New American Standard Bible Proverbs 17:6 Grandchildren are the crown of old men, And the glory of sons is their fathers.
Jewish Publication Society Proverbs 17:6 Grandchildren are the crown of their elders, And the glory of children is their parents.
This proverb struck me, especially because of the second part.
Grandchildren and Grandparents
One of the things I’ve heard several parents say to their parents is, “You were always more strict with us than with my kids.” I think this proverb is noting that this is the case. There is also a note of glory in living long enough to see your children raise the next generation.
Children and Parents
The Hebrew of the second clause literally translates, “the beauty of sons are their fathers.” It obviously applies to all children and parents as which is made explicit in the JPS translation.
I suspect, as with most Proverbs, this is meant to take us in several directions. It certainly applies to me as a teacher, but only indirectly. I’m no parent. So don’t see this as me telling anybody how to raise their children. It’s me trying to think about how this Proverb was meant to be read. So, here is what I think it could mean:
- The distinct reputation of a young man in an ancient tribe or a modern small town would be connected to the deeds of his father. So his beauty/glory would be connected to whatever people knew his daddy for. If you want to give your child a good reputation in the world, get a good reputation for yourself.
- The thing that a young man will consider beautiful, praiseworthy, or glorious will be what he sees in his dad. Thus, the way a father lives will be a major factor in what his children grow up to value. So, if you want to instill faithfulness to the Lord and love of neighbor in your children, that had better be your own habit. If you want your kiddos to exercise, you’d better exercise. If you want your children to study, you’d better hit the books in front of them. If you’re a Christian, especially study the Bible with them. Don’t just read it to them, but teach them how to ask questions about its meaning, how to find answers in the text, how to use other resources to understand it, and how to apply it to life.
- Finally, children are often enamored of their dad and his prowess. “My dad could beat up your dad.” In this case, if you’re a father, then your job is not only to exemplify virtue to your children but live so that when they get older they won’t become disillusioned by the real stories about you. Because, if it is true that your children find their glory/beauty in you, then don’t let them find out it was purely a survival mechanism for their childhood. Instead, make sure your life matches the instinctual hype.
Again, these are apparent applications of the Proverb, not necessarily instructions for you. Certainly these applications work for me as a teacher. When I see one of my students teach somebody else how to do mathematics or how to write well, I feel a deep swell of pride. Similarly, when I do sports against my students, I try to dominate (with varying degrees of success). I cite sources in speeches and lecture handouts. People will emulate competence if it is set before them as a valuable attainment.