The fifth commandment is the first commandment with a promise. The entire commandment is: Honor your father and your mother so that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God has given you.
The word honor in Hebrew is kaved which means heavy or weighty. To honor is to respect, esteem, value and prize. God has given fathers and mothers as gifts. Giving honor to parents then continues through life where we learn to give honor and respect to anyone in authority.
Remember David and Jonathan? Jonathan was the son of King Saul and David was Jonathan’s best friend. King Saul was jealous of David and the fact that he was a mighty warrior. Do you remember how many times King Saul tried to kill David? Yet, David still gave honor to King Saul. King Saul had been made king with God’s authority. David knew that and would not turn on King Saul. He kept running from him whenever he knew King Saul was trying to kill him. But he never once sought revenge on him. King Saul was put in place by God and David honored that.
People complain that today’s children have no respect for authority. I see that myself. A lot of people blame the Sixties as the generation that destroyed the American family. The Sixties generation tried to tear down the state but couldn’t so they tore down the family. The Sixties generation saw the state and family as closely connected. The best way children can destroy the family is by disobeying their parents.
If children do not show honor and respect to their parents then how will they show respect for any kind of authority? Children may not agree with their parents but they still need to honor and respect them. True, there are some parents who do despicable things to their children. Personally, I can’t see how God expects children to honor those parents. We are surrounded by horrible acts from people. Evil has surrounded us from the beginning of time. I pray for children who are abused by their parents.
Parents have a God-given responsibility to teach their children how to know and serve God. Solomon said, “Hear, my son, your father’s instructions, and forsake not your mother’s teaching” (Prov. 1:8). What happens when children don’t have a good family background? God is gracious. We are all children of God. He adopts us into the most important family and that is the family of God.
However, we all need to give respect and honor to our laws, to anyone who has authority over us. That means politicians who are trying to govern our land. You may not agree with what they are doing but we still need to respect their authority. We do not have the right to abuse those in power. You may agree to disagree but there will be a time when those currently in power will change.
The second part of the commandment, live long in the land, is a Hebrew phrase for the fulless of God’s blessing. It means to have an abundant life. This also does not mean that we will live to be one hundred years old. It just means that children who honor their parents receive the gift of life.
The fifth commandment is all about showing respect for authority. This commandment has been hit hard by people today.