Proverbs 29:17

Correct they son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.
– Proverbs 29:17

The word for correct can include the idea of chastening, discipline, or instruction. The word for rest means settled, and we might say ease of mind. The word for delight typically refers to pleasurable delicacies, but can be pleasure or joy more broadly than food. The saying is the reverse image of the saying in verse 15, where the child was “left to himself.” When a son, or child, is corrected, or receives wisdom, parents are given relief and joy.

Proverbs 29:15

The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
– Proverbs 29:15

Verses 15-21 have some interspersed sayings pertaining to children and servants. This saying is in line with others in Proverbs concerning child training (Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; 23:13-14). The saying joins the rod and reproof as instruments to give wisdom. On balance, the primary tools parents should use is their law (Proverbs 1:8; 3:1; 4:2; 6:20; 28:7). The last line gives the alternative as bringing shame. All parents can do is correct foolishness and instruct in wisdom, but that doesn’t guarantee a child will be wise (Proverbs 13:1; 15:5; 17:10; 27:22). To leave off the effort will more often than not produce shame.

Proverbs 23:25

Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice.
– Proverbs 23:25

This verse finishes the saying on honoring parents. The good outcome of children acquiring wisdom is the rejoicing of the parents. Both father and mother rejoice as opposed to grieving a foolish child (Proverbs 17:25).

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Proverbs 23:24

The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.
– Proverbs 23:24

The word for righteous means just in conduct and character. Such a child brings joy and rejoicing to his parents. Joy and rejoicing in children, as well as the grim alternative, is a steady encouragement and exhortation to parental wisdom in raising children throughout Proverbs (Proverbs 10:1; 15:20; 23:15-16). Children who come to maturity with wisdom are a great delight to parents. The delight is also reciprocal, mature and wise children glory in their parents (Proverbs 17:6). Wise parents lovingly, patiently, and persistently teach their “law” to their children as they grow for the purpose of equipping them to walk in wisdom securely and honorably (Proverbs 1:9; 3:1, 23; 4:8-9, 12; 7:2-3). It is only a foolish and rebellious child who wants his parents to get out of his way (Proverbs 19:26; 30:11, 17; Luke 15:12-13).

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Proverbs 23:22

Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.
– Proverbs 23:22

Verses 22-25 form a saying on honoring parents, or being a wise son. The word for hearken means to listen, to understand. The exhortation to listen extends even to when the mother is old. The word for despise means to disrespect, or hold in contempt. The warning here is against quickly dismissing the counsel of parents (Deuteronomy 27:16; Proverbs 30:11). Honoring parents is a lifelong command (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:2).

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Proverbs 23:16

Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things.
– Proverbs 23:16

The word for reins literally means kidneys, but references to internal organs or parts, such as bones, are intended to speak of being deeply affected within. Rejoicing of the reins speaks of a deep joy and rejoicing of the whole man. The word for right things means even and straight. It is used figuratively to speak of moral uprightness. The parent rejoices when the child grows to speak right things, because this means he has learned wisdom. Speaking right things is the essential cry of wisdom in Proverbs 8:6. Those who have been instructed in wisdom, speak wise things (Proverbs 15:2, 28). Even the Servant of Yahweh speaks wisdom with “the tongue of the learned” (Isaiah 50:4). True wisdom can only be spoken from a heart possessing true wisdom (Proverbs 12:17; 14:5).

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Proverbs 23:15

My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine.
– Proverbs 23:15

Verses 15 and 16 form a saying reminiscent of the fatherly addresses in the first nine chapters of this book. The word for heart is common and can refer to the mind, emotions, the inner being, or even the whole man. If the son’s heart is wise, he has received the instruction and correction of wisdom (Proverbs 1:10; 2:1; 4:1). When children grow up in wisdom, the parents rejoice (Proverbs 10:1; 15:20; 23:24-25; 29:3).

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Proverbs 23:14

Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
– Proverbs 23:14

Verse 14 continues the saying on the necessity and benefit of corporal punishment. Words are not enough to dislodge folly (Proverbs 22:15). The word for deliver means to snatch away and gives a picture of rescue. It’s easy to connect this deliverance with the design of wise instruction and correction to deliver from evil men and strange women who are on the way to sheol (Proverbs 1:29-33; 5:5; 7:27; 9:18).

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Proverbs 23:13

Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
– Proverbs 23:13

Verses 13 and 14 form the next wisdom saying. The word for withhold means to hold back, or keep back. The implication is something being owed or due. In this case, correction is due and the word means chastisement, but can also be put figuratively for discipline broadly. Parents bear the responsibility in the discipline of a child, which involves instruction, correction, reproof, and the rod. To withhold is to defraud the child. Proverbs clearly teaches wisdom is not natural or innate to us. The most hopeful training is started early because a child is not only naturally ignorant, but naturally foolish (Proverbs 22:15). Words alone are not enough to deliver us from our inborn folly (Proverbs 29:15).

The explanation of the second phrase reinforces the need for the rod, though the rod is not the only tool, nor always the best tool. I like the way Robert Deffinbaugh put it: “Correction—yes. The paddle—perhaps. Discipline—always. The rod—sometimes.” 1 Parents have the responsibility for the instruction and correction of their children. The child grows and will either respond to the correction and grow in wisdom, or will reject the correction, be cemented in folly, and be a grief and shame to his parents (Proverbs 10:5; 12:1; 13:1; 15:5; 17:25; 19:26; 29:15).

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Notes:

  1. Robert Deffinbaugh. The Way of Wise (Kindle Locations 3449-3450). Galaxie Software. Kindle Edition.

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