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?


At 9:27 AM, Blogger Bert said...

The English Standard Version reads:

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

(By the way, here's a good defense for ESV: Piper on ESV)

This interpretation and almost all direct translations (NIV, NASB, KJV) read "Train up a child in the way he SHOULD go" (emphasis mine).

Taken with the entirety of the Bible, I believe this to reflect admonition to disciple our children in the laws, statutes, and commands of the Lord.

And notice that this passage does not promise that the child will never stray - but that when he is old, he will not depart.

My belief is that if we are faithful as parents to train up our children on Biblical foundation by the Holy Spirit, they will have the groundwork they need to live a life that is pleasing to God.

Could 'depart' mean that he'll never forget the teaching? Where are the Biblical Hebrew scholars among us? :)

I don't believe this passage is a guarantee, because that would remove responsibility from the child. But this passage focuses on the responsibility of the parents and gives honest encouragement for doing so.

Anyone have the Hebrew?

At 8:50 AM, Blogger nnena said...

When are we going to have another post?

At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Joann said...

I wish my parents had given me a good, solid, Christian upbringing when I was a child. It would have definitely laid the foundation for me, and I wouldn't be struggling so much as a Christian today. Unfortunately, all I did was attend church and Sunday School classes off and on until I became a teenager, but my parents were not Christian. No foundation was laid for me, and I was pretty much left to fend for myself. I've been a Christian for five and a half years now, and I still can't seem to get it right.

At 3:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


If you are trying to be Christian-like in your own power you will fail over and over again. It is the Lord that saves and also promises to finish the good work he has begun in us. I cannot tell from your post if you have accepted Jesus as your personal Savior and made him truly Lord of your life. If you have not, I pray that you will and then you will truly understand the blessed peace of Christianity and eventually come to a place where you can forgive your partens and perhaps lead them to the Lord as well. You will be in my prayers...


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