The first four commandments define man's relationship with God, teaching us the magnitude of His power and name so that we can properly worship and obey Him. The fifth commandment is the first of those that regulate man's relationship with other human beings. "Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16) links the first four commandments with the last six. Truly honoring one's parents is perpetually coupled with obeying and revering God (Leviticus 19:2-4), for it is by learning to honor our parents that we first come to understand how to approach God.
1. Does God pronounce a curse on those who break the fifth commandment? Deuteronomy 27:16. Did Ham dishonor his father Noah? Genesis 9:20-22. How did his brothers honor their father? Verse 23. What curse fell on Canaan as a result of this sin? Verses 24-27.
Comment: This commandment was in effect long before Moses received the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai. Both Ham and Canaan broke this commandment by dishonoring Noah, and God pronounced a curse, specifically on Canaan, who probably played the largest part in this sin.
2. How serious is striking or cursing one's parent? Exodus 21:15, 17. What did Solomon record about respecting parents? Proverbs 1:8; 4:1-5; 6:20-23.
Comment: How important this commandment is to God! The relationship of children to their parents is a type of the spiritual relationship between true Christians and God. Without a loving attitude toward parents, it is impossible to love God truly.
3. Does God emphasize that obeying the fifth commandment will prolong our lives? Deuteronomy 4:40; 5:33; 6:2; 11:8-9. Did the apostle Paul also state this? Ephesians 6:1-3.
Comment: Obeying this commandment automatically builds habits and character that promote long life (Proverbs 4:10-11). A child trained in biblical principles and God's way of life will avoid recklessness, violence, immorality and rebellion against authority that often result in premature death.
4. How do children dishonor their parents? What is the result? Deuteronomy 21:18-21; Exodus 21:15; Leviticus 20:9; Proverbs 19:26; 20:20; 28:24; 30:17. How did the scribes and Pharisees pervert obedience to this commandment? Matthew 15:3-9; Mark 7:6-13.
Comment: We can dishonor our parents through stubbornness, mocking, scorning, angrily talking back to them, thievery and violence. These will eventually be punished by death, shame, disgrace, darkness of understanding (ignorance) and destruction. Through greedy human reasoning, the Pharisees encouraged financial neglect of parents to increase the riches of the treasury, a hypocrisy Jesus condemned.
5. Is there a limit to the love and honor we should show our parents? Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26; Hebrews 12:9.
Comment: Hate in Luke 14 means "love less by comparison." If our love for our parents interferes with worshiping and obeying God properly, we do not genuinely love Him. Matthew 10 shows that Christ refers to those who place their father or mother above God in obedience and reverence; this is idolatry. The time may come when it is no longer necessary or right for us to obey our parents. Even so, we should never cease to honor them. Honor indicates a high respect for their worth, high esteem and reverence. Without this, we cannot properly revere God. Just as our parents corrected us, so also God corrects us. As a result we honor and respect our parents which is a shadow of our subjection to the Father.
6. How are widows to be treated by their children? I Timothy 5:4, 8. What was Christ's last concern? John 19:26-28. Did Jesus personally express his reverence and obedience toward the Father? John 14:31; 15:10; 10:17-18.
Comment: A person who has properly obeyed his parents in childhood later expresses his honor for them in a deeper appreciation of the comforts and training they provided him as a child. This honor expresses itself in courtesy, thoughtfulness and kind deeds. Any parent, especially a widowed parent, should be repaid by his children for the care given them as they grew up. Even in His dying moments, while suffering an agonizing death, Jesus honored and loved His mother by making provision for John to care for her after His death. God our Father is well pleased with us when we obey this vital commandment (Colossians 3:20).