Truth is an acquired taste. And the earlier we can get a glimpse of it, the better.
The word for “proverb” is the same Hebrew word used for “parable”. They are not hard and fast formulas, prescriptive sayings about exactly how things work out all of the time. They are parables, stories about the nature of reality and how truth works.
Sure there will be exceptions, but by and large if we introduce our young people to the path of truth early on in their lives, they will continue on it into adulthood.
We are a patterned-driven people. We sit in the same pew at church. We sit in the same chair at our staff meetings. We order the same thing from our favorite restaurant menu. This verse is not about controlling your children, it is about setting patterns in their life.
Another way to think of a pattern is a pathway. A road. When we teach our kids that pavement is where driving can happen unencumbered and that a ditch will stall our momentum, we establish within them the parameters for truth-centered living.
It is hard to turn onto a different path. There is momentum, evidence, and the time required to acquire the taste of truth.
We are setting a path for our children, establishing a worldview, building in bumpers and warning signs we teach them to look out for. Whether we do this with intention or not, we are teaching them a way. We do the same with our friends, coworkers, and any in our sphere of influence. We affect their path.
And doing so will either help orient them toward truth or falsehood, even as we ourselves examine closely which path we are oriented toward and do our best to reinforce the path of truth and turn from the path of wickedness.