Monday, March 6, 2023

The Rod of Discipline (Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; 23:13)

"He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him" (Prov. 13:24).

The first line of Charles Bridges’ commentary on Proverbs 13:24 may come as a surprise to many who yearn for the good old days when the rod was not spared and children knew how to behave. While it might be true that these times are particularly unbridled, negligence in discipline is not a new problem.

In the mid-1800s, Bridges wrote, “Among the many modern theories of education, how often is God’s system overlooked! Yet should not this be our pattern and standard? The rod of discipline is its main character; not harsh severity, but a wise, considerate, faithful exercise; always aiming at the subjugation of the will, and the humbling and purifying of the heart. Here however God and man are at issue. Man often spares the rod, because he loves the child. This at least he calls love. But is not our Father’s love to His children inconceivably more yearning than that of an earthly parent? Yet does He not spare the rod—‘What son is he, whom the Father chastens not?’ (Heb. 12:7) Is the rod the proof of His hatred? ‘Whom the Lord loves, He chastens.’ (Heb 12:6; Deut. 8:5; Rev. 3:19). Nay—He gives us His Divine judgment—He that spares the rod, hates the child. Does he not act at least as if he hated him; omitting a duty so necessary for his welfare; winking at the indulgence of vicious habits and a wayward will, so surely issuing in bitter sorrow? Is not this delivering him up to his worst enemy? Better that the child had been trained in the house of strangers, than that he should thus be the unhappy victim of the cruelty of parental love.”

Unfortunately, love and discipline have been branded as antithetical in much of today’s culture. To turn the tide, parents must begin with themselves, cultivating self-discipline. When you indulge your children, too often self-indulgence has reign in your own life. As Bridges says, “We do not like putting ourselves to pain.” But if we are to train our children properly, it will take a great deal of pain, effort, and discipline—for the parents and the children. But the greater the pain during the early years, the less there will be in the later years. As the prophet wisely said, “It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young” (Lam. 3:27).

Read Proverbs 19:18; 22:1; 23:13; 29:17. According to the passages why is it necessary to discipline children? What do these passages assume about human nature? What will be the result of discipline later in life? Think about how you were raised. Thank God for at least one way your parents disciplined you that has benefited you.