By Eric Taylor
Pastor, Cedar Hill Baptist Church, Cedar Hill
Focal Passage: Exodus 20:12; II Samuel 15:7-14
The fifth commandment is sometimes called a transition, or bridge commandment between the first four that focus on the believer’s relationship with God, and the last five that focus on people’s relationships with one another.
In one sense you could say that one learns the importance of honoring God by honoring their parents, or vice versa. One may also say that one learns how to respect others and their property by learning how to honor and respect their parents.
Having said that, this commandment is deeper than just a lesson for children to “obey their parents.” Yes, Colossians 3:20 says, “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.” However, the Hebrew word in Exodus 20 is “honor,” and is best translated, “to be heavy” or “to give weighty importance.” In other words, God was telling Israel that He expected the people to deem their parents worthy of honor and respect.
While respecting and caring for one’s parents was the accepted, normal practice in ancient Near Eastern culture, God wanted the people of Israel to understand that the breaking of this commandment came with consequences.
It is interesting to note, that this commandment explicitly names a blessing that comes with honoring one’s parents: “That your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” The Apostle Paul addresses this in Ephesians 6:2-3, and reminds the church in Ephesus that this is the “first commandment with a promise.” One might even interpret the words of Scripture as implying that things may not go well if one does not honor their father and mother.
Apparently, not honoring father and mother has always been an issue that had to be addressed. For example, Jesus deals with this in Mark 7, when He condemns the Pharisees for abusing an ancient tradition called, Corban. According to this idea, one could claim any kind of material goods as “Corban” (v. 11), meaning, “dedicated to God.” They believed the corban was then free to be used how one saw fit.
So, if the Pharisees declared all the money and possessions they had as dedicated to God, they were not required to use them to help their elderly parents.
Jesus condemned them for the practice calling them “hypocrites.” (v. 6) for breaking the fifth commandment and making the “word of God of no effect” (v. 13).
Now the passage from II Samuel 15 is a lesson from the negative. This is the tragic story of what happened to a son who would not honor his father and mother. Absalom ‘s actions toward his father, King David, are a lesson in what happens when the fifth commandment is ignored and violated.
Matter of fact, one of the saddest passages in all the Bible is found in II Samuel 15:6, where the Bible says, “So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” In other words, Absalom worked to undercut his father’s authority as King by turning the people of Israel against his father, David (v. 13).
When you look ahead to II Samuel 18, you see the fulfillment of the implication of breaking this commandment. Absalom is killed by Joab and his men (vv. 14-15). B&R