Is Proverbs 22:6 a promise to parents that if they raise their children according to biblical principles that the children will remain faithful and godly?
Proverbs 22:6 is a greatly misunderstood verse in the Bible regarding the training of children.
Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. Prov. 22:6 (NASB)
After reading the verse many conclude that it is a promise to parents about their children. That is, if parents will raise their children according to biblical principles, then when the children become adults they will be godly individuals who will please God.
A literal English translation of the verse reads as follows,
Train up a child [on the] mouth [of] his way, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
The Hebrew word that is translated as “mouth” usually means “mouth,” but it can also mean “edge, edges, words, speech, and eat.” The basic meaning of the Hebrew word is an “entrance to the digestive track.” The “mouth of his way” has the idea of a bent. That is the way he was born, his personality, or his personality bent.
Therefore, Prov. 22:6 is not a promise. Instead, it is a warning. If you train up a child according to his bent, when he is old he will not depart from his bent – the “way he was born”. That is, every parent must lovingly, faithfully, discipline their children to change their bent personality toward sinfulness.
There are other Proverbs that echo the warning of Proverbs 22:6.
Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. Prov. 13:24 (NASB)
Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death. Prov. 19:18 (NASB)
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him. Prov. 22:15 (NASB)
The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. Prov. 29:15 (NASB)
Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul. Prov. 29:17 (NASB)
Proverbs 22:6 is not a promise but a warning. It is a warning that if parents are negligent in the training and discipline of their children, the children will not depart from their bent toward evil. Consider Cain and Abel. Abel was a godly man who offered God a wonderful sacrifice and as a result gained approval (Gen. 4:1-4; Heb. 11:4). But even though Cain had the same parents, Adam and Eve, he was a wicked man (Gen. 4:4-8; Heb. 11:4; 1 John 3:11-12).
Reference Links:Peace With God
Parenting For Godly Maturity, part 1 - MP3 audio
Parenting For Godly Maturity, part 2 - MP3 audio