Train up a child in the way he should go.

Train up a child in the way he should go.

Understanding Proverbs 22:6 in its original context reveals that it is a warning, not a promise. It is a warning to parents that if they allow their children to have their way, they will not depart from that foolishness when they are older. As Professor Edward Wilde has written, “When we look at the surrounding proverbs (which may give a hint) we have warnings of what NOT to do:  V. 5: keep away or suffer the consequence. V. 7: Don’t borrow, or suffer the consequence. V. 8, don’t be unjust, or suffer the consequence.” Professor Wilde offers his translation, “Dedicate your child to his desire and he’ll be happy to go there – and stay there.”

Proverbs 22:6 should not be understood as a promise that Christian children will make good decisions their entire life. No, it should be understood as a warning. If parents don’t wisely discipline their children, then their kids are going to make foolish choices and continue to do so when they grow up. The discerning parent is aware of this and carefully considers how to guide the child to become self-aware and self-controlled so that he will learn to make wise decisions in his youth and continue to do so the rest of his life.

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