Proverbs 12:16: Anger and Prudent Parenting

Translations

KJV A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.
NKJV A fool’s wrath is known at once, But a prudent man covers shame.
ESV The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.
NRSV Fools show their anger at once, but the prudent ignore an insult.
NASB A fool’s anger is known at once, But a prudent man conceals dishonor.
NIV A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult
NLT A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted.
CEV Losing your temper is foolish; ignoring an insult is smart.

 

Commentators

 Clifford (OTL) Fools reveal their anger, that is, they take instant offence at events or words, but the wise conceal or ignore offenses that cause arguments. The wise refuse to lower themselves to the level of their attackers.
Ross (EBC) Those who are mature are able to handle criticism without responding instinctively and irrationally. The wise man does not give the enemy that satisfaction. It is not so much that the wise man represses anger or feelings but that he is more shrewd in dealing with it.
Fritsch (IB) The fool has no self-control. A wise man is calm in the face of shame when he is insulted.
Henry A fool is known by his anger (so some read it); not but that a wise man may be angry when there is just cause for it, but then he has his anger under check and direction, is lord of his anger, whereas a fool’s anger lords it over him. Those that are soon angry, that are quickly put into a flame by the least spark, have not that rule which they ought to have over their own spirits.
Horton (EB) A fool cannot hide his vexation, but must immediately blurt it out with the tongue. When he is angry he must utter it all at once, though a wise man would keep it back and still is, so concealing shame.

We read this verse in Proverbs last night during our family devotions. It was one I read more than once.

The seed of anger is a curious one. I read it more than once last night because upon reading it my wife and I both looked at one of our children whom we both immediately applied it to. But she comes by her temper honestly; she got it from her daddy. I see in her what I once was. Easily set off by the slightest provocation.

I wonder how much of the growth and death of anger is due to the youth and mellowing of age. Am I “better” at controlling my anger simply because I am older and more mature? Because I rationally realize there really is not much worth getting angry over? Or because the Spirit of God has been transforming my inner man? One reason to be thankful for children is that they try your patience in an abundance of new and unexpected ways. My children help me see the ways in which I have only outgrown anger and the ways in which I still struggle with it.

With this Proverb in mind, how does a parent root out the seed of anger in his child? There is certainly justification for an appeal to the irrationality of anger: it is presented in terms of foolishness and prudence. But reason can only go so far, especially when the passions rise up against it.

Parents must model prudent patience to their children. Children must see this Proverb in action. Do the failings, fightings, and outbursts of my children provoke me to instant anger? If so, I must subdue this passion by submitting to the correction of God and his word. I should seek the forgiveness of my children for being quick-tempered myself. When I respond to them in anger I am teaching them that anger is the proper response to trial. And only a fool believes that.

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