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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”—Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)
The nurse placed our swaddled newborn in my arms. My husband and I smiled down at him, but then frantically unwrapped him. The nurse asked, “Is there anything wrong? All ten fingers and ten toes, right?”
“Yes!” we replied. “But where are his instructions?!”
Of course, there were none. What it really boiled down to was the Lord had placed this little life in our arms and had already given us instructions throughout His Word, especially in the Book of Proverbs.
Proverbs overflows with wise instruction to help guide us on a godly path. And nestled among all these idioms is one for parents: Proverbs 22:6. However, as scholar Matthew Poole said, “This, as many proverbs of like nature, are not to be understood as if they were universally and necessarily true.” We cannot treat this verse as a guarantee. It’s more like a principle or a general rule that usually comes to fruition, giving parents encouragement for raising children.
The words of most value to parents are “train” and “way.” The rest of the verse represents the best possible outcome in a world where God grants everyone free will.
The word “train” means to dedicate; quite literally from the Hebrew it means to “put into the mouth.” Those things that parents dedicate to do and those things they place into their children are crucial in the formative years. These biblically-based training techniques adapt and evolve as the child grows, yet are still essential to establish a foundation of faith.
The word “way” in Hebrew means “according to his way,” that is, the child’s way. It can mean either (1) according to the personality of the child, or (2) the way he ought to go. Most scholars favor the latter meaning. Given that God desires “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4 NKJV), then the best thing we can do for our children is to walk in that truth and teach them God’s wisdom and ways. The rest of the verse unfolds when children have and use the information to make wise choices.
Proverbs affirms that wisdom, instruction, and discipline begin in the home (1:8; 19:18; 23:23-25). In fact, the entire book is an exposé of God’s wisdom and His way. Not only should it be used as an instructional manual and an investment in our children, but doctrinally as ambassadors of Christ to all the children we love. As Pastor Alistair Begg has said, “By nature we love our children dearly, but we need Scripture to love them wisely.”
DIG: Read through Proverbs 22. How do some of the verses connect back to verse 6?
DISCOVER: Read 2 Timothy 3:1-17. In this passage, Paul is warning Timothy about a certain type of person who will be prevalent in the last days . . . he calls them “evil men and imposters” (2 Timothy 3:13 NKJV). As you read through Paul’s description, do you see a contrast between these men and what we’re told in Proverbs 22:6? Focus on the contrast between 2 Timothy 3:7 and the second half of Proverbs 22:6. What do you think this tells you about a) the last days, and b) the parenting these evil men may have received?
DISPLAY: We might not all be parents, but are there children in your life that could benefit from your wisdom and fear of God? As a servant of God, put 2 Timothy 2:15 and 3:16 into practice with biblical training.
Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.