Proverbs in 365 Devotions
Proverbs 22:5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them. 6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Train Up A Child
So theirs a couple of threads here I want to take a look at. First in that whoever guards his soul will stay clear of snares and thorns. This does not mean that godly people will not face trouble... or even always take the easy safe route to avoid it… nor should we… While we are here we cannot escape the fact that this world is still broken and as said although those who are believers are righteous in Christ we are still a broken work in progress practically. And troubles in this world remind us of the healer of all brokenness. Even our brokenness in death points us to the one who rose and raises the dead.
In Philippians 3:20-21 Paul says this: But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
So in today's passage I don’t think Solomon is saying is to guard our souls against the brokenness of the physical world but rather the snares and thorns of wickedness and sin… Like a trap or snare they promise satisfaction but lead to destruction.
But… look, let’s be honest; none of us truly guard our soul from evil 100%. If you’re a believer, you didn’t before you came to Christ and even now you are a work in progress. And if we look at this truth in conjunction with verse 6 it’s obvious that none of us train up our children 100% in the way we should. Even aside from all the words we speak (which are not perfect), our own “work in progress life” is a teacher in itself and we all practically fall short.
So even though we fall short, I think the first thread is in that of our responsibility to guard our own soul, and the second is that we are to also guard the hearts of our children… So that is the path we are on. For ourselves… its called repentance. Its a turning around from the path we were on when we walked towards wickedness and guarded our heart from God and his ways. For believers it means looking to Christ in faith for his righteousness being applied to our life and his working out of our life as we grow in him.
And then the 2nd thread is a commandment of sharing godliness with others… here Solomon is focusing on our children.
We see an example of failure to this in the life of Eli the priest who had two wicked sons, Hophni and Phinehas. You may remember how Hannah gave her firstborn to the Lord… his name was Samuel and he ministered in the temple under Eli. When God first came to Samuel… as a child… God gave him a prophecy about Eli and his wicked sons.
1 Samuel 3:13 And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.
So we are accountable to be intentional in guarding not only our own soul but the hearts of our children. And the thing is… these same two threads run through our children… in other words they also bear responsibility to guard their own soul and those of their children. We are all accountable to God in all our comings and goings… all our titles and guardianship's… all the hats we wear in this life… every breath… every heartbeat. And if we are a believer, God is the one who works on us in this endeavor and the Holy Spirit guides us to see the amazing joy that comes in this accountability.
Of today's verses, I suppose the most tension and difficulty in understanding… and yet the most hopefulness for our children comes in verse 6.
“Train up a child in the way he should go;”
And what does it say?
“even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
As parents we hold that promise close to our heart even as we might see our children wandering and straying from the truths we tried to teach them as they grow to adulthood.
The verse begins “Train up a child in the way he should go;”
This verse is a difficult one for me to completely discern and rightly divide but still one I love to ponder. Don't get me wrong we can see some amazing truths in it. We can find comfort and clear application but I just think there is some mystery still here (at least for me) that the Lord will one day bring to light. But I do think it was a truth that Solomon witnessed and it is a truth we all see from time to time in our life. Parents bring up their children in the Lord and when they are old they do not depart from it.
The verb translated "train" (chanak) means, "to put something in the mouth," or "to give to be tasted," but it carries with it something more… It appears that at this words conception it referred to the first taste… it was the rubbing of a softened date on the palate of a new born baby by midwifes even before the babe took of its mothers milk. It is the awaking of the taste bud to something good that will influence a persons life long desires.
Even before this, God wanted Israel to teach the amazing ways of the Lord to their children. Things like his love and provision, his discipline and all his miracles of deliverance that displayed his power to the world.
Deuteronomy 6:7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Psalm 78:4 We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.
Earlier we looked at how the word “Train” carries with it the idea of tasting. You know… a parent cannot turn on the spiritual taste buds of their children… only God does that. He is the one who opens our eyes to his beauty… He shows us how he is the greatest treasure worth leaving all for.
But still, as parents, like the midwifes of old we are to rub the wonderful flavor of the glory of God upon the tongues of our children… but it is God who gives them the ability to savor him as the bread of life… as the living water that truly satisfies.
But still yet… a child cannot help but be influenced by their parents. There are things they are taught early on that stick with them. Even when their heart does not follow in the way it should those things are running in the background… I suspect that even in old age they will follow some legalistic routines they were taught by their parents. And the thing is… if those things were things of God… even in the most seemingly impossible circumstances, the seed is there ready to sprout at Gods quickening. The word of God that was planted can bring fruit that will awaken the spiritual taste buds and be savored by your children.
I think we can see the truth Solomon spoke of in the words the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy.
2 Timothy 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.