The series, “Butchered Bible Verses” continues today (Friday) although it’s a Thursday series! Yesterday was extremely busy and I was unable to post this until today. As we have discussed throughout this series, the Bible is not open for private interpretations that fit our personal agenda, doctrinal positions, or other practical issues of life. It is our duty as Christians to read, study, and interpret the Bible in the most accurate way. This will lead us to discover the single meaning of the text (that God Himself inspired) rather than the multitude of man’s opinions that often surround Bible verses.
Proverbs 22:6 - Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Explanation of how the text is misused
Often people quote Proverbs 22:6 in two specific ways that are not the intended meaning of this verse.
- If parents will raise their children faithfully, as God has directed them, their child will NEVER go astray!
- If parents will raise their children faithfully, as God has directed them, their child will COME BACK to the Lord by the time they are old – if they walk astray.
Explanation of the text
This text should be approached within the context. In order to do that, we must first recognize the genre of literature that Proverbs falls within. Proverbs is considered to be wisdom literature, and while it is the Word of God (completely inspired of God and inerrant), it should not be approached as a blanket promise! In other words, Proverbs 22:6 is the way that God intends His people to raise children, and in a general sense, what the text says will be the end result. As a whole, we can expect these results, but it’s not written as a definite full-proof promise that if parents follow Proverbs 22:6 their children will never rebel against the gospel.
For instance, I have friends and family members who have several children. They raised all of their children under the care of the gospel in a stable, Christ exalting, covenant keeping family environment. These families were involved in their church and the parents exemplified a priority of worship and service to God along with healthy God centered relationships. However, I have witnessed these families experience heartbreaking situations as one of their children rebelled against the truth of the gospel in ways that the other children didn’t. In those situations, how should these parents approach Proverbs 22:6? Should they cling to it as a promise that their wayward child will repent and obey God? What happens if the child never repents and dies in a wayward rebellious lifestyle of sin? Was the Bible not true?
Proverbs 22:6 will always remain true, but it doesn’t mean that exceptions will not occur! In other words, Proverbs 22:6 was never inspired by God to mean that all Christian parents will always have all Christian children. It does mean that as a whole – in the majority of the cases – Christian parents will reach their children with the gospel and their children will follow in the ways of righteousness. It becomes a dangerous thing to promote Proverbs 22:6 as a divine promise and blanket truth without exceptions – because it wasn’t intended for that purpose.
May God give us wisdom to raise our children in a Christ exalting, covenant keeping, God focused home in order that we can lead them to a saving knowledge of King Jesus! As a parent who often falls short, it is my desire for God to give me discernment and clarity that I need to fulfill Proverbs 22:6!
For the glory of Christ alone,
Pastor Josh Buice