What Does it Mean, to ‘Train up a Child?’(5)

Taken from, “The Significance of the Godly Family,” 2009.

By Andrew McColl, 13th April, 2021

Deuteronomy: An Analysis of two Chapters:

Deuteronomy, chapters 6 and 11 expand on God’s promises to Abraham. They have many similarities to those promises, and the two chapters are similar to each other. Time has moved on since Abraham; perhaps 500-550 years, but God, being the Unchanging One, has kept His covenant with Abraham, as He promised. Now, He is speaking through Moses, to the group of 2 to 3 million people, who are Abraham’s descendants. They are ready if they’ll obey to be the recipients of God’s promises, made originally to their forefather Abraham, in Genesis 18.

Six significant words are used repetitively in Deuteronomy 6 and 11. A close analysis of these words is critical to understand God’s purpose in educating and discipling the children of Israel, and our children today.

“Teach” is used 3 times, “listen,” 4 times, “sons,” 7 times, “possess” or “dispossess,” 7 times, and “land,” 19 times. The word “command” (or “commandments” or “commanding” or “commanded”) is used 26 times, whilst “Lord” is used 33 times.

From an educational and a discipleship point of view (education and discipleship being subjects I consider inseparable), it could be said that these are the six most important words in these two chapters, about education.

Drawing on the use of these 6 words, we can construct a one sentence summary of the two chapters, which reflects and explains God’s educational purpose for His people, at all times:

   Teach your sons the Lord’s commandments, so they can possess the land.

Abbreviated further, we could say:  Education is for possession.

We can now make a summary:

The Bible teaches us, that

a) God had given revelatory words within the family, to the person He had chosen to be in authority-the father.

b) These words are in the form of authoritative instructions and commands, from God.

c) Obedience to those words leads to life, blessing and dominion.

d) God expects the father to faithfully represent Him.

V. Education in Psalms and Proverbs:

A) Without wishing to deal in an in-depth way with either of these books, the Book of Proverbs is substantially a book of a father’s instructions to his son, the father being designated by God as the primary instructor. Once again, it is parents who are designated as God’s choice, to educate their children.

43 times, Proverbs uses the word “son,”and on 20 of these occasions, the even more personal term, “My son,” is employed. Perhaps the most important thing a father is to teach his children, is the fear of the Lord (see Ps.34:9-11).

B) The mother’s role in the education of her children, is clearly stated (see Proverbs 1:8; 6:20; 31:1, 26). The bride in the Song of Solomon, said to her husband, “I would lead you and bring you into the house of my mother, who used to instruct me” (Song of Sol.8:2). The family is thus the primary place of instruction.

C) Psalms and Proverbs warn us that one of the most destructive things to do to any young person, is to let them be in the company of fools (see Ps.1:1-3; Prov.13:20; 22:24-25). The Bible doesn’t merely warn of the potential of bad consequences; it predicts them as being an inevitable result.

Furthermore, Ps.106:34-39 is a history lesson on the children of Israel, explaining Israel’s steps down into idolatry. Having failed to destroy the peoples as the Lord commanded them, they then “mingled with the nations, and learned their practices, and served their idols”(v.35). Like the children of Israel, childrens’ association with others subjects them to the influence of others, leading to the formation of habits, and to lasting character change. Socialisation can be of a positive or negative nature.

The Christian person doesn’t doubt that socialisation for children is important, for the scripture says, “He that walks with wise men will be wise…” (Prov.13:20). Socialisation is essential. The critical factors are,“With who?” and “For what purpose?” The Bible clearly teaches us here, that Christian children gain no benefit in mixing with ungodly people, whose values are qualitatively different to theirs. The consequences will be damaging, and sometimes irreparable:“…the companion of fools will suffer harm.” A person’s moral environment (as Lot discovered, to his lasting pain) is of great importance.

A survey presented in 2001 in the U. S. showed that within two years of graduating from high school, between 70% and 88% of teenagers from evangelical families stop attending church.[1]

As one writer indicated,“all too many churchmen view the undisciplined and amoral products of statist education as evidences of the failure of these schools. On the contrary, they are evidences of their success.”[2]


[1] Bruce Shortt, “The Harsh Truth about Government Schools,” 2004, p.51.

[2] Rushdoony, quoted in Shortt, p.57.

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