“Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” – Proverbs 19:18
Mouths of Babes
Around 9 or 10 years ago, when I was vice president of a local Kiwanis Club, I would go read to young children at a Head Start day care program. These children were around 4 or 5 years of age.
One day I took my two young daughters with me. They observed the unruliness of several children in the class and later commented. Haley, who was only around 5 or 6 herself, asked, “Daddy, why won’t that teacher just spank those kids?”
“Because that’s against the law, Haley. Teachers can’t do that,” I replied.
“Well,” Haley huffed, “those children need a whipp’n, so somebody needs to change the rules!” Out of the mouths of babes, people. Out of the mouths of babes.
I know that many of you reading this will disagree – some vehemently – but there is really only one way this verse can be interpreted – and it has nothing to do with “time outs” or being grounded. For example, consider these other verses…
“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” – Proverbs 22:15
“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” – Proverbs 29:15
“If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” – Hebrews 12:7
Spanking is something that is frowned on, if not illegal in today’s society. Child psychologists, with all their worldly wisdom (and that’s key), urge parents to never physically discipline their children. Government agencies even control parents with the threat of prosecution. But what is biblical? What is wise?
While There Is Hope
As one who works with children of all ages, I can testify that a lack of discipline is at the root of most unruly behavior. Our school systems are completely helpless in the face of youth who have no fear of punishment.
Solomon says, however, that chastening a child is one way to ensure a better future, even if the child, at the moment, cries out in protest. The great Matthew Henry said, “It is better that he should cry under thy rod than under the sword of the magistrate, or, which is more fearful, that of divine vengeance.”*
How many teens are in jail today because parents were too timid to use the “rod of correction?” How many instead have fallen under the “sword of the magistrate?”
While there is hope, learn to say “NO!” While there is still hope, take away the phone and video games. While there is still hope, take away the keys. While there is still hope, don’t buy those designer clothes. While there is still hope, don’t be afraid to chasten.
As we watch the news these days, the NIV translation of Proverbs 19:18 really hits home: “Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.”
Be the parent and chasten when necessary – while there is still hope.
*Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), Pr 19:18.
This post was adapted from a post previously published on ProverbialThought.com.