Spare the Rod?

Dear Reader,

So what do you think of the biblical injunction not to spare the rod? It is found here: “He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently” (Proverbs 13:24; NASB). We do spank our children though we have to do it a lot less than when they were littler. And we also use other punishments. And I have never used an implement to do it. What has always puzzled me is that of all the Christians that quote this verse to me as biblical instruction to be taken literally, most don’t actually take it literally. Sure, they spank but not many use a rod. I have known a family or two with a special tool for the job. A few more who may use something handy like a wooden spoon. But most people I actually know (as opposed to reading their stuff on the internet) do not use anything. And yet they urge me to not “spare the rod.” If we are not using a rod, are we applying this verse? And if we are not really taking it literally by just spanking, then why bother at all? Is the point of this verse just to discipline and train your kids? Is the method the heart of it or not? 


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jo on October 2, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    The rod in the bible refers to the staff the sheepherders used to guide the sheep. The rod was not used to beat the sheep. The bible verse refers to guiding your children not beating them. The bible does not tell you to spank.


    • Actually, I have studied Hebrew at a graduate level and I can tell you that this is a very general word for “rod” used in lots of contexts. It can be a shepherd’s rod. It can also be a ruler’s scepter. It can also be a club for beating cumin. In Exodus 21:20, the same Hebrew word is used and it clearly refers to physical beating:
      “If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished.” So honestly, I think that just as the word “rod” in English has a wide range of uses, so does the Hebrew.


  2. […] he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” [ESV]. (See my earlier posts on this verse here, here, and here. I guess I’ve blogged on this a […]


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