Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Literally, the first line reads “according to the way he will go.” Some then have interpreted the meaning to be that if you raise a child according to his inclination, he will set on a crooked path that he will not depart. Certainly that is true, and many parents bemoan that their children did actually depart from the way they should go.
Nevertheless, there is much truth to our traditional understanding of the proverb. Covenant children are likely to grow up in Christian faith and keep it. Even if their faith remains a second-hand faith inherited from their upbringing, they nevertheless keep along the law-keeping path. And even if they consciously reject their parents’ faith, they still have ingrained in them Christian instincts hard to shake off.
Indeed, the testimony of many covenant children is that of wandering from the faith and returning to it precisely because of what they learned as children. They remember the Bible stories and verses. They remember the hymns. One covenant child turned to God in the midst of overdosing on drugs because hymns popped into his mind at the time and kept him sane.
Raise up your children in the way they should go. Remember that the way to go is to Jesus for grace and mercy. They should see that that is where you go. They should see that as law-abiding as you might try to be, what really motivates you is the mercy found in Christ, that it is Christ’s strength that makes you strong, that it is the forgiveness found in him that gives you hope. It is such hope and love for our Savior that will keep many a child on the right path and not depart from it.
Do you rulers indeed speak justly?
Do you judge people with equity?
2 No, in your heart you devise injustice,
and your hands mete out violence on the earth.
3 Even from birth the wicked go astray;
from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies.
4 Their venom is like the venom of a snake,
like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears,
5 that will not heed the tune of the charmer,
however skillful the enchanter may be.
6 Break the teeth in their mouths, O God;
Lord, tear out the fangs of those lions!
7 Let them vanish like water that flows away;
when they draw the bow, let their arrows fall short.
8 May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along,
like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.
9 Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns—
whether they be green or dry—the wicked will be swept away.[c]
10 The righteous will be glad when they are avenged,
when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 Then people will say,
“Surely the righteous still are rewarded;
surely there is a God who judges the earth.”