What does to “set light by” father and mother mean?

In Deut. 27:16, we find this curse, “Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother.” And then in Ezek 22:7, we find this, “In thee have they set light by father and mother.”

Just looking at the verses doesn’t seem to give us anyway of knowing what they are saying. However, the Bible is filled with cross references that shed light on each other. So, if you come across one verse that doesn’t seem to make sense, you can usually get what the verse is saying when you find the cross references.

The cross references to these verses are 1 Sam. 18:30 and 1 Sam. 26:24. 1 Sam 18:30 says, “… David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was much set by.” Here you can more easily see the sense. The phrase “set by” means to hold in high esteem, or to regard with honor.

We can get the gist of “set by” in 1 Sam 26:24, which says, “And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the LORD, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation.” Here “set by” means to value. David told Saul how much he valued his life by not killing him when he had the opportunity.

Now returning to the question, to “set light by” father and mother would then mean to lightly esteem, to lightly value, or to dishonor them. And this makes perfect sense when you consider the commandments of the Lord.

Ex. 20:12 says to honor thy father and mother. Lev. 19:3 says, “Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father.” And the Bible gives stern penalties for violating these commands. A child was to get the death penalty for the following: for cursing his father or mother (Ex. 21:17); for smiting his father or mother (Ex. 21:15); or for being stubborn and rebellious (Deut. 21:18-21).

You know what’s wrong with this generation? They have set light by father and mother. Instead of just learning what the expression means, children need to do what the Bible says and get back to honoring Mom and Dad. They bring themselves under a curse if they don’t!!! “Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen,” (Deut. 27:16).

Hope this helps,

Pastor Bevans Welder