He…Hates His Son

What would you think of a parent who let their kid play in the middle of busy street? Would it change your opinion if, when asked, the parent responded, “He wanted to play in the street and I love him too much to tell him, ‘No.'”?

What if, as the child got older, he wanted to hang out with known murderers, rapists, and other criminals? But, what if the parent said, “It’s OK because I don’t want to interfere and be nosy.”?

The writer of Proverbs spoke frequently about about children and the need to correct them. Consider:

  • {12} For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son [in whom] he delights. – Proverbs 3:12 NKJV
  • {24} He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly. – Proverbs 13:24 NKJV
  • {18} Chasten your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction. – Proverbs 19:18 NKJV
  • {15} Foolishness [is] bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him. – Proverbs 22:15 NKJV
  • {13} Do not withhold correction from a child, For [if] you beat him with a rod, he will not die. {14} You shall beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell. – Proverbs 23:13-14 NKJV
  • {15} The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left [to himself] brings shame to his mother. – Proverbs 29:15 NKJV
  • {17} Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul. – Proverbs 29:17 NKJV

The motivation to discipline. Contrast these statement with those who say they “love” their children too much to discipline or correct them:

  • He delights in his child (3:12)
  • Not disciplining is to hate the child; to discipline is to love (13:24)

What is the goal of this discipline? This is not disciplining out of selfish anger or personal vengeance. This is discipline with the goal of spiritual and moral guidance:

  • Drive foolishness from their heart (22:15) – This is not meanness and cruelty trying to break a child’s spirit, but instruction and disciple to train their heart to avoid foolishness.
  • Deliver his soul from hell (22:13) – Just as allowing a child to play in busy street can lead to their physical death, allowing them to engage in dangerous spiritual attitudes can lead to a far more serious consequence of spiritual condemnation.
  • Avoid shameful behavior (19:15)
  • Bring joy to the parents (29:17) – Just as God is delighted when we serve Him, it should bring joy to parents to see their children engaging in good behavior.

When should we engage in this discipline?

  • “promptly” or “diligently” (NASB) (3:12) – One idea suggests quickly after the behavior occurs. The other suggests consistency. Both are true. Discipline can’t be a hap-hazard, only-when-it’s-convenient approach and still be effective.
  • Before it’s too late (“while there is hope”) (19:18) – So many parents wait until their kids are deeply ingrained in bad behavior before attempting to mold and correct them. Children learn and develop personalities at a very young age and their training should begin early in the formative years as well.

Is the rod a literal, physical rod? Some try to suggest the “rod” in these passages is figurative for “discipline.” How can you tell? Consider:

  • Compare other passages where this Hebrew word is translated “rod:” Click Here for search in Blue Letter Bible; With rare, if any exceptions, it translated in reference to physical “staff or branch.”
  • “He will not die” (23:13) – Whatever is under consideration will not bring about physical death. There is no justification for child abuse.
  • “rod AND rebuke” (29:15) – Clearly it seems that whatever is under discussion is more than just a “talking to (rebuke)”
  • Whatever conclusion  you draw, clearly the “rod” should have a significant impact on the attitude and behavior of the child. If the discipline used doesn’t have some impact, then something else needs to be done.

It is important to tell our children we love them. It is important to give our kids affection. But, just as important is to show our love for our children by disciplining and correcting them to help them develop the kind of character that God desires.

Do you love your children or hate them? Consider:

  • Do we let our children speak ugly to us and fail to show respect to us parents? If so, how will they learn respect for others in positions of authority, especially their heavenly Father?
  • Do we sometimes ignore disrespectful behavior because it is cute and funny or because we are too busy with our own activities to take the time to engage in the needed discipline?
  • Do we monitor their activities and their friends to be sure they are not falling in with wrong crowd that can have a negative influence on their spiritual maturity and growth?
  • Do we monitor their internet and texting activity to see that they are not engaging in activities that are morally and spiritually wrong?

Remember, while children are free to make their own decisions as adults and sometime choose the wrong path, the general principle is: “{6} Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6 NKJV”

Dan Fontenot
(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)