11 Be wise, my son, and bring joy to my heart; then I can answer anyone who treats me with contempt.
Proverbs 27:11, ESV
11 Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him who reproaches me.
Wanted to include this verse yesterday with verse nine, but they turned out to be very different and each requiring very different comments. Why the two different versions above? Because in all the major translations we have the verse ending with either contempt or reproaches as well as insults.
Anyone who is a parent, father or mother, understands the first part of this verse, desiring our sons and daughters to be wise and make good decisions. In doing so a child, now an adult, brings joy to a parent’s heart. As a son, a husband, father, grandfather, and uncle I understand this to my core. The first part of this verse is very close to Proverbs 10:1 The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother. There is also Proverbs 23:15 which speaks to the son’s heart My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad indeed.
So what then is this about being treated with contempt or being reproached or insulted in the second part of the verse? Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary provides a good pointer, but this is in the Old Testament, not the New Testament
An affectionate parent urges his son to prudent conduct that should gladden his heart. The good conduct of Christians is the best answer to all who find fault with the gospel.
Often, in the Old Testament a student was thought of as a son of his teacher – and of course parents are the teachers of their children – so in that sense the following from the Pulpit Commentary makes sense.
If the pupil did not show wisdom and morality in his conduct, the teacher would incur blame for the apparent failure of his education; whereas the high tone of the disciple might be appealed to as a proof of the merit and efficacy of the tutor’s discipline.
On the other hand, the evil doings of Hebrews often made the Name of God to be blasphemed among the Gentiles; just as nowadays the inconsistent lives of Christians are the greatest impediment to the success of missionary efforts in heathen countries.
This carries on into the New Testament where we read in Matthew 5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
So, as Christians we need to ask ourselves if with our actions are bringing honor to our Father in heaven as well as to our earthly parents. And it is not just about bringing honor to our parents and our Heavenly Father as we learn in Galatians 6
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Each of needs to ask, what am I sowing? What might I expect to reap?