The proverbs for today’s devotional have not only fallen out of favor in society, they are hotly contested in our churches. The subject of child discipline is met with a fury that is not only alarming, but also threatening. Does the Word of God command parents to correct their children with corporal punishment? Let’s allow the Bible to state its teaching on this lighting rod subject:
Proverbs 29:15 – “The rod [lit. stick; an instrument of discipline] and reproof [word of correction; rebuke; to scold] give wisdom [experiential understanding; good sense]: but a child left [put out; forsaken; let go] to himself bringeth his mother to shame [disappointment; feeling of worthlessness; confounded]; …17 Correct [instruct; chastise; discipline]; thy son, and he shall give thee rest [quietness]; yea, he shall give delight [pleasure; cheer] unto thy soul [life].”
Is the Bible teaching child abuse? Absolutely not! However, our culture has swung the discipline pendulum far from correction to giving children a license to sin with impunity. Our society has given children permission to resent parental direction and the charge of “Abuse” is directed at every parent who believes in corporal punishment. Even children have learned they can “report mom and dad” and Government Child Services is eager to investigate and threaten well-meaning parents who are attempting to raise law-abiding children to respect authority and fear the consequences of breaking the law.
So what is the Bible teaching?
The lesson of verse 15 is that verbal direction is not enough; indeed, Biblical discipline employs both “the rod and reproof”. What manner of “rod” is the Bible advising? Space and time does not allow a thorough study on the subject; however, the instrument for discipline may be as simple and readily available as a kitchen spatula.
Proverbs 29:15 promises: A child consistently disciplined and instructed will be a source of delight and peace to a parent’s soul.