When cattlemen talk about the condition of their cattle, inevitably the question arises, "What are you feeding?" The answers are explanations of the ingredients and the desired effects said ingredients are designed to have on the cattle. The same principle is true for you and me.
This verse (Prov. 22:6), is a classic truth to which we often allude in child rearing. It contains a promise that a child, adequately trained, will remain in that way in which he has been trained and will not depart from it when he reaches adulthood.
The key to this promise being fulfilled lies in the training. Sadly, many well intentioned parents, fall far short here. They mistake taking a child (or worse, sending) to Sunday School and Church to be adequate efforts on their behalf to justify claiming this verse. Then, when a child reaches adolescence, and a rebellious heart begins to rear it's defiant head, these same parents lament, "But we raised them in church; but, even though they have strayed from the right path, we believe they will come back, because Proverbs 22:6 says...
Beloved, look again at that verse. The promise is not "train them up and after they have fallen away, then they will someday return." To think otherwise is merely an attempt to salve our conscience against our failure in properly training them. Taking a child to Sunday School and Church, teaching them to worship with a local congregation is certainly right and commendable, but such is only a suppliment to adequate training. That which is taught in Sunday School and Church must be mirrored in the home!
The promise contained in this verse is conditional to the responsibility of training. Training, by definition includes both instruction and requiring the trainee to act accordingly. The word 'train' means 'to touch the palate' and has to do with the idea of 'initiating, or introducing". The verb form signifies 'to affect the taste'. The example is found in the practice of teaching an newborn to suck. The mother, or nurse, would put date syrup of something similar into the mouth of the babe to induce sucking. This practice 'gave them a taste' of something good and thereby induced sucking which resulted in nursing, which gave nourishment.
The spiritual application is apparent. Touching the spiritual palate of a child early in life creates a desire for the truths of God. Such is but the beginning. Once the desire has been established, it must be nourished into an appetite, and that continued nourishing and feeding is the direct responsibility of the parents. See Deut. 6:5-9.
Giving a child a taste for God and creating an appetite and desire for more is the duty, the continual duty of the parents. Training requires repetition on the part of the trainer and repetitive response on the part of the trainee. When you first gentle a colt, you start slowly and gradually introduce to him the things you want him to learn. You know this because experience has taught you that the habits a colt learns early will stick with him. Lessons are repeated until the desired response become a part of the colt's response mechanism. After a time, he responds easily and confidently to the pressures of knee, reign and voice.
In short, the training becomes the way of life. The appetite has been early directed and the response is lifelong. Problems arise when bad habits are picked up through wrong associations. When the child gets a taste for the world's fare, the old nature will desire it and unless checked by proper training, his appetite will change! Little wonder then that we are warned throughout Scripture of the danger of the devil's allurements!
Ps. 34:8 declares, "O taste and see that the Lord is good!" Taste leads to appetite, appetite to desire, desire to diet, diet to destiny..."What are you feeding?"
Have you sung "Wonderful Words of Life" lately? How about "Standing on the Promises"?