My Favorite Proverbs: Children and discipline (Prov. 13:24)
“He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”
Children come from God. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalms 127:3). God sees each child while he or she rests and grows in the comfort of the womb, and He is the One who adds an eternal soul (Heb. 12:9). It’s always been an instinctive thing for parents to want to give good things to their children. For that reason parents make a good illustration of how God cares for and blesses His children:
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:11).
Good parents correct their children, but that discipline is a challenge for parents who were reared without consistent correction. They have to learn how to discipline from someone else. May I encourage young parents to seek out those who have successfully raised Christian children and to learn from them by asking questions and seeking counsel. You don’t want your children to be deprived of loving discipline just because you did not have a great example of it in your parents. The Hebrews writer simply assumes that parents will practice discipline:
“Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:9-11).
And, here’s a follow-up thought to the fact that God corrects His children: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Prov. 3:11-12).
Today’s proverb not only endorses corporal punishment–spanking–but strongly endorses this form of discipline. The word “rod”, according to Strong’s, can be used to describe a stick anywhere from a staff you used to steady your walk, down to a pencil-like instrument you’d use for writing. Any who read into this an abusive form of discipline are ignoring other parts of Scripture (Eph. 6:4).
Additional thoughts about this “corporal punishment proverb”:
It implies that we are involved enough in the lives of our children that we know when spanking is warranted.
Parents who daily take their children to others for childcare must come to grips with this passage and similar ones. Can someone obey this passage for me or in my stead? Will that someone have the same sense of fairness and diligence about timing and severity of a spanking?
Parents who have more than one child know that children are different and require special attention to know the whensand whats of discipline.
Quality time isn’t just in the pleasant things like playing games together or going to get a milkshake, but also in unplanned moments when discipline and correction are needed.
Family Bible Time with Glenn and Cindy
As we conclude the series on David and Bathsheba, let’s spend a couple of nights on godly sorrow and the wonderful forgiveness that God gives through His mercy. Tonight’s passage is Psalms 51. Read it aloud to your children. It’s short and even very young children should be learning to sit still during the reading of the Word.
- For young children, teach them that David was very sorry for all the wrong things he had done and that God forgave him. Teach them what forgiveness is. For young children it’s “forgetting that someone did wrong and acting like it never happened.” Let them act out several scenarios in which misbehavior happens and then walk them though what repentance and saying “I’m sorry” looks like: Examples of this role-play: a) Have a child say to a sibling “I do not even like you and I don’t want to play with you.”…Then talk about being sorry and have them apologize and have the sibling appropriately forgive. b) Have a child take a treat from the pantry without permission, get caught, come to “repentance”, apologize and be forgiven by parents. Emphasize here that sometimes there’s punishment (or consequences) even though there’s forgiveness. In the case of the stolen treat, for instance, there might be a week without those treats from the pantry. Just because there’s a punishment does not mean there is not forgiveness. Parents who love punish and forgive because they want their children to grow up to be good and happy people! (If you have teeny people, just practice saying I’m sorry and giving hugs, telling them Jesus wants us to always say “I’m sorry” when we do wrong.
- Remind young children of how Joseph forgave the brothers who had mistreated him. Tell them that Joseph was a happy person because he could forgive his brothers. We cannot be happy if we are not “forgivers.”
- Read Matthew 6:15 to your children and discuss the ramifications of being unforgiving.
- Have older kids choose a verse from Psalm 51 that shows David’s very deep regret for the things that he’s done in the horrible Bathsheba time of his life. Have them discuss with you how this shows that, even though there’s forgiveness, there’s pain caused by sin.
- Have older children also look at 1 Kings 15:5 to see how God looked at David’s life, as a whole. Discuss this with them. Tell them to make it a goal to not have a time in their lives that will stand out as a time of sin and shame like this time in David’s life. Make sure they understand that regret over sin is bigger, when it is haunting a person, than it seemed it would be before the sin. Challenge them to think about how much bigger the regret in Psalm 51 was, than what David was counting on in 2 Samuel 11. He was thinking of immediate “happiness” and sexual fulfillment in 2 Samuel, but his “instant happiness” carried sorrow and regret for a long time.
- If your family knows “Create in Me, O God, A Clean Heart” from Psalm 51, sing it now and pray with your children. (You can find the song in many places online, of course, by googling. Alternately, you might sing “Love Lifted Me.”)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.