Correct your son and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul. Proverbs 29:17
It is a common error for parents to think that if they discipline their children, they will not like them later in life. This is especially the case when at the time of the discipline the child makes a comment to the effect that they hate you. Another winner at this juncture is when a child announces in overdramtic fashion that you are ruining their life. Let me assure you from having reared 6 children of all personality types - when you discipline them you are not ruining their lives. What you are doing is insuring that at a later date you will find comfort and delight in a child who knows how to control himself and make wise choices.
Correcting your son involves discipline. The word here is "yasar" and it means to discipline, chasten, instruct, teach, and even punish. This process of correction therefore takes into account all the aspects of rearing a child. It means so much more than just spanking or punishing a child when they do wrong. It involves instructing and teaching them even as you chasten and punish them. It is not enough to tell a child something is bad - you have to eventually explain why something is bad or a wrong choice. When you do this, you take the time to encourage them toward godly, right behavior.
When you rear a child in this fashion you will find that your son gives you two wonderful things. First, we are told that he gives us "comfort." The word here means to give someone a sense of rest and repose. It can also mean a rest in the way you feel when you are satisfied with something. A well-disciplined child, although a chore during the process, will give a parent rest as they make godly, wise choices later in life. I know from a little experience and from helping others that when a child makes unwise choices - it can rob you of any sense of rest or relaxation. Some parents seem to spend a majority of their latter years rescueing a child from one disaster after another. That is not rest!
The second blessing that comes to parents who correct their children is delight. The Hebrew word here is "ma'aden" and it means something of beauty or when refering to food something that tastes wonderful. One of the blessings that I have is that of thoroughly enjoying my children. We have 6 of them - and they are a delight to the soul of their mother and father. When they visit we speak deeply of spiritual things - and we have a blast together - often laughing and enjoying each other's company. That is what is promised here.
Now just a word in closing on this proverb. The delight often comes later in life - because rearing a child is a full contact sport! There were many times when we struggled to know what to do - and how to deal with rebellion in our children. There were times when my wife and I were dropped to our knees in broken-hearted prayer on their behalf. We both know that the reason they are godly today is because of God's grace and mercy - not our wonderful, bookworthy parenting. So do not lose heart if at first you read this and wonder about such words as comfort and delight. That comes after you've spent 15-20 years of work together rearing them - praying for them - and often wondering what may become of them. That part is the "correcting" phase. It is not always delightful - but is very useful to God not only to bless your children - but to drop you to your knees for a few times of God's work in you as well.
The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. Proverbs 29:15
I find it an interesting thing to listen to the "child-rearing" experts argue in our day. I include in this those who speak for and against the idea of spanking or corporal punishment for a child. This proverb answers both groups with wisdom. Let me address both groups with what is taught in this passage.
First, let me address those who say that any kind of spanking is wrong. Some even assert that this is child abuse. This runs up against the Scriptures which here teach us that we are to use the rod and reproof with a child to train them up in the way that they should go. Note it says the rod and reproof. The reason I draw your attention to this is because is lists both. There are some who assert that the "rod" is meant to be the rod of one's mouth - or - their words. That doesn't work for two reasons. First of all the rod of our mouth is as least a stretch for how the Scriptures address this instrument that is used for the purpose of punishment and instruction. This rod was usually either a stalk of bamboo that was cut into a two to three foot long rod. There were also small limbs of trees (usually of a flexible type) that were stripped of all other branches and used for the purpose of administering discipline. The other problem is that there are other passages in Proverbs that speak of striking the child with the rod. It is foreign to the Scriptures to have a child-rearing discipline that is without the use of corporal punishment. It was used to administer a controlled amount of pain to be associated with disobedience to deter a child from continuing in a type of behavior. It was not ever meant to be abusive or excessive - it was meant to be instrtuctive. This is where many who "spank" need to be addressed by this passage as well.
Unfortunately there are some who represent "spanking' as the administering of rod - and that alone. I've heard some adults say things like this, "My parents beat me - and that was good enough for me." This gives the impression that all that is done is spanking. That is foreign to the Bible too. Note that the passage says the rod and reproof are used. This means that not only is corporal punishment used - but instruction as well. The child is taught that certain behaviors are not appropriate. They are wrong - and as such are foolish. If we spank "only" and do not take the time to instruct our children - they will grow up wanting to avoid "bad behavior" because of an aversion to the pain it may cause - but they do not understand anything except to avoid the pain. There is a higher purpose behind good parenting under God.
The important thing to note here is that the rod and reproof give wisdom. The purpose here is for a child to learn to be wise. Too often any form of parental discipline is done because children are annoying and interrupting a parent. That is NOT good child-rearing! We want to teach our children to be wise as they learn to view all things from God's perspective (the basic definition of wisdom). They are "spanked' to help turn them from foolish, sinful, wicked behavior. But as they are disciplined - they are pointed to God's way, which is infinitely superior. And even as discipline is applied they need to be taught the gospel. Oh that we would not miss this vital thing in discipling our chidlren.
All things point to the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we rear them to be good kids - we must not see this as the end because we can NEVER make them good enough to stand before God. That is why as we are instructing them to obey our commandments, we must teach them that God's commandments and Law are infinitely higher and MUST be obeyed. We must instruct them that their disobedience to us is proof that they are sinful and fallen. This helps them to see that their sinfulness is ultimately against God, Whom they have chosen to disobey. Disobedience to us must be punished, but there is a much higher punishment for disobedience to God's Law. Even in discipline we show them mercy, love, and grace - so that they can see that even greater is God's mercy, love and grace shown in the gospel. Then let them know the most important truth. Tell them that there is One Who came to pay the ultimate price of their disobedience before God. That One is Jesus Christ Who died on the cross to pay the price of their rebellion and make them right with God. Oh, dear parents - even in discipline we need to point to the gospel!
Tomorrow, I'll finish commenting on this particular proverb. The reason for this is that I do not want to casually glance over the shot fired across the bow of motherhood here. God is not beating up on mothers with what He says. Much to the contrary - He is speaking of their importance. More on that tomorrow. It is my hope that what today's proverb has taught you is the importance of fighting the right battle when it comes to corporal punishment of children. Some want to make it all about spanking or not spanking. God does not place the importance of what He is saying here about such things. He is seeking to have godly parents focus on teaching and training their children to be wise. He wants the foolishness of a fallen child to be countered - first by the discipline of parents - and then ultimately by the gospel.
He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with the tongue. Proverbs 28:23
Which would you rather receive - a compliment or a rebuke? Even though many of us would chose the first - it is actually a better thing to get the second. Today we will look at the value of a godly, loving rebuke - or honestly - even a not so godly rebuke from someone who is frustrated with us.
My original question was not exactly what this proverb addresses. The compliment offered is actually called, 'flattery' rather than just a compliment. Flattery, by its Hebrew definition, is very seldom true. The one offering the flattery usually has an ulterior motive for offering it. They do not have your best interests in mind. What makes this difficult for me, though, is that I usually agree with people who think I'm awesome. My fallen heart wants people to make much of me. Thus it is very easy to deceive me with complimentary flattery. What I've learned though is that this is not good for me - because I don't learn to address sinful patterns of behavior that hinder me from loving others better.
Someone who offers rebuke is much harder to receive. The problem with receiving rebuke is once again my sinfulness. I will resist the thought that I am not awesome. I am perfectly fine with hearing other people rebuked - or even offering rebuke myself. They do have problems. In fact, often it is their problems that led to someone thinking I need to be rebuked. It is there fault, after all, that I have any problems whatsoever. What you have in these last goofy sentences is the affect of the sinful nature. We want to absolve ourselves of any responsibility for the things we do that are sinful - and prefer blaming others for them. Biblical reality looks much different. We are selfish and self-centered by nature. That leads to choices that are sinful - and that will lead to problems in our lives.
It is better to have someone in your life who will offer rebuke - than to have 50 who offer sycophantic flattery that only blinds you further to your moral and relational blind spots. The rebuke is a blessing in several ways. First, the rebuke helps us to see a sinful pattern or action. Second, as that sin is revealed, it helps me to turn to God in repentance and for forgiveness. Third, it puts me in a place where I want God's grace and truth in my life. The rebuke may hurt at first, but in the end it is far better for me because it helps me to grow spiritually and morally. The wise man learns to receive rebuke not only because of the benefit, but also because of how it identifies true friends. Those who only condone and put up with our sin are not really our friends. A true friend is someone who will tell us the truth lovingly - even if saying it may hurt us - and even our friendship in the short term. But if you have such a friend, thank them for such things, because they are truly interested in your best - and in God's best being realized in your life.
Stripes that wound scour away evil, And strokes reach the innermost parts. Proverbs 20:30
Physical punishment . . . here is a topic that brings out the most strident opposition in a lot of people. When it refers to children some call it child abuse - and when it comes to the punishment of those who break the law the phrase "cruel and unusual punishment" is used. So what exactly is God's take on the idea of corporal punishment and some kind of physical response to disobedience and criminal activity?
There are two levels to understand this Proverb - that of the physical and the responsibility of parents and the state - and a purely spiritual level and how it relates to our growth in a relationship with the Lord. I'll begin with what is being addressed most clearly here - which is the response of parents and governing officials to disobedience and crime.
Our justice system has turned away from the biblical view of crime and punishment. We try to rehabilitate criminals without thought that they need to acknowledge that they've stepped over a very serious line in their behavior. The results are not encouraging at all. We have overcrowded jails and prisons where repeat offenders abound. We've gotten to the point where we have more people interested in the rights of the criminals than in the rights of those they infringed upon with their godless behavior. Our prisons therefore have revolving doors on them - and with the present focus, there are few who are rehabilitated while incarcerated. Put our current record next to one of a modern state that practices physical punishment for a crime. Several years ago a young American citizen was arrested from a crime in one of these states. He was convicted and sentenced to a caning. People in the United States, especially among liberals, went ballistic. Yet the facts should be viewed without all the hysteria. Their crime rates are much lower than ours. What they see currently and have seen in the past is that truly stripes and strokes do scour away evil in the heart. They do reach the innermost parts of a person. They are a very powerful deterrent to crime and disobedience.
The spiritual level is little diffeerent. God disciplines those He loves and, according to Hebrews 12, He scourges every son He accepts. How does God deal with His own children? He disciplines them with scourgings - stripes and strokes that scour away the evil of our hearts and make us think twice about being disobedient again. We are fallen beings and have a sad tendency to ignore God and His commandments and turn instead to what our flesh cries out for constantly. The way God deals with this is to bring us into discipline. Anyone who has ever experienced this discipline knows that it is stern but loving. There is no doubt that God loves us when He disciplines us - but He is dead serious about it too. He knows what is at stake - and is wanting to deter us from walking in rebellion and sin. These things will hurt us - and in some cases even destroy us - therefore He takes it very seriously a trip to the proverbial spiritual woodshed. But do not ever be mistaken . . . God does these things because He loves us. The same should be said for parents and for a society that crafts effective physical punsihments for those who break the law.
Physical punishment and corporal punishment may be unpopular with the liberal elements of our society - but in all honesty, they are wrong. Yes there need to be limits put in place - there needs to be a humane way to practice the death penalty - and there should be wisdom in a parents administration of discipline. Yet there also should be a full acknowledgement that the sinful nature of man will not respond to a call to reform alone. It is in the best interests of a family - and indeed a society to practice physical and corporal punishment. How do we know? The Word of God informs us.
Judgments are prepared for scoffers, and blows for the back of fools. Proverbs 19:29
The New Testament reminds us in Romans that if we obey the Law, we will have no fear of judgment or punishment. Thus, the man who is driving the speed limit does not have his heart jump when he sees the speed trap too late on the highway. He has no fear of being caught doing anything wrong - because he's not doing anything wrong. But the scoffer who has no regard for the Law - who actually mocks it and speaks out against it - he has no such peace. The fool who is ignorant of the law and who loves his folly and sin - he too will know no such peace.
We are reminded that judgments are prepared for the scoffers. This refers to the Word of God. The fact that many miss is that God has already pronounced His judgments on those who scoff at His Word. He has given His commandments and also offered His warnings to those who ignore them - and who indeed ignore Him. There is no lack of passages in Scripture to remind us that God will judge the wicked - and that those who reject Jesus Christ face a terrifying specter of God's unreserved wrath. Therefore, if you are a scoffer, you can know exactly what you will get from God for your scoffing.
We are also reminded that there are blows for the backs of fools. The fool is the one who enjoys his folly - and ignores God's Word. He loves his foolishness and will not turn away from it. He has no use for anything that restrains what he wants - what His flesh cries out for each moment of each day. Thus the only way to reach this one and turn him from his way is by blows to the back. This brings howls of protest from those who think any kind of punitive action that involves physical striking as punishment is evil. But the facts tend to speak for themselves. Countries that bring quick judgment to bear on those who disobey the law - are also countries that do not have an abundance of lawless behavior in their country.
A few years ago a young man was caned in Singapore for breaking their law. Our nation was horrified as they considered what was about to happen. But the facts in Singapore stand on their own. The type of lawlessness this young American man embraced was almost non-existent in their culture. Their culture is this way because people see the cost of their actions - in literal blows that will come to them. Therefore they stay away from such behaviors. The cries that such laws and actions increase violence are not founded in fact. The violent societies are those who refuse to bring blows upon the backs of the fools who violate their laws. There is actually LESS violence in societies who punish with physical blows. There is a very real deterrent when you are facing real consequences for your actions.
Our nation has become obsessed with the rights of criminals. We are so concerned about possibly infringing upon their rights that we have forgotten the victims of their actions. In our march toward perfect justice (which does not exist) we have committed the greatest injustice to those injured by scoffers and fools. What needs to happen is for our nation to return to the principles of true justice and righteousness. This will also require us to return to judgments that make a fool pay for his actions. He will no longer be coddled by the justice system, but rather held accountable for choices that have injured and affected others. Maybe then we can move away from our current insanity - and toward a more just and righteous society.
Cease listening, my son, to discipline, And you will stray from the words of knowledge. Proverbs 19:27
If you ever want to be wise and to walk consistently in the knowledge of God - you will have to embrace discipline. Ours is a world that wants things instantly - and it wants them with a real cost to us personally. We would like to have everything and pay nothing for it. Wisdom does not come like this - it comes with much time spent listening to God - and listening to wise men and women. It comes also, as we will learn from today's proverb, from listening to others who will correct us and help discipline us so that we listen to God - and not to our flesh, the world, or the devil.
The whole admonition for today is that we do not need to cease listening to discipline. Discipline here is the Hebrew word "mûsār" and it refers to teaching someone how to live correctly in the fear of the Lord, so that the we learn our lesson before temptation and testing. Thus we learn that this "discipline" is training for life and it is why it is so important that we pay attention - and do not cease to listen to this kind of training. The reason for this is because temptation and testing do not take a vacation. They come to us on a regular basis - daily - even hourly.
The goal in listening to this "life training" is to gather up words of knowledge. They function in our lives like sign posts. We appreciate a well placed sign post when we are driving. They warn us of bridges that are out or of roads that are closed. They remind us of the streets we are on and when to turn off a highway so that we get to where we are going. What God is reminding us of though is that there are moral sign posts - which are these words of knowledge - sayings that will help us remember what is a godly path and what is not a godly path. Proverbs speaks often of knowing where our choices will eventually take us.
When we cease to listen to the correction and the training that comes with being disciplined - we will not know where these sign posts will be. It would be like trying to get somewhere in a new city without a map and without any kind of signs to help us know where we are - and where we are going. That would make life very difficult - and frustrating. We would wind up taking the wrong road over and over again - until we eventually learned the hard way where everything is in that city. Just as frustrating as this is living life not really knowing where you are going morally or spiritually. That is why we should listen closely to wiser more godly men and women when they speak to us. That is why we should pay very close attention when God's Word speaks to us. This is our road map - these words of knowledge and godly counsel.
Strike a scoffer and the naive may become shrewd, But reprove one who has understanding and he will gain knowledge. Proverbs 19:25
Punishment and reproof are interesting things. They are necessary in a society for that society not to become completely godless. Without it the wicked will overwhelm everyone else. But from what we learn in today's proverb - there are two ways of receiving discipline and correction. One will stop irreligious men from their godless behavior - but will not change them at all. The other way of receiving correction and discipline is that one that will bless us. It will not just stop outward actions - it will yield to us in ward understanding and knowledge that will help us address our heart issues. In the end, only the second of these two ways to receive correction and discipline will bring about lasting change from God.
The first man, the scoffer, is a fool who delights in his ungodly thoughts and ways. Often men and women like this are at least verbal bullies, if not physical ones as well. The scoffer seeks to trash his enemies - and those who hold to views different than his own. He is especially a bully when it comes to the topic of religion and God. An example of a scoffer in today's world is Bill Mahr. His programs usually include one conservation or Christian whom he does his best to bash and run over rough-shod. He bullies them with half truths and with red herring arguments. Bill Mahr is not interested in truth - or even in truthful debate. He is only interested in airing his own views. Talking to such a man does little or no good. The passage here says that a scoffer needs to be struck to get through to him. Now, in the case of a verbal scoffer, this should not be done - but in the case of a bully things are different. The only way to deal with him is to confront him - and if necessary show him you will stand up to him.
There is a problem though with this - and it is the difference between what the government is to do, and what the church should be doing. The government is to strike scoffers - especially those who scoff at the law. They are to be confronted and punished for scoffing at the law of the land. To chase a rabbit for a moment, this is what should be done with the Occupy Wall Street protestors who are breaking the law. They should be punished to the full extent of the law when they do. The more we let them alone and not confront their disregard for the law - the worse it will eventually be when we do. A bully - whether verbal, physical, or political - MUST be confronted. But . . . the problem is that all that will happen is that the scoffer will be stopped - and the naive will become more shrewd. The scoffer will be stopped in his tracks - and made aware that such scoffing comes with a price. The naive who watch this will become more shrewd in how they live their lives. They see that it will cost them to act or speak this way - and therefore they will not do so outwardly. The shrewdness mentioned here is a shrewdness to avoid consequences - and it will help a society maintain basic order. That being said though, it will not "transform" a society into a better one. That requires a work in the heart. It will require something more than just shrewd living. It requires wise, godly, understanding and knowledge.
Here is where the work of God, His Spirit, and His Word come into play. When we come to Christ we leave our basic foolishness and begin to walk in understanding. We grasp in that wonderful redemptive moment that there is more to life than just what we are currently wanting - there is God and His will. His will is always best. The wise man is one who does not need to be struck - just reproved. Words alone will do the job for him. He hears godly reproof - and honestly at times - even the ungodly kind. He hears and listens - then takes to heart what has been said. He is called a man of understanding, which means that he has taken the time to think and to ponder more than just his own throughts and desires. When he hears he learns and gains knowledge. This kind of knowledge helps him to deal with situations wisely - and without need for bullying with words or in any other way. The state may be able to keep the peace by dealing with scoffers and helping others to make more shrewd choices, but to bring about real change in a man's heart requires a work of God. This work will bring peace to more than just an outward situation - it will bring peace to a man's heart. And that peace will spread and last for more than just as long as it takes the police to leave. This peace is internal and will last for entire generational cycles. It is a peace and stability not based on the strength and numbers of law enforcement present on the street, but based in what rules in our hearts.
He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof Will dwell among the wise. He who neglects discipline despises himself, But he who listens to reproof acquires understanding. Proverbs 15:31-32
If you want to be wise, you will have to learn the value of reproof and rebuke. That is a tough thing to do because very few of us take to these things at all. We are fallen creatures therefore a couple things are true of us. First of all, we usually think we are right. This creates a problem because we react with pride and defensiveness when we are rebuked and reproved. Second of all, we are rebellious. Therefore when someone offers correction our first response is to resist and resent it. But as we will see from today's proverb of the day, these things can really hurt us.
We dwell among the wise when our ear is open to "life-giving reproof." I am so glad that when God inspired this He made a distinction between life-giving reproof and other kinds of reproof. The difference between these two is that life-giving reproof is correction that is bent toward blessing us and offering us rebuke that will turn us away from sin and turn us to God who gives us life. To be reproved in this way turns us from our own way, the way of the world, and the way of destruction - which is how the devil will seek to offer us. Thus it turns us away from death and sin, and instead points us into the way of life - or said another way - into the ways of God. Regular reproof is correction based out of an idividual's preferences. Jesus was reproved . . . often. He faced Pharisees who rebuked Him for His teaching, His miracles, and the people He chose to hang around. People will reprove you for walking in the ways of God. This kind of reproof requires both understanding and discernment on our part. Just because someone reproves you, does not mean that they are correct in their reproof. That is why Solomon warns us only to open our ear to "life-giving" reproof.
We read in verse 32 of a person who neglects discipline. The word discipline means instruction that offers truth and a disciplinary rebuke or correction. Godly men and women offer discipline to us to bless us in the end. But the unwise man rejects it outright. When he does this Scripture tells us that he "despises himself." He hates himself when he does these things. The rejection of all discipline and moral limits will destroy our lives. You can easily see in a child who is a spoiled brat this danger. The child gets his own way - and is not corrected so as to learn wise and godly behavior. In the end this child will destroy himself with their selfishness and self-centered behavior.
The one who listens to godly reproof will aquire "understanding." The word here refers to the heart - or the inner moral life and compass that we need to have. When we listen to reproof and learn from it - our inner moral compass is set by God's standards. We learn right and wrong. We may simply respond to discipline by avoiding the pain of it at first. This is the response of a child who is spanked early on in life. The initially avoid the behaviors to avoid pain. But after a while the child, if trained properly, is also learning "why" they are not to do something. The process teaches understanding. The child learns from the wisdom of the parent that there are reasons to avoid the moral bahavior. This understanding will guide them and teach them that when discpline comes - it is from love that people offer it. When followed such wisdom will truly bless any man or woman who will take the time - and often the pain that rebuke often brings - to learn from it.
Poverty and shame will come
to him who neglects discipline, But he who regards reproof will be honored. Proverbs 13:18
Everyone would like to see their hopes and dreams realized. One of these dreams is that of earning a fortune. The conventional wisdom of this world says that if you work hard and apply yourself these things can be yours. But the Word of God counsels us a little differently. There is more to success than just making a lot of money because you work hard. Far too many men who stepped on the road to their riches - wound up unable to achieve them because they would not listen to counsel and accept discipline. They would not take wise advice - and as a result were not honored in the end.
The Word of God ties the whole idea of wealth and blessing to something more than hard work. The Bible teaches us to work hard and apply ourselves in what we do. That is why we hear about the "protestant work ethic." But there is so much more to "true success" than just having a lot of money. Real success biblically is tied most of all to knowing and walking in God's favor. Beyond that God also speaks of things like character and virtue. These things are developed by not only working hard - but also in submitting to the counsel of wise and godly people. What many people do not understand is that submission to such wise counsel also means being willing to accept criticism. Let me put before you two Old Testament examples from which we can learn.
We first come to a King in the Old Testament named Rehoboam. He was the son of Solomon who received the kingdom when his father died. The people came to him asking for him to lighten the load that his father put on them. Rehoboam asked his father's counselors what to do. They advised him to take a position of servant to the poeple, lighten their load, and they would serve him. He rejected such counsel and chose instead to listen to his own friends who said to be harsh and tell the people who was king and who was in charge. He rejected wise counsel from godly men. The end was that he was NOT honored. He wound up losing 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel. He also was humbled further when he would not listen to God's life-giving rebuke and turn from his idolatrous ways. In the end, his kingdom was severely weakened and eventually overrun by Egypt.
The second king we seek to learn from is David. David was confronted and rebuked by Nathan the prophet for his sexual sin with Bathsheba. Instead of neglecting this correction and discipline, he received it - and was restored. He had some pretty severe discipline for what he did - but never rebelled against it. He knew he deserved far worse - and therefore submitted himself to God in all of it. David was honored for being a man after God's own heart. Such praise was given because of his repentance and willingness to undergo and learn from discipline. It turned him from a disastrous course and back into the arms of God.
It is so important that we be wise and learn that it takes hard work and discipline to truly succeed in life. Those who do such things will be blessed in the end. Their lives may not be profiled among the rich and the famous - but they will be honored in the one place where it matters. They will be honored before the throne of God in the day of judgment. It is there where we find out whether we are blessed and wealthy - or whether we are going to know eternal poverty and shame. Be wise - choose the former - submit to God - and listen to life-giving rebuke.
Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death. Proverbs 19:18
At first glance this particular proverb seems kind of intense. But when you consider what happens when a child is not taught to bring his selfish tendencies under some kind of discipline and control - you are leaving them in a very precarious position in life.
We are to discipline our children early. That is what is being said by saying to discipline a child while there is hope. The hope is that by helping a child to recognize selfishness - and to fight its destructive ways - you are giving that child hope for better things. Consider if you will the start of life on this planet. We are taught that Adam and Eve had two sons. Jealousy led one son to kill his brother. The early chapters of Genesis inform us of a remarkable downward spiral that took place in the human race. By the time God decided to destroy all but Noah's family, the imagination of man was set continuously on evil. It did not take long for the Fall of mankind to manifest itself in every kind of sin and rebellion imaginable. This is why we MUST discipline our sons. Because of the Fall mankind is basically and terminally selfish and self-centered. Left to himself man would destroy himself with this selfish bent. Discipline at an early age helps to combat this natural selfish tendency. We bring this discipline to our children in hope that they will have their basic, natural selfish tendencies held in check until a time when they are convicted of sin by the work of the Holy Spirit. It is not that we think we can overcome the flesh by child-training, but we do see a need to put limitations and boundaries in their lives so that the flesh is not completely unchecked.
To withhold discipline from a child is to "desire his death." There are some who translate this as meaning that a father is not to discipline so severely that he winds up killing a child, but the evidence behind this translation is very weak. The King James version translates it as a call to discipline a child and not be swayed by their crying. When you discipline a child properly, most will cry. Some will cry because they were spanked - others will cry because they are responding to the guilt of being caught - while still others will cry to try to get you to stop the discipline process. Whatever the case, this passage, if translated this way is trying to steel the heart of a parent who may decide against discipline because their heart just can't handle having their child cry or be in any kind of pain. This is actually selfishness on the parent's part because they should be looking at the long term effects of the punishment and discipline, not the short-term reaction of the child.
The other main way this is translated is to warn the parents of the long term effects of not disciplining a child. The natural selfishness of a child will lead them to reject the Lord and embrace their full sinfulness. This, if left to fester and grow to its fullness will bring a child to a point where they will embrace a lifestyle without God. In the end, their willfulness will kill them - if not with actions that are harmful to their lives - then with a rejection of God and His discipline. Hebrews 12
:5-9 reminds us that God disciplines us as a godly parent would. If a child is only used to getting their own way, they will reject such a God - and will ultimately reject Christ.
Disciplining a child is serious business. We are to do so with a godly set of standards and choices. These guide a father as he disciplines with a view to godliness - and also as he reigns in his own anger and refrains from having discpline turn into abuse. But the real end in disciplining a child is to turn them away from their own selfish, fleshly tendencies. The process of making a child face correction and conviction for doing wrong is preparation for God's future rebuke of their conduct. This one will come by God's grace as they are convicted of their sin - and brought to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as the answer for their sinfulness and need of salvation. In light of THAT day, discipline your child and make them face their selfishness and sinfulness - for your preparatory work will TRULY prevent them from death - ultimate death due to sin.