Today’s debate over spanking as discipline or punishment rages as never before. Proponents of spanking quote the adage, “ Spare the rod and spoil the child,” as though it were actually scripture from the Bible. In truth, it is not.
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The adage is an adaptation from six verses from King Solomon’s book of Proverbs:
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. (Proverbs 13: 24)
Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. (Proverbs 19: 18)
Both of these verses appear in the Contrast of Goodness and Evil. From the Warnings and Instructions come the following four verses:
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. (Proverbs 22: 15)
Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. (Proverbs 23: 13)
15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. 17 Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul. (Proverbs 29: 15, 17)
You will not find in the Bible the exact words of the “ proverb” you hear today. Instead, you will hear King Solomon’s contrast of good and evil and his warnings and instructions. Consider the message of the verses.
In 13. 24 you find that if you do not discipline your child, you hate him. If you love him, you discipline him when necessary. *Note that the word for “ rod” here is the same word as “ frond”, meaning then a palm branch, not the iron rod with which the kings ordered prisoners flogged.
In 19. 18 you find that you should chastise your child early while he is still impressionable (good). (Evil) You should not fail (spare) to chastise your child because he cries or is remorseful.
In 22. 15 you find that a child is not born with a moral compass or the knowledge to know his actions are folly. Discipline will teach him.
In 23. 13 you find that if you discipline your child to teach him values and morals, he will not fall into iniquity (evil) and die (eternal damnation).
In 29. 15 you find that discipline and knowledge (reproof) will keep your child from bringing shame upon the family. In 17, you find if you discipline your child, he will behave always and be a child with whom you can be happy.
In no way, shape or form does Solomon profess abusing a child, but instead, shows that failure of the parent to discipline the child and teach the child to follow the law will be the downfall of the child and parent alike. Solomon does not profess that the use of the “ rod” is enough. He states that the reproof is necessary to teach the child. Finally, Solomon assures parents that if they will raise their children to be lawful members of the society, they will bring great joy.
Many parents who use either these Scriptures or the adage in the discipline of their children find out that Solomon was onto something. When you begin the discipline with the physical, which the child can understand, you will get to a point where the reproof is all you need. Know that in absence of understanding of speech, pain is the receptor implanted in the human body to warn of ill action.
Finding of remorse or fear of retribution is inadequate as discipline. Children will cry in the face of consequences to actions. This should not deter the parent from discipline.
Regardless of religious pursuit, parents are the ones with the responsibility to discipline their children. Parents are also warned that if they fail their children, those children will bring shame upon them. This fact is bared in today’s society, as it was in the past. Parents are given options on how to discipline their children. Ultimately, the parents must make the choice.