What Does it Mean, to ‘Train up a Child?’(1)

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

It’s logical that parents have questions about their children. Godly parents want to honor God in their child’s upbringing, and they generally know they need to teach them to honor and fear the Lord. They also may wish to know if there are specific things they should be doing for each particular child.

This is what Manoah and his wife sought, from God. When his wife reported to him that a man of God had visited her and spoken to her about the son she’d miraculously have, and what she should do (Judges 13:6, 7), Manoah wanted to know more. He immediately made his petition to the Lord:

O Lord, please let the man of God whom You have sent come to us again that he may teach us what to do for the boy who is to be born (Judges 13:8).

This was not a presumptuous request, and the Bible says that “God listened to the voice of Manoah…” (Judges 13:9). Does this mean that all our God focused requests to God about how to bring up our children, will be answered?

In his case, his wife had been visited and given angelic information. When (at his request), the angel returned and visited his wife again, and she called Manoah to meet him, nothing was added. The angel simply repeated what he’d told his wife initially, but he honored his request for another visit.

Samson, John the Baptist and Jesus had a number of things in common. They were all conceived miraculously, after one or both of their parents were visited by an angel, who foretold something of their son’s birth and calling. And all of these men died violently. Dying violently is not something a godly parent seeks for their child, but it was plainly a part of God’s calling of each of these three men.

When John was born, and Zacharias’s tongue was loosed and “…he began to speak in praise of God” (Luke 1:64), “…fear came on all those living around them,” and people said,

What then will this child turn out to be? For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him (Luke 1:65, 66).

We don’t generally know what our children will turn out to be and to do, but sometimes there are giftings evident in them from a young age, which indicate something. We hope and pray that they will “…know the Lord” (I Sam.3:7), and that their upbringing, education and company should encourage them in that direction. And this is primarily a father’s responsibility, for the scripture commands fathers to

…bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph.6:4),

which means daily exposure to scripture, and the law of the Lord.

This means that our time is required for our children. The idea of absentee parenting has no basis in scripture. Rather, it directs us this way:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up (Deut.6:5-7).


The scripture records many cases of parents who received understanding from God, in relation to their children’s future. God expected them, as He expects us, to be responsible for our children, as faithful steward unto Him. It means preparing them for a life of service, dominion and accountability.

Is that what you’re planning on?

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