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‘Spare the Rod Spoil the Child’ in the Bible?

Is the Phrase ‘Spare the Rod Spoil the Child’ in the Bible?

As is received from our Heavenly Father, parents are to extend an abundance of intention, grace, and mercy. Keeping in mind, effective discipline can come with the way of godly stimulated discipleship, bound in love.

“Spare the rod, spoil the child,” is an aphorism generally used to help the exercise of bodily discipline in the direction of children. At one time, this may have been achieved with a literal rod. Today, it would be more appropriately be performed via spanking with the hand or the use of a paddle of sorts.

The reasons behind this sort of exercise is that one wouldn’t need to “break” the child, so to talk. Which additionally holds an exclusive connotation than it used to. What we know as “overindulging,” on this sense, way to impair or ruin.

It appears this quote means that not hitting your children would definitely ruin them. But is that this idea one Christians should maintain to? If so, where in the Bible is this arguable verse found? And does it clearly mean what we assume it way?

Spare the Rod Spoil the Child' in the Bible
“What does it mean to ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’?” Answer: The phrase “spare the rod, spoil the child” is a modern-day proverb …

Origins of the Phrase

Contrary to popular notion, the phrase, “spare the rod, spoil the child” isn’t observed in Scripture. It’s a quote penned by Englishman Samuel Butler backed in the 1660s. It was in his poem, “Hudibras,” that was firstly produced in response to the local Puritan faith, something he spoke towards frequently… this time in blatant mockery and satire.

Somehow, this specific quote stuck. And when the announcing itself isn’t biblical, it doesn’t necessarily contradict what the Bible says, either. This is because there are 3 Hebrew proverbs that do communicate to mother and father now not “sparing the rod.” It’s the “spoil the child” that Butler added for his very own purposes.

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What the Bible Says about ‘Sparing the Rod’

It’s probably that Butler was freely referencing the book of Proverbs, although to mock them.

Whoever spares the rod hates their children (Proverbs 13:24).

If you punish (children) with the rod, they’ll not die (Proverbs 23:13).

A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom (Proverbs 29:15).

For some Christians, these are verses that have emerged as “evidence-text” for his or her use and support of corporal punishment. For others, they are reason enough to brush aside the Bible’s teaching, altogether. However, these are partial verses and we’d do an amazing disservice to their utility by ignoring the context as we make the belief, sparing the rod, spoils the kid.



When Given a Verse, Take a Chapter

As with any verse, we want to remember the authentic context, together with how it fits into the more biblical image. One way to do this: By taking the chapter whenever given a verse. Reading the encompassing paragraphs, or in this situation even the second part of the sentences, possible gain a better perspective.

One needs to additionally observe the unique layout of Proverbs, in general. Scholars Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart explain of their book, How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth, that the Hebrew Proverbs were poetic in nature, written in any such way to stimulate mental image, at the same time as which include sounds that are appealing to the ear. These nuances wander away in translation, making it difficult to understand them as worded to be memorable or catchy, while not necessarily supposed to be literal or absolute.

With this in thoughts, we are able to look back to the complete verses that reference the use of a rod on children:

  • Whoever spares the rod hates their children, however the one that loves their children is careful to discipline them (Proverbs 13:24).
  • Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they’ll not die (Proverbs 23:13).
  • A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its parent (Proverbs 29:15).

There are 3 repeated issues here, we will now outline through the lens of Scripture. This will help us recognize the original message — each implied with the author and received by the target audience, due to the fact these verses can in no way mean to us what they in no way meant to them.

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Using the Bible to Understand Parenting

Scripture frequently interprets Scripture, and according to Scripture, the position of any godly parent is to:

1). Train children (Proverbs 22:6); Teach children (Deuteronomy 6:7; Deuteronomy 11:19).

2). Live by example (Deuteronomy 6:8-9; Deuteronomy 11:18).

3). Make known what God has don (Joel 1:3; Isaiah 38:19).

4). Discipline by word and deed (Proverbs 29:15; Proverbs 29:17; Proverbs 13:24; Proverbs 23:13; Hebrews 12:7).

5). Maintain right attitudes (Colossians 3:21; Ephesians 6:4; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; 1 Peter 5:3; Ephesians 4:29; Proverbs 29:22).

We can see right here a far broader factor to parenting at work along the thought of physical discipline. The bigger image highlights a more customary call, that of discipleship and character.


Using the Bible to Understand Discipline

There’s a connection right here, we don’t want to miss. Our word “discipline” is certainly a derivative of the word “disciple.” A correlation made apparent all for the period of the Bible and one which the unique authors and target audience of these proverbs could have identified.

By looking on the original language, we even see that the Hebrew word translated to “discipline,” is the very equal word that is translated into “teaching,” some other place. The root word being “mū·sar,” and by means of watching the way it’s used throughout the Bible, we begin to see a control variety of application. It swings from teaching, training, and modeling (discipleship), to verbally correct and even consequence (discipline).

Most drastically, “mū·sar” is a noun used, out of doors of the proverbs, to reference God’s teaching and field. Which makes experience, because in line with biblical culture and belief, each teaching and discipline were expected to come back through the father; in the circle of relatives setting, with the real father (to which the Proverbs are addressing,) and in the broader experience of God’s circle of relatives, through God as Father (to which the biblical narrative addresses.) In each instances, and in both makes use of the word, this was accomplished usually as orally, audibly, and visibly, nicely well before physically.

Notice all the warnings and instructions on the importance of verbal teaching and energetic listening in Proverbs chapter 13, alone. By “taking the chapter” we find:

  • A wise son heeds his father’s guidance* however a mocker does not respond to rebukes (Proverbs 13:1).
  • Wisdom is discovered in people who take advice (Proverbs 13:10).
  • Whoever scorns guidance* will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded (Proverbs 13:13).
  • The teaching of the clever is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death (Proverbs 13:14).
  • A wicked messenger falls into hassle (Proverbs 13:17).
  • Whoever disregards discipline*come to poverty and disgrace, but whoever heeds correction is commemorated (Proverbs 13:18).
  • The one who loves their children is cautious to discipline* them (Proverbs 13:24).
  • Repeated again, we get verses like Proverbs 23:12, Proverbs 23:19, Proverbs 23:22, and Proverbs 23:26.

And again, in chapter 29, in which the third reference is made to apply a rod upon the kid, Proverbs 29:1 repeats, “He who’s often reproved, but stiffens his neck, will abruptly be broken past recovery (Proverbs 29:1, ESV).

When we understand the rationale and purpose of those Proverbs, we can recognize each could had been clear to bear in mind and amusing to say, even part of the teaching parents might skip alongside to their children.

If something, there’s more to be stated in those chapters about the discipleship of children (from the parent’s perspective) and the importance of obedience (from the child’s perspective).

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Using the Bible to Understand the Rod

According to the language used, a rod can represent many different things. A device for discipline (Proverbs 22:15; Exodus 20:21), for herding sheep (Leviticus 27:32), for cultivating herbs (Isaiah 28:27), however additionally while referencing the tribes of Israel (Psalm 74:2), and/or when used as a symbol of authority (Judges 5:14).

As a nomadic people, the Hebrew rod could most typically have been visible as the tool held and used for everything from guidance (of flocks or households), to shielding or even clearing the way.

It held an image of authority to it, and yes, could also be used as a weapon or device for field.

This could be what it represented in the 3 verses we’re exploring, an extension of the Father’s role and authority, to be used wisely and correctly.

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What Does This Mean?

As the Bible strongly encourages the obedience of children to their parents, we can also say it’s in the scope of parenting to uphold such expectancies. God does this with us, and we’re to do it with them. This isn’t performed with a rod of iron, but.

As is acquired from our Heavenly Father, parents are to extend an abundance of purpose, grace, and mercy. Keeping in mind, powerful discipline can best come via way of godly stimulated discipleship, bound in love.

At the end of the day, consequences are desirable and have to be set in place. But the moment a hand is raised in anger, or one’s “rod” will become the initial or number one source of teaching, we’ve missed the mark, absolutely.




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