The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. ~Proverbs 29:15
In all the years I've read Proverbs, somehow I don't remember this verse. I was just flipping through Proverbs and this verse stuck out to me, mainly the ending where it talked of a child "left to himself." I suppose you could see the obvious meaning that left to himself means a child who is undisciplined but could there be a deeper meaning here?
A child left to himself can get in a lot of danger, trouble and harm, which in turn brings shame on the mother. It's inevitable that what our children do, no matter how old they may be, if they are still under our responsibility, it will cause shame to us as mothers. A mother's responsibility is great! Notice it didn't say anything about bringing shame to a father.
This next verse that I'm going to share is so worn out for some but let's read it and dig further:
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. ~Proverbs 22:6
The word "train" here means to initiate, teach or educate, and in our modern language it means to form by instruction or teaching. In what are we to train them up in? What are we to instruct them in exactly? Notice it says "in the way he should go." Now, we have whittled it down to something that a lot of people miss, there is a way in which a child should go and that is the way of God's Word not the world.
You can train up a child in one of two ways - ways of the world or ways of God, depending on which way that you, as a parent, want your child to go. I've decided to dedicate my child to God, train her up in His ways and precepts and not to place her under false teaching as God commands me to not even be under it. Why? Because that is the way she should go. I suppose if I wanted her to go in the way in the world, I would send her to be taught by those who would train her up in that way, but she isn't property of the atheists or the heathen! God has given her to me to teach her right and for her to be established in His Word. The responsibility lies with me. I like what John Wesley said about this:
"Let it be remembered, that I do not speak to the wild, giddy, thoughtless world, but to those that fear God. I ask, then, for what end do you send you children to school? “Why, that they may be fit to live in the world.” In which world do you mean, — this or the next? Perhaps you thought of this world only; and had forgot that there is a world to come; yea, and one that will last for ever! Pray take this into your account, and send them to such masters as will keep it always before their eyes. Otherwise, to send them to school (permit me to speak plainly) is little better than sending them to the devil. At all events, then, send your boys, if you have any concern for their souls, not to any of the large public schools, (for they are nurseries of all manner of wickedness,) but private school, kept by some pious man, who endeavors to instruct a small number of children in religion and learning together." - John Wesley
Are we concerned more about our children making it in the "real" world rather than into God's Kingdom? What end are we seeking for our children? What do we see as a priority for our children? Getting saved or being successful in the world? I suppose once you decide that, then it will decide the "way" or path you teach your child. What is the end of the path you have chosen? What is the end result? A child that wants to God or one that wants the world? Who have we given the power to in training up our children?
Seeing her accept Jesus into her life a week ago, made me realize how powerful the Word of God is for children. The path was laid out and taught to her, it was up to her to choose it. It is also up to her to continue it as the years and tests come but I can rest assured that the way I train her up in, she will not depart from it! That is comforting to a mother and brings joy, not shame, to our souls. I've chosen to teach her in the narrow path, not let the world teach her in its broad path that leads to destruction.
Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. ~Matthew 22:21
Further reading: Excellent commentary from Henry:
The Hebrew of this clause is curious: חנך לנער על פי דרכו chanoch lannaar al pi darco, “Initiate the child at the opening (the mouth) of his path.” When he comes to the opening of the way of life, being able to walk alone, and to choose; stop at this entrance, and begin a series of instructions, how he is to conduct himself in every step he takes. Show him the duties, the dangers, and the blessings of the path; give him directions how to perform the duties, how to escape the dangers, and how to secure the blessings, which all lie before him. Fix these on his mind by daily inculcation, till their impression is become indelible; then lead him to practice by slow and almost imperceptible degrees, till each indelible impression becomes a strongly radicated habit. Beg incessantly the blessing of God on all this teaching and discipline; and then you have obeyed the injunction of the wisest of men. Nor is there any likelihood that such impressions shall ever be effaced, or that such habits shall ever be destroyed.
חנך chanac, which we translate train up or initiate, signifies also dedicate; and is often used for the consecrating any thing, house, or person, to the service of God. Dedicate, therefore, in the first instance, your child to God; and nurse, teach, and discipline him as God’s child, whom he has intrusted to your care. These things observed, and illustrated by your own conduct, the child (you have God’s word for it) will never depart from the path of life.
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