Purpose Is Not Harm, But Affectionate Correction
‘Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. Proverbs 23:14’
God and King Solomon tried to help you save your children. The Creator God addressed child training, and He plainly ordained corporal punishment to save children from trouble and premature death. The use of the rod to inflict minor bodily pain will deliver a child from the greater pain of a dysfunctional and destructive life and/or the judgment of God.
You can read all the psychology or child training textbooks you want – there is not any light or wisdom in the vast majority of them (Is 8:20). God has spoken; the issue is settled (Ps 119:128). What will you do for your children? Choose the world’s failing methods, or the old paths God inspired and your grandparents followed with very good success?
To think you are wiser than God and 6,000 years of world history and adopt a modern fantasy for child training is folly. God has spoken very clearly. You cannot improve upon the simple wisdom of Proverbs, no matter what approach you choose in your arrogance. Neither greater severity nor greater permissiveness will work. Children are inherently foolish; the rod will drive it out of them; they can be saved from self-destruction. They can grow up to be productive adults, making parents very happy, if it is applied early and liberally and consistently (Pr 3:11-12).
Withholding corporal punishment is child abuse (Pr 13:24). Spare the rod, spoil the child. Kids, you better beat them. Children must learn to submit to loving authority of parents in their formative years, or they will be belligerent, proud, and selfish adults. They will have trouble submitting to other authority relationships of life. The self-discipline necessary for adult success depends on parental discipline as a child. It is cruel to avoid a little pain to parent and child now that will certainly cause greater pain to both in the future.
What is the rod in this proverb? “A straight, slender shoot or wand, growing upon or cut from a tree, bush, etc.” (OED). It is exactly what every parent and teacher knew as the hickory switch a few generations ago (Pr 10:13). It was as indispensable as a whip for a horse and a bridle for an ass (Pr 26:3). It is not a club, because the purpose is not harm, but affectionate correction. Its use would leave thin stripes of color on the back, which are as effective to the child as a ticket or an audit to the parent (Pr 17:10; 19:29; 20:30).
What is the salvation from hell in this proverb? This cannot literally mean the lake of fire, or eternal life would depend on child discipline, not the grace of God. But hell is also used metaphorically for trouble, destruction, and death (Ps 16:10; 18:5; 86:13; 116:3; Is 5:14; 28:15; Jonah 2:2). Here is a dysfunctional and troubled life leading to a premature death, either by accident, crime, revenge, or capital punishment. A salvation indeed!
The future of your family, your church, and the nation depend on the wise application of God’s inspired and infallible word. Those who rejoice and obey it will be blessed. Those who defy and reject it will bear the consequences, as any honest person can see already. The consequences of rebelling against God’s word and sending spoiled children into the world are coming home to roost. Save your children today! Thank you, Lord of heaven and earth, for your inspired and infallible instruction for proper training of children.