I heard someone talk recently about how fathers are the glory of their children. My tendency would be to flip that around, making children the glory of their fathers, given how so many parents (especially fathers) live vicariously through their children. If I can get my son to be the next Hank Aaron, then somehow that is a positive reflection (glory) for me. “Yes, yes, that was my son who returned the kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown. That was my daughter who played Christine in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.”
Psalm 127:3-5 tells us:
“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”
But Proverbs 17:6 does indeed say “…the glory of children are their fathers.”
Just as we fathers glory in our children, our children glory in us. Children need, and crave that father figure, that fatherly influence in their lives. How appropriate that we should consider this in an age rampant with absentee fathers, an age where masculinity and fatherhood are squelched and frowned upon.
I recently read a statistic claiming that 70% of institutionalized juveniles come from fatherless homes. The glory of the children is their fathers!
In the same way, it is the heart of God that we as His children should be drawn to Him, it is the heart of God that children and their fathers should be drawn to one another.
“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” Malachi 4:5-6, NASB
Most of us are familiar with Paul’s exhortation to fathers in the Ephesian church, to bring up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”, and the similar admonition to those in Colossae that they not “provoke your children to anger.” These are good, godly, biblical principles.
Our passage from Proverbs, however, focuses not on the father, but on the children. The children seemingly receive glory from their fathers. There is a transfer, or infusion of value, worthiness, and reputation from the father to the children. This is not at all unlike Jesus coming “in the glory of his Father.” The character of the Father flowed through the Son. “He received from God the Father honor and glory.” 2 Peter 1:17
It was true for Jesus, and it is no less true for us. A father’s reputation is imputed to his children, whether for good or for ill. His behavior in his chosen occupation, his activities in society, his passions … all of this is passed from the father to his children. The cliche’ “like father, like son” has been recognized as true across time and across culture. Let it be said of you, father, that your children glory in your Christ-conferred righteousness rather than glorying in your shame.
Victoriously in Christ!