Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child

“Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

I realize this will be a controversial idea for some.

Prov. 13:24  Nas95

24 ¶ He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

Prov. 13:24   KJV

24 ¶ He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Prov. 13:24  NIV

24 ¶ He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

There is a difference between discipline and abuse.

Here is a list of characteristics to illustrate the difference.

And in the second column, here are some descriptive words for discipline.

Proverbs 19:18 says,

18 ¶ “Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death.”

There is a distinction between natural childishness and willful defiance.

Discipline should start early. Turn back to Proverbs 13:24 and let’s look there.

Prov 13:24

24 ¶ He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

I want to point out something about that word, diligently (careful). Some versions render it careful, but it comes from a Hebrew word that originally meant, dawn. Dawn. And then as time went on, it evolved where it began to mean to carefully start something early on, to diligently carefully start something early on. He who loves his child will discipline him. He’ll start at dawn, he will do it early on.

There is a time and a place for corporal punishment.

Prov 13:24

24 ¶ He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

Now take a look at this verse verse:

Prov 22:15

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

It is the Hebrew word, yahsaar. Y-a-h-s-a-a-r. 

It literally means to inflict corporal punishment with an instrument. 

And it is the idea of inflicting pain to associate pain with wrong.

There’s a verse here that puts corporal punishment in it’s right perspective. Here’s what it says. 

Prov. 23:13

13 Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die.

Prov. 23:14

14 You shall strike him with the rod And rescue his soul from Sheol.

You save him, you don’t hurt him. Let me point out one other thing about this word, yahsaar. It literally means to strike with an implement.

Now someone says, I can’t believe God would tell us in any way to strike a child with an instrument. It is barbaric, it is brutal. I would ask you to remember Hebrews, chapter 12:4-13

Hebrews 12:4-13

4* ¶ You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;

5* and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;


7* It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

8* But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

9* Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?

10* For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.

11* All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

12* Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble,

13* and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

When God loves us, he at times scourges us cause we need it just like children.

Add to corporal punishment verbal correction.

Prov. 3:11, 12

11 My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD Or loathe His reproof,

12 For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.

Here’s another Hebrew word, it’s “yahkaag.” 

In English, “y-a-h-k-a-a-g” it means to rebuke with the voice.

Look at the next verse 12, “For whom the LORD loves He reproves (there’s that word again, yahkaag). You see when you discipline a child, there needs to be a balance there. Balanced discipline includes a firm rod, and a faithful tongue.

Good discipline involves yahsaar and yahkaag.

Discipline must be consistent.

Practical suggestions for administering discipline.

1) Establish the rules firmly in your home so that they know right from wrong early on.

2) Whenever you discipline a child, do it privately.

3) Firmly administer when corporal punishment is appropriate, or it is useless. 

4) After discipline stay with that child and hold them in your arms. 

5) Talk quietly with them. 

6) Deal with attitude just as much as you would with action.

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