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proudpapa
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Joined: 2012/5/13
Posts: 2936


 Children and the Rod of Correction

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

American civilization has undergone tremendous social shifting in the last fifty years in virtually every facet of its culture. This transformation is evident, for example, in the area of the family and parental discipline. From the beginning of this nation, most Americans have believed in the value of corporal punishment. This discipline has included spanking the child using a variety of instruments, including a “switch,” paddle, razor strap, yardstick, belt, or hand. The last generation to have experienced this approach to parenting on a wide scale was the World War II generation. Due to the adverse influence of social liberals and alleged “specialists” in human behavior and child psychology, the thinking of many Americans has now been transformed to the extent that corporal punishment has come to be viewed as “child abuse”—even by the judiciary.

Make no mistake: genuine child abuse is taking place every day in America. Some parents are burning, torturing, and even killing their children. However, the abuse of a good thing is no argument against its legitimate and judicious use. Extreme behavior often elicits an extreme reaction. We must not “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” Regardless of the superficial appeal of the arguments that are marshaled against spanking, those who recognize that the Bible is the inspired Word of God are more concerned with biblical insight regarding the matter. Does the Bible advocate or sanction the spanking of children?

THE BIBLE’S VIEWPOINT

Several verses refer explicitly to the use of corporal punishment in the rearing of children. The longstanding quip, “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” is undoubtedly a paraphrase of Solomon’s words: “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24). This motif is repeated throughout Proverbs. For example, Solomon asserted “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (22:15). This one statement is packed with meaning that merits deep and prolonged meditation and analysis. Most modern adolescent psychologists have not even begun to plumb its depths, let alone agree with it.

Lest someone get the idea that Solomon used the term “rod” figuratively, without intending to leave the impression that parents should actually strike their children with a rod, he clarified the target: “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell” (23:13-14). A proper balance is obviously needed between verbal reproof/encouragement on the one hand, and the application of corporal punishment on the other, as seen in the following words: “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul” (29:15,17, emp. added). The immense importance of the interplay between positive instruction, encouragement, and nurturing, in conjunction with appropriate physical punishment, cannot be overestimated nor successfully discounted.

MEANING OF “ROD”

But what did Solomon mean by “rod”? The Old Testament uses primarily three Hebrew words to refer to a wooden stick:

Maqqel refers to a tree branch that has been transformed into a riding crop (Numbers 22:27), a shepherd’s staff (1 Samuel 17:40—which Goliath called a “stave” or “stick”—vs. 43), or a weapon of war (Ezekiel 39:9—“javelin” in the NKJV). It is also used as a symbol of dominion (e.g., Jeremiah 48:17—where it occurs in synonymous parallelism with matteh), and in its natural state as a branch of a poplar, chestnut, or almond tree (Genesis 30:37; Jeremiah 1:11) [see Harris, et al., 1980, 1:524; Botterweck, et al., 1997, 8:548-550].

Matteh occurs 252 times and is used to refer to a branch, stick, stem, rod, shaft, staff, and most often a tribe (some 180 times). It can refer to a stick used to beat out cumin/grain (Isaiah 28:27), a soldier’s spear (1 Samuel 14:27), as well as the shaft of an arrow (Habakkuk 3:9,14) [Botterweck, et al., 8:241; Gesenius, 1847, pp. 466-467].

Shevet, the word used in Proverbs, refers to a staff, stick, rod, scepter, and tribe. Gesenius defined it as “a staff, stick, rod” and then showed how it is translated differently in accordance with the use to which it was put, whether for beating, striking, chastening (Isaiah 10:5,15), a shepherd’s crook (Leviticus 27:32; Psalm 34:4), a king’s scepter (Genesis 49:10; Amos 1:5,8), a tribe (Judges 20:2), a measuring rod, or a spear (2 Samuel 18:14) [p. 801; cf. Harris, et al., 2:897].

Matteh and shevet are used together in Ezekiel 19:10-14 to refer to fresh tree branches. They are used in synonymous parallelism in Isaiah 28:27 as a stick used to beat out cumin/grain: “But the black cumin is beaten out with a stick (matteh), and the cumin with a rod (shevet).” They are unquestionably synonyms. If any distinction can be made between them, it is that matteh is not used to refer to a scepter (see Harris, et al., 2:897; although Gesenius, pp. 466-467). However, both are used to refer to a stick or rod. In fact, shevet is specifically referred to as a rod used for beating a human being: “And if a man beats his servant or his maidservant with a rod…” (Exodus 21:20). As Isaacs noted: “The Heb[rew] shebhet is the ordinary word for rod or club” (1959, 4:2702; cf. McClintock and Strong, 1880, 9:57-58,401).

In addition to the verses in Proverbs that refer specifically to spanking a child, several additional verses verify that literal striking of the body with a wooden stick is envisioned. For example, “Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, but a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding” (Proverbs 10:13). “A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the fool’s back” (Proverbs 26:3). Obviously, the “rod” is as literal as the “whip” and “bridle.” The Psalmist declared: “Then I will visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes” (Psalm 89:32). Though speaking figuratively, the Psalmist aligned “rod” with “stripes.” In passages where the term “rod” is used figuratively, the figurative use presupposes the literal meaning (e.g., Job 9:34; 21:9; Isaiah 10:24; 11:4; 14:29; 30:31; Lamentations 3:1; Micah 5:1).

CONCLUSIONS

In light of the linguistic data, the following conclusions are warranted:

First, the three terms are essentially synonyms with no real distinction to be discerned between them. They are as generic, ambiguous, and flexible as their English counterparts. As Orr stated: “Little distinction can be drawn between the Heb[rew] words used for ‘rod’ and ‘staff ’ ” (1959, 4:2596; also Funderburk, 1976, 5:132). The commonality that exists between them is the fact that they all refer to a stick/limb, i.e., a branch from a tree. In antiquity, scepters, spears, arrows, rods, staffs/staves were all made out of wood, i.e., tree branches (cf. Ezekiel 19:11). Hence, the distinction between them was one of purpose/function—not source. It follows that size, i.e., thickness and length, would likewise have varied. The Hebrew words themselves possess no inherent indication regarding size.

Second, the principle of spanking is clearly taught in Proverbs. This is beyond dispute. Since God would not approve of child abuse (cf. Colossians 3:21), it follows that whatever instrument is used for spanking, whether switch, yardstick, paddle, belt, razor strap, etc., should get the job done without inflicting inappropriate or unnecessary damage to the child’s body. The “switch” has much to commend it, and certainly coincides with the biblical texts on the subject. But good sense and personal judgment must be exercised in determining its size.

In his comments on the Hebrew word for “rod,” Hebrew scholar and Professor of Old Testament at Regents College, Bruce Waltke noted: “The rod was also used as an instrument for either remedial or penal punishment. …In Prov[erbs] it is the symbol of discipline, and failure to use the preventive discipline of verbal rebuke and the corrective discipline of physical punishment will end in the child’s death” (Harris, et al., 1980, 2:897, emp. added). The author of the apocryphal book, Ecclesiasticus, observed: “He who loves his son will whip him often, in order that he may rejoice at the way he turns out” (May and Metzger, 1965, p. 166).

Writing over one hundred years ago, professor W.F. Adeney offered a surprisingly current observation that has much to commend it:


The primitive rigour of the Book of Proverbs is repudiated by modern manners. Not only in domestic training, but even in criminal law, people reject the old harsh methods, and endeavor to substitute milder means of correction. No doubt there was much that was more than rough, even brutal, in the discipline of our forefathers. The relation between father and child was too often lacking in sympathy through the undue exercise of parental authority, and society generally was hardened rather than purged by pitiless forms of punishment. But now the question is whether we are not erring towards the opposite extreme in showing more tenderness to the criminal than to his victim, and failing to let our children feel the need of some painful discipline. We idolize comfort, and we are in danger of thinking pain to be worse than sin. It may be well, therefore, to consider some of the disadvantages of neglecting the old-fashioned methods of chastisement (1950, 9:258-259).

http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=7&article=1255

 2013/5/29 22:53Profile









 Re: Children and the Rod of Correction

Quote:
The relation between father and child was too often lacking in sympathy through the undue exercise of parental authority, and society generally was hardened rather than purged by pitiless forms of punishment. But now the question is whether we are not erring towards the opposite extreme in showing more tenderness to the criminal than to his victim, and failing to let our children feel the need of some painful discipline. We idolize comfort, and we are in danger of thinking pain to be worse than sin. It may be well, therefore, to consider some of the disadvantages of neglecting the old-fashioned methods of chastisement



This chap would have been better putting his much education to something useful. Its frankly incredible that he begins with an issue regarding the discipline of children and end with the words "criminals". In my view that just about sums it up. Shame on such men as these!

 2013/5/30 2:47
proudpapa
Member



Joined: 2012/5/13
Posts: 2936


 Re: amrkelly

RE:// This chap would have been better putting his much education to something useful. Its frankly incredible that he begins with an issue regarding the discipline of children and end with the words "criminals". In my view that just about sums it up. Shame on such men as these! //


I think the point of Dave Miller, Ph.D.'s inclusion of W.F. Adeney's quote could be summed up by: "We idolize comfort, and we are in danger of thinking pain to be worse than sin. It may be well, therefore, to consider some of the disadvantages of neglecting the old-fashioned methods of chastisement"

Is Society shifting in its outlook of proper training methods when it comes to children ??

Are Christians shifting along with society when it comes to what they feel is the correct ways of training children ?




 2013/5/30 7:37Profile
Lordoitagain
Member



Joined: 2008/5/23
Posts: 600
Monroe, LA - USA

 Re: Children and the Rod of Correction

THANK YOU, Proudpapa for posting this extensive Bible study on this very important subject!

We have sown to the winds of permissiveness in parenting, and we are now reaping the whirlwinds of lawlessness and crime multiplied exponentially. The foolishness that is bound up in the heart of a child will eventually turn into criminal activity if not "nipped in the bud" with the wonderful little method that God instructed involving the rod.

Those who oppose this clearly outlined Biblical instruction of corporal (painful) punishment are clearly opposing our Creator whose ways and thoughts are much higher than ours.

I thank God that my parents obeyed the Bible and inflicted painful consequences for my disobedience as a child!


_________________
Michael Strickland

 2013/5/30 12:09Profile









 Re:

Quote:
We have sown to the winds of permissiveness in parenting, and we are now reaping the whirlwinds of lawlessness and crime multiplied exponentially. The foolishness that is bound up in the heart of a child will eventually turn into criminal activity if not "nipped in the bud" with the wonderful little method that God instructed involving the rod. lordoitagain



This is a pretty ghastly view of children I have to say. I take it you are not in child care then! Have you studied social history at all? There was more murder, violence, rape, lawlessness of the gross kind 300 years ago than there is now. This is true for England, France and several other European nations. Did or do you know what this was predicated on? Injustice with a large ROD. We tend to have a somewhat sanitised view of European social history. However, it was grim beyond your imagination. Wesley knew it, as did others at that time and their response was not the rod, it was the gospel of grace. Children are not instinctive criminals. Society makes criminals for the most part. Sinners are born. I wouldn't confuse being a sinner with being a criminal. By the way thats speaking as one who was a criminal and not some Lilly Livered toff whose sinful inclinations hid behind unjust and cruel laws. I was just a straight forward thief. Neither am I a socialist or for that matter have any political views at all. I just hate injustice and its effects. Men make criminal. Sinners are born. Not the same thing at all.

 2013/5/30 12:32
pilgrim777
Member



Joined: 2011/9/30
Posts: 1211


 Re:

amrkelly writes:

Quote:
Men make criminals. Sinners are born. Not the same thing at all.



Very interesting perspective, amr.

I am curious, what man made you a criminal? Who made you a thief if it wasn't your own heart?

Is society now to blame for the criminals that populate the prisons?

If I am mistaken in thinking that you are playing the "blame shifter", please correct me.

One other question: Is God unjust when He applies the "rod of correction" to His children? His chastisement can be quite painful, but He is known to do that sort of thing to those He LOVES.

All the best,
Pilgrim

 2013/5/30 12:56Profile









 Re:

Quote:
Very interesting perspective, amr.

I am curious, what man made you a criminal? Who made you a thief if it wasn't your own heart?

Is society now to blame for the criminals that populate the prisons?

If I am mistaken in thinking that you are playing the "blame shifter", please correct me.

One other question: Is God unjust when He applies the "rod of correction" to His children? His chastisement can be quite painful, but He is known to do that sort of thing to those He LOVES pilgrim777



Criminality is more than simply being a thief. If men were not sinners in the first instance they would not steal anything. However, men are sinner and sinners experience injustice. Every one knows that men are sinners. England and France especially knew that men are sinners and precisely to remedy that condition instituted some of the greatest injustices imaginable. And no I do not attribute my own thefts to others. I comprehend them firmly as my own. As far as I know the only remedy for a thief is to learn to give. To give you have to have something to give. And no its not an interesting perspective its just a societal reality. Societies have always sought to restrain the sinner with the rod. This discussion is about children. And the issue with children is a simple one. They are not born criminals. They are born sinners and become criminals if they steal and are prosecuted for the same.

Injustice is the greatest stumbling block to most men. It is the same for children who comprehending there parents hypocrisies have to then endure their parents anger as well. Lastly I don't play games so I wouldn't pursue that argument too far. Only God Himself comprehends how to discipline men justly. Men are always to a degree unjust. However, some men are more unjust than others. To be perfectly straight with you I am going to resist any further input into this post. I could turn your hair grey with accounts of the things I have witnessed and some of the same things I experienced as a child myself. Its no mere academic theological issue for me it is personal and real. It is God who forgives and then by that means we sin no more in a particular manner. Then we are prospered by faith and obedience then we learn to give. I rather doubt that anyone is saying that the thief or the murderer is able to justify his thief's and murders. All of our sins are in the first place against God Himself. He forgives according to His rich mercy. Men forgive with difficulty unless they are Christ like or else by some other means are compassionate and understanding. Nor am I saying that the thief or the murderer should go unpunished. I am saying that it isn't necessary to physically beat a child with a rod. Despite the efforts of many brethren to prove that very point.

 2013/5/30 13:28
Lordoitagain
Member



Joined: 2008/5/23
Posts: 600
Monroe, LA - USA

 Re:


Quote:


There was more murder, violence, rape, lawlessness of the gross kind 300 years ago than there is now. This is true for England, France and several other European nations. Did or do you know what this was predicated on? Injustice with a large ROD. We tend to have a somewhat sanitised view of European social history. However, it was grim beyond your imagination. Wesley knew it, as did others at that time and their response was not the rod, it was the gospel of grace.



Isn't it interesting that while society was applying the rod, Wesley was seeing some of the greatest revivals to ever hit the planet? Can you possibly see the connection? When man is made aware of what pain can be like, and then made aware of the place of eternal pain, and then the remedy offered at the cross, he can properly respond with true repentance!


Quote:
Children are not instinctive criminals.



Maybe they are not in Europe, but here in the USA, we have a horrible epidemic of children criminals. Recently a child murdered his parents in our town.

We got rid of the rod many decades ago, and our children are becoming criminals here.


_________________
Michael Strickland

 2013/5/30 13:54Profile
pilgrim777
Member



Joined: 2011/9/30
Posts: 1211


 Re:

Quote:
Criminality is more than simply being a thief. If men were not sinners in the first instance they would not steal anything.



Agreed. And, theft is covetousness, being manifested from a heart of rebellion that has no respect for others.

Quote:
However, men are sinner and sinners experience injustice. Every one knows that men are sinners. England and France especially knew that men are sinners and precisely to remedy that condition instituted some of the greatest injustices imaginable.



But, what does that have to do with Christians having the mind of Christ and being led by the Spirit (who knows how to discipline), to discipline their children according to the Spirit?

Quote:
And no I do not attribute my own thefts to others. I comprehend them firmly as my own. As far as I know the only remedy for a thief is to learn to give.



Well, to give, yes, but to give only of that which the thief has earned. Robin Hood gave from what he stole from others. Nothing noble or good about that.

Quote:
To give you have to have something to give.



And it should be something to give which you have earned or which belongs to you in the first place.

Quote:
And no its not an interesting perspective its just a societal reality. Societies have always sought to restrain the sinner with the rod.



Civil governments are raised up and allowed by God and doesn't God even chastise His children? He does not spare the "rod".

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. (Romans 13:1)

Quote:
This discussion is about children. And the issue with children is a simple one. They are not born criminals. They are born sinners and become criminals if they steal and are prosecuted for the same.



I thought the discussion was also about Godly correction and chastisement. Aren't children criminals if they steal even if they do not get caught? You are saying they are only criminals if they get caught?

Quote:
Injustice is the greatest stumbling block to most men. It is the same for children who comprehending there parents hypocrisies have to then endure their parents anger as well.



God does not instruct a parent to chastise out of anger. God does not bear the rod against His children out of anger but out of love and we are to do the same for our children. If we love them, we will correct them the way the Holy Spirit leads us to.

Quote:
Lastly I don't play games so I wouldn't pursue that argument too far. Only God Himself comprehends how to discipline men justly.



But we are talking about children, as you said. And don't you think that God can give His children, who have the Holy Spirit (and thus, the mind of Christ), wisdom in chastising their children?

Quote:
Men are always to a degree unjust. However, some men are more unjust than others.



Are you talking about men that are not walking in the Spirit?

Quote:
I am saying that it isn't necessary to physically beat a child with a rod. Despite the efforts of many brethren to prove that very point.



Well, it is a Biblical instruction, isn't it? How do you deal with that? And that, "rebellion is bound up in the heart of a child and the rod of discipline will remove it far from him"?

My father was a hypocrite in terms of being a Christian, but at the same time he was completely just in applying the rod to me. I did not get those two things mixed up. Everytime he applied the rod to me, I knew I deserved it and furthermore, the rod helped me to come clean and repent. It was actually a mechanism that freed me from guilt and wrongdoing.

When I look back, I don't remember pain from his chastisement, I only remember the good results that came from it.

And isn't that the purpose of chastisement. That it would yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness? (Heb 12)

It sounds like you were beaten unjustly and cruelly and I have talked with people that have had that experience and what they do is superimpose their negative experience on all parents and conclude that all parents chastise unjustly. Do you think that all parents bear the rod out of anger?

Additionally, these brothers that I have spoken with who were beaten unjustly never are able to see it from any other perspective than their own experience and I don't think you will be any different. I respect where you are coming from and with your explanation, I think I understand why. Maybe you can do the same for those you don't agree with.

Pilgrim

 2013/5/30 14:01Profile
dohzman
Member



Joined: 2004/10/13
Posts: 2132


 Re: Children and the Rod of Correction

proudpapa, very good post, thank you.


_________________
D.Miller

 2013/5/30 14:27Profile





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