Proverbs 22:6 (NASB) Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
I was listening to a sermon the other day, and the pastor was talking about this verse. It’s a proverb none to most christian parents, but how often do we really render it out? I never truly have.
On the surface, it appears to be a guarantee that if you raise a child correctly, he/she will grow and live a correct and positive life. The fact is, I’ve known a great many people who have done the very best they knew how, educated their child in the knowledge of the Lord, only to have the child stray from the narrow path into a life of sin, hardship and disappointment. In turn, I’ve known people who have looked unfavorably on those parents of wayward youth, as if to say, “well obviously, you didn’t do what you should. If you had, as Proverbs 22:6 clearly assures, they wouldn’t have followed that path.” That’s shameful.
I see it as more of a warning to parents of the probable results of bad, permissive parenting. As if to say, “allow a child to do what he/she wants and they’ll continue on that path.” This proverb, like most of them, is an illustration of choice, something to be mindful of and possible outcomes.
The next thing I want to address here is the choice of the word ‘train’ in the English translations. This is an important word choice, as ‘teach’ could have just as easily been selected. The Hebrew word used in this passage was chanokh. The use of this particular verb refers to vital spiritual education that brings a child into definite, real, spiritual experience. For that, it is not enough to teach it to them, they must be trained in it, dedicated to a life’s pursuit of God.
As an archery coach, I can teach proper mechanics. I can instruct someone in equipment setup and maintenance, but if do not continue to drill it, aid them in their pursuit of it, honing and refining these skills, all I did was teach them. Teaching is not training. Training infers a dedication to a specific course and discipline. The reason for the Hebrew use of ‘chanokh’ and subsequently the English choice ‘train’ is vital. This infers deliberate, life long devotion, drilling and internalizing God’s word and ways. That means it doesn’t stop, ever, for all of our temporal life. It also means that there is a starting point. Proverbs 22:6 is directed at parents and the raising of their children, in particular adolescent/teens (the Hebrew word na’ar was replaced by child but more commonly referred to unwed teenage men), but can be applied to each and every one of us at any age. Which means, it’s not too late to start. After all, when one comes to know Jesus, profess Him Lord and Savior, are we not made new, a born again child of God. That means our training is just beginning. It means the mature saints have an obligation to aid in the training of others, as well.
Who would have thought that so much could be said in so few words. Have a blessed weekend.
In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,