You shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.
This is a remarkable command, given by God to Moses. Not for the matter of it, for it is the same in substance with the fifth in the Decalogue. But as differing from that and other parallel passages, it is remarkable on two accounts. In those the father is always put first. It is, "Honour thy father and thy mother." "He that smiteth his father and his mother, shall surely be put to death." "My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother." "Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old." "Honour thy father and thy mother, which is the first commandment with promise." But here, mother is put first — "Ye shall fear every man his mother and his father." Then again, the word "fear" — "Thou shalt fear thy mother and thy father," occurs in no other passage. There must be a meaning, both in the word "fear," and the singular collocation of the sentence. And what is it? Fathers are in general wont to govern their children more by authority, and mothers by love. Hence they are more afraid of offending their fathers than their mothers. This is especially the case with boys, about the time when they enter their teens. For three or four years they are more impatient of restraint than ever before or after. They are then apt to think they know much more than their mothers, and are quite capable of governing themselves. To guard against this undervaluing of their mother's authority seems to have been the special design of the command in question. "Ye shall fear every man his mother" — detracting nothing from the father's authority; hut putting the mother's in the foreground, because there is danger of its being despised or overlooked. The word "fear," in this case, is not quite synonymous with "honour," in the fifth commandment. It has rather more intensity of meaning, if it is not more imperative. There is more of awe in fear, if not more of reverence. God intended to put both parents on the same level. Both are to be feared alike. And this purity of governmental control carries along with it corresponding obligations. Mothers must not shrink from exercising the authority with which God has clothed them, to "train Up their children in the way in which they should go," however crossing it may sometimes be to their parental yearning. Let them rule by love as much as they can. The more the better. But restraint, by coercion, where nothing else will do, is one of the highest forms in which parental love is manifested. It would be wrong, it would be cruel to withhold it from the wayward child. Thousands upon thousands have been greatly wronged, if not ruined, by overweening motherly indulgence. The surest way ultimately to win that undying filial love, "which casteth out fear," is to restrain and govern the boy just at the age when he is most restive under parental control. Woe to the child that breaks away from the authority which God has ordained. Evil is as surely before him as the going down of the sun (Proverbs 30:17).
Parallel VersesKJV: Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.