Scripture reading – Proverbs 23

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Proverbs 23 is today’s Scripture reading. Here, you will find rich metaphors that illustrate spiritual principles for life and daily living. King Solomon, demonstrating the character and discipline of a good father, aimed to train his son, the future king of Israel, and instill life lessons in him.

We will notice that the king cautioned his son concerning the enticements of the rich and powerful (23:1-3) and the enslaving sin of covetousness (23:4-5). He admonished him not to fall into the company of “big bellies and booze” (23:19-21) and urged him to treasure truth, wisdom, instruction, and understanding (23:23). Our Bible study will be limited to five verses (Proverbs 23:12-16). [My amplifications of word meanings will be found in italics and brackets.]

Spiritual Benefits of Biblical Discipline (Proverbs 23:12-16)


Remembering the Book of Proverbs is a compilation of a father’s loving instructions to his son; we sense Solomon’s longing for his son to respond to loving discipline with a humble, teachable spirit. The king urged his son:


Proverbs 23:12  “Apply [take; set] thine heart [mind, thoughts; emotions] unto instruction [warning; discipline; reproof], and thine ears to the words of knowledge [i.e., the knowledge of good and evil].”         


Proverbs 23:12 placed the responsibility of properly responding to parental correction and discipline upon the child. Unfortunately, we live in a permissive society that absolves its youth of personal responsibility and criticizes parents determined to balance loving instruction with authoritative discipline. It is that misguided, unbiblical approach to parenting that has catered to the sinful nature of children and raised a generation of undisciplined, lawless youth.


Solomon encouraged his son to harmonize his heart, thoughts, and emotions with what he had been taught as a child (Proverbs 23:12). Understanding that we are sinners by nature, it follows that the bent of our children is to sin. Temperaments differ, and the degree or choice of sin is not the same; however, the spiritual reality is that “foolishness is bound in the heart” of every son and daughter (Proverbs 22:15a).


Proverbs 23:13  “Withhold not [refrain] correction [instruction; chastisement; discipline] from the child: for if thou beatest [strike; punish; smite] him with the rod [staff; stick; i.e., the family scepter], he shall not die.” 


Modern culture has equated Biblical discipline to child abuse, but that is not true. Solomon was not encouraging physical abuse nor commending a parent who vents their anger and frustration on a child. Though contrary to societal norms of the 21st century, the Word of God does encourage loving parents to recognize the bent of a child’s heart and administer appropriate loving discipline.

Proverbs 23:14  “Thou shalt beat [strike; punish; smite] him with the rod, and shalt deliver [rescue; save; preserve] his soul from hell.” 


To avoid confusion, Solomon was not calling for or suggesting physical abuse. However, the king’s instruction to “beat” was and is indicative of loving physical discipline. Young children cannot reason as adults nor understand choices have consequences. However, they can appreciate the reinforcement of acceptable behavior with the consequences of unacceptable behavior. The king stated a principle expressing the desire of every parent who longs to see a son or daughter turn from sin and follow the path of righteousness.


Truth – Friend, I can assure you that the temporal pain of physical discipline is not comparable to an unbridled, undisciplined spirit that may drive a wedge of sorrow between parent and child.


Proverbs 23:15-16  “My son, if thine heart [thoughts; feelings; emotions] be wise [sound; restrained from evil], my heart shall rejoice [be joyful; glad], even mine.    

16 Yea, my reins [i.e., mind] shall rejoice [jump for joy], when thy lips [language; speech] speak right things [upright; honest].”


Closing thoughts –


A wise son or daughter is a delight to a parent’s heart! When children choose good over evil and speak of true, honest, and sincere things, the hearts of fathers and mothers swell with joy and pride.


If sons and daughters obey, honor, and revere their parents, they will generally be blessed with quality lives and quantity of years (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-3). Tragically, the opposite is true for children who disobey their parents and refuse to honor their father and mother (Exodus 21:15, 17; Leviticus 20:9).


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 © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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