Rescuing Verses . . . “Train up a child according to his own way” . . .

PROVERBS 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6 NKJ)

This is the translation that most versions give, and it has history on its side. Here is my challenge: “Train up a child according to his own way, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Now it is a warning. I have no doubt that the principle of the old translation is correct, that if we rear our children in the Lord, they will love Him. My challenge is whether this particular verse actually says that. So how did I arrive at my translation and do others support it?

I was translating Hebrew full time in the summer of 1976, and we were working on a Hebrew interlinear, putting one English word under its Hebrew equivalent. I had been working many hours on Proverbs, and when I came to that verse I instinctively translated it the way I had all the other times in Proverbs. I double checked myself, and triple checked myself. I don’t recall if my translation was allowed to stand or not, but I maintained my position. Then years later, while teaching Hebrew in seminary (over 20 years), I came across a grammar that confirmed my position: Gary D. Pratico and Miles V. Van Pelt, Basics of Biblical Hebrew, 2001. On pages 284-285, they go into the Hebrew grammar, stating that the construction in Prov. 22:6 is very similar to other places in Proverbs, which had been my position for many years.  Here are some other verses they cited along with Prov. 22:6 that give warnings about rearing children by letting them have their own way:

Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction. (Prov. 19:18 NKJ)

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him. (Prov. 22:15 NKJ)

The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother (Prov. 29:15 NKJ)

Regardless of the translation of Proverbs 22:6, we definitely have confirmation from the other verses sited that we have reared a generation of brats who want their own way. In the end, unless they repent, they will perish. AMEN. Ω