Proverbs 19:18 "Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying."
In a nutshell, this verse says, "Punish your child in love while they are young., be consistent." The Hebrew word for "chasten" literally means to chasten with blows or figuratively with words, instruct, correct. From experience growing up, I would not have cried if I was not going to get a spanking, I would have been greatly relieved. I believe both aspects of correction are present here, but the rod of correction, i.e. the spanking spoon, seems to be the more prominent aspect of chastening in this verse. I am very grateful that my parents were consistent in disciplining me.
At the same time, this verse condemns the parent that does not chasten their child. If the parent spares giving correction out of so called sympathy they are not doing their child any favors, but a disfavor. An alternate reading for the last half of the verse is, "…and let not thy soul spare to his destruction." While main-stream culture views it as child abuse to spank a child, it is not. (It is abuse if a parent spanks their child to vent their anger, but it is just as bad or worse to not correct them.)
Proverbs 23:13-14 says, "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell." Proverbs 22:15 says that foolishness is bound in the heart of the child but the rod of correction drives that foolishness far from him. Pastor John Yates gives some insights on the rod being discussed here in Faith Bible Institute (a three year course through the entire Bible). The rod used for discipline in this day was small enough so as to easily break long before it could physically harm the child. The exclusive use of the rod for physical discipline in Scripture teaches that discipline must be strong enough to be effective, should not be done with the hand, and should involve a small breakable instrument which can sting, but not harm (Faith Bible Institute Vol. 3). Remember this is correction done out of concern for a child’s own good. If discipline is carried out in anger it will only harden the child’s heart. Proverbs 22:8 says the rod of anger will fail, and in James 1:20 it says the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God.
God chastises us, because He loves us and wants the best for us (Hebrews 12:6, Prov. 3:12). Parents should punish their children because they want God’s best for them. They are teaching through discipline. Proverbs 13:24 says, "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him quickly."
Their comes a point where the discipline becomes less effective. Proverbs 22:6 gives some guidelines regarding the beneficial time for this correction. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." (Prov. 22:6). Once again, Pastor John Yates gives an interesting insight on this verse. The word "old" in this passage literally means the time that the son would begin showing signs of age of growing hair on their chin! Based on this fact, a child should be set in their ways on following God before adolescence! When they reach adolescence they will not depart from God’s ways! This verse gives incredible promise of a child not having those so called rebellious years, but also places an incredible responsibility to train their children in God’s ways constantly (see Deut. 6:6-7). Thus, the foundation of a child’s way is laid before adolescence.
Have you thanked God the Father for his loving care for you and the correction it entails? How has God’s correction of you helped you to grow spiritually? Ask God to help you to have a teachable spirit so you learn from the correction you receive. Are your views on child rearing in line with God’s view or man’s philosophy (Colossians 2:8)?