I think we have to assume that the son is an adult who is of age and who has grown beyond his parent’s ability to control. Clearly, he is of an age to be able to lead a life of excess of food and strong drink beyond the influence of his parents.
The Law of Moses was not merely a set of statutes given to regulate worship and religious ceremony. It also served as the foundation of civil government and judicial law. It laid down the standard of right and wrong, blessings and cursings, and prescribed punishment for the violator. The punishment for the violation of any of the first ten commandments (of which “honor your father and mother” was the fifth) was death without mercy. The violation of any of the second five commandments had various consequences depending on the nature of the offense and the status of the offender. The punishments for violating any of the ten commandments were not subject to human manipulation, compromise, substitution, or dismissal. These punishments were delivered from the mind of God and we’re fixed and unalterable.
The sins of this son in our text are multifaceted. Just like the prodigal son, this young man had led a life-style that ran to excess. Because of this, his life was in ruin socially, domestically, and spiritually.
a. He was stubborn and rebellious.
b. He was disobedient to his parents.
c. He refused correction – he would not accept chastisement.
d. He refused guidance – he would not listen to his parents.
e. He was stubborn – self-willed.
f. He was rebellious, which represented a disregard for all kinds of authority.
g. He was a glutton and a drunkard.
This young man was more than just a nuisance, he was a danger to the social and spiritual fabric of the city, and for the welfare of the city and of the nation, this young man was not worthy to live. He must be destroyed. This may seem rather harsh by conventional ways of thinking but, the extreme nature of the penalty is meant to empress upon the mind the seriousness of this type of behavior. Not because society may disapprove, but because God disapproves, and apparently, in a violent way. This his how God sees this type of behavior and we are required to represent it in the same way. It was not to be tolerated.
The behavior of this young man has now become a capital offense. He was to be brought before the elders at the gates of the city (This was the place where judgment was rendered – Lot sat at the gates of the city of Sodom.), of his hometown. It was in his home town where his sins had been made a public display. His home town was also the place that had suffered offense at his hands. Because of his behavior, he became an offense to the entire city.
(Notice, it is his father and mother who have delivered him to the judges. They are his accusers. It was their responsibility.)
Once the matter had been thoroughly investigated as the law demanded, and determination of guilt has been established, “Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death.” This is of course based on the testimony of at least two witnesses – his father and mother.