The Fourth Commandment
Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be prolonged upon the ground which Jehovah thy God gives thee.
AC 8897. Honor thy father and thy mother. That this means love for good and truth—in the supreme sense [love] for the Lord and for His kingdom—is evident from the meaning of “honoring,” as being to love. For in the spiritual sense “to honor” is to love, for the reason that in heaven one loves another, and when he loves he also honors, for in honor there is love. Honor without love is refused in heaven; in fact, it is rejected, because it is devoid of life from good....
“Father” [means] good... and in the supreme sense [father means] the Lord as to Divine good.... That the Lord in the supreme sense is the “father” is because He gives new life to man, and thereby one becomes a son and heir of His kingdom....
“Mother” [means] truth... and in the supreme sense [mother means] the Lord as to Divine truth, thus His kingdom, because the Divine truth which proceeds from the Lord makes heaven. That the Divine truth of the Lord makes heaven is because in the other life, the Lord as to Divine good is the Sun, and as to the Divine truth He is the light. This Divine light from the Lord as the Sun is what illuminates angelic minds and fills them with intelligence and wisdom, and makes them to be angels of light. Divine good is within Divine truth, as heat from the sun is within the light in the time of spring and summer in the world.
AC 8898. That thy days may be prolonged upon the land. That this signifies the consequent state of life in heaven, is evident from the signification of “to be prolonged,” as being said of good and its increase... from the meaning of “thy days,” as being states of life... and from the signification of “land,” here the land of Canaan... as being the kingdom of the Lord....
AC 8899. Which Jehovah thy God gives thee. That this signifies where the Divine is and the consequent influx, is evident from the fact that these words are spoken of heaven, which is here meant by “the land” .... For heaven in general with all, and in particular with each one, is the reception of influx [or influence] from the Divine....
AC 8899:2. As by “father and mother” are meant the Lord and His kingdom, therefore this commandment is the fourth in order, and surpasses in holiness those which follow. The commandment concerning the worship of Jehovah, that is, the Lord, is first and second, because it is the most holy one. Next comes the commandment concerning the Sabbath, because by this in the supreme sense is signified the union of the Divine Itself and the Divine Human in the Lord. After this follows the commandment concerning honoring parents, because by this is meant love of the Lord and the consequent love of good and truth which are from the Lord....
AE 1026:3. These Ten Commandments contain all things of Divine good and all things of Divine truth, and there is also in them a conjunction of these. But this conjunction is hidden, for it is like the conjunction of love to the Lord and love towards the neighbor. Divine good belongs to love to the Lord and Divine truth belongs to love towards the neighbor. For when a man lives according to Divine truth, that is, loves his neighbor, the Lord flows in with Divine good and conjoins Himself.
For this reason there were two tables on which these Ten Commandments were written, and they were called a covenant, which signifies conjunction. And afterwards they were placed in the ark, not one beside the other, but one on top of the other, for a testimony of the conjunction between the Lord and man. On one table the commandments of love to the Lord were written and on the other table the commandments of love towards the neighbor. The commandments of love to the Lord are the first three, and the commandments of love towards the neighbor are the last six; and the fourth commandment... is the mediating commandment, for in it “father” means the Father in the heavens, and “mother” means the church, which is the neighbor.
Questions and Thoughts for Reflection
- Here is an excerpt from a “pleasant discussion” between
some husbands and wives in the other world:
“But,” said the men, “from what does a man have honor from his wife if he does not magnify his own intelligence?” And the wives answered, “From love, it being love that honors. Honor cannot be separated from love, but love can be separated from honor.” (CL 331:2)In other words, if you truly love someone, you cannot help but honor them too; whereas one may pay outward honor and respect to someone without loving him or her. Perhaps there are times when we do not feel love for our partner, but we can still be respectful and honor them, while praying for the Lord to restore our love.
- “Father” means good, or whatever we love. The things we love are the motivation for whatever we do, thus the “father” of all our words and deeds. All the information we learn that show us possibilities, ways and means to achieving what we love are like the “mother” that clothes the love in the womb and cares for the children growing up. Ideally our loves come from the Lord and likewise the truths that show us the way. Honoring our father and mother, spiritually, is partly about making the Lord’s love and truths our priority.
- How has your honoring of your natural parents helped or hindered your honoring of our heavenly Father and our spiritual mother? What does this imply for being good parents?
- Can you see how it is true, that we cannot truly love the Lord unless we love our neighbors, and that we cannot truly love the neighbor unless we love the Lord?