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SPARE THE ROD SPOIL THE CHILD: BIBLICAL DISCIPLINE EXPLAINED

Updated: Aug 13, 2023



The general consensus on how a child should be disciplined has changed in recent years. This spare the rod spoil the child in favour of the rod, has been the emphasis of debate.


In the past spanking was adhered to, but today this approach to discipline has been somewhat demonized.


Many people are in fear of disciplining their children in case they are taken away. Today you will find out what the bible says about how to discipline a stubborn child.


First thing to understand is that the bible never supports the abuse of children, so smacking your children just because you’re an upset adult is unacceptable.


It’s not always necessary to spank a child, not all children are the same, some are prone to listening more than others. Below you will find scriptures and explanations to some of the common questions about child discpline.


Spare The Rod Spoil The Child

“Spare the rod spoil the child” is probably the most popularly quoted verse about child discipline.


The truth about this quote is that it isn’t actually found in the scriptures, it is a paraphrase of Proverbs 13:24.


Proverbs 13:24

24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

The scriptures above tell us that not disciplining your child when they need it, is a form of hatred.


It uses the word “betimes”, which means that discipline should start before time, i.e. start early.


Foolishness Is Bound In The Heart Of A Child


The scriptures also tell us what the mind and behaviour of a child is like. Something we can all attest too. Even if we don’t have children, we can think back to our time as children.


Proverbs 22:15

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

The scriptures use the term “foolishness”, this is what we are told is in the heart (mind) of a child. In lay mans terms this means most children naturally lack understanding about things.

Let’s look at the dictionary definition of “Foolishness”,


‘lack of good sense or judgment; stupidity.’


As you can see being foolish, just means, to lack judgment, which is something children are generally absent of.


What Is The Rod In The Bible?

To me it’s obvious that a rod is going to be a stick of some-sort. But some may doubt this, they may even say that a rod was just a metaphor being used.


For us to understand what the word “Rod” means, we need to look at the word that was translated there.


When we look in the Hebrew concordance the word we find for Rod is “Shebet”.

Strong’s Hebrew #7626: rod, staff, branch, offshoot, club, sceptre – used for discipline or guidance.

Importance Of Discipline In The Bible


For those of you that are extra sensitive about spanking, because of the mainstream push against coporal punishment, here are some more scriptures with explanations.

As we continue remember the theme here is teaching a child…


Proverbs 29:15

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

Here we are told that using an instrument such as a rod will eventually make a child wise.

We are also told that without the use of a rod when needed, this can bring shame to a mother.


Basically meaning that if a child is left to there own devices, they will do things that will make onlookers look down on mothers and fathers who are the parents of the child.


Feeling Guilty About Beating Your Child


Discipline shaming is a strong propaganda tool to prevent parents from disciplining their children, but here are some scripture to give you peace of mind.


The scriptures below confirm that it’s natural to feel bad when disciplining a child, but it also states that results justify the means:


Hebrews 12:11

11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

As you can see chastening, or discplining is never pleasant, but the end result is righteous behaviour.


Proverbs 23:13-14

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 scriptures tell us the purpose of disciplining your child is so that they will avoid hell (Proverbs 23:14). Remember the aim here is to teach them about the bible commandments.

This is an important part of any child’s up bring, and a conscious effort is required.


Biblical Discipline


Biblical discpiline is very different to what we see today. People often forget that prison is a form of discipline, for those that young adults or adults.


This puts into perspective that it’s not just children that are disciplined in society.


In the scriptures, prison wasn’t an option for those that commited infractions against each other. Grown men were actually beaten forty times for certain crimes commited against each other as you can see in the scriptures below:


Deuteronomy 25:1-3

1 If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked.
2 And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number.
3 Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.

Here you see that a man was to be beaten forty times (Deuteronomy 25:3) if found guilty of a crime that wasn’t punishable by death. It’s also interesting to note that they were only beaten forty times and no more, because excessive beating would make them feel degraded.


So here we see that a beating was not to embarrass, but to remind a person to re-frame from the wrongs previously committed. This is the same sentiment you will see as you read on about child discipline…


Bible Child Discipline: What To Teach


Biblical child discipline has an aim, it’s not just your job to spank your children, but we are to teach them right from wrong.


The scriptures warn us against calling good evil and evil good,


Isaiah 5:20

20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

so the show us that destruction is the only out come, if we close our eyes to evil (Isaiah 5:20), it’s a parents responsibility to teach their children good.


Scriptures that attest to this are as folows:


Leviticus 10:10-11

10 And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; 11 And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.

If we read the scriptures above we see YHWH, commanded the Levite priests to teach the Israelite’s, (Leviticus 10:10) the differences between good and evil, so how much more is it necessary to teach our children about YHWH?


Deuteronomy 11:18-20

18 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.
19 And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
20 And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:

Here YHWH tells the Israelite’s to teach their children daily about his commandments, so that they would remember him. This is something that seems to be missing today, in particularly amongst so called believers.


How To Train Up A Child In A Godly Way


Training a child the way god intends is more than just spanking as previously explained.

When people villify the bibles discpilinary methods, it’s usually from a place of lack of understanding.


The scriptures also discuss the attitude of a parent when they discipline their children. In the following scripture this is apparent…


So, how do you discipline your child? You do it the way the bible says, with understanding and not violence.


The scriptures below definitely associate the spanking of a child with understanding, which rules out biblical discipline as an act of aimless violence.


When we read the book of Colossians, it adds clarity to the way children should be treated:

Colossians 3:20-21

20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

Here we’re told that being over zealous, or more accurately abusive, in disciplining your children will make them discouraged. This is why abusive parenting is never condoned and should be avoided at all costs.


Now you understand what the Scriptures say about disciplining your child, it’s your responsibility to continue to discipline your child when it’s necessary.


Conclusion


Sparing the rod is not supported by the scriptures. As believers it’s our responsibility to believe the scriptures. We are told that faith with out works is dead, so we have the responsibility to train our kids correctly, in the ways of God.


We are given clear guidance about how we should discipline our children and the attitude to adopt.


It’s first important to remember what biblical discipline is about.


We discipline our children so that they will gain wisdom (Proverbs 29:15), which makes them the perfect students to keep the laws of God.


The scripture below sums up the whole reason for bible child discipline:


Proverbs 22:6

6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

The way a child should go is following the laws of the Most High. It is achieved if we begin to train children when they’re young.


Another scripture you have probably never seen, but makes perfect senses is as follows:


Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 16:1-3

1 Do not desire a multitude of worthless children, and do not rejoice in ungodly offspring.
2 If they multiply, do not rejoice in them, unless the fear of the Lord is in them.
3 Do not trust in their survival, or rely on their numbers; for one can be better than a thousand, and to die childless is better than to have ungodly children.

We are told that it’s better to have one Godly child than a multitude of ungodly children. This gives a whole new meaning to a child being a blessing?


But when we examine it, it makes perfect sense. Put in perspective, what would be the point of having 5 children that grow up to be murderers?


This understanding should give you more motivation as a believer to make sure you discipline your child. And remember if a spanking with a rod is needed then, you should use it.


Just remember to always let your child know why they are being disciplined, random acts of violence are not supported by scripture. The provocation of your child is not tolerated by the Most High, by either parent or child (Colossians 3:21).


Shalom, and share this with someone that needs it.


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