Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
Do you want a family tree to God’s glory, man’s benefit, and your children’s happiness? The Creator God and King Solomon gave you two crucial rules in this proverb. What a privilege to know two points of certain truth, but you must apply them to get their benefit.
Is there hope for your children? It depends how old they are. Once set in ways of sin, it is very hard to reverse their foolish thinking. It may take a miracle to recover them, and God has not promised miracles for lazy parents. Get serious today about child training.
Train your children today: tomorrow may be too late. Do not waste a single day. You do not have forever. They quickly grow beyond training, and then they are gone from your influence. Efforts to train or chasten then will likely provoke them. It will be too late.
God gave them to you helpless and open to instruction. He gave you a window of time to train them, which closes very quickly. Then you must pray for a miracle, which God has not promised to give, if you chose to ignore or reject His wisdom earlier in their lives.
The proverb has two clear lessons for you. Child training and its related chastening must be done early in a child’s life, and this chastening must be done firm enough to cause proper pain, without compromise for foolish parental pity or tearful appeals by the child.
Child training is not an option; it is a commandment (Pr 22:6; Ep 6:4). Chastening is not an option; it is a commandment (Pr 23:13-14; 29:15,17). Chastening is the use of punishment to produce pain for the enforcement and reinforcement of training.
Chasten. To inflict disciplinary or corrective punishment on; to visit with affliction for the purpose of moral improvement; to correct, discipline, chastise.
The corrective punishment God teaches here is by the use of the rod (Pr 13:24; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15). Horses are trained to run fast with a whip, or riding crop; asses are kept controlled and made useful by bridles; fools are corrected from foolishness by a rod (Pr 26:3; 10:13). Some stripes on the back are a wonderful training method, as many generations of sober Americans and others would testify, if they could (Pr 19:29; 20:30).
Due to the influence of confused Benjamin Spock, who renounced his hallucinations before he died, spanking with a rod is now considered abusive, barbaric, cruel, or Neanderthal. But it was once practiced by all nations with good results, just as Solomon clearly taught. Speaking on behalf of our grandparents that practiced such child training, consider Encyclopedia Britannica’s entry for flogging in its 14th edition:
FLOGGING has been one of the most universally utilized methods of punishing public crimes, as well as a means of preserving family, domestic, military and academic discipline.
What happened to this scriptural, wise, obvious, and universal method of discipline and training for much of society? It was thrown out in the bathwater along with God, the Bible, the Ten Commandments, prayer in schools, creation, balanced budgets, protection of the unborn, opposite sex definition of marriage, personal responsibility, duty and honor, and a secondary education good enough to read and grasp the Federalist Papers.
There is not a better idea than spanking for chastening children. God settled the issue by King Solomon’s rules for child training in the book of Proverbs. History, observation, and common sense confirm the wisdom. You cannot improve on it, no matter how many or how educated its opponents may be. If you waste your children’s early years wishing or looking for a different approach, they will soon shame and trouble you (Pr 29:15,17).
Two generations now have neglected chastening, and youth today are haughty, selfish, lazy, rebellious, and undisciplined compared to their chastened grandparents. Traits not allowed one hundred years ago in any children are now the norm. Public, academic, and employment standards are reduced regularly to accommodate an undisciplined generation. The folly of modern parenting is coming home to roost on their offspring.
Children, daughters included, will be well behaved when they are old, if you train them when young (Pr 22:15). You must chasten them betimes – early in life, while there is hope, before it is too late (Pr 13:24). Dear parent, get a strong sense of urgency today.
Betimes. At an early time, period, or season; early in the year; early in life. In good time, in due time; while there is yet time, before it is too late.
Chastening is God’s method for training your children for godly and successful lives, but it must be done early in life. If you wait too long, children become hardened in rebellion, established in their own thoughts, formed in their own habits, resentful of corporal correction, and able to leave the home and live on their own. As you know from delayed civil punishment, men are hardened to do evil when it is not speedily executed (Ec 8:11)
You must begin when they are young, and then only reminders will be needed later. Self-discipline and right conduct can be taught early, and they must be taught early. Every year of life makes it more difficult to change habits and attitudes. Train them now, while they are young. Consistent chastening early will do more good than harder and more frequent chastening later. The earlier you begin, the less is required. Start today!
Training can begin in infancy, for Hannah delivered Samuel to the priests at Shiloh right after his weaning (I Sam 1:24-28). He was prepared to live away from home, follow instructions, and worship God from a very, very early age. Self-discipline, a key virtue, can be effectively taught by what may or may not be touched to a diapered pupil in a highchair. True parental love finds creative ways to accomplish much of the goal early.
You must chasten early, and you must chasten firmly. Do not let tears and crying move you, for children quickly learn to beg, plead, promise, cry, and scream to avoid discipline. Ignore his tears now to save him and you much worse crying later. The interruption of domestic tranquility for a few minutes now is much less than the calamity coming without it. Do not let anything distract or stop you from grasping this sober equation.
It is ungodly pity that hinders you from doing your duty for their happiness and good. Eli’s choice to compromise with his sons brought infinitely more pain to his entire family and him than any short difficulty that chastening would have caused. Consider it! When you ignore a child’s infraction or a character fault in order to have a peaceful evening after work, you are asking for many years without peace in the near future.
No good parent enjoys chastening his child, for he would much rather hold him tenderly or enjoy his happy company, depending on age. But the goal of saving him from hell in life must drive you to your duty. True love is not just hugs and kisses: true love is correction; withholding correction is hatred (Pr 13:24). If you truly love your children, you want their very best in a functional and prosperous life, which requires chastening.
If you spare the rod, you hate your son, for you create future pain and trouble for him in his life. This foolish choice will come back to haunt both of you (Pr 29:15). David chose to spare the rod on Adonijah, and it cost that foolish son his life (I Kgs 1:6; 2:23). Never sacrifice the future on the altar of the present, no matter your dislike of chastening. Make your child great in the future by chastening him in the present – today, if he needs it.
Exalting friendship with your children will lead to problems, for it will be hard to chasten with the right consistency and severity. You must first be a parent, and then you can be a friend. Chasten them, and you will bring rest to your soul; you will be able to take perpetual ease later when your chastening has earned it (Pr 29:17). Your fellowship with successful children in the future will be great (Pr 10:1; 15:20; 17:21,25; 19:13; 23:24-25).
Do you want a great family tree to God’s glory, man’s benefit, and family happiness? The Creator God inspired King Solomon to give you two crucial child training rules in this proverb. Have you grasped the lessons? Do you understand the value? Can you see the consequences of your choice? What a privilege to know two points of certain truth for your family’s success, but you must apply them to benefit from them.
If you have young children, there is hope today. Do not plan on tomorrow, for your case may soon be hopeless. If you have been negligent in the past, confess your sin fully to God and beg Him for mercy for children already past the point of hope. He does forgive and can mercifully help you recover the lost opportunity (Joel 2:25-27). There is always hope with God on your side, but God charged you to start their training when young.
True Christians are God’s sons by adoption through Jesus Christ (Gal 4:4-7), and He proves His love by chastening them when they disobey. He does have pity (Ps 103:13-14), but He chastens and scourges every adopted son (Heb 12:6). Chastening proves His love, for only bastards are ignored to go their own way (Heb 12:7-8). If you receive painful results for sin, on the inside or outside, you can know you are greatly loved.