“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 ESV)
In this portion of scripture, Solomon’s heart for instruction is revealed as he encourages his children to instruct their children after the example he has modeled for them. As we’ve seen throughout our study of the Book of Proverbs, despite his own personal sins and shortcomings, Solomon’s love for his children is evident; he desires the best for them and he desires that through them, others in the community would be blessed. Now he tells them to do likewise.
In the midst of a crooked and perverse society, what will protect the rising generation? According to Proverbs, the answer is simple: wisdom. And how is this wisdom attained? According to Proverbs, the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (1:7, 9:10). God uses the means of instruction to accomplish this goal in our lives.
We’ve seen the need for instruction. We’ve seen the need to be teachable. Now, we turn out attention to valuing that instruction in our own lives and transferring that instruction to others. Christian parents must instruct their children in the ways of the Lord. But this command isn’t for parents, for as we see in the New Testament, discipleship is the normative mode of Christian growth.
The Word of God is the source and substance, the necessary food of our growth. Knowing God’s precepts will guard us from temptation. Understanding God’s truth will guard us from error. Applying God’s wisdom will lead to spiritual success and maturity. If we are to grow into the stature of what our heavenly Father desires for us to be, we must value a biblical education.
How do we know we value this treasure? We crave the Word like newborn babies (1 Peter 2:2). We read the Word (1 Timothy 4:13). We meditate on the Word (Psalm 1:2). We receive teaching from the Word (Hebrews 12:25). We teach others the Word (2 Timothy 2:2). We apply the Word (James 1:22).
Proverbs 22:6 is not a guaranteed promise in this sinful world, but it is a Spirit-inspired, general truth – if children are trained in the instruction of the Lord with a sound biblical education, they have hope in this world. But this proverb isn’t limited to parents; pastors, teachers, and all Christians are encouraged by this verse to value biblical education and teach others the Word of God.