Spare the Rod…

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left [to himself] bringeth his mother to shame.

“Reproof” is the Hebrew word “towkechah” and means rebuke, argument, chastisement. It means “punishment” in one Psalm where the righteous are exercising it against the heathens. Otherwise it speaks to correcting and arguing or “reasoning together”.

This verse is beautiful — exercising your authority, as symbolized by your shebet, and reasoning together and teaching your child will instill him with wisdom; failing to do so will produce a child who brings shame to his mother. I have no argument with that.

Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness [is] bound in the heart of a child; [but] the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

This verse is the one used to argue that the verses that speak of fools are to be applied to children and that opens an entire can of worms where Scripture speaks of the rod for the back of the fool and others as I’m sure you have heard. But, that is not what this verse says. When I really dug into it, I was surprised to realize that it reads the same in Hebrew as it does in English. It wasn’t until I read it in the Hebrew that I realized what it was really saying in the English. It’s not that the heart is bound (tied up) by foolishness as the punitive teachers would have you believe; the heart is not full of foolishness; but foolishness is what is bound (tied up).

Within the heart of a child, foolishness is tied up and when something is tied up it is rendered powerless. In the KJV the words in parenthesis are not present in the original language but have been offered to help the reader. This means there is no “but” in the original. Rather, the rod of correction will drive that bound up foolishness from from your child. And not the rod “and” correction, but the rod “of” correction. We again encounter “muwcar” which is best read as “come let us reason together” and this is the shebet of reasoning together.

In other words, while your child is a child foolishness is tied up in their hearts and rendered powerless, so while they are a child you have time to exercise your authority and teach them so that folly is driven far from them. What encouragement!

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