Proverbs 29:19

A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer.
– Proverbs 29:19

Verses 19-21 loosely form a group of sayings centered on the servant. The word means bondmen, or slave. The implications seem to have more to do with a servant mindset than a status. For instance, it is possible to be a wise servant (Proverbs 17:2). This saying has the foolish servant in mind, as he stubbornly refuses correction, which is characteristic of a fool (Proverbs 29:1, 9). It could be there is a subtly play on words here as the servant mindset is enslaved to folly.

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 27:22

Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.
– Proverbs 27:22

The mortar and pestle paints the image of grinding and crushing. The word for bray means to pound. The imagery alludes to the beating of a fool he has merited through his folly (Proverbs 10:13; 18:6; 19:29; 26:3). The last phrase points to the deeper, spiritual problem of a fool and the fact that physical punishment alone is not sufficient to remove folly from him (Proverbs 17:10).




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.”[ref]Robert Deffinbaugh. The Way of Wise (Kindle Locations 3449-3450). Galaxie Software. Kindle Edition.[/ref] 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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Proverbs 22:15

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
– Proverbs 22:15

The word for foolishness is common in Proverbs, occurring about 19 times. The word includes the ideas of silliness and stubbornness. Solomon gives the true born-that-way argument. Children come into the world ignorant and obstinate. The heart, or mind, is tied up in foolishness. Wisdom teaches instruction, correction, and chastisement are needed to grow a person in wisdom. How they are progressing in wisdom will be evident in their response to these (Proverbs 1:5, 7, 22, 29-30; 15:5). Chastisement comes through the rod of correction, emphasizing the need for more than just words to drive out folly. Parents must be diligent to instruct, correct, and chastise while their fools are young (Proverbs 13:24; 19:18). To neglect or withhold such correction is a failure to love the child and to reinforce their folly (Proverbs 23:13-14; 29:15). A fool who matures in his folly becomes practically incorrigible (Proverbs 27:22).

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Proverbs 15:10

Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.
– Proverbs 15:10

This proverb does not make a contrast, but shows a progression from bad to worse. Forsaking the way amounts to leaving the path of wisdom and walking in the way evil (Proverbs 2:12-15). He does not like correction but trusts to his own understanding (Proverbs 12:15; 15:5). He progresses to hatred of reproof. This marks a fool as a scorner, or scoffer. This is the hardened end of folly. He hates reproof (Proverbs 9:7-8; 13:1), and inherits the “judgments … prepared for scorners” (Proverbs 19:29; 3:34). Such scorners love and inherit death (Proverbs 8:36; 5:23; 11:7).

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Proverbs 3:12

For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
– Proverbs 3:12

Solomon explains why we should not despise nor be weary of correction. He compares God’s chastening as that of a father to his son. In the best case, a father corrects his son because he loves him and wants good for him. Of course, earthly fathers with even the best intentions fail in their corrections (Hebrews 12:9-10). We fail by being too severe, too soft, and having wrong motivations. Sometimes earthly fathers chasten their children for the father’s own convenience, but God always chastens out of his love for us and for our good. While expounding this verse, the writer of Hebrews also pointed out that it is not a pleasant experience (Hebrews 12:11). So there is added encouragement to endure and be trained up under it. Rather than fainting and assuming it a token of God’s displeasure, we are assured that it is a great sign of his love for us (Hebrews 12:7-8).

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Proverbs 3:11

My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:
– Proverbs 3:11

Verses 11 and 12 describe a crucial means of obtaining wisdom—the discipline of correction. The writer of Hebrews provides an exposition of this passage in Hebrews 12:5-13. To despise is to spurn or reject and the alternative is to endure or bear up under the chastening correction (Hebrews 12:7). The alternative is to be exercised or trained up under the correction (Hebrews 12:11). The writer of Hebrews also points out that the Lord’s chastening comes out love for his children and even his reception of them as children, i.e. he is a father to them (Hebrews 12:6). So as a perfect father, God always chastens his children for their good (Hebrews 12:10). Thus, we should not despise it.

Solomon admonishes that we are not to despise and neither are we to grow weary of his correction. Growing weary has the idea of coming to loathe or abhor it. He is obviously exhorting us to patience that the chastening might do the full work in us. The chastening is training and refining us and we should not kick against it or come to hate it. Judah grew weary of the Lord’s chastening and despised it in Isaiah’s day. Because of their disobedience and rebellion, God sent the Assyrians against them and rather than repenting and trusting in the Lord, they sought Egypt to help them against the Assyrians contrary to the word of God. They actually chided God’s prophets and told them to quit prophesying about the coming of Messiah because they wanted something more immediate and convenient (Isaiah 30:9-12).

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