I went to bed with a book last night. Granted, not nearly as much fun as a buxom forty year old, but my wife is roaming around the Bigfoot haunted woods of northwestern Washington this week on a job related assignment and won’t be back home until Sunday morning. A good book seemed like the best option.

The book, a mystery thriller, was one from my childhood that I read for the first time in third or fourth grade. I was most likely 8 or 9 at the time. The book was the second installment in a series by Robert Arthur called, The Three Investigators. I’d just finished book one, The Secret of Terror Castle, a few days earlier and was several chapters into book two, The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot.

I know this is an odd thing to drag out of the mothballs and ramble about on a Saturday morning, but there’s a reason and purpose behind the disclosure, so please hang with me for another paragraph or two.

Generally when we think of passion, the first definition that comes to mind is sensual in nature. Perhaps my early reference to a buxom 40 year old directed your imagination onto that stage. In this case, my intention is to draw you to the overall art of seduction and remove from the equation any aspect that might be thought of as primarily sensual. There are two distinct sides to this story and I’ll make an attempt to track on the backside of this coin in Monday’s Quiet Time posting. For now, let’s pour another cup of hot coffee and get lost in that which feeds our desires, shall we?

The books mentioned above were among the first that I can remember reading. Memories of my younger days are sketchy at best, but I vividly remember roaming through the elementary school library, searching for something to read. That was the time when roaming a library, searching for just the right book, was upper level excitement for a young mind, full of blank slate, but I grew up in a world with fewer distractions.

I found a great many wonderful things in that library and I read all the time. Books from my youth included Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and The Enormous Egg, classics that everybody read. It also included works such as Baseball Flyhawk, Encyclopedia Brown, and the aforementioned Three Investigators. Such a full range of adventure spilled out between those pages, but here’s the residual – I learned to read and I learned to love reading.

This would come in handy later in life. By the time I was in 7th grade, I remember that we had assigned reading. Perhaps you remember that too. Certain books had been picked out for the entire class to read because they were important works that taught life lessons, or something like that. I’m sure they were important. They had to be. We were all required to read them and report back to the class about the euphoria we experienced along the way. That was a little over 40 years ago and I’d like to report that I don’t remember any moments of thrill and rapture in those assignments. It might have been more memorable to report back to the class the top three reasons we couldn’t get past page ten.

“Train up a child in the way he should go:
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

That’s wisdom from Solomon, specifically from the Bible’s book of recorded proverbs that are attributed to the Israelite king, chapter 22, verse 6. I’ve heard that explained from the pulpit throughout my lifetime as Solomon’s council to provide direction and discipline in the life of young children. Maybe, but the actual choice of Hebrew words used in the proverb is quite curious.

The word we find translated as “Train” is actually used only 5 times in the entire Old Testament. We think of it in terms of teaching or instruction, but the Hebrew language has specific words for both of those expressions and neither of them gets used in this instance. The Hebrew word for teaching is used 109 times in the OT; the word for instruct or instruction is used 43 times and in some of those cases it is properly translated as chastise or correct, which sounds a lot like the way we think of the word translated as “train” in our Proverbs passage.

But the word in Proverbs is an entirely different word and it’s used on a very limited basis, which may imply that it has a very specific meaning as well. The Hebrew pronunciation is “Kha-nack” with an emphasis on the first syllable. In every use, other than the Proverbs passage, it is translated as dedicate. It’s used twice in one verse and in two other passages that each record the same event. If we’re doing math, that’s 4 appearances, but only 2 reference points, making it even more rare. One reference point involves dedicating a person’s house; the other mentions Solomon’s dedication of the newly built temple. In neither instance is there any instruction going on, only the idea that something is being formally set aside as having a unique raison d’être.

The second phrase, “in the way,” is a lot more common. It’s used 705 times and always refers to a path, a direction, or a journey. I think we pick up Solomon’s drift a little easier with that phrase. The next, however, is another reference that is actually pretty cool.

The phrase, “he should go,” is one that we read with the implication that we, as parents, are choosing the proper path for the child and are therefore responsible for providing progressive direction. Thus begins the responsibility of parenthood. Determine the life that your child should lead and ensure that they fulfill your dreams. If their square peg-ness doesn’t fit the round hole that you’ve chosen, pound harder, dear parent… pound harder.

Wow, nothing like being inspired by the thought of butting heads with your children, until one of you breaks, to make you look forward to parenthood. Yes, we should help them grasp the concept of right and wrong, but I’m not sure that forcing a child to play baseball, when they’d rather be planting a garden or looking at tardigrades under a microscope is living out Solomon’s assertion.

The word that gets translated into the phrase, “he should go,” is actually one of the more commonly used words in the Old Testament and it simply means opening. It’s translated as “mouth” as in mouth of a river, mouth of a person, and even mouth of the earth over 300 times. It’s translated as the “edge” of a sword 35 times. And, the one that really piqued my interest, it’s translated as “hole” 6 times. In those cases, it not only refers to the hole itself, but also talks about stitching around the hole so that it doesn’t unravel. Ha! There’s a button hole in the Bible and I found it.

If we were to string the three phrases together, our passage could just as easily, and accurately, be translated: “Dedicate your child to the journey of the hole.”

That’s exactly what I found in that library as an 8 year old… a hole. I found something to which I was instinctively drawn, something that brought with it comfort and enjoyment, something that captured my attention and pulled me along life’s journey. I discovered a passion.

Quick Links to Mark’s Books on Amazon:

Mark D. Combs
Don’t Forget Your Cape
Mark D. Combs
Mark D. Combs

Comments are closed.