Proverbs 29:19

A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer.

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Rebellion can be active or passive. Wicked servants will not respond to verbal correction, because their hearts are full of defiance. They fear enough to refrain from cursing, but they do not have the spirit of a virtuous servant. Though clearly or frequently corrected, and understanding the lesson and their needed improvement, they will not answer properly or amend their ways. Therefore, authority needs to be enforced painfully.

A scornful, sullen, surly servant will show his stubborn rebellion by ignoring verbal instruction and correction. If you explain things carefully and clearly, he will not agree or submit. Though you ask questions he understands, he will not answer. He uses silence to punish the authority he despises. He shows his wickedness quietly by rejecting your rule. Men may describe such a person as one that does not know how to say, “I am sorry.”

If you find yourself saying, “Say something!” you have encountered the rebellious problem Solomon here described to his son. Silence is no evidence of agreement or submission; it is often a loud statement of defiance. Measures beyond words must be used. This is not just any servant, for many servants are corrected by words (Matt 8:9).

Such rebellion must be crushed. Authority must be enforced to maintain order and peace. It was solved by two options under Moses’ law. You could beat the servant, if necessary, to within an inch of his life (Pr 19:29; 26:3; Ex 21:20-21). And if you were tired of beating him, you could sell him to a master with a bigger rod. Moses’ law warned against unnecessary rigor (Lev 25:43), but authority must be maintained (Pr 19:25; 21:11; 26:3).

Modern employment relationships do not have the provisions of Moses’ law, so wise masters fire belligerent losers. Keeping one bad apple will spoil the whole bunch. Allowing a defiant employee to stay, even if he rebels quietly, will cost your authority. If you have a scornful employee, and you cannot correct him, throw him out (Pr 22:10)!

Parent, do you know your children? Do you know when silence is rebellion? Do you observe sullenness? Do you understand that a withdrawn child is a problem child? Do you know their temperamental differences, and do you carefully watch the passive ones, who tend toward reserved responses? Their rebellion can grow while you snooze.

Rebellion can be active or passive, loud or silent, angry or sullen. It is your job to detect passive rebellion. Do not allow a child to avoid instruction, correction, or questions. They quickly learn delay tactics, knowing you will tire and forget them. Reject excuses, such as needing more time; children do not have any such rebellious luxury when facing you.

Remember how God hates mocking eyes (Pr 30:17). Watch and read the faces of your children. Correct any insolence, even in their facial expressions. Silence can be mocking. When you detect such a problem, quickly move toward more severe measures to rescue this child from their self-will. The rod will work wonders (Pr 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15).

Tears are also used in silent rebellion. Rather than telling you wickedly they will not do it, they simply let go with the tears, knowing that such a show of emotion got rid of you the last time. If the tears are genuine, they will accompany sincere words of apology and the correct action. Do not allow a child, especially daughters, to use tears as a cover.

Husband, manage your marriage. Watch your wife’s face and correct any marital problems while they are in the bud. Silent rebellion is very common. They will self-righteously justify themselves as submissive, all the while building up bitter rage inside. Spot this sinful rebellion by her silence, smoldering eyes, facial expressions, or body language. Do not let a confrontation end until she is fully at peace with God and you.

Wife, silence is not submission. If your husband must correct you, tell him quickly you are sorry. Tell him you understand the lesson; explain it back to him; promise better behavior in the future. Too much for your pride? Get down right now and confess your arrogance to God. Pride is a horrible sin, and it will destroy your life and home. Answering again is wrong, whether with words or with silence (Tit 2:9). Beware of it!

Christians should never be such blots on their Saviour. They should take correction with cheerfulness and contrition. They should reverently express a desire to make amends as quickly as possible. Then they should do what is expected. Silent rebellion is conduct totally contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ for servants (Eph 6:5-7; I Tim 6:1-2).

Christians should be the quickest to say they are sorry when shown their faults. The man unwilling to say he is sorry on earth will have eternity to consider his rebellion, for such willful stubbornness marks reprobates. Insubordinate servants, wives, and children are odious things that trouble the earth (Pr 30:21-23). Let Christians avoid such reputations.

Dear Christian reader, do you understand the great Lord you serve? You must give Him your sincere confession when you are convicted for sin. Feeling conviction and purposing in your heart to turn from your sin is not nearly enough. You must confess your sins, admit your folly, and turn to Him (Pr 28:13; Job 33:27; 34:31-32; I Jn 1:9). Your glorious Master will receive you, the angels will celebrate, and your fellowship will be restored.