8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
9 They are a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.
10 My son, if sinful men entice you,
do not give in to them.
There are many things the youth doesn’t understand, so his father and mother instruct and teach him. Without much experience he is tempted to listen to the advice of the world instead, which contradicts what his parents have told him. He may not have experience, but he does have two ways of discerning whom to follow. The first is to consider motives. Who wants the best for him, his parents or the world? His parent’s direction may not make sense, but he knows they would not deceive him. The world tells him what he wants to hear, but there is always a catch.
“They are are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” The youth’s second way of discerning paths is to observe those who have gone before him. Wise and foolish living both leave their marks on a person, they are as evident as jewelry to those who know what to look for. Who does the youth want to become like? The wise uncle who is healthy and cheerful, or the foolish neighbor who has nice things but is always unhappy?
“My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them.” The wise father warns his son of the dangers of temptation, the deceit of sinful men. He teaches his son the path of wisdom, and warns him of the path of folly. He knows that he cannot always protect his son, so he gives him the tools necessary to protect himself. The father knows that the sharper the contrast between wisdom and folly he draws, the easier it will be for his son to have courage to do the right thing.