Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Muddled Wisdom?

One of the favorite passages for parents is Proverbs 22:6. The NIV translates it this way:

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

Many parents are encouraged by the idea that if they train their children well, the children will continue to be well disciplined as they mature into adulthood.

The Proverbs should be considered wisdom, not promises. Unfortunately, there are a lot of examples of kids that where raised in Godly families who departed from the path that their parents would have chosen for them.

Some of the other translations give this verse a slightly different meaning. For example, Darby’s translation says “Train up the child according to the tenor of his way, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” After reading these alternative translations, it is easy to see how you can totally change the meaning of the meaning of the verse by emphasizing “he should go” instead of “Train a child”. It is also important to note that the NIV verson also has a footnote suggesting that the word "Train" can also be translated "Start". When you look at the Hebrew lexicon it is also fairly easy to see how it could be translated both ways.

Basically if you train a child to pretend to be something that they are not comfortable with, they are going to feel lost, and will wander. If you encourage them to be who God made them to be, however, they will be comfortable with themselves and will not have to “find themselves” later.

Is the interpretation “Train up a child according to their bent, and they shall not depart from it” as valid as the more commonly accepted interpretation? Why or why not?