmly replied without missing a stitch, “That’s okay, I’m paying her to do that.” Suddenly we had the best behaved grandchild one can imagine for a number of weeks!
It’s Monday and it is incredibly sad that we have so much more to be concerned with beyond drink for our children and grandchildren. Also, it is incredibly sad so many children are brought up in ungodly homes where the parents are involved with drink or worse. Let us count our blessings if that is not or was not true for us and hope that we can grant blessings to our children and grandchildren – among them a great appreciation of God’s blessings that abound – to the exclusion of drink and other drugs today.