Today’s devotional is from Proverbs 23:12-16 and the subject is the spiritual benefits of Biblical discipline.
Remembering that the Book of Proverbs is a compilation of a father’s loving instructions to his son, we sense Solomon’s passion for his son to respond to loving discipline with a humble, teachable spirit.
Proverbs 23:12 – “Apply [take; set] thine heart [mind, thoughts; emotions] unto instruction [warning; discipline; reproof], and thine ears to the words [speech; sayings] of knowledge [i.e. knowledge of good and evil].”
Contrary to society’s focus, Proverbs 23:12 places the responsibility of a right response to correction and discipline upon the child. We live in a permissive society that absolves its youth of personal responsibility and condemns parents who resolve to balance loving instruction with authoritative discipline. It is that misguided, unbiblical approach to parenting that has encouraged an undisciplined, lawless spirit in America’s youth.
Solomon challenged his son to take action and set his heart, thoughts and emotions in harmony with what he had been taught from his youth. Because a child is a sinner by nature, it follows that the bent of every son and daughter is to sin. Temperaments differ and the degree to which a child will go down a path of sin are not the same; however, the spiritual reality is that, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15).
Proverbs 23:13 – “Withhold [keep back; deny; refrain] not correction [instruction; chastisement; discipline] from the child: for if thou beatest [strike; punish; smite] him with the rod [staff; stick; family scepter], he shall not die.”
Solomon is not encouraging physical abuse nor commending a parent who vents their anger and frustration on a child. However, contrary to societal norms, the Biblical reality is that a loving parent recognizes that children require both verbal correction and corporeal discipline.
Proverbs 23:14 – “Thou shalt beat [strike; punish; smite] him with the rod, and shalt deliver [rescue; save; preserve] his soul [life; being; spirit] from hell.”
To avoid misperception: Solomon is not calling for or suggesting abuse; however, he is stating a principle that is the desire of every parent who longs to see their child turn from sin and follow righteousness. Truth–The temporal pain of physical discipline is not comparable to an unbridled, undisciplined spirit that may drive a child to an early grave and send his soul to the punishment of eternal hell.
Proverbs 23:15-16 – “My son, if thine heart [thoughts; feelings; emotions] be wise [sound; restrained from acting in an evil manner], my heart shall rejoice [be joyful; extremely happy; glad], even mine. 16 Yea, my reins [figurative of the mind] shall rejoice [jump for joy; exult; shout], when thy lips [language; speech] speak [say; declare] right things [upright; honest].”
A wise son or daughter is a delight to a parent’s heart! When a child chooses good over evil and speaks words that are true, honest and sincere–the heart of his father swells with joy and pride.
I close with a promise for every son and daughter that embrace wisdom and follow the path of a godly parent’s loving instruction:
Ephesians 6:1-3 – “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”
Copyright 2014 – Travis D. Smith
A personal note: Please forgive me for the late posting of this devotional as well as my failure to post a devotional thought for Sunday, June 22. As a pastor, the primary focus of my time and energies is of necessity on preparing to preach for Sunday services at Hillsdale Baptist Church, Tampa, FL and ministering to the good people God has entrusted to my charge. The allocation of my time to write these daily devotionals has come from my “personal time” [if there is such a designation for a pastor]. Sometimes the demands of ministry overtake my life and this past week was such a time.