Ten Commandments #5 Exodus 20:12

Honor Parents
Exodus 20:12

NAS Exodus 20:12 "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you."

Here are some thoughts:

I. Children are required to treat their parents like heavy weights 12a

A. Scales determine the Old Testament concept of honor. The Hebrew term for honor (dbk) carries the basic idea of “heavy” or “weighty”. There are some interesting uses. In Exodus for the “hardening” of Pharaoh’s heart and Moses lame excuse for not wanting to go to Egypt and deliver the Israelites because he was “slow of speech and slow of tongue” (ie he had a “heavy” tongue). However, for our purposes we note how the word is used to mean granting respect to someone as for instance in 1 Sam 9:6 where Samuel is referred to as a “man of honor.”
So, “heavy” means honor and respect while “light” means shallow and disrespect.

B. The New Testament counterpart requires making value judgments. Eph 6:2-3 “HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.” Jesus alludes to this command as well in his scathing indictment of the Pharisees in Mat 15:4, For God said, 'HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,' and, 'HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, LET HIM BE PUT TO DEATH.' The Greek word used for "honor" is similar to the Hebrew. It means the worth or value one ascribes to a person and is often reflected in compensation.

Implication #1: Does this mean children should give parents an allowance or pay them! Perhaps not, but it is a fascinating possibility!

Implication #2: What if your father is a drunkard and your mother is the town trap? They still must be honored for their position if not for their person.

Implication #3: God’s people must highly value honoring their parents. Do you note that Eph says that this command is the “first” command (which is the first commandment with a promise). Well, we know it is the 5th, not the 1st. Therefore it is clear that it is one of foremost significance or importance. Why? Because of the promise attached to it (well-being and longevity). Because the previous commands had warnings attached. Because disobedience to parents were among the terrible sins listed in Rom 1:28-32 and is a mark of the last days (2 Tim 3:2). Because when the parent/child relationship ignored our whole society is in danger of collapse.
Sadly it is often only as we grow older that we properly value our parents as this popular chronology illustrates:

4 years old: My daddy can do anything
5 years old: My daddy knows a whole lot
6 years old: My daddy is smarter than your dad
8 years old: My dad doesn’t know exactly everything
10 years old: In the old days when my dad grew up, things were different.
12 years old: Oh, well, naturally Father doesn’t know about that. He’s too old to remember his childhood.
14 years old: Don’t pay any attention to my father. He is old fashioned!
21 years old: Him? My Lord, he’s hopelessly out-of-date!
25 years old: Dad knows a little bit about it, but he should because he has been around so long.
30 years old: Maybe we should ask dad what he thinks. After all, he’s had a lot of experience.
35 years old: I’m not doing a single thing until I talk to Dad!
40 years old: I wonder how Dad would have handled it. He was wise and had a world of experience.
50 years old: I’d give anything if Dad were here now so I could just talk this thing over with him. Too bad I didn’t appreciate how smart he was! I could have learned a lot from him.

C. Honoring parents requires action. It is something you do. We are not commanded to love parents. You might not even like your parents. But you must honor them. Therefore this is not a feeling. This is something you do. We might ask just how can we honor parents. I once posed this question to my sons during family devotions one night. Mark replied, “By buying Mom a red sports car.” He didn’t have any suggestions for Dad! Well we might not be able to buy a car but what can we do? Here are some suggestions.

1. Appreciate their discipline. NAS Hebrews 12:9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?

2. Revere them. NAS Leviticus 19:3 'Every one of you shall reverence his mother and his father...” This term is “fearing” in a healthy sense. Note that revering parents is placed on par with revering the Sabbath!

3. Speak to them and of them with respect. I will always remember a friend who insisted on addressing his  parents with, “yes ma’am” and “no sir.” A far cry from “old man” or “old lady”. So, NAS Proverbs 30:17 The eye that mocks a father, And scorns a mother, The ravens of the valley will pick it out, And the young eagles will eat it.

4. Obey them. Eph 6:1 begins this passage! Of course this is obvious and is for those children who are still dependents. Even Jesus obeyed his parents (Lk 2:51). Every conscientious parent recognizes how difficult it is to exercise his God-given authority over his children. The delicate balance of being tough yet tender is not easy to maintain. Many parents intensify a rebellious spirit by being dictatorial and harsh. Others yield when their authority is tested. When a strong-willed child resists, the pressure to give in for the sake of peace and harmony can become overpowering. I am reminded of the mother who wanted to have the last word but couldn't handle the hassle that resulted whenever she said no to her young son. After an especially trying day, she finally flung up her hands and shouted, "All right, Billy, do whatever you want! Now let me see you disobey THAT!"
(Source:Our Daily Bread).

5. Listen to their advice. Pro 1:8, “Hear the instruction of your father, and forsake not the law of your mother.” Perhaps you have heard about the young boy was talking to his father about what little boys know and what their fathers know. The boy asked, “Do fathers always know more than their sons?” The boy’s father answered, “Yes.” The boy asked another question. “Who invented telephones?” Alexander Graham Bell,” his father replied. The boy then asked, “If fathers always know more that their sons, then why didn’t Alexander Graham Bell’s father invent the phone?” (Source Unknown)

6. Meet their needs. For aged parents this becomes obvious. Jesus gave us the example by committing his mother to John’s care prior to his death (John 19:26-27) – was Joseph already dead and what about the other siblings? But how can younger children with younger parents meet their needs. Why not ask them? Make a list of ways you can assist them. It might be as small thing like empting the dishwasher.

7. Communicate gratefulness to them. It might be for their care of you or a character trait, or an attitude.

8. Bring joy into their lives. They should derive delight out of the fact that you are their son or daughter. Negatively this means not being a burden on them by means of your lifestyle.

II. The intended purpose of this command is a long residence in the Promised Land 12b

God graciously states his purpose behind this command. As long as parents were honored, Israel was assured of a long existence in Canaan. This is similar to promises God makes to individuals for obedience to his law (Dt 6:2; 22:7; 1 Kings 3:14 to Solomon, “And if you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days.”). Proverbs indicates that long life is enhanced by obedience (3:2; 19:16); wisdom (3:16); fear of the Lord (9:11; 10:27), and honestly (28:16).

Perhaps the idea is that we may have a full life while we live on earth however long that may be. Of course, we should honor parents whether we have this promise or not. We should do so simply because God says so!

© Copyright. Joseph Flatt. 2016. All rights reserved. May be used for educational purposes without written permission but with a citation to this source