Freedom. Truth. Marriage.

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“Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

This saying has been used to defend corporal punishment for centuries. Is it in the Bible? Is it a Biblical principle?

Bibleornot.org says the actual quote was written by Samuel Butler, a 17th century poet. It is probably inspired from Proverbs 13:24, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” Proverbs goes on to mention the rod a few other times:

22:15 “Foolishness is tangled up in the heart of a youth; the rod of discipline will drive it away from him.”
23:13-14 “Don’t withhold discipline from a youth; if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. Strike him with a rod, and you will rescue his life from [Hell].”
29:15 “A rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a youth left to himself is a disgrace to his mother.”

New Testament verses about disciplining children include:

Heb. 12:6-7 “for the Lord disciplines the one He loves and punishes every son He receives. Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline?”

Eph. 6:4 “Fathers, do not exasperate you children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

I’m not going to get into a debate on here on whether or not these verses about “the rod” mean corporal punishment or gentle guidance like a shepherd’s rod. While “spare the rod, spoil the child” isn’t a Biblical quote, the principle of disciplining your child is. I think what Gill’s commentary says about Proverbs 13:24 makes for a good truth takeaway: “Who withholds or withdraws his rod of correction, which is in his hand, which he has power to use, and ought to exercise at proper times; he, instead of loving his son, may be said to hate him; for such fond love is no better than hatred; and, if he really hated him, he could scarcely do a more ill thing by him than not to correct him for a fault”ThingsWeSaw

 

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