chapter  4
8 Pages

God’s Design for Parenthood: Spare Not the Rod

It has been a Christian tradition not only to quote, but adhere to the following popular verse:

He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him (Proverbs 13:24).

This verse is often paraphrased: “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” It is tragic that this and other verses have been taken literally to mean that parents should beat their children in the name of discipline. Is that what God meant? There is hardly any question about God’s stand on discipline. Indeed, if parents consistently withhold discipline, God basically tells us that their children will “die.” When we read the word “rod” as it consistently appears in reference to discipline, we tend to assume that God is implying a literal rod that we beat children with. A thorough study on the original language of biblical text tells us what God may have meant. “Rod” appears in the Bible many times. The original Hebrew word that has often been translated as “rod” is shebet. That same word has also been translated as “staff,” “correction,” “discipline,” and most interestingly, as “tribe.” This same word, shebet, appears in many other verses. Let us take a look at a few of them as they relate to discipline:

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him (Proverbs 22:15).