Characteristics of a Wise Son or Daughter

Proverbs 10:1 Wisdom includes Honoring Your Father and Mother

Your character will be revealed by your attitudes, words, actions, and responses. The things others cannot see in you will be revealed by the things that flow from you. The very first of the Proverbs of Solomon, in chapter ten of Proverbs, reveal one of the impacts of that flow. The impact will be felt by your father and mother. If they are gone, then your wisdom, or lack thereof, will impact countless others. This includes your spouse, friends, children, coworkers, neighbors, and even people who serve you in a restaurant or at a store.

Proverbs in Any Language

I have a decent command of the English language. A long time ago, in high school, Frau Schiekel did her best to help me learn and use the German language. I can still read the Luther German Bible with some understanding. Although I cannot read Hindi, I have tools I can use to see what a Proverb says in that language, and I can use Google Translate to see what the Hindi might look like translated back into English. The truth of the Proverbs spans all languages, cultures, and has the same impact since penned three thousand years ago.

Slow Down and Don’t Read it too Fast

Proverbs 10:1 in English, German, and Hindi

Some have a habit of reading one chapter of the Proverbs every day. There are 31 chapters, so for most months you might have to skip chapter 31. That probably is better than not reading them at all. However, I believe we are good at reading lots of words, including truth in God’s Word, and not really chewing on or digesting what we are reading. Perhaps we can slow down a bit when we read Proverbs 10:1. It says, “A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.” (In German, it is, “Ein weiser Sohn ist seines Vaters Freude; aber ein törichter Sohn ist seiner Mutter Grämen.”)

What Does This Look Life in Life?

First of all, wisdom requires learning. Wisdom comes from gaining knowledge and understanding. So, a wise person is open to learning. This means they have a sense of discipline and exercise self-control. They are willing to forgo immediate pleasure or satisfaction for something more lasting.

Wise people learn from their mistakes. They admit their mistakes and ask for help to avoid similar mistakes in the future. This means they humble themselves under someone older than and wiser than themselves. God purposefully puts parents in the role of primary teacher. Although some parents are admittedly bad teachers by their own life choices, most try to raise their children to be good and productive citizens.

Wise people are guided by wisdom. They can take knowledge, understand it, process it, and then apply it. In fact, it is the application of wisdom that others see and hear. That application brings joy when applied, or sorrow when ignored or rejected. Furthermore, wise people know their priorities and have selected priorities that have significant power for good in their lives and in the lives of others.


Therefore, it is understandable that a wise son (or daughter) will have a very positive impact on the lives of his or her father and mother. God, by the way, thinks this is very important. The Apostle Paul quotes from the Ten Commandments in Ephesians chapter 6: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’” Ephesians 6:1-3

This command is repeated more than once: Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16, Matthew 15:4, Matthew 19:19, Mark 7:10, Mark 10:19, and Luke 18:20.

All scripture passages are from the English Standard Version except as otherwise noted.