God’s Wisdom for You – Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child


6 Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not turn from it.

The verb “train” is hanak, the root of the word Hanukkah, which can mean either “to train” or “to dedicate,” as in “celebrate joyfully the dedication (חֲנֻכָּה, hanukkah) with songs of thanksgiving” (Nehemiah 12:27). Here, the training of the child is the emphasis.

Training children involves more than loving them or providing for their needs. Training children includes physical training, for their general health and even safety. Learning the value of exercise, the basics of swimming, even self-defense in a karate class, can be valuable. “For physical training is of some value,” Paul said, “but godliness has value for all things, holding the promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). He also said: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). The first and most important element of spiritual training is the word of God itself. “All Scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

In his 1568 catechism, Lutheran pastor and professor David Chytraeus presents six benefits and reasons for those in schools (not just children but college students, teachers, pastors, and professors as well) to devote themselves to the study of (Biblical) literature and especially to learn catechesis:

1. (Because) the eternal Father command from heaven that his Son be heard: “Listen to him,” Matthew 17[:5].

2. The purpose for which we were created must be set before us in learning and teaching that we may both rightly know God and make clear his glory (2 Corinthians 10[:5]; Matthew 5; 1 Peter 4).

3. Third, that we benefit the Church of God, as we aid the preservation of the ministry of the Gospel and the administration of the Church.

4. Fourth, that we be able to serve the State (which is the host of the Church of God) in her councils, judgments, embassies, transactions, and all matters related to the common peace and safety. Also, people should learn to be first in the good works for necessary uses lest they be barren of fruit (Titus 3[:1-2]).

5. Fifth, that we attain an honorable place in the life of the community, our food and the necessities for sustaining life decently. For education is provision for the journey.

6. The principal purpose, however, should always be before our eyes, namely, the true knowledge and praise of God, according to the teaching handed down in the books of the Prophets and Apostles, the sum of which generally is comprehended in the [catechism]. The first concern of all should be that we learn the catechism. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

We must remember, though, that this passage is not a magical formula. This proverb holds up God’s grace and God’s intent, but of course, anyone may refuse God’s grace, turn away from God’s way, and be lost. However, failing to train a child is the surest way of setting them on the path to perdition. The second half of the verse contains the important word, “old.” When a child grows old, his parents are no longer there, but the seeds they planted—the gospel, and his baptismal faith—are there, and as parents, we must trust in God to maintain what we plant. A child may wander, but we must rely on God and trust in him. The power is in the word of God, not in the method or sincerity of the parents. Remember Jesus’ portrait of the Prodigal Son and his father (Luke 15:20). Job, too, prayed for his children but trusted in God and his word (Job 1:5). We must do the same. Train them, instruct them, teach them, and pray for them. And when they show their faith, great or small, we give glory to God and praise his holy name.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Archives by Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel: http://www.wlchapel.org/worship/daily-devotion/
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, New Ulm, Minnesota


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