“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
- Ephesians 6:2-3
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
- Exodus 20:12
“Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
- Deuteronomy 5:16
“Now Lord, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me faithfully as you have done.’
- 1 Kings 8.25
“Q. 54. What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?
“A. The reason annexed to the fifth commandment is, a promise of long life and prosperity – as far as it shall serve for God’s glory, and their own good – to all such as keep this commandment. (Eph. 6:2-3).”
- Charles H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Catechism (Scripture proofs in bold above)
“Q. 66. What is the reason annexed to the Fifth Commandment?
“A. The reason annexed to the Fifth Commandment is a promise of long life and prosperity (as far as it shall serve for God’s glory, and their own good) to all such as keep this commandment.”
- The Shorter Catechism (Westminster Assembly)
“Q. 133. What is the reason annexed to the Fifth Commandment the more to enforce it?
“A. The reason annexed to the Fifth Commandment in these words, ‘that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee,’ is an express promise of long life and prosperity, as far as it shall serve for God’s glory and their own good, to all such as keep this Commandment.”
- The Larger Catechism (Westminster Assembly)
The Shorter and Spurgeon catechisms have the same wording and biblical proofs. The Larger Catechism is larger, as usual. In addition to the Ephesians 6 biblical proof, all additional biblical proofs are for the Larger catechism answer.
The prosperity angle in the answers is a bit of a puzzle. What if you honored your parents, who, in part, were not honorable, and then you suffered with the lack of prosperity? The glorification of God is also essential and sometimes, mediocrity and a lack of prosperity can produce greater glorification of God than does prosperity.
We get complacent when we have a lot. We might think we deserve more or at least everything we got. This is a strange promise unless it is strictly tied to the glorification of God.
If we lose our purpose in glorifying God and enjoying Him forever, is there any purpose in extending our life here on earth?
So, it does not seem this promise, or the interpretation of earthly prosperity as being part of the promise, is a promise without responsibilities. And if the promise refers to heavenly prosperity, then I think we can look forward to that.
But as for a person with a parent who fell far short of the honorable, this commandment is hard. There are no conditions that give us an excuse to ignore the commandment, but as the comments came through two weeks ago, sometimes the best honor we can give to a cruel parent is to forgive.
And now let us sing.
The following song is Now Thank We All Our God, sung at Westminster Abbey. I am unfamiliar with the ceremony.
“1 Now thank we all our God
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done,
in whom his world rejoices;
who from our mothers’ arms
has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.
2 O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts
and blessed peace to cheer us,
to keep us in his grace,
and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all ills
of this world in the next.
3 All praise and thanks to God
the Father now be given,
the Son and Spirit blest,
who reign in highest heaven
the one eternal God,
whom heaven and earth adore;
for thus it was, is now,
and shall be evermore.
- Martin Rinkart (translated by Catherine Winkworth, Now Thank We All Our God
You are our Abba (Daddy) Father. Help us to honor You by honoring our parents. If forgiveness is necessary, let us be willing to do so. And if You grant us more time on this earth, may each day be spent glorifying Your Name.
In thy Name we pray.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.
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