The Rod of Correction
1. This proverb makes two statements, both of which are considered anathema by our generation.
a. Little children are sinful… bad.
b. Corporal punishment is good.
2. The world says just the opposite.
a. Children are good.
b. Corporal punishment is bad.
3. This Bible passage that stands directly opposed to the spirit of the age.
a. There is no middle ground.
b. The believer is forced to take a stand—either with God or the world.
c. To be the friend of the world is enmity with God.
d. But if we chose to be the friend of God, we can expect enmity from the world.
e. Sooner or later this is going to become a matter of LAW. It is not hard to envision a day in which corporal punishment will be banned altogether… as the law of the land.
4. Corporal punishment in the home is still legal in America in all 50 states.
a. However, it is illegal in 24 countries around the world.
b. Sweden was the first to completely ban it in all forms in 1979.
c. But there are campaigns underway as we speak, in America and around the world, seeking to end all forms of corporal punishment.
• Internationally: UNICEF and Amnesty International seeks to end it.
• Nationally: Groups such as: “The Hitting Stops Here” and EPOCH: “End Physical Punishment of Children.”
• In 1993, a group of 103 organizations sent a petition to then President Clinton seeking to abolish all forms of corporal punishment for children.
d. One groups worded it this way: “It is well past time for schools to eliminate the barbaric practice of paddling (children). A vast amount of evidence shows an urgent need to replace corporal punishment with enlightened and humane methods of discipline.”
e. Spanking in any form is considered barbaric, inhumane, and unenlightened. (Sounds a bit like the elite left, doesn’t it?)
f. So far in America, common sense has prevailed, but that could change… and probably will in our lifetime.
g. There are forces at work in our country, seeking to make obeying Prov. 22:15 a crime.
A. Folly in the Bible
1. Folly defined:
a. Devoid of wisdom and understanding, with a focus on the evil behaviors.
b. One who is morally deficient
c. So don’t think of the folly Solomon is describing as silliness.
d. Kids are childish and silly by nature, and there’s nothing wrong with a child being childish… and even silly at times.
e. But there IS something terribly wrong with folly, which is a moral failure.
2. Consider how the book of Proverbs describes folly:
a. Make a mock at sin. Prov. 14:9.
b. Sport themselves in mischief. Prov. 10:23
c. Despise instruction. Prov. 1:7; 15:5.
d. Hate to depart from evil. Prov.13:19
e. Is right in his own eyes. Prov.12:15
f. Is deceived (Prov.14:8) He really believes he’s right.
g. If not corrected, he will continually return to his folly. Prov. 26:11
h. This is not silly behavior; this is sinful behavior.
B. Folly Bound in the Heart of a Child
1. This kind of behavior is BOUND in a child.
a. Mocking sin; getting into mischief; despising instruction; pride; conceit; always thinking he’s right; hating to be corrected; etc.
b. Bound: Tied to as with a rope; united to; joined to; fastened to.
c. This term is used in I Sam. 18:1: “The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David.”
d. The deviant behavior is bound, tied to, knit and interwoven into the very heart of a child.
e. Note that this immoral folly is not only FOUND in the heart of a child, it is BOUND in the heart of a child…
f. This implies two things:
• The insidious nature of the folly: It has the child all bound up… all tied up and it has control over him.
• The difficulty in getting rid of it. It doesn’t come out easily.
2. Children are BORN this way.
a. It isn’t entirely learned behavior; it isn’t environment induced.
b. It is the very NATURE of a child from birth.
c. It is part of the old Adamic nature. They are born BENT towards evil behavior.
d. Ps. 58:3 – “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.”
e. They don’t really need to LEARN bad behavior. It is IN them right from the womb.
f. Children by nature think it is fun to do what they know they are not supposed to do.
g. Children by nature mock at sin… ridicule rules… reject instruction
h. Children by nature don’t like to be told what to do.
i. They hate to hear the word NO said to them… but when given instructions, they love to SAY no to you!
3. Children are born with SIN firmly fixed in their hearts… that old sin nature inherited from their parents… and all the way back to Adam.
a. Christianity and psychology differ strongly on this point.
b. Christianity and the whole world system differ on this point.
c. What one believes about the NATURE of a child (a human being) will (to a large degree) determine HOW that child is reared.
d. For example, if your thinking has been conformed to the world, and you believe that a child is born as a blank slate (neither good nor evil) and his inward inclinations are all LEARNED behavior, then it is reasonable to assume that spanking is not a good idea.
• It will TEACH the child to hit.
• It will enforce violent behavior.
• It will produce a cycle of violence.
• And these are the arguments used against corporal punishment of a child in the home.
e. But, if your thinking has been shaped by God’s Word, and you believe that a child is born with a fallen nature (a heart which is bound up in immoral folly), then it is reasonable to assume that God the Creator has a BETTER way of dealing with His fallen creatures.
• Then spanking will not be seen as promoting violence, but a hindrance to violence.
• Spanking will not teach the child to hit others, but will cause him to think twice before hitting someone else… because there are painful consequences associated with bad behavior!
• THAT is the learned behavior here: There are painful consequences associated with bad behavior.
• Kids don’t have to learn how to be bad or how to misbehave.
• But they DO have to learn about the consequences of their bad choices in behavior. That is a GOOD lesson to learn.
1. The first part of the proverb teaches us the sad reality of life: kids are born with sinful, immoral, folly bound up in their little hearts.
2. The second part of the proverb teaches us what to DO about it.
3. The “rod of correction”
a. Correction defined:
• Strong’s: Discipline; chastening; correction.
• Dictionary of Biblical Languages: Correction that is a minor punishment for teaching which may include a rebuke or instruction.
• This term is often translated “instruction” and most often (20 times) speaks of verbal instruction or verbal discipline.
b. Rod of correction:
• The addition of the word “rod” makes it clear that Solomon had corporal, physical discipline in mind, not just verbal.
• Rod = a stick or rod; it was used of a shepherd’s staff or a king’s scepter.
• Thus, the rod (instrument of corporal punishment) is designed to CORRECT bad behavior.
• When used properly, it is a form of “instruction” that really drives home the point!
• It is the board of education, applied to the seat of knowledge!
4. Shall Drive It Far From Him…
• Distance; remove; put far away; send far away.
• Ps. 103:12 – This is the term used of God “removing” our transgressions from us.
b. Solomon’s point is that the rod is effective.
c. And while this probably drives UNICEF and Amnesty International crazy, corporal punishment works.
d. It is to be used because God said so AND because it works!
• Not everything that works is right… but this does work AND it is also right.
e. Thus, we can employ corporal punishment on our kids AND do so with a pure conscience.
• The unsaved in our country often do spank their children, but they often do so with a guilty conscience because their minds have been conformed by the world… and they are never fully sure whether they did the right thing or not. We are sure.
• We don’t have to worry about whether we are stifling their creativity, or damaging their self esteem, or instilling deep rooted psychological harm to their inner child.
• We can spank our kids and KNOW that it is the right way to deal with folly and that (in the long run) it works… and is GOOD for them.
f. The passage implies that if it is not driven out… it will remain BOUND in his heart, and it gives it a sense of urgency.
5. Prov. 27:22 – “Even if a fool were pounded with a pestle in a mortar along with the grain, he would not be corrected.”
a. This passage says that physical punishment will NOT correct the fool; while 22:15 says that the rod WILL correct the fool and drive his folly away.
b. Clearly two different outcomes are listed in these two proverbs. One says it works; the other says it does not work.
c. That’s why some see this as a contradiction to 22:15.
d. However, this passage actually emphasizes the importance of the rod of correction.
e. By comparing these two proverbs, we learn that ff the folly is not removed when he is a child, when he is older, and has become more set in his ways, then it may NEVER be driven out!
f. Therefore, it is all the more essential that the rod be applied to children… while there is time… while there is hope… while they are still teachable.
g. Kids are like wet cement. Wet cement is easily formed and shaped. But once it hardens, it is much more difficult to shape.
6. Solomon bolsters this point in other passages.
a. Prov. 19:18 – Chasten him while there is still hope… when he is young and teachable… before the cement hardens. If you wait, even a crushing blow (like what the pestle does to grain) will not drive away the folly.
b. Prov. 13:24 – And don’t worry about teaching violence. Spanking a child is an act of LOVE… and one day he will appreciate what you taught him by the way you brought him up (probably when he has kids of own).
• And of course, discipline must be administered in love—not out of frustration or anger.
• And it needs to be accompanied by verbal instruction… teaching him right from wrong. (The rod AND correction – instruction.)
c. Prov. 23:13-14 – You may think that you are killing him, but in reality you are delivering him from heading down the wrong pathway in life.
d. Prov. 29:15 – The rod gives wisdom. That is the goal. Folly is driven out, and it is replaced with wisdom from God… which leads to godliness.
• The world says that the rod leads to a life of violence, a damaged psyche, and deep inner scars.
• The Bible says that it leads to wisdom. Side with God on this matter!
• The world system has a large network of organizations all working towards making the rod that produces godly wisdom ILLEGAL.
• Pray for those who are in positions of authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
• For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalit8ies and powers… spiritual wickedness in high places.