Will raising a child according to Biblical principles guarantee they will always believe? Are Proverbs promises or principles?
Interpretation of Proverbs 22:6
The genre of Proverbs is Wisdom Literature, and the verse is part of a number of wise insights.
#2 Initial Interpretation
Parents who teach their children at a young age how to live for God will ensure that, when the child has grown up, he will still follow God’s ways.
- Causation: the training of a child will cause the child to continue in the same ways later in life
- Instrumentation: again, early training is instrumental in how a person lives life later
- the training NOW will have positive effects in the FUTURE
- “even when he is old”: a child may obey when still young, because the parents have authority and power; but the verse says “even”, indicating that even without parental influence or pressure, the person will continue in the ways he has been taught/trained
- The proverbs were possibly written by Solomon, but other authors also might have contributed over many years.
- They were written and collected during the times of the kings, and possibly after the exile, and they contrast wisdom and folly. Israel had rulers and laws, but this did not automatically result in them living wisely.
- The main theme of proverbs is to teach wisdom, and that the “fear of God” is the beginning of wisdom (1:7).
- The sayings are not prophetic descriptions; they still have to be applied in different contexts and in different ways; they are guidelines and principles, not promises.
- Parents were teaching their children at home about God, and wisdom should also be included in the teaching
Parents should teach their children at a young age how to live wisely, and there is a good chance, but not a guarantee, that, when the child has grown up, he will continue to live wisely and fear the Lord.
- I need to help parents understand that this verse is not a promise of God to them. They cannot assume that teaching their children Bible verses and stories, and teaching them to pray to and praise God will ensure that they will always believe in Him. They still have a choice later in life to continue in the way their parents have taught them, or to depart from it.
- In addition, this verse does not teach that children should go to Sunday School, for instance. It is concerned with teaching children to live wisely, in all areas of their lives, not just at church, but on the playground, at school, or at home. Teaching children to make wise choices in life is so much broader than having them memorize Bible verses (although it should include that).
- For myself, when I have children, I also want to train them in discovering truth and seeking wisdom on their own. I should not be satisfied with regurgitation of things I have taught them; they need to learn to seek and find wisdom, and they need to WANT to live accordingly.