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.

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 20:30

The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.
– Proverbs 20:30

Foolishness invites physical punishments and often requires them to be delivered from folly (Proverbs 7:22; 10:13; 17:10; 19:29; 26:3). The inward parts of the belly refers to the inner being of man, and especially his conscience. The general tenor of Proverbs is that wisdom is imparted in a progressive way through words, instruction, reproof, the example of the rod, and the experience of the rod. The most obstinate will not receive any of these and turn from folly, and therefore ends in destruction (Proverbs 6:15; 15:10; 29:1). To put the proverb in modern terms: there is always a hard way to learn.

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Proverbs 13:24

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
– Proverbs 13:24

This proverb speaks directly and plainly to parents rearing children. More modern times turns the words upside down to make them opposite their intended meaning. The contrast is between love and hate and sparing and chastening. Love and hate are not to be understood only in terms of emotion and sentiment. They are meant to speak to actions. The word for rod means a branch or stick and it is an instrument of correction (Proverbs 10:13; 19:18; 22:15; 29:15, 17). To spare the rod is to withhold correction and it is a hateful action toward the child because they are not being trained. The word for betimes means early and points to early in life and maybe also early in the sense of being quick to give needed corrections. The motive of correction should always be the child’s good (Hebrews 12:5-11) and should not be done in anger or severity (Ephesians 6:4).

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Proverbs 10:13

In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding.
– Proverbs 10:13

The word for understanding means to separate mentally. We would refer to that as discernment—thinking through something and being able to make distinctions and determine whether good or bad. We might also think of it as insight. The one who has an understanding mind, or heart, will speak forth wisdom (Proverbs 10:11, 21; 15:7). Jesus also taught in the Gospels that the source of our speech is our heart, or mind (Luke 6:45). The man void of understanding does not discern and goes on in the way of folly. Because he will not receive instruction, he will come to the rod of correction (Proverbs 7:22; 26:3; Psalm 32:8-9).

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