Our sense of taste is one of the most powerful and furthest reaching of our senses. We remember tastes and scents decades removed from the experience and just tasting or smelling brings the memory flooding immediately back. Most of us have the privilege of remembering what our mother’s roast beef tasted and smelled like on Sunday for dinner. I remember clearly the smell and taste of my wife’s fried chicken that she fixed when we took picnics together as we dated. Nothing tastes quite like it.
It’s no wonder then, that the Word of God chooses a term that means “to create a taste” to talk about training our children in the way they should go. (Proverbs 22:6). To “train up” means to create an association of taste and word in the child.
Rabbis in the Old Testament synagogues (think church schools) would train their younger students in memorization and internalizing Scripture by providing them with a writing pad (usually a board and chalk) with a small indentation on the top. In that indentation the rabbi would squeeze honey. When the student correctly recited Scripture from memory the reward would be getting to lick the honey off the board.
In so doing, the student would associate the sweetness of the honey and its taste with the sweetness of God’s Word to our souls. The Psalms speak of this association in several places.
On to parenting. When a child was very young, just born and beginning to nurse, the midwife would take a mixture of fruit and mash it, then rub the mixture on the roof of the infant’s mouth. This would instinctively create a sucking motion in the infant and would then be given to the mother to nurse.
And so we are to “create a taste” for the Word of God in our children. When we have done that they will begin their own journey to satisfy their taste for eternal things and find their ultimate satisfaction in the Word of God.
God’s Word is sweet as honey. Some of us have been blessed by having parents who created that taste in us from the beginning. But if not, it’s never too late to add a new taste to your life.
Why not start today?
FOR MEMORIZATION: How sweet are your words to my taste; sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103
FOR REFLECTION: Taste is important. When I was very young, it was appropriate for parents to put liquid cinnamon on the thumb of a toddler to discourage thumb sucking. A negative association of taste is just as powerful as a positive one. How can you start associating the Word of God with a positive taste for your children?