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September 18, 2013

Prov 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old he will not depart from it. (ASV)


Ron Hembree, author of Draw Near: 365 Guides to Greater Intimacy with God, writes this concerning Prov 22:6:


“To the modern mind, the verb ‘train’ smacks of discipline.”


This is what I was told this verse meant. In fact, I was taught that training my child was to use the ‘rod of correction.’ But does it? Is this really God’s plan for your child and mine?


Ron Hembree continues: “However, in the original Hebrew that is not at all what ‘train’ meant. In that ancient tongue, “train” denoted the action of the midwife when she would dip her finger in the oil and rub the tiny palate of the newborn baby, causing that baby to have a desire to suck. Thus, what that verse really means is, “Create a taste for God in the heart of your child, and when he is old nothing else in life will satisfy his hunger.”


Interesting? I think so! It changes everything I understood about training my children. I took the “disciplinarian” track after I got saved and it backfired horrendously in my face. I can understand that more now that I see this.


I looked up the word translated “train” in that verse in the Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible and it means primarily, “dedication.” God is telling us in this proverb that if we will dedicate our children to Him from the beginning, then when they are older and able to make their own decisions, they won’t leave the relationship. But what does it mean to dedicate our children to the Lord? This word translated ‘train’ can tell us.


The ancient pictograph language wrote the word like this: hhet, nun, and kaph. Please give me a moment to explain these letters and their meanings to see the meaning of this word as it was originally intended when this verse was written.


hhet: In the ancient Hebrew pictograph, this letter was drawn as a tent wall. The tent represented the family. The outside wall of the tent protects the family within by separating them from the elements, predators and influences outside the tent. This letter in the word translated “train” helps us understand that to train a child in this way is an act of protection and provision. We separate our children from people and situations that might harm, distract or lead them to wrong conclusions, giving us a chance to influence them and demonstrate to them the goodness of God in our lives.


nun: The ancient pictograph of the letter nun is a seed sprout, representing a new generation. It brings the idea of continuation, perpetuation, offspring or heir. As well, we think of life.


kaph: The ancient form of kaph is the open palm of a hand. It implies to bend or curve from the shape of a palm as well as to tame or subdue as one who is shaped to another’s will.


I think of an artist as they sculpt a bust. They drape and mold the clay over a wire form to shape it before the actual design can come through.


This is what Abraham did with Isaac. God said this concerning Abraham, “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” (Gen 18:19) The word translated household begins with the hhet (tent). Those within his private dwelling would know the ways of the Lord because Abraham would train them to know.


Abraham adored Isaac. I don’t see him whacking him to get his point across, but rather providing an environment that allowed Isaac to see the goodness, justice and rightness of God. I believe he did that so profusely that when he took Isaac to the mountain as God’s sacrifice, that Isaac didn’t fight him.


By this time, Isaac was a man, not a boy as we sometimes see in the children’s church manuals. Abraham was an old man. Really old. Isaac could have overpowered him and refused to lay down on the altar. But his entire life was filled with the goodness, faithfulness and love of the God Abraham was sacrificing to. I think Isaac willingly submitted to his dad because throughout his life, his dad had molded him and trained him to know and love God. By now, I believe he was a believer in the God who gave him life and believed He would continue to do so.


Jacob did this with Joseph too, and when it came time for Joseph to endure the slavery forced on him, he could allow the word of God to refine him to be leader of his family the way the boyhood dreams always told him he would (Ps 105:19).


As for the scripture a few verses down from this verse about training our children, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him (Prov 22:15). The word of God is referred to many times in the Hebrew scriptures as a rod. And the word translated “discipline” here means instruction. The ancient Hebrew meaning for this word is literally, “to turn the head.” The rod will turn the head of the child from folly.


Isn’t that what Paul said in Romans 12:2? Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (turn the head). Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.


As God’s children, as His family dwelling within His tent, He gives us the form to lay the clay of our lives over and shape us. His word (or rod) will turn our heads around to know, and I might add, desire what is good, pleasing and perfect to Him. Like Isaac, we will be so convinced of God’s goodness, faithfulness and rightness that we will willingly lay down our lives knowing He will raise them up again.


When we live like that, then I believe we will train others to love Him too. Without raising our voice or our hand. 


Father, I give you (again) my life. I submit my mind to your word to change me, to renovate me, to train me in the way I should go. I am Your child. Train me. Discipline me with Your word. I want to fully know your good, pleasing and perfect will is and I desire for those around me to be so impressed with Your changes that they come to You too. Amen. So be it, my Father, according to Your word.

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