A Tale of Two Sons - A Study of the Book of Proverbs (Chapter 13)
A Tale of Two Sons
“A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”
(Proverbs 13:1 NKJV)
“Intelligent children listen to their parents; foolish children do their own thing.”
(Proverbs 13:1 TMB)
The first verse of Proverbs 13 tells us there are two kinds of children, wise and foolish. In the New Testament book of Luke we read the story of two brothers. The younger of the two approached his father and demanded he be given his half of what he would inherit upon his father’s death.
“So he divided to them his livelihood” (Luke 15:12b NKJV)
The father divided his very livelihood, his job, his business, his bank accounts, equally between his two sons; and what happened?
“It wasn't long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country.” (Luke 15:13a TMB)
“And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journey to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.” (Luke 15:13 NKJV)
This younger son has come to be known as the Prodigal Son. Let’s take a look at this parable and the wise instructions we are given in Proverbs 13 and see how this tale of two brothers mirrors the Old Testament Proverb.
The father loved his sons
There are two sons who work for their father. We are not told what their father’s business was but we read further on in Luke that he had hired servants that were well taken care of. This speaks of a prosperous and fair minded man.
The father loved his sons. When the youngest son demanded his half of the business, we are told that his father divided everything between both sons. There is no mention of any arguing or discourse to change his mind. It was his to have and his father gave him what he wanted.
We read that the younger son took what was his and left for a distant country and, because later on in Luke 15 we find the older brother out working in the fields, it is assumed that he remained working alongside his father.
The younger son takes all he has and begins living “the good life.”
“A man shall eat well by the fruit of his mouth, but the soul of the unfaithful feeds on violence. He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.” (Proverbs 13:2-3 NKJV)
“The good acquire a taste for helpful conversation; bullies push and shove their way through life. Careful words make for a careful life; careless talk may ruin everything.(Proverbs 13:2-3 TMB)
The young son demanded his half of the family business; he bullied and pushed his way onto his father and his older brother. His mouth was not guarded; his talk was careless. He did not think about what would happen in the future, he was only interested in what he wanted now.
“The soul of a sluggard desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich” (Proverbs 13:4 NKJV)
“Indolence wants it all and gets nothing; the energetic have something to show for their lives.” (Proverbs 13:4 TMB)
Perhaps the young son was tired of working so hard at his father’s business; maybe he didn’t get along with his older brother. Whatever the reason, he was ready to quit, take what was his, and leave.
The older brother was given his half of the family business; he had an equal opportunity to do with it what he wanted. He could have gone someplace else and started over as well, but he chose to stay and continue to work.
“A righteous man hates lying, but a wicked man is loathsome and comes to shame. Righteousness keeps him whose way is blameless, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.” (Proverbs 13:5-6 NKJV)
“A good person hates false talk; a bad person wallows in gibberish. A God-loyal life keeps you on track; sin dumps the wicked in the ditch.” (Proverbs 13:5-6 TMB)
"foolish children do their own thing, they don’t listen to the wisdom of their parents."
At the beginning of Proverbs 13 we read that foolish children do their own thing, they don’t listen to the wisdom of their parents. They speak falsely, talk a good game, and come up with all kinds of plans and schemes. In the end, it lands them in the ditch of life and that is just where the young son found himself.
“But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in the land and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.”
Luke 15: 14-16 NKJV)
In this parable, Jesus is speaking to Jewish people, people who lived by the laws of Moses, people who understood that for the young son to have to feed pigs and even wish he could eat what they were eating was totally humiliating. The youngest son had sunk to his lowest state.
“There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.
"The ransom of a man’s life is his riches, But the poor does not hear rebuke."
"The light of the Righteous rejoices, But the lamp of the wicked will be put out."
"By Pride comes only contention, But with the well-advised is wisdom.”
(Proverbs 13: 7-10 NKJV)
“A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life.
"The rich can be sued for everything they have, but the poor are free of such threats."
"The lives of good people are brightly lit streets; the lives of the wicked are dark alleys."
"Arrogant know-it-alls stir up discord, but wise men and women listen to each other’s counsel.” (Proverbs 13: 7-10 TMB)
These verses paint us a pretty clear picture of what was going on with the younger son. He was pretentious and arrogant, filled with pride and living a showy life. Until it was all gone and then he had nothing. He found himself far from home and the support of his family.
But when he came to himself
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” (Luke 15: 17-19 NKJV)
One of my favorite parts of this scripture is the phrase, “But when he came to himself,” Have you ever had one of those, Ah Ha moments, when you “came to yourself?” Perhaps you were struggling with some specific aspect of your walk and read a verse or heard the pastor expound on a particular portion of scripture and it just hit you, and everything became clear.
That’s what happened to the young son. He “came to himself,” realized the folly of his circumstances and swallowed a big dose of humility. He understood he had squandered his inheritance and was only worthy of working as a servant for his father. He knew his father was a fair and just man that would treat him better as a servant than he was being treated in his present condition.
A tribute to the diligent and faithful son
In the study of the prodigal son, we often focus on the prodigal and not so much on the son who stayed home and continued to work with his father. This verse stands out to me as a verse of tribute to the diligent and faithful son.
“Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, But he who gathers by labor will increase.” (Proverbs 13: 11 NKJV)
“Easy come, easy go, but steady diligence pays off.” (Proverbs 13:11 TMB)
Hope deferred makes the heart sick
As a parent, I understand the way this father must have felt. He gave his child all he had to give him and sent him on his way. Maybe the son never sent any communication back to his father, maybe the father was hearing rumors of his lavish lifestyle and how he had ended up feeding the pigs. The hopes and dreams he’d had for his son were deferred. He suffered from the unrelenting disappointment of a worried parent.
But there he was waiting for him to come home; and when he saw the condition he was in he had compassion on him and he ran to greet him. The father was overjoyed that his son had returned home to him.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12 NKJV)
“Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around.” (Proverbs 13:12 TMB)
“And he arose and came to his father, But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)
Learning lessons the hard way
Some people learn lessons from listening to wise teaching, others seem to only learn lessons the hard way. The prodigal had to learn these lessons the hard way for sure.
“He who despised the Word will be destroyed, But he who fears the commandment will be rewarded.
“The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.”
“Good understanding gains favor, but the way of the unfaithful is hard.”
“Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool lays open his folly.”
(Proverbs 13: 13-17 NKJV)
“Ignore the Word and suffer; honor God’s commands and grow rich.”
“The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, so, no more drinking from death-tainted wells!”
“Sound thinking makes for gracious living, but liars walk a rough road.”
“A commonsense person lives god sense; fools litter the country with silliness.”
“Irresponsible talk makes a real mess of things, but a reliable reporter is a healing presence.” (Proverbs 13: 13-17 TMB)
Looking at these verses we can see who was living a wise and godly life, and who was living a foolish life. We also see that with every decision we make in our lives, be they foolish or wise, there are consequences that we must live with.
Discipline and Reproof
“And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet, and bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. (Luke 15:21-24 NKJV)
“Poverty and shame will come to him who distains correction, But he who regards reproof will be honored.” (Proverbs 13:18 NKJV)
“Refuse discipline and end up homeless; embrace correction and live an honored life.” (Proverbs 13: 18 TMB)
We read the story of the prodigal son and seldom talk about discipline or reproof, we tend to look at the forgiveness and restoration the father pours out on his lost son.
But the prodigal did suffer reproof, it came to him while he sat in the pig pen so hungry that he wanted to eat what he was feeding the pigs. The discipline came in the realization that he had squandered everything and now had nothing.
The father welcomed him home, he had new clothes brought to him, (I would imagine the ones he had on were rags that smelled of pig dung), he had a ring placed on his finger, (a symbol of belonging to the family once again), and new shoes for his feet, (again I can only imagine that his feet were bare and caked in pig dung).
But what about the faithful son?
“Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. “So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours cam who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.” (Luke 15: 25-32 NKJV)
The faithful son hears that his brother is home and that his father is throwing a party for him and he is not very happy, in fact he is so angry that he won’t even come in the house and welcome his brother home. I can understand why he feels this way, after all, even though he received his half of the inheritance, he didn’t squander it away. In fact, he stayed and worked the family business and added to what he was given and provided a comfortable life for himself and his father.
I’m sure his first thought must have been, “Oh great, he takes his money and burns through it and now he’s back home and expects to take back up where he left off. Well he’s not getting any of my money.” And the father assures him that’s not going to happen by saying, “all I have is yours.” The faithful son will continue to thrive because of his faithfulness.
“A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul, But it is an abomination to fools to depart from evil. (Proverbs 13: 19 NKJV)
“Souls who follow their hearts thrive; fools bent on evil despise matters of soul.”
(Proverbs 13: 19 TMB)
The prodigal son has returned, he is welcomed back into the family, he is given clothing, shoes, and food. But will he inherit his father’s wealth or share in what his brother now has? I think the scripture is very clear that he will not, he is welcomed back into the family but he will have to earn his own way, not as a servant perhaps, but he has already spent his inheritance. And I think we clearly see the truth of that in the lessons of Proverbs 13.
”He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.”
“Evil pursues sinners, But to the righteous good shall be repaid.”
“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.”
“Much food is in the follow ground of the poor, And for lack of justice there is waste.” (Proverbs 13: 20 – 23 NKJV)
“Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.”
“Disaster entraps sinners, but God-loyal people get a good life.”
“A good life gets passed on to to the grandchildren; ill-gotten wealth ends up with good people.”
“Banks foreclose on the farms of the poor, or else the poor lose their shirts to crooked lawyers.” (Proverbs 13: 20-23 TMB)
There are a lot of ways to lose everything you work hard for, but it’s clear that foolishness, fool hearted, and gullible people are quick to loose. Wise, faithful, and godly people will reap many benefits of a good life.
The father who disciplines his son loves him.
“He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly. The righteous eats to the satisfying of his soul, But the stomach of the wicked shall be in want.” (Proverbs 13: 24-25 NKJV)
“A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them. An appetite for good brings much satisfaction, but the belly of the wicked always wants more.” (Proverbs 13: 24-25 TMB)
It is clear that this father loved both of his sons. The prodigal was welcomed home and the faithful son was assured that he would lose nothing.
The prodigal was disciplined, humbled, and restored; but he had to pay a tough price.
The faithful son was blessed and continued to be blessed because he walked on the path of wisdom.
© 2014 miss_jkim