The Failures of our Fathers and the Salvation of the Son
May 20, 2018
In the opening chapters of the book of Proverbs, we see a father speak to his son about how to be a good and wise king for Israel. And here in today’s Scripture text, the father tells his son to keep his commandment and not commit the sin of adultery. The son is not to desire the adulteress. He is not to be captured by her.
But there is a problem with this command. Or to be more precise, there is a problem with where this commands comes from. It comes from the father. It comes from the throne of Israel. It comes from a legacy and heritage of royal kings. And that legacy and heritage, that throne, that line of fathers is stained - stained with sexual sin.
David committed adultery with Bathsheba. Solomon committed sexual immorality by having seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines.
And so this is the drama. How can a father tell his son not to commit sexual sin when he himself is guilty of it? How can a father provide wisdom where there is nothing but failure?
In 2 Samuel 11, King David committed the sin of adultery with Bathsheba. And he orchestrated the death of Bathsheba’s husband in order to cover it up. But the Lord knows all things. And he was displeased with what David did. The Lord sent his prophet Nathan to David, and Nathan rebuked him. Because David despised the word of the Lord and did what was evil in his sight, evil would rise up against David. His wives would be taken by his neighbors. And his son from Bathsheba would die.
But after this terrible story in 2 Samuel 11, there came an astonishing set of words in Psalm 51.
In Psalm 51, King David repented of his sins. He asked God for mercy (v1). He asked God to cleanse him from his sin (v2). He asked God not to cast him away from his presence (v11). He asked God to restore to him the joy of his salvation (v12).
And then, in verses 13-15, King David said these remarkable and jaw-dropping words: “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.”
At the end of the day, God showed grace to King David. David still had to live with the devastating consequences of his actions. But God forgave David of his sins. And David in turn would teach transgressors of God’s ways. David in turn would declare God’s praise.
So, how can a father tell his son not to commit sexual sin when he himself is guilty of it? A father can only do this by the grace of God. A father can only do this when he takes his son’s eyes off the legacy and heritage, off the throne, and off the line of fathers and kings that is stained with the sins of sexual immorality… and points his son to the ultimate Son. The ultimate Son who would not sin. The ultimate Son who would not fail. The ultimate Son who would not disappoint.
I recently watched the blockbuster Marvel movie Black Panther, a fictional story about a prince named T’Challa who becomes king over the nation of Wakanda. I loved it. And after reading all the reviews and commentaries about it and after watching it over and over again on iTunes, I love it even more. It slowly began to dawn on me why Black Panther is such a moving and meaningful movie. It’s a movie about fathers and sons. Thus, at one point in the movie, Prince T’Challa, son of King T’Chaka, says to his father, “I want to be a great king, Baba. Just like you.” And with that, the drama is set. Will T’Challa be a great king? Will he be a triumphant son after his father? Will Wakanda truly be forever?
As entertaining as Black Panther can be for the world, we who are the church are part of a far greater drama than anything that the people at Marvel can possibly dream of.
David committed adultery with Bathsheba. Solomon committed sexual immorality by having seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. But out of that legacy and heritage, out of that throne, out of that line of fathers and kings stained with the sins of sexual immorality… came a perfect son… who became a perfect king. Out of the failures of our fathers came the salvation of the eschatological Son of Proverbs. And, you could say, this Son did not let the mistakes of his forefathers define who he is.
This eschatological Son never sinned. He kept the commandments of his father Joseph and his mother Mary. And even more so, he obeyed his heavenly Father. This eschatological Son was perfect in righteousness. He fulfilled the law. And this eschatological Son did not just meditate on the word of God day and night like a tree planted by streams of water. He was the very word of God. He was God. He was, in the words of John 1, the Logos. And you know the name of this eschatological Son. His name was and is and always will be Jesus Christ.
Praise be to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! He is the king that Adam was unable to be. He is the king that David and Solomon was unable to be. He is the king that you could never ever be. Jesus took your legacy and heritage of sin and died with it. And Jesus took his legacy and heritage of righteousness and gave it to you. I’m not making this up. We’re not Marvel. We are the church. And we are not a bunch of people from Chicago, running around believing in fairy tales. The new heavens and the new earth is going to be one of the most beautiful thing you’ll ever see. And Jesus promises us that he is going to show it to us one day. You believe that? I hope so.
But until that day comes, we must be wise in Christ. And according to today’s Scripture text, that wisdom starts with the word of God.
Verses 20-23 shows us the beauty of God’s word and commandment. First, God’s word and commandment is a family thing. The son is commanded to hear his father’s instruction and not forsake his mother’s teaching. Second, God’s word and commandment is something that you put on and remember always in your heart. And we who are in Christ now have the law written on our hearts. Third, God’s word and commandment leads us, watches over us, and even talks to us. It is a lamp, a light and a way of life. There is no better protection and preservation than this.
And verse 24 makes a simple but huge point: God’s word in particular will preserve from sexual immorality. This is profound. It is not one’s own strength or heart or willpower that preserves you from the forbidden woman or forbidden man. It is God’s word that preserves you. God’s word will protect you and guide you.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, read God’s word. For when we read it, God speaks to us and God protects us.
And remember that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was a king of the word. As the eschatological Son of Proverbs and as the ultimate King of Israel, Jesus fulfilled the royal mandate of Deuteronomy 17:14-20. Whoever sits on the throne shall write for himself in a book a copy of the law. That word shall be with the king. And he shall read it all the days of his life. Jesus did just that. And we who are his kingdom people want to do the same out of reverence and awe and wonder of the glory of the Lord. It is so cool, it is so epic and jaw-dropping to know that when we read Proverbs 6, we read the exact same words that our Savior read in order to save us. Proverbs 6 was first written down for the Son. It was not first written down for us. It was written for us second. Let us read God’s word as we wait for the return of Christ.
But as we wait for the return of Christ, let us also share God’s word with our children.
As we Lord-willing become parents and have children of our own, let us remember to tell our children about God’s word first and not our own. Do not get me wrong. I’m not saying that we don’t share our own thoughts or emotions or lessons of wisdom to our children. But what I am saying is that we ultimately prioritize God’s word above ours, so that our children will know that we alongside with them bow down together before the one true king, Jesus Christ.
Tell your children the gospel. And don’t be afraid to show your children who you really are before the Lord.
One pastor put it like this: “I recently became a father to a beautiful baby girl. From the second her invigorating squeal pierced the hospital air, I was in love. After a moment of weeping, I quickly studied every inch of her newborn frame, accepting my new responsibility to protect her. I stared at her furrowed brow, and grinned with the realization that she would never be able to deny that I’m her father. Yet, in the midst of my affection, holding her caramel skin felt like a two-ton weight against my chest. For the first time, I felt the palpable fear that, one day, I would inevitably disappoint my daughter. I felt the crushing pressure to construct my own myth of perfection."
"Fathers are often demonized when they’re absent and mythologized when they’re present. Faced with the responsibility of providing and protecting, maintaining a veneer of perfection is always tempting. But a pursuit of perfection will only lead to dishonesty and disappointment. It will inevitably crush us and the ones we love.”
Brothers and sisters, tell your children the gospel. And don’t be afraid to show your children who you really are before the Lord. Tell your children about the one who saves you, so that, at the end of the day, your sons and daugthers will not fear you first, but rather fear the Lord first. So that, at the end of the day, your sons and daugthers will not be potentially crushed by the disappointment that you can be, but rather be absolutely lifted up by the satisfaction that Christ always promises to be. Your son or daugther might you look in the eye and cry out, “You were wrong!” If that happens, do not omit the truth of who you are. And do not omit the truth of who you trust. Tell your children the gospel.
After all, notice what the father does not say in today’s Scripture text. He does not say, “When you walk, I will lead you; when you lie down, I will watch over you; and when you awake, I will talk with you.” He says that the commandment of the Lord will lead you. The teaching of God will watch over you. The words of the heavenly Father will talk with you. The father of Proverbs does not say, “I am your lamp and light.” He says that the commandment of the Lord is a lamp. The teaching of God is a light.
Yes, it’s true. The human writer of Proverbs 6 was a sinner. And yes, it’s true. You are a sinner. Since these things are true, you must not show your children how great you are. You must show your children how great Christ is… and how great you are in him. Perhaps then you will follow after the words of David and after the grace of God:
“Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.”
I would like to close now with the opening lines of Black Panther. A son asks his father to tell him a story.
“Yes, my son.”
“Tell me a story.”
“The story of home.”
And the father goes on to tell him about Wakanda.
Dear brothers and sisters, dear sons and daugthers and hopefully many fathers and mothers, I tell you the truth. Soon there will come a time when we will not need wisdom for temptations. For soon there will come a time when there will be no more forbidden woman. No more need for protection. No more sin. No more death. For we will be home, where the failures of our fathers will be eclipsed by the salvation of the Son. So stay focused. Because Jesus forever.
Summary of Sermon
A father speak to his son about how to be a good and wise king for Israel. The son is to keep the father's commandment and not commit the sin of adultery.
But there is a problem with where this command comes from. It comes from a legacy and heritage, a throne, and a line of fathers is stained with sexual sin.
How can a father tell his son not to commit sexual sin when he himself is guilty of it? How can a father provide wisdom where there is nothing but failure?
A father can only do this by the grace of God. When we look at David's story in 2 Samuel 11 and Psalm 51, we see the reality of God's grace. The father of Proverbs can only do this by looking forward to the eschatological Son of Proverbs. Out of the failures of our fathers would come the salvation of the Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ! Jesus took our legacy and heritage of sin and died with it. And Jesus took his legacy and heritage of righteousness and gave it to us. The new heavens and the new earth is going to be one of the most beautiful thing we’ll ever see. And Jesus is going to show it to us one day.
But until that day comes, we must be wise in Christ. That wisdom starts with the word of God. And it continues when we share the gospel with our children.
Let us read God's word. God's word and commandment is beautiful. It protects and preserves us. And in particular, it preserves us from sexual immorality.
Let us share the gospel with our children. May our children fear the Lord as we show them the glory of God's grace in our lives.
Soon there will come a time when we will not need wisdom for temptations. Soon there will be no more forbidden woman. No more need for protection. No more sin. No more death. For we will be home, where the failures of our fathers will be eclipsed by the salvation of the Son.
Questions for Discussion & Sharing
The father of Proverbs tells his son not to commit sexual sin. And he can only do so by the grace of God. What does the grace of God mean to you in your life? In what ways has God shown grace to you?
No parent is perfect. In what ways can we be humble before our (future) children and point them to Christ when we ourselves continue to struggle with sin? How can we wisely share the gospel amidst the danger of crushing our children with hypocrisy and disappointment?
No parent is perfect. In what ways can we as sons and daughters love and obey and honor our parents in Christ when they themselves continue to struggle with sin? How can we wisely believe in the gospel and avoid the danger of being crushed with hypocrisy and disappointment?