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What Does Proverbs 22:6 Actually Mean?

By October 25, 2021 No Comments

If you’re from a religious background, it’s likely that sometime during your fledgling parenting career you learned this verse, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). It sounds so simple, right? Coaches train athletes. Sergeants train soldiers. And parents? They train sons and daughters.

However, if you look closely at this verse, there is a little Hebrew gem that’s embedded in Proverbs 22:6. As it turns out, this verse is not so much about what we do as parents but what our Father does when he claims our children as his own.

The Hebrew verb commonly translated as “train up” in Proverbs 22 is chanak. It occurs only five times in the Bible. In Deuteronomy 20:5, it’s used twice to refer to the dedication of a newly built house. If a soldier has built a new house but not chanaked it, he is excused from battle. In 1 Kings 8:63 and 2 Chronicles 7:5, it refers to the dedication of the Lord’s house. Solomon offered thousands of sacrifices to chanak the temple. The Jewish festival of Hanukah or Chanukah, which celebrates the cleansing and rededication of the Lord’s house, is formed from this same word: they chanaked the temple.

So, in the five occurrences of this verb, in four of them, the object that is chanaked is a house: either an Israelite’s home or Yahweh’s home. A dwelling is dedicated, set aside, claimed, owned, and inhabited by someone. To chanak a house is to say, “This place belongs to so-and-so. It’s his and no one else’s. Let no one else attempt to claim it. This is the way things stand.”

With that background in mind, let’s take another look at Proverbs 22:6. The Hebrew phrase sometimes translated “in the way he should go” is literally “according to his way.” With that in mind, as well as the other four occurrences of chanak, we get this: “Dedicate a child according to his way: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

In other words: “Dear parents, your own children are not your own. They are yours, yes, but more importantly, they are the Father’s children. You love them, of course, but God loves them more, loves them perfectly, has loved them from all eternity. Indeed, he loved them even to death in the sacrifice of his own dear Son, by which he bought them with the price of blood. His gracious will is to dwell within them, to make their very bodies and souls and hearts and minds a temple of his Spirit. So dedicate them to that way, to that divine life, to him who formed them in the womb and claimed them on the cross.”

As important as the training of your children is, much more important is handing them over to God—from the very beginning, from infancy, and beyond.

Just as a man chanaked his house, and just as Solomon chanaked God’s temple, we moms and dads chanak our sons and daughters. We say, “These children belong to the Father. They are his and no one else’s. Let no one else attempt to claim them. This is the way things stand.”

To read the full article from Chad Bird at 1517.org, you can click here!

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