Errors Some Christians Believe: Proverbs 22:6 Promises Godly Children

Proverbs 22:6 must be understood in context. Otherwise, it lays a guilt trip on parents with bad adult children. #BibleLoveNotes #Bible

Proverbs 22:6 is not a promise for godly children...

Proverbs 10:27 says, "The fear of the LORD adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short."

So we can determine a man's godliness by the length of his life.  Right?

Proverbs 10:4 says "Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth."

So we can be assured that anyone who works hard will become rich. Right?

Wrong on both counts.

Proverbs are the divinely inspired Word of God, but Proverbs defines itself as a book of wise principles, not promises.

If a particular Proverb is a promise, it will be confirmed as such elsewhere in Scripture.(1)

Proverbs 22:6 must be understood in context. Otherwise, it lays a guilt trip on parents with bad adult children. #BibleLoveNotes #Bible

Perhaps the most misused Proverb is 22:6 - "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."

We cannot determine a man's righteousness by the length of his life nor can we determine the quality of parenting by an adult child's choices (Proverbs 22:6). To do so causes guilt, confusion and error.

Proverbs 22:6 contains a principle which often proves true, but it's not a promise. (See Ezekiel 18:20).(2)

Calling it a promise is a misuse of God's Word (2 Timothy 2:15).

(1) For example: Proverbs 3:5-6 says God directs those who trust Him, something confirmed throughout Scripture (e.g. Romans 12:2; John 16:13).
(2) Often children of godly parents become godly, but not always. Each man is held responsible for his choices. He cannot blame them on his parents. Parents are responsible to God for how they parent, but good parenting does not guarantee godly offspring, nor does bad parenting guarantee ungodly offspring.

Additional resources if you are still having difficulty seeing that Proverbs are not promises:

What is a Proverb?
A Promise to Parents?
Train Up a Child
Giving Parents Too Much Credit

Proverbs 22:6 must be understood in context. Otherwise, it lays a guilt trip on good parents with bad adult children.



  1. When our son was born (35 years ago), he was born on the 22nd. I read this Proverb to him, that day!
    Today, he is an atheist and I'm saddened but thankful for what you have shared.
    Again, Gail, you have touched my heart!
    Bless you and thank you!

    1. I read an article on a very popular website last year and the author claimed Proverbs 22:6 as a promise and warned parents that their children would turn out good or bad depending on how they raised them. I wrote a kind comment disagreeing with him and pointing out that both in the Bible and in real life children do not always walk in the training of their parents.

      He answered my comment by saying he and his wife were responsible for how their children turned out just as every other parent was. It's not Biblical, but it's a deeply engrained belief among Christians. I thought it was true myself for many years, but careful Bible study and life experiences have shown me it's not.

      While I know you are saddened by your son's choices,you are not responsible for those choices. Ez. 18:20 is very clear about that.

      God bless you, dear friend.
      I pray that your son will see the Truth and one day claim that birth-day proverb!

  2. I am a professional Bible translator, formerly a professor of Biblical languages. Proverbs 22:6 is mistranslated by almost everyone. What it says, in paraphrase, is "If you raise your son according to HIS OWN way, when he is old he will not depart from it." In other words, wine and cheese may improve with age, but rotten kids don't. They just get rottener. So you have to raise them according to God's ways, which include teaching, admonition, and punishment.

    1. Thanks for sharing this. It's interesting. I've never heard that.

      I think the important thing is that we realize Proverbs are not meant to be promises.

      Even translated the way you propose, it's not a promise.

      I personally know children who've come to the Lord despite being raised by ungodly parents who allowed them to endulge their sinful nature.

      Thanks for your insights.

  3. It's very critical indeed I get the bit of some Crux in here....

  4. God created us with free will. All of us. Even out children. It might feel good to believe that, as a parent, you can control how your kids turn out. Or you might beat up yourself if they don't turn out the way you wanted. It is true that, to some extent parents can screw up their kids or can set them on the right path. However, just like yourself, your kids are really the ones in control of their lives because that's the way God designed us to be. Being now in my late seventies, having raised four children I can say that none of them turned out exactly like I wanted them to. But they are all good people, living good lives. My job is finished...but not quite. I still have two or three things left to do. First is to continue to pray for God's blessing and protection upon them. Second is to live the best life I can because we all still need good examples from which to learn. Third is to love them and trust that God will bring them to wherever He wants then to be, no matter what I think. It is now time to trust!