Proverbs don’t have footnotes. A footnote is a note of explanation that alerts a reader to some additional information that might help clarify what has just been read. Proverbs don’t offer these, and therefore we need to be aware of some basic “Proverbs rules” when reading this book. Perhaps the most helpful of these rules is that the Proverbs tell us in generalities how God has wired the universe to work. It does not offer to us the exceptions to these general rules. The book gives us principles to help us conform to God’s ways. It does not give us a “tit-for-tat” set of statements that apply universally in every situation.
Proverbs 22:6 is perhaps the most famous example of what I am talking about. This verse says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” This means that when children go wrong very often one can find issues in their upbringing that played a part in their wayward life. Very often some, if not much blame can be laid at the door of the parents of rebellious children for the conduct of those children. Some rebellious children, however, came from great, Godly stock. What are we to do in these situations? What we are to do is not to treat this as a promise that fails some of the time. What we are to do is to treat this like….well, like a Proverb. It is a general principle of how God has structured life. This is the norm. It is not universal, but it is the default. This is typically how families work. With a proper understanding of this verse how do you think those families that you know of with rebellious children should look at the situation?