Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Proverbs 29:15 commentary; disciplining a child

15 ¶ The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

Every parent knows you don’t have to teach a child to do wrong. Left to his or herself you can imagine what kind of messes a toddler would get into and does. Discipline gives wisdom. Parents who will not correct their children with either physical discipline or verbal correction do not love their children. Correction doesn’t have to include the rod and many parents today are afraid of using it but whatever a parent’s manner of correction they must be consistent and it must be done in love.

Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

A child is never to be physically punished but disciplined. A parent should explain to the child why the discipline has to be meted out and it should never be done in anger or when angry. If you can’t spank your child when you are calmed down you shouldn’t do it at all. The physical discipline mentioned in the Bible is not some gratuitous beating that a modern mother gives a spoiled child who was acting up in a grocery store or the screaming of an angry out of control father. The discipline is for a purpose, for the betterment of the child, not as revenge for a parent who has been embarrassed. After all, what you let your children do at home will be done in public as well, even if to a lesser extent because of their own embarrassment. Many of us fail at this concept of parenting. We become enraged when our child acts up in public, doing the very same things we let them do at home.

Francis Parkham, an American writer in the 1800’s and author of The Oregon Trail related how the Sioux Indians he lived with would never discipline their children, humoring them to an extreme, but when one acted up in public all the adults would turn and point at him laughing. The humiliation taught them that to be taken seriously as a member of the tribe they needed to act more mature, an effect that worked better as they grew older.
The inescapable fact is that the Bible allows for physical discipline of children.

Proverbs 23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. 14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

The worst thing a parent can do next to outright abuse, though, is to be inconsistent. A child deserves to know where they stand and to have an even hand, figuratively and literally, applied to them. They should never have to wonder just what the flashpoint is on their behavior. A Biblically minded family will be consistent, whether that is consistently strict or consistently liberal, but there must be no seesawing back and forth. Most of all mother and father must be on the same page and present a united front. This is particularly difficult in stepfamilies with the guilt that accompanies divorce and other modern issues of today’s family.

God corrected Israel on many occasions using the rods of Egypt, Assyria, Syria, and Babylon. But they would not hear and were scattered. Eventually, it was a Persian king that God raised up to send a remnant home again. Israel never achieved its former glory that it had under David and Solomon. These verses were written by Solomon under the wisdom given to him by God.

Christian families should have daily devotions and Bible reading and prayer. Their children should receive reproof and correction along with the blessings for being well behaved. The rod and reproof will not hurt them if done in love, consistently, and with their own benefit in mind.

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