Friday, October 06, 2017

Proverbs 22:6 and Adoption, part 2 of 2

The uses of na’ar seen in the other books of the Bible continue to be valid within Proverbs itself.  In the book’s introduction the word is employed of youths or young men universally (Proverbs 1:4);[1] no contrast between youth raised by biological or adopted parents, or excluding youth such as household servants, has any place whatsoever.  Also, as elsewhere in Scripture, Proverbs equates the na’ar with the ben, the youth and the son (Proverbs 7:7).[2]  When Solomon writes, “Even a child [na’ar] is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right” (Proverbs 20:11),[3] the text obviously applies to all children rather than excluding adopted ones.  Only a handful of verses after Proverbs 22:6, foolishness is clearly not only bound in the heart of the biologically conceived child, but in all children, and the rod of correction is likewise effective in all (Proverbs 22:15).[4]  It is similarly obvious that the command to “withhold not correction from the child [na’ar]” refers to all children; it is sinful disobedience to withhold correction from adopted children, or servant children in a regal household, just as much as it is to withhold correction from biologically conceived children in a household.  Consequently, the promise “thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell” applies equally to the adopted and biological child (Proverbs 23:13-14).[5]  Similarly, the unrestrained child who is sent away[6] from his parents’ godly influences and left to himself brings his mother to shame,[7] irrespective of the biology of his conception (Proverbs 29:15).[8]  All the other verses in Proverbs that refer to the na’ar or “child” make no distinction whatsoever between adopted and biologically conceived children; nor does Proverbs 22:6 make such a distinction.  The idea that the verse applies only to biologically conceived children lacks any exegetical foundation whatever.  Proverbs 22:6 does not contrast biological children with adopted children, but a “child” as a young person who must be trained in the way of righteousness, regardless of genetic makeup, with one who is “old” and is confirmed on the moral pathway on which he has long travelled.  Clearly, Proverbs 22:6 is a blessed promise true for all children in a household, irrespective of the manner of their conception or the relationship of their DNA to their parents’ genetic material.
            In the Old Testament, Jehovah adopted Israel to be His son (Romans 9:4) out of His love (Hosea 11:1).  In the New Testament, the entire Trinity is involved in adoption.[9]  The Father adopts unworthy and pagan sinners with the darkest of family heritages to become His adopted sons (Ephesians 2:1-9).  The second Person, the Lord Jesus, submitted to being adopted by becoming a youth (na‘ar, Isaiah 7:16; 8:14) who was both biologically from Mary and adopted by Joseph.  Christ also died to redeem sinners in order that they might receive the adoption of sons (Galatians 4:5).  The third Person, the Holy Spirit, is the “Spirit of adoption” (Romans 8:15).  Clearly, parents who adopt are following the pattern set not just by godly people in the Bible, but by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—Jehovah Himself.  To adopt is to be like God.  Nothing in Scripture anywhere states or implies that Proverbs 22:6 or other promises on childrearing are not applicable if parents follow the pattern of their God and adopt children.  Just as biological parents can rejoice at the blessed promise of Proverbs 22:6 and related Biblical texts on childrearing, so can adoptive parents rejoice equally at God’s blessed promises, train up their children in the godly way that they should go, and confidently see Jehovah’s unfailing promises fulfilled.  When they are old, both properly trained biological and adoptive children will continue in the godly way of their youth.

[1]           The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. (Proverbs 1:1-4)
:l`Ea∂rVcˆy JKRl#RmŒ d¡Iw∂;d_NRb hâOmølVv yElVvIm
:h`DnyIb yñérVmIa Ny#IbDhVlŒ r¡Ds…wm…w h∞DmVkDj tAoâådDl
:MyáîrDvyEm…w f#DÚpVvIm…wŒ q®d¶Rx l¡E;kVcAh r∞As…wm tAjåqDl
:h`D;mˆzVm…w tAoâå;d rAoGÅnVlŒ h¡Dm√rDo M∞IyaDtVpIl t∞EtDl
[2]           And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, (Proverbs 7:7)
:b`El_rAsSj rAo∞An MyGˆnD;bAb hÎny§Ib„Da MGˆyaDtVÚpAb a®r§EaÎw
[3]           :wáølFoDÚp r∞DvÎy_MIa◊w JK™Az_MIa rAo¡Dn_rR;kÅnVtˆy wyDlDlSoAmV;bœ M∞A…g
[4]           Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
:…w…n`R;mIm hÎ…nñ®qyIj√rÅy r#Ds…wmŒ fRb¶Ev rAo¡Dn_bRlVb hâ∂r…wvVq tRl‰…wIa
[5]           Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. (Proverbs 23:13-14)
:t…wámÎy aâøl fRb#EÚvAbŒ …w…n¶R;kAt_y`I;k r¡Ds…wm rAo∞A…nIm o∞AnVmI;t_lAa
:ly`I…xA;t lwñøaVÚvIm w#øvVpÅn◊wŒ …w…n¡R;kA;t fRb∞EÚvA;b hD;tAa
[6]           j#D;lUvVmŒ, “be sent off . . . be put away . . . a boy let loose (unrestrained)” (BDB); LXX planw¿menoß, Vulgate puer autem qui dimittitur voluntati suae, “a child sent away to his own pleasure.”  Does not this passage forbid sending one’s child away to a boarding school, or even sending him away for the best part of every Monday through Friday in a public school where the rod does not enforce godly, Bible-based reproof, and require either direct homeschooling or a Christian school that works very closely with the home and enforces consistent use of both the rod and reproof?  And does not this prohibition last for as long as the child in question is a youth rather than a mature man, rather than ceasing when one becomes high school or college age?  How many youths have brought their parents to shame in the pagan and licentious environment of a secular college dormitory?
[7]           The reference to the “mother” here forms an inclusio with Proverbs 29:3 (cf. Bruce K. Waltke, The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 15–31, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005], 442).
[8]           The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. (Proverbs 29:15)
:wáø;mIa vy¶IbEm j#D;lUvVmŒ rAo¶An◊w h¡DmVkDj N∞E;tˆy tAjAkwøt◊w∑ fRb∞Ev
[9]           While the actions of God do provide a positive pattern for human adoption, nothing in this paragraph is intended to affirm that every single aspect of God’s redemptive adoption of sinners is equivalent to what takes place in a human adoption.


Anonymous said...

Bro. Ross, thank you for the article. Very edifying. We have experience with trying to raise foster children who came to stay with us when they were 6 and 10. That was not easy and the children eventually went back to their biological parents. Now we have adopted daughters who have been with us since they were newborns. Training them has been a lot easier. I think that goes along with what was pointed out in your article about starting to train when a child is young. Adoption is not easy. There is enough that can maker you doubt whether things will turn out well. "Will they accept us?" "What will they do when they find out they have been adopted?" And other such questions. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. This might contribute to adopted children proportionally turning away from the way they should go (I am just guessing here. Maybe this is not the case at all).

Hem Smed

KJB1611 said...

Dear Hem,

Thanks for the comments. I think that, based on the fact that the "child" of Proverbs 22:6 is a youth, as explained in the post, that there is not the same kind of promise if one adopts unconverted older children who have had a taste of the world and wickedness already.

Based on Scripture, I would tend to think that children who are adopted from birth or essentially from birth, and who are raised by godly parents who train them properly, would turn out the same way as children who are conceived by the parents, at least assuming that the parents do not treat their adopted children as lesser or withhold natural affection from them, as can happen at times, I believe, or allow the adopted children to have ungodly influences from birth parents or from the State with its attempts to prevent the Biblical use of the rod as well as reproof. That is not to say that there could not be unique challenges with adopted children; the Biblical promises give a blessed end result, but they never say "raising all children will be equally easy or hard" or something like that. A child with a strong will could also have unique challenges, or a child with some physical issue, etc. but the promises would still apply.

Thanks again.