Chanak: How to Train a Child Biblically

Meaning of ‘chanak’ in the Bible

Our sinful nature is to disobey. When Jesus commanded us to “make disciples,” the emphasis of this verse in Matthew 18 is about “obedience.” The same principle is found in Proverbs 22:6, where the word ‘chanak‘ (חָנַךְ; pronounced “Hanak”) is used. It means to train a child (while he is still young) to be obedient to God.

1. The Hebrew word ‘chanak’ means to create an appetite, directing the heart of a child to do something

In Jewish culture, the midwife rubs chewed dates under the palate of a newborn baby. This encourages the baby to suck, hence craving for mother’s milk.

The act itself is the concept of ‘Chanak’ or training up a child to develop something. Of course, the intention goes beyond craving for milk but learning the ways of the LORD.

Deuteronomy 11:19
“You shall also teach them to your sons, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up.”

2. ‘Chanak’ used to train stubborn wild horses

The word ‘Chanak’ or “to train” in applying it to stubborn horses is breaking the horse’s will, but NOT its spirit, and make it submit.

Children are naturally stubborn. Thus, Psalm 22:6 reminds us to discipline our children. Spanking until the age of seven years old is appropriate. But NEVER spank in anger.

Proverbs 22:15
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.

3. ‘Chanak’ used to dedicate and set-apart

The word ‘Chanak’ can also mean to dedicate. For example, in the formal opening of a new house (Deuteronomy 20:5) or consecrating the temple. Just as Mary dedicated Jesus to God, so should you also.

Luke 2:22
“When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.”

How do I train my child Biblical?

  1. Discipline is actually discipleship to train a child to be Christ-like.
  2. Discipline without love results in rebellion. For example, spanking is only useful until about seven years old. We should never spank when we’re angry. (Proverbs 13:24)
  3. Ephesians 6:1-3 tells us that children obey the Lord; honor your parents, which is the first commandment with a promise.
  4. Parents should be role models. Children will copy the manner and behavior of their parents.
  5. Young children should learn “One-Command Obedience.”

Apply ‘One-Command Obedience’

According to Pastor Tan-Chi, “delayed obedience is not obedience.” By applying the “One command obedience,” children will learn we’re serious about discipline. If a child refuses to obey the first time, consequences should be immediate.

  • No – No means no.
  • Wait – Principle of delay gratification, they should learn to wait.
  • Obey – One command obedience. You don’t repeat the command. Consequences should be served immediately. If a parent gives in when they whine, parents are teaching them to whine and telling them it’s OK.

Delayed obedience is not obedience


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