Read Proverbs 1:8–19. What two contrasting ways of education are presented in these verses? What’s the basic message here, not just for parents, but for everyone who fears the Lord?
Education is, first of all, a family matter, and true education comes, first and foremost, from the parents. In these verses, this education is called
instruction and even
law. The Hebrew word for law, torah, means
direction. The parents are to point their children in the right direction. In contrast, the other type of
education is not identified, not given a name. It is simply acknowledged as the voice of sinners, which leads in the wrong direction.
Also, the words
my son, not to be taken in a gender exclusive sense, are repeated many times, emphasizing parental instruction. Each parent —
your mother (NKJV) — is clearly identified in the singular and is personally involved, while the other camp is an anonymous plural,
In His wisdom the Lord has decreed that the family shall be the greatest of all educational agencies. It is in the home that the education of the child is to begin. Here is his first school. Here, with his parents as instructors, he is to learn the lessons that are to guide him throughout life. . . . The educational influences of the home are a decided power for good or for evil. . . . If the child is not instructed aright here, Satan will educate him through agencies of his choosing. — Ellen G. White, The Adventist Home, p. 182.
The best argument on behalf of family education is its results. These are the inner qualities of character, which are like ornaments on the head and around the neck. In the Middle Eastern culture precious collars and bracelets were passed on from parents to children as a heritage of value. Education matters more, though, than material riches. The time spent with our children will be of much greater value for them than the time spent at our businesses. Also, the reference to the neck and the head, which is the individual’s face, suggests that education will shape his or her personality. In the way of fools or sinners, only the feet (Prov. 1:15) are mentioned, as if the wayward son had lost his identity.
How can we learn to resist the temptations that culture, society, friends, even family might throw our way?