With this verse:

"A wise son maketh a glad father; But a foolish man despiseth his mother" - Proverbs 15:20

I would like to know what you think about this verse, what this really implies, and whether it changes anything if it were to be

"A wise son maketh a glad mother; But a foolish man despiseth his father"

I thought that it might be a relation to the role that has the father and the mother, but it's not clear because in one they talk about a son but in the other is a man, so I don't know if it means something more.

  • 8
    One of the features of Hebrew poetry (which this is) is parallelism. Parallelism is the saying of the same thing in two different ways. Typically you should not try to derive any meaning from the two parallel parts. Dec 4, 2012 at 1:18

2 Answers 2


Hebrew poetry (such as Psalms and Proverbs) are noted not for rhyming but for parallelism. That is, they will often make a statement in the A part of the verse that is repeated slightly differently in the B portion. Proverbs 15:20 is a good example of using contrast in the parallel.

A wise child(A)          brings joy(B)   to his father(C),
but a foolish person(A)  despises(B)     his mother(C).

This verse is almost identical to Proverbs 10:1

A wise child(A)          makes a father(C)   rejoice(B), 
but a foolish child(A)   is a grief(B)       to his mother(C). 

In this one, the parallels are marked according to the Hebrew word order which has "makes rejoice" in one word before father.

You can take any verse of poetry and find these parallels. They might be showing a contrast (as here) or repeating for emphasis as in Psalm 1:1:

1:1 How blessed is the man who does not  walk   in the counsel  of the wicked, 
                                    Nor  stand  in the path     of sinners, 
                                    Nor  sit    in the seat     of scoffers! 

The NASB shows the structure much better than the NET here. The verse is formatted to show the structure. One should not base a teaching on any kind of distinction between the counsel of the wicked, the path of sinners, or the seat of scoffers.

The writer of the proverb was not trying to say that wise men come from the father while fools come from the mother. He was making a contrast.

  • Thanks but that is a normal analisis I want something more spiritual, as we know that every verse talk about God, for example when it talks about the son (Jesus) and the father. Because with that thought there would be no problem to change father for mother. Starting because God is known as Father, so everything had an order and a reason to be. I was hoping for ideas..
    – Xoltic
    Dec 4, 2012 at 18:17

In the past I thought there is a reason that the father is related to the wise son and the mother is related to the stupid son.

But then I found:

  • Proverbs 17:25: "A surly, stupid child is sheer pain to a father, a bitter pill for a mother to swallow" - a stupid child is a pain to both father and mother.
  • Proverbs 23:25: "Parents rejoice when their children turn out well; wise children become proud parents. So make your father happy! Make your mother proud!" - a smart child brings happiness to both father and mother.

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