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  • Chad Werkhoven

Deuteronomy 5:16 - Anchored

You're commanded to be anchored to your parents (it's not as bad as it sounds).

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Read Deuteronomy 5:16

Listen to passage & devotional:


Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 104

Q. What is God’s will for you

in the fifth commandment?

A. That I honor, love, and be loyal to

my father and mother

and all those in authority over me;

that I obey and submit to them,

as is proper,

when they correct and punish me;

and also that I be patient

with their failings—

for through them God chooses

to rule us.



The fifth commandment contains one short imperative: honor your father and your mother, and then it goes on to provide two huge benefits for keeping this command. As we've seen before, God's commands are not given to us as a 'keep them or else' type of coercion. Through His Law, our Father teaches us how to live well and enjoy life.

But it's easy for us to get this imperative wrong, by reducing this command to a simple reminder to love, obey, submit to, and care for our parents. Certainly those are ways to properly keep the fifth commandment, but the word God chose here goes a step farther: the literal translation of 'honor' is to give weight to, or let your parents be heavy in your life. In other words, your life ought to be anchored by your parents.

All of us have people that we truly love and care for, and even at times submit to and obey, without having tethered our entire life to their particular worldview. Although you may enjoy a warm relationship with such people, you live in a way contrary to their core beliefs, even if you outwardly conform your behavior when they're around.

But you are not commanded to just have a friendly but shallow relationship with your parents. Rather, God has commanded you to honor your parents so as to keep you anchored to His ways.

Notice the reward for keeping the fifth commandment is limited: God commands you to honor your parents so that it might go well with you, but God is not promising here that if you honor your parents things will go well for you in whatever you choose to do or however you choose to live. You are to honor your parents so that it might go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

The Israelites who first heard this would have understood that God was commanding them to anchor themselves to the Promised Land they were heading towards by continuing to let their parents 'weigh them down' in that particular place as they lived godly lives just as previous generations had done.

Jesus expanded the Promised Land from a particular geographical area to the spiritual Kingdom of Heaven.

Dig Deeper

This command to anchor yourself to your parents' core beliefs makes total sense for those of us whose parents had their worldview shaped by God's Word and acted consistently with it. But what if you didn't have these kinds of parents? Must you remain anchored to a sinking rock?

Certainly not.

The first seven verses of Psalm 95 are some of the most beautiful words in the Bible; you've likely sung and recited them often. But in verse 9, God breaks into this beautiful song of praise to order His people to do the opposite of what He set forth in His fifth commandment. He tells His people to cut themselves free of their fathers who had hardened their hearts generations before and rebelled against God.

If your parents have set themselves against God, you still must honor them in the limited sense of loving, caring and even obeying and submitting to them when doing so isn't contrary to God's other commands. But your true Honor, that is, the true weight that anchors your life, must be your Heavenly Father.

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who is the ultimate parent we must honor so that it might go well with us in His Kingdom;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God if you can fully honor your parents as commanded, and pray that you will set a good example so that your children can fully keep this command as well;



Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Titus 1


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