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May 1, 2011
Keeping Dennis From Becoming A Menace – Part 3
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Proverbs 22:6

Purchase the CD of this sermon.


The series That Makes Good Sense teaches from the book of Proverbs on the essential nature of godly wisdom to live life well. The series reminds believers that wisdom is about choosing to live rightly, righteously, and timely so that God is honored in all areas of life.

More From This Series


Proverbs 22 in verse six: “Train up a child in the way we should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22 in verse 15. We’re continuing on in our series of studies in the book of Proverbs. And for a few weeks, we’ve been looking at the subject of developing and disciplining our children. Here’s a verse that speaks directly to that: “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. The rod of correction will drive it far from him.” Keeping Dennis from becoming a menace, that’s our message this morning. I want to conclude this three part look at the book of Proverbs and the subject of child training and child restraining.
According to the organization, Sea of the Children, in the last decade alone, more than 1.5 million children have been killed during military conflicts. Millions more have been injured. In fact, to such an extent that statistics tell us that 10 million children around the world have been psychologically affected by war. Now, Sea of the Children wants us to know that much of the damage has resulted from the approximately 100 million landmines that have been scattered and sewn in 60 countries. These mines, believe it or not, have been placed in areas frequented by children. One wouldn’t [inaudible 00:01:40] it, but schools, playgrounds, fields across the world are littered with these landmines, places of natural curiosity to children. In fact, more than 26,000 people just last year were killed or maimed by landmines. 90% of the victims were, as you can imagine, civilians, and many of them children. Sea of the children. Saving the children.
But in another more eternally significant sense is the grave concern of the book of Proverbs. This book and its authors have a passionate desire to address the issue of children and their upbringing because the authors of this book are passionate about the fact that life is a moral minefield fraught with spiritual danger for the next generation. A step in the wrong direction, and our sons and our daughters could be maimed for life, or worse still, they could be lost for eternity.
This book teaches young men and young women to avoid the embrace of sexual immorality. This book encourages them to avoid the trap of humanistic materialism. This book encourages them to watch the danger of addictive alcoholism. Many, many minefields are talked about in this book.
And if that were not enough to worry about, the book of Proverbs recognizes that our children are walking time bombs themselves. And apart from God’s gracious intervention and the work of parents, they will self-destruct through godless folly. Not surprisingly, they, in the book of Proverbs, wants to advise parents to train an instruct their children in the ways of wisdom. This book wants to help every mom and dad in this service this morning to keep Dennis from becoming a menace to himself and to other people.
Therefore, I want to return to Luke with you at this issue of disciplining and developing our children. We’ve been looking at it from a number of perspectives too. We have covered two; we will cover. The book of Proverbs challenges parents to do the hard work of training and instructing their children. There’s a basis for that discipline. If a parent truly loves their child, that parent will not leave their child to themselves because foolishness is bound up in the heart of that child. That child needs to be corrected, that child needs to be canceled. And ultimately, by God’s grace, that child needs to be converted to Jesus Christ. That should be the passion and the purpose of every parent who has children because there’s a basis for discipline.
We not only looked at the basis of discipline, we looked at, secondly, at the beginning of discipline. The sooner we start this process of correcting and directing our children, the better. Proverbs 13:24 tells us to discipline them promptly at the dawn, early. And we saw in our last message that there were a number of factors that would encourage you and I to speedily get about the work of raising our children. There’s the compliance factor, there’s the curiosity factor, there’s the conversion factor.
Our children are relatively innocent in a young age. Even though they have a sin nature, it has not been fully exposed to the world that will beat it and feed it. Therefore, when they’re in the home sheltered by us, it’s a unique time of compliance, it’s a unique time of curiosity. Children ask loads of questions. Children are teachable. Jesus, in fact, took one of them, told his disciples, “This is the way you enter the kingdom of heaven. You’ve got to become broken and teachable and curious like a child.”
The word of God encourages us, and statistics show us that more than often our faith is found at a young age, and so we need to begin the work of discipline early. And it’s based upon the fact that our children are born with sin, natures that need to be curbed and corrected and ultimately converted, which is God’s work. And if we love them, we will get about that work upon that basis early.
That brings us to the third point. Now, this is where we’re picking up new material. And this is our third thought when we look at discipline and the role of parents in correcting their children. This is what I call the balance of discipline, the basis, the beginning, the balance. The Book of Proverbs holds out for us a varied approach to disciplining and raising our children. There’s not just one string on the bow of discipline. In fact, Proverbs 29, verse 15 tells us what the balance is. Turn with me to Proverbs 29, verse 15, start to follow along. “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” Look at the balance there. The rod and rebuke bring wisdom.
The book of Proverbs tells us that we need to, on the one hand, physically correct our children, and on the other hand we need to morally instruct our children. We need to restrain them through punishment, and then we need to reason with them through argument. We need to bend their will, bring them to a place of submission through corrective punishment, but then we need to appeal to their mind and capture their heart through compelling instruction. We use the rod to gain their attention. Then having gained their attention, we teach them. The rod makes them teachable, but they still have to be taught. That’s the balance and that’s the trick. We need to keep that balance.
Now, before we get into those two ideas of the rod and the rebuke. Turn with me momentarily the Ephesians chapter six and verse one because this idea of balancing out our discipline between the rod and the rebuke, between physical correction and moral instruction is echoed and reinforced in the New Testament. And that’s interesting because if you study this issue as I have, you’re going to find that the anti-spanking lobby want to argue that indeed, while spanking was part of the Old Testament era, and that was a brutal, brutish era, that is not the case in the New Testament, which is governed by the principle of love and kindness exemplified in the life of Jesus. That’s their argument.
But it’s false because in Ephesians chapter six in verse four, in the New Testament within, the covenant of Jesus Christ, one of his apostles teaches us. Look at verse four of Ephesians six, “And you fathers do not provoke your children to wrath but bring them up,” look at this, “in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Interesting.
William Hendrix in the Great Presbyterian Common Theater in his commentary on Ephesians six tells us that this word training is a Greek word often translated in a New Testament discipline. You could translate it this way: Train them up in the discipline and admonition of the Lord. The word discipline carries the idea of rules and regulations which, if necessary, need to be enforced by punishment. Punishment is not beyond the thought of Paul here. What we have here is the possibility of physical punishment, what is done to the child. Then Paul says that’s followed or it’s balanced by admonition, that is verbal training, that which is spoken, that which is argued, that which is taught, that which is warned. Here we have this balance again, the rod and the rebuke, what is done to the child by discipline and what is said to the child by instruction.
Let’s go back to the book of Proverbs. Just wanted to give you a little insight there, something you can use if you hear this idea, well, discipline’s an Old Testament principle, and it’s gone the way of the buffalo. We’re in the age of Greece and da-da-da-da-da-da. Totally false. There is a balance that God uses throughout all dispensations and there is a balance to be found in the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Now I want to look at the balance. Let’s look at the rod and then let’s look at the rebuke. The rod. Well, the Hebrew word for rod throughout the book of Proverbs denotes the young people don’t want to hear this, but I’m sorry this is a fact, a part of a tree from which a staff or a weapon can be made. We’re talking about an implement, we’re talking about a weapon in some sense. And so further study of the word, in fact, reveals that it was used of a king’s scepter, and it was used of a shepherd’s staff. Outside the big of Proverbs where this Hebrew were to specifically use of the rod that a parent will use, a switch, some kind of paddle that will do to discipline the child, the word itself is more widely used as a scepter and as a staff.
I think that’s a beautiful picture of the ministry of the rod because when we apply the rod to our children, we are displaying our authority over them and we are governing our offspring righteously through biblical discipline. In the picture of the staff, which a shepherd would use to correct the direction of a wandering sheep, we have a beautiful picture that, out of love for our children, we apply the raw just like a shepherd would apply the staff to make sure our children stay away from trouble. Beautiful pictures. And the rod is a wooden implement that was used by a king or by a shepherd, and there’s some form of it that was used by a parent to inflect pain and punishment to the child.
Now let’s answer some questions that I think must be answered to help our young families especially, but also just to bring clarity to the biblical text. When should we apply the rod? Where should we apply the rod? And thirdly, how should we apply the rod?
Well, let’s begin with when. When’s it appropriate to discipline your child physically by using something like a switch or a paddle or something akin to the biblical rod? Some parents choose to use their hand, and there’s some debate over that, but whatever way we discipline our child, when should we do it? Well go back to Proverbs 22, verse 15. We looked at it, but we need to look at again. “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. The rod of correction will drive it from him.” We need to apply the rod when foolishness is revealed from the heart of our children.
Now, remember what we said about the word foolishness in the book of Proverbs. There’s a moral component to foolishness. This isn’t childishness. This isn’t your boy putting a hole in his pants playing soccer or baseball. This isn’t your kid just exploring and getting himself in the little bit of innocent mischief. This isn’t your child spilling the milk jug on a kitchen table by accident as their motor skills are developing. This is not what foolishness is in the book of Proverbs. Foolishness in the book of Proverbs is defiance. Foolishness is saying there is no God. Foolishness is breaking His law. And when that begins to show up in the life of your child, parents, it’s time to get the switch, it’s time to get the paddle. It’s time to apply the rod and drive that foolishness from the harp, to curb that destructive behavior.
Simply put, when do you discipline your child through physical punishment? When willful defiance and disobedience to clear commands become clear. It is the challenging of God’s moral authority mediated through the parents. And we need to remind ourselves of that. When our child defies us, they are defying God. And parents forget that all the time. That’s why you can’t turn a blind eye, because if you turn a blind eye to their open defiance of your authority, you are teaching them that sin doesn’t matter, you’re a pushover, and God is irrelevant. That’s how serious this is. If you’re negligent in this area, you are teaching your children that sin doesn’t matter, you really don’t care, and God doesn’t matter and they don’t need to care. No, you’re wiser than that. I think you love your children more than that, so do I, so we’re going to have to heed the word of God. When I see my children defiantly opposing my authority, stepping over clear boundaries, opposing my commands, it is time to confront their disobedience with the rod.
Tedd Tripp says that we’re to look for and demand compliance from our children and we’re not to settle for occasional bones of obedience. Don’t you overlook four faults, and in when you see a fifth compliance, be happy with that.
In fact, there’s a footnote to this. Some of you may be thinking to yourself this morning, Pastor, if what you’re saying is true and what you’re saying is what I need to do, then I’ll be doing it all day long. Well, I would say this to you: The truth is the sooner you do it, the less you’ll have to do it. The sooner you do it, the less you’ll have to do it. And if you’re doing it more than you think you should be doing it, there could be a clue that you’ve done it last and you should have done it and you may have left some things a little late that I think the word of God is teaching us here. And I guarantee you this moral principle from the book of Proverbs, the sooner you do it, the more effective it will be. The earlier, the more effective. And the more you do it early on, the less you’ll do it later on.
Which, again, just to clarify because I know parents want this answered. When is the child old enough? We’ve answered when; when they defy you. When are they old enough to be smacked when they defy you? When they’re old enough to know they defied you. That’s the basic principle. I’m not going to get into can you discipline them when they’re one? Can you discipline them when they’re one and a half, when they’re two? If they are conscious that they are defying you, that’s time to smack, it’s time to discipline, it’s time to spank. And you need to be sensitive to that, praying about that and awake to that when you start to see open defiance, conscious rebellion in your child. I don’t care what age they are, it’s time to confront it. Remember what we said last week? Susanna Wesley encouraged us to make sure that we had broken the will of our children before they were one. She wants us to realize we’ve got to establish in our child that they cannot act without consequences, and they’ve got to know that from the earliest possible moment.
When to where? Well, it seems the book of Proverbs points us in a specific direction. Follow me. Proverbs 10, verse 13. And I’ll show you this and hopefully establish this in your mind. Proverbs 10:13, “Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, but a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.”
Let’s go to Proverbs 26, verse three. Proverbs 26 in verse three: “A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, a rod for the fool’s back.” You say, “Okay, do I take the rod to their back?” Well, let’s just hold off a little. The Hebrew word here, garv, refers to the middle back. It includes the bottom, it includes the backside, which is halfway between the crown of the head and the soul of the foot. That’s the middle back. It’s well padded. It’s just there. It’s a target waiting to be hit. And you can smack there or you can inflict pain without doing any kind of major damage to the child. It’s perfect. It’s planned, and there’s the place you’ve got to make a bull’s eye off.
Where? I think the bottom and the backside. Should never hit your child across the face because that’s humiliating, it’s abusive. Stick to the bottom, maybe the back of the leg; somewhere where the body is strong where it can feel the pain but you’re not going to do any kind of damage and you’re not humiliating the child. A slap of child in the face is a humiliating thing. It’s wrong. We shouldn’t do it. If we’ve done it, we can repent and apologize to our children.
And I need to clarify that when I use the word smack, I’m speaking from a British perspective. That’s to your bottom. Pastors informed me, “Don’t be encouraging the congregation to smack their kids because here it means a backs slap across the face.” Well, I don’t mean that when I use the word smack.
When? Where? How? How should it be applied? Here’s my point, and I’ll substantiate it: it should be applied to a point of sufficient pain. It should be applied to a point of sufficient pain. Look at Proverbs 15, verse 10. “Harsh discipline is for him who foresakes the way. And he who hits, correction will die.” When your child becomes defiant, when your words no longer are heard, when your commands are no longer obeyed, you’ve got to apply the rod, and you’ve got to apply it with sufficient pain; harshly, if necessary.
In fact, over in Hebrews 12, in verse 11, we get this thought. If I made substantiate my thought in the New Testament. In fact, again, this is the love of God being displayed because God disciplines those who he loves, He corrects those who are faltering. And here’s what we read in Hebrews chapter 12 and verse 11. “Now I know chastening seems to be joyful for the present,” now look at these words, “but painful.” That’s how a parent is to discipline. That’s how God disciplines. God disciplines us painfully. When we get wayward, when we become lax in our walk with God, God may just have to wake us up through some painful experience in our life. He may break us health wise, financially. Whatever it needs, he will do what is necessary to bring us back to Himself. It seems to me that there we have again a model for me disciplining my girls and you disciplining your children. I’m to do it and you’re to do it when they are defiant and conscious of their disobedience and to apply the rod to their bottom or their middle back, and I am to do it with sufficient force that it’s painful and memorable.
The degree of application should reinforce the point that you’re trying to make, that there are sorrowful consequences to disobedience. And I say to you it ought to be memorable, it ought to be feared. And I think of it’s memorable and feared, it’ll often be infrequent. No child in their right mind will want what you going to give them if it’s memorable and painful. But it ought to be, it has to have a measure of smarting in it and pain in it so that the child doesn’t go out and do again what you’re hoping they don’t do again. A little bit of pain will bring a lot of health in the long run.
That, by the way, reminds us that a slap on the wrist and a little pat on the bottom is a waste of time. If you’re not going to smack sufficiently painful, don’t slap on the wrist, don’t pat on the bottom, because it’s hopeless, it’s a waste of time. If you’re going to do it, do it right. And you ought to do it because God’s commanding you to do it.
In fact, if you think I’m being too strident here, let me underline what Proverbs 23, verse 13 says. Proverbs 23 in verse 13, “Do not withhold correction from a child. If you beat him with a rod, he will not die. And you shall beat him with a rod and deliver his soul from hell.”
Now you know, common sense tells you liberals have no common sense. They don’t approach the word of God literally or grammatically or historically, they approach it with a bias, and they go, “There you are, we’re back in this brutish, brutal era beating children.” And that rings in the ears of the sensitive 20th century soul and says, “You know what? We are against child abuse.” So am I and so is the word of God. This is not a beating of a child to a point of physical harm. The Hebrew word means to strike. But it does carry the idea of striking with such sufficient force that there is pain and smarting because the contrast is this: you’ll deliver your child’s soul from death. This is what’s at stake. That’s why a slap on the wrist, a pat on the bottom’s a joke. We’re dealing with willful, sinful hearts that must be curbed, that must be caged, that must be warned lest our children self-destruct, bring shame to our families, hurt our society, rob old women, steal things that don’t belong to them, kick somebody’s car, laugh at policemen. That’s what’s at stake if you and I leave our children to themselves. Apart from the grace of God, all our children are capable of all of those things. I was. You and I have got to send a message.
Now, I could leave there, but I want to help our young couples and I want to give information to our grandpas and grandmas to give to their sons and daughters and get real practical. This is the Tedd Tripp book I recommended you last week. I took some things from him out, added some of my own. I’m going to run through these. These are 12 principles about how to apply the rod. We know where, we know when, and we know we must, and we must do it sufficiently painfully,
Well, let’s talk about how. Number one, be consistent in what is right and wrong. Don’t have a flavor of the month sin. Sit down and set some rules in your home; make them clear. Let the children know, “You know what? This is acceptable, this is unacceptable. This is what we do on a Sunday or this is what we don’t do on a Saturday.” Don’t have the child guessing. And whatever you do, don’t have this flavor of the months thing where you really go on one issue to the ignoring of others, and you do it inconsistently and you do it haphazardly, because that is Ephesians six, verse four, “Do not provoke your children to wrath through your wrath.” Be consistent. Be as fair as you can to the child. Make known to them as much as is possible what is expected of them so that they know what the boundaries are.
Number two, carry out the discipline… Once those boundaries have been crossed consciously, carry out the discipline in private. I regret at times having smacked my girls in public. The best place is either take them home if you’re near home, or if going to be away and you can’t get home in a sufficient time to make the connection between the disobedience and the discipline stick, then look for a corner somewhere or a quiet place somewhere. Discipline’s not humiliation. This is a family issue, and you need to do it in private, you need to do it consistently.
Number three, you need to explain to the child the reason for the smacking. Now, if you’ve been consistent about the rules and the regulations, then you can explain to the child and the child can understand very quickly, “You know what? I understand that I shouldn’t have done that because you’ve told me not to do that on multiple occasions.” Explain to the child the reason.
Number four, take time and have the child acknowledge the wrong they have done and the rightness of the punishment. Have the child acknowledge that what they’re about to get is what they deserve. Help them think that process through. There’s moral accountability in this life. God has authorized the parent. When the parent is disobeyed, God is disobeyed when his law is being broken. And I have to qualify that; if you’ve set up your own man made rules, well, you need to be careful with those. But once we’ve sat down a biblical boundary and a moral axiom for our children and they disobey it, then we punish them and we get them to acknowledge what they have done wrong and the fact that they deserve what they’re about to get.
Number five, remove clothing that will lessen the impact of spanking. Check for textbooks down the back of the trousers, whatever the case might be. They got to feel the pain. I’m sure there’s some kind of underwear that can be got through eBay that will lessen the pain for them. You got to check all sorts of things going on. All jokes aside, remove the clothing because they’ve got to feel the sting of disobedience and its consequence.
Number six, at an appropriate time after the spanking, affirm your love to the child and even pray with the child. This isn’t to be harsh, this isn’t some tyrant standing over the child, some drill sergeant scaring the child out of its skin. No, this is a father or a mother equally saying to the child, “You know what? I love you so much and I can’t let you keep on doing that because that would lead to consequences that won’t be good for you, good for us or anybody else, so I’m going to teach you a painful lesson.” And after you’ve taught them that painful lesson, you embrace them, or sometimes during the night or as soon as possible reinforced to them, “You know what? You know I love you, and I did that because I love you.” If you don’t do that, a vacuum is created. Bitterness and distance can grow in a situation like that.
Number seven, remember to administer discipline out of love and not anger. And so ask yourself frequently, do you feel the pain you’re inflicting? This is not an excuse to deal with your child so that you feel better. It’s not about us. It’s not about us getting rid of our frustration, because that’s real dangerous because if you’re not careful as a father or as a mother, your frustrations in the kitchen are a bad day on the job gets transferred and your emotions. And if you’re not under the control of the Holy Spirit being careful with your emotions, you’re actually disciplining the child for your own good out of anger. And that’s again provoking them to wrath, which the Bible condemns. Administer it out of love. If you are angry and frustrated, maybe take a moment or two to gather your emotions and make sure that what you’re about to do is fair and proportionate. And if you’re not sure about that, probably you shouldn’t smack or spank.
Number nine, remember that discipline should be age appropriate and child specific. We all know that our children have different temperaments to some degree. Each parent knows that they’ve had to sit on one child more than another. And you now need to think that through and be child specific. Sometimes a rebuke with a certain child will do rather than the rod. Plus, you’ve got to think about age appropriate. There comes a point, I think of myself as a father with my daughters, where these steps that I’ve just talked to are just inappropriate with teenage girls. I’ve got to think that through and say, “Well, okay, if that’s not available to me at a certain point, hopefully that it’s done its work. But what are those other things available to me as a parent to reinforce the rules?”
Number 10, ensure a loving and close relationship with the child in the context of discipline. We’ve touched on this, but I’m going with it in a little different direction because Josh McDowell says this: “Rules without relationship produces rebellion.” Now, I’m talking about rules, I’m talking about being stern, I’m talking about being disciplined, I’m talking about homes that have certain fences. That’s biblical, it’s right.
But that’s got to take place in the context of a very loving, vibrant relationship. The father that disciplines his son ought to be the father that plays ball with his son, laughs with his son, watch his television with his son, puts his arm around his son. Or the mother that disciplined her daughter should spend time with those girls, laugh with those girls, shop with those girls, commend them for the being pretty so that when the discipline comes, it’s done in a context of affirmation and security, it’s not this cold parent who’s taking out their bitterness about life on the child. Nothing can be more destructive. But it happens in Christian homes; believe me, it does. But a child that knows that their mom and dad love them lavishly, well, they’ll respect what’s being done.
In fact, Hebrews 12, verse nine says that, “Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect.” What kind of child respects a father who smacks and spanks? A child who knows the deep love of that father, his humility before God, his desire to obey the word of God as much as possible.
Number 11, don’t be frightened to admit your inconsistency and inappropriate discipline. If you have overstepped your boundaries, perhaps you’ve sensed that you’ve smacked them to a point of excess, admit that. If you smacked them out of frustration and anger, admit that and ask them to forgive, although let them know that doesn’t give them the right to smack you. Sorry, kids.
In the opposite directions, number 12, be just as quick to reward and praise for obedience as you are to discipline. I wouldn’t want to have you approach this in an imbalance way. I am encouraging you. For three weeks, I’ve encouraged you in the light of the weakness of our culture to… discipline of your children. But I want you to know that you and I, to balance this out biblically, when they do good, affirm them. Apply the rod to be stern and smarting in your… Reward them, bless them, thank them. Give praises to God that his work is taking root in their life. The child will love that.
Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, loved children. We tend to think of him as this warring, spitting reformer, but he loved to train two groups of people, clergy and children. In fact, he believed that the youth were the church’s nursery and fountainhead. Through his famous table talks and catical work, Luther instructed his own children and the children of Wittenberg. Here’s what he said about discipline, taking off on this last thought about prayers for obedience: “One should punish children and pupils in such a way that the apple always lies beside the rod, for it is bad if children and pupils lose their friendly disposition towards parents and teachers.” I like that, the rod and the apple. Discipline them, but encourage them. Challenge them, but bless them.
Okay, let’s move on, secondly, to the reproof. Speeding ahead here. The rod, that’s one side of this balance in discipline, but there’s the reproof. Go back to Proverbs 29, verse 15, 29:15. “The rod and the rebuke give wisdom.” The word rebuke here is a verbal reprimand. It’s clear and convincing moral argument for accepting a certain belief or a certain behavior. In fact, the root of the word is judicial, and so it speaks of determining what’s right.
God has given you that authority through His word correctly interpreted to stand before your child almost like a judge, a prosecutor, and say, “Look, you need to listen. This is the right way to live, this is the wrong way to live. Here’s the reasons why this is the right way, here’s the blessings if you follow the right way, here’s the consequences if you don’t, here’s the heartache that will result.” The rod makes them teachable, and then the rebuke or the reproof or the instruction teaches them.
And this is important because the rod is not a magic wand because the rod simply works from the outside in. It reveals hard issues. It reminds our child that what they’re doing is wrong. But that’s all the rod can do. The rebuke will engage the mind and the heart and now help the child think through the issues of the heart, the sin issues, the disobedience, the need to fear God, the need to love God, the need to honor parents, the need to serve others, the need to put one’s faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. These are compelling arguments that the parent must bring to the heart and mind of the child. And if we love them sufficiently, their hearts will open to that rebuke and hear that reproof.
Look at Proverbs 23, and you’ll see this at work. Proverbs 23, verse 13. Okay, we’ve read it, but we’ll read it again, then we’ll keep reading on down. You see here the balance. “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod and deliver his soul from hell. My son, if your heart is wise, my heart will rejoice, indeed I, myself, yes, my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak right things.” Here’s a father bearing his heart to his son. He’s saying, “Look, I will have no greater joy, my life will mean something, there will be purpose to all that I’ve done if you grew up and live out what I’m teaching you.”
Verse 17, “Do not let your heart envy sinners. Be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day, for surely there is a hereafter and your hope will not be cut off.” He’s standing his son, “Think about eternity. You just don’t get to go round once and that’s what it’s all about, grabbing all the gusto as you can. No, there’s a hereafter.” “Hear, my son,” verse 19, “and be wise. Guide your heart in the way. Do not mix with wine bibbers, with gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty.”
Verse 22, “Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy the truth and do not sell it.” You see the rebuking, the reproving that’s going on here? This father is making a compelling argument for righteousness. This father is setting his son down in a context of love where the child has known the father’s discipline, where he is caught his son’s attention. Now he’s teaching him the ways of wisdom, and that’s important.
The rod gets her attention while the rebuke seeks to capture their heart. Consistently and creatively, each child needs to be taught right and wrong from a biblical perspective. The Bible tells us to reason with them about our faith, and it also tells us to be a great reason for faith. We need to live what we’re expecting them to live. There’s no point you and I teaching our children about purity, and then our children coming into the living room and finding dad watching something questionable. They’ve got to see it, they’ve got to hear it as we ask them to do it. And the child would do well to heed this instruction, for life is in its wisdom and death is in its dismissal.
I don’t have time, but I would encourage you parents to sit down with a book of Proverbs, look out for those markers, my son or my sons, and you’ll find that again and again these fathers are teaching these up and coming young men in Israel of certain things: to fear God, to guard their minds, to obey their parents, to select their friends, to watch out for sexual temptation, to wait for a young virgin woman and love her all their lives and be satisfied sexually by them, to watch their words, to pursue hard and honest work, to manage their money, to love their neighbors. Those are some of the themes that these men are teaching these boys. Conversely, mothers teaching their daughters. That’s the job of the parent, to apply the rod and then to rebuke, to teach.
What’s the family altar looking like in your home? Are you teaching your children formally? Are you teaching them informally? Do you talk about biblical things in the car? Do you take incidences in a movie or a conversation or a news piece and turn them to a biblical perspective and say, “Hey, did you notice that and how that goes against God’s word? Did you notice the temptation in that? Did you notice the sleight of hand and how they’re trying to deceive young people in terms of this lifestyle?” Constantly teaching them, constantly teaching them in those early years, formally in those latter years, a little bit more informally, using life itself and their engagement of life to teach them, looking for opportunities.
On October 1983, on the 31st of that month, Korean Airlines flight 007 departed from Anchorage, Alaska for a direct flight to Seoul in Korea. Unknown to the crew, the computer engaging the flight navigation system contained the one and a half degree riding error, and so at the point of departure, the mistake was unnoticeable. Even a few hundred miles out beyond the west coast of America, it was still unnoticeable. But as the plane began to turn out over the Pacific, it began to increasingly stray from its proper course. Eventually, somewhere in the flight, flying over Soviet airspace. The Soviets responded swiftly. Fighter jets were scrambled to intercept this plan. No time was wasted finding out if the plane was hostile in its intent or peaceful. And if you know the story, if you maybe watched the news back then, you’ll know that those jets fired their missiles, blowing the plane out of the sky with the loss of all lives on board.
I thought about that this week, studying this passage. I reminded myself, my children, your children, to a degree, are like a computer; the input determines the output. And I have got to work hard and you’ve got to work hard at downloading into their mind and their hearts, the unerring, infallible truth of God’s word so that they might find their way to the cross, that they might know how to approach God, that they might know how to walk the paths of obedience.
I’ve got to rebuke them, reprove them, teach them, instruct them, admonish them, which brings me to the last thought. Give me five minutes here and we’ll try and wrap this up. The basis of discipline, the depravity of the child, the devotion of the parent, the beginning of discipline early because of the curiosity and compliance and conversion factor, the balance of discipline, the rod and the reproof. Fourthly, the blessing of discipline. If you will discipline your child, it will be a blessing.
Now, they don’t believe that for one second. They’re a bit like Winston Churchill when he lost his bed for real action after World War II. His wife tried to console him by saying it was a blessing in disguise, to which Churchill replied, “If it is, it’s very well disguised.” And I think when you and I discipline our children and tell him it’s a blessing, they would reply like that. “Well dad, it must be a very well disguise blessing,” but it is a blessing.
I’ll give you two aspects to the blessing. Let me tell you why it’s a blessing. Hebrews chapter 12, verse 11. We’ve quartered it, but again, I want to root my thinking in the text. Hebrews 12 verse 11, “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful.
We’ve all walked the plank as kids. Remember those times? God’s just okay. For me, it was upstairs. And I remember walking up those stairs to the landing of our two story home. It was like walking the plank. It didn’t seem joyful, and I knew it was going to be painful, but nevertheless, afterward it yields peaceable fruit. It did in my life. I remember being in a riot in Belfast; there were petrol bums, there were stones. I remember being caught up in that as an unsaved boy from a Christian home. And I remember standing in the midst of that crowd restraining my involvement because of a father’s love and a father’s discipline and me saying to myself, even as an unseated boy, “I can’t do this. My dad wouldn’t want me to do this.” There was blessing in the discipline.
It does yield results. And those results are, one, it advances life, and number two, it averts death. It advances life. This is a quick point. Wisdom was given to Israel so that they might live life happily and effectively and successfully. We’ve made that point again and again. Remember the word wisdom, chokmah, means for the craftsman to be skillful in his work, either in wood or stone. And wisdom is the ability to take life and craft it skillfully.
And so when you and I obey the wisdom of God’s word, it advances life. And when you and I apply the wisdom of the book of Proverbs in terms of discipline, it’s good for our family. In fact, there is a specific verse that shows us this. Look at Proverbs 29, verse 17. “Correct your son and he will give you rest. Correct your son and he will give you rest. Yes, he will give delight to your soul.”
Tell me this. And I’m sure if I could take time and ask some of our grandparents to stand up, they would tell you, “There is no greater joy,” to borrow the words of the Apostle John, “than to see your children walking the truth.” No job success, no financial gain could ever replace the joy that a man or a woman, a father or a mother will feel when they see that their children have grown up, come to faith, married right, are doing a good job with their own kids. Nothing will satisfy you and me more than that. That’s what I’m striking for, that’s what I’m striking for. Poverty I can handle, trouble I’ll deal with, but I want to know that the girls are doing a good job for Jesus Christ because if you correct your child, He’ll give you peace and you’ll bring the light to your soul.
In fact, the Hebrew here, the way it’s written in the Hebrew, the hefel, carries the idea of the parent being able to relax because they’re not worried about what the child is going to do next. That’s the picture there. The parent is at rest. They’re not worried about the child. The child isn’t a burden to them. They’re not concerned. The parent’s at rest because they know the child has taken wisdom from the home and is living it out in their home. And the father and mother sleeps well. They’re joyful grandparents. They’re reaping the benefits of all that hard work. It advances life.
Finally, it averts death. This is a striking thought. This is the blessing of discipline. This is why we must do it, because remember when you said foolishness is bound up in the heart of our children. Moral disobedience and folly, that’s our children. And the seeds of disaster are bound up in their heart, and you and I have got to pull out those seeds by the roots or a bitter harvest will result. That’s why Proverbs urges parents to discipline their children and not to set their heart on their destruction.
You’ve got to look at this verse with me. Proverbs 19, verse 18. Proverbs 19, verse 18, “Chasing your son while there is hope. And do not set your heart on its destruction.” Isn’t that an amazing verse? I don’t believe there’s one father in his right mind here this morning and one mother with a heart of love for her child would ever consciously set out to destroy any of the children of Emmanuel Baptist Church. No, there’s not one of you here this morning. I’ve been in your homes. I’ve spent time with you over dinner. We’ve spent time in conversation. We all want to do what’s best for our children. I know that.
But here’s what it’s saying. It’s not saying that any one of us would set out consciously to do that, but if you’re not willing to use the rod and to rebuke, if you don’t take seriously the sin nature of your child, if you don’t start early, you unconsciously are setting yourself up and your child up for trouble. That’s what that verse is saying. You’ve got to discipline because… You must because it will advance life. If you don’t, it will advance death.
I’ll give you another verse. Proverbs 23. We’ve read it, but we didn’t read the last part of it. Proverbs 23, verse 13, “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod.” Look. For what purpose? “To deliver his soul from hell.” Now, the Hebrew word is not hell, it’s Sheol. It’s the abode of the dead. Now, hell may lay on the other side of it if you’re unsaved, if you’re unrighteous and disobedient. But here’s what this verse is saying. If you want to deliver your child’s soul from death in all its dimensions, physical, spiritual, and eternal, you’ve got to apply the rod.
And that was very real in Israel. Remember this was a theocracy. What happened when a child disobeyed their parents and became recalcitrant and rebellious? They got a stiff knack. According to Deuteronomy 21, 18 to 21, “The elders of the city took the child outside the city gates and stoned the child to death.” You go, “Wow.” But that tells you how far we have fallen. We can hardly bring ourselves to smack their wrist. But this biblical culture took serious to sin nature. Left uncurbed, unchallenged, the child will grow up and he will become so destructive, society’s better getting rid of him. And so this was real. You want to save your child from death physically in Israel, make sure he doesn’t grow up to be a rebel because the city fathers will deal with him.
And as we’ve said, Sheol, while it speaks of the abode of the dead, on the other side of Sheol is eternal death; separation from God. And it would seem to me, at least secondarily, this verse is encouraging us, you know what? Think through. If your child grows up with no fear of sin, no fear of God, no thought of hell, has no sense of moral accountability, does not fear God’s righteousness, then hell lies on the other side of that folly.
But early on, you teach them right from wrong, teach them that they’re sinners, teach them that the blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse them from all sin, teach them that God loves them so much so that he disciplined his own child as their substitute, teach them all the glorious truths of the gospel, and you just might see of your child from hell. Advanced life and avert death in your child by the blessing of discipline.
A family had taken to the shelter in their basement. It was a severe storm. They had been warned on the radio by a tornado that was in their locality and had been spotted, and so they took shelter down in the basement of their home. They could hear the storm passing over. And when it had passed, the father thought it was time to take a look at the damage. And so they opened the doors of their storm shelter and there was a downed power line whipping dangerously in the street in front of their house.
Before the father realized what was happening, his five-year-old daughter ran right by him, headed for the sparkling wire in the middle of the street. “Lori, stop,” he yelled, but she kept running. “Lori, stop,” he yelled, but she kept running, enticed by this sparkling dancing. “Stop now, Lori,” he cried. But little Lori reached down, picked up the wire, and was instantly killed. Can you imagine the heartbreak of witnessing that and then living on the other side of that kind of tragedy?
But as I conclude the message this morning and leave you with a parting thought, is the real tragedy not that the little girl had never been taught that when her father said no, he really meant no? That’s the tragedy. If that little girl had have learned to stop when daddy said stop, life would’ve been advanced and death would’ve been averted. And our children need to learn to obey us because it is the first step to them learning to obey God. Therefore, do not withhold correction from your child because you might, by God’s grace, deliver his soul from death and-