Proverbs Bible Study (Live the Good Life Now)

Good, Godly Parenting

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Introduction:

In all of the wisdom that Solomon imparts to his son, he does offer practical advice about circumstances that will happen later in life. One topic that will affect his son in the future is how to be a good, godly parent. Not everyone in our audience today is a parent. But I do not believe Solomon’s son was a parent yet when this instruction was given. If you think you will be a parent one day, this wisdom is just as useful. We also need to consider that we are to be examples and teachers to unbelievers and toward one another. Therefore, we need to know what good, godly parenting looks like so that we can help others as they try to raise their children.

A Call To Training

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Most of us are aware of this proverb or have heard it at some point before. I believe this proverb has been greatly misused and misapplied in a variety of ways. So many times we place so much emphasis on the second clause of the proverb and ignore the point Solomon is making. Here is what I mean: usually we apply this proverb when we see children go “off the deep end.” So we retroactively say that the parent must not have trained the child in the way he should go. Now, it can absolutely be true that the parent did not give proper training. But that is not the point of the proverb. Remember, Solomon is imparting wisdom to his son. The key to the proverb is the first half of the proverb: to train the child. Reread this proverb without the second clause: “Train up a child in the way he should go.” What we see is that Solomon is giving instruction on the need for parents to train their children and by doing so, there will be rewards for their work.

The parent is given the duty to train a child in the proper direction. In fact, one version renders this verse like thus: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6; TNIV). The Hebrew word translated “train” in many translations and “start” in the TNIV literally means “to narrow” according to Strong’s and figuratively means “to initiate” according to Strong’s. The idea is to narrow the other options and start the child down the right road.

I have begun coaching Paige’s soccer team. We had our first game a week ago. A bunch of four and five year olds standing on an open grass field is an interesting proposition because they have so many choices. They can stand still and stare at the sky. They can sit down and pick the grass. They can turn their back on the game completely. They can run off the field. The choices are limitless. As a coach, I stand on the field with the team. There were many times that my players had their backs to the ball. My job is turn them around and point the direction that they are to go. I have to tell them to stop looking at the sidelines and find the ball. Once they see the ball, they run to it. But I had to show them which way to go. I believe this is the idea that Solomon is teaching about parenting. We cannot make them run the right way. There is nothing I can do to make the child run to the ball. But I can pick him up and point him in the right direction and tell him to go. In such, I am training them to play soccer.

We have a God-given responsibility to be parents who train their children. We are not called to be our children’s friend, spoiler, babysitter, or food provider. A parent does these things also. But a parent trains the child and starts the child off on the way he should go. The parent is the trainer, not just a babysitter or food provider.

We live in a society that does not know what to do with their children. How many times I hear parents complain that their children do not do what they are told to do. I have an idea for these parents: train them to obey. Parents do not have their hands tied behind their backs, though they often act like it. Parent, you can do something. Train your child to listen. Train your child to obey. You are responsible for their actions and it is up to you to point them in the right direction.

Godly Parenting

Solomon tells his son that you train your child to set them on the right path in life. The rest of the proverbs we will look at this morning will explain (1) how one trains the child, and (2) why one should train the child. Therefore, let us take a look at the wisdom of Solomon concerning good, godly parenting.

“The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother” (29:15; NASU). This proverb teaches us some important concepts about training. Let’s start with the second clause first. To leave a child alone, without direction, training, or discipline will bring the parent shame. Parents have a false idea that the child will “grow out” of certain characteristics. We say, “They will grow out of being a bully,” “they will grow out of being selfish,” and “they will grow out of being obnoxious.” This belief that they will grow out of these character traits is false. The parent is to train those characteristics out of the child.

Notice that Solomon gives two tools in this proverb to train children. The first tool is the rod. Solomon many times directs us to use corporeal punishment to train our children. In the beginning, this is the only way to train a child. I cannot reason with little Grace, my 10 month old daughter, about why she is not allowed to put small toys in her mouth. I cannot tell her that I am doing this for her protection so that she does not choke. The only thing I can do is swat her hand so that she will learn not to grab things that are dangerous. This is important because the action establishes the parent as the authority. By establishing this early, you will not have to swat your child later. The child will listen to your words, knowing that disobedience brings punishment.

One of the largest problems that I see today in parents and children is that children know that disobedience will not bring punishment. The parent carries no authority in the child’s mind and has no reason to do what the parent says. If you do not know if this is a problem in your parent/child relationship, there is an easy way to find out. Tell your child to do something, either to get something or to do some sort of chore. Then measure the reaction. Do you receive immediate obedience? Or do you get complaining and questioning? Or do you receive no response at all? If your child does not listen to you, then you are not in charge and you are not training your child.

The second tool Solomon offers is reproof. Reasoning needs to be part of training. I must tell Jenna why she received punishment. Punishment alone only angers the child. Parents must explain the reason for the discipline. Parents also need to explain the reasoning behind their decisions. While in the beginning, all the parent has is “because I said so” because the child is too young to understand, there is a time when reproof is necessary. We must be able to explain our rules because we are trying to start the child down the right path. Now look at the proverb as a whole: if do not train our child through corporeal punishment and through reasoning, you will be sorry and have shame brought upon you.

“Physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart” (20:30; NLT). Will we argue against the wisdom of God? Will we declare that we are smarter in the way to train our children than God is? God says he uses physical punishment to train us! “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:5-6; NASU). James 1 tells us the same thing that trials are to produce godly character. Yet we want to spare our children from physical punishment. But God says that this is the only way to purify the heart.

“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (22:15; NKJV). I want us to see that Solomon is pressing this point into our minds. Our children need correction. They need us to set the rules, determine the boundaries, and enforce the laws. Part of our problem as parents is that we are lazy. We do not want to get up and have to deal with our children. We do not want to put in the hard work to train our children. But children will not behave without training. If you do not want to have to train your child, then do not have children. Parents must drive foolishness out of the child.

“Discipline your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction” (19:18). I like the NLT for this verse: “Discipline your children while there is hope. If you don’t, you will ruin their lives.” Parents have a short amount of time to set their children on the right path. It does not take long to create a brat. While it is hard work to train our children, while they are young is when they can still be molded. There will come a time when they will not listen and you cannot train them. If we refuse our responsibility to train our children through the rod and through reproof, we are ruining their lives.

“Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart” (29:17; ESV). Solomon gives us some good reasons why we need to discipline and train our children. The last proverb said that we bring destruction to their lives if we do not train them. In this proverb, Solomon tells us that we will have the good life by training our children because they will bring delight to your heart. There is much joy found in having children who respect you as parents and who make wise decisions in life. Children who make bad decisions bring a tremendous amount of pain to their parents. Discipline is good for the child and good for the parent.

“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (13:24). If you do not train your child through physical punishment and verbal reasoning, you hate your child. God shows that he loves us by using these two tools to correct our lives so that we do not spend an eternity in hell. We need to also use these two tools to set our children on the right path of eternal life and the good life now. If you love your child, you will punish your child. You hate your child when you are unwilling to stop them from doing things that are wrong. You must train the child to not talk back, to respect authority, to obey, to listen, and to be respectful. Do not withhold the tools God has given you to train your child.

“Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from death” (23:13-14). Again, Solomon wants us to see the need for discipline. Parents can rescue their children from death by using God’s tools to set them in the right direction. The NLT says, “Don’t fail to correct your children. They won’t die if you spank them. Physical discipline may well save them from death.”

Conclusion:

1. Parents have the God-given duty to start our children down the right path. You are in charge. Be a parent, not a pushover.

2. Parents violate God’s law when we refuse to use God’s tools. We are instructed to use physical discipline to correct our children. We are instructed to use verbal reasoning to train our children. Neither can be neglected without judgment.

3. Parents who train their children will find joy in their own lives and bring joy to their children’s life. You can have a good life now and give a good life to your children by being a godly parent.

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