Discipline with Wisdom-Proverbs 29:15

“A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.” – Proverbs 29:15 NKJV

This has been a long debated and controversial subject of the Bible along with Proverbs 13:24 (NKJV) which states: “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”

Many believe that this is a command from the Bible for physical punishments while others see it as more of an allegory to not forsake correction. Still many others find it confusing and stay away from the topic all together.

While I don’t feel like today that I will solve the debate, I do feel like this study may shed light on what we can take away from this verse in terms of disciplining with wisdom.

Proverbs 29:15 Background

Proverbs 29, like most of the proverbs, was written by King Solomon. He was the wisest man to ever live. (1 Kings 4:29-34) So, they are all worth studying and following as rule for life to be more wise.

As, to this particular verse, we first have to look at what the “rod” symbolizes in this verse to the Hebrew audience it was intended.

In the Bible, the rod can be used for different purposes. It was commonly for herding sheep and tending the soil. Which means it was useful in daily life for purposes of tending and training.

We see God use Moses’s and Aaron’s rods both as symbols of authority and power. Last a rod is a tool for discipline and this image is used over and over again for God’s punishment against sinful people.

If we seek to apply this to motherhood, there are some very profound truths and applications that will no doubt serve us well in disciplining our children with wisdom.

Scriptures on Disciplining a Child

These verses are just to serve as a reminder while we continue this study that we have a responsibility to God to discipline, correct, and model upright conduct that honors Him.

  • Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Colossians 3:20
  • Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. Proverbs 22:15
  • Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
  • Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. Proverbs 23:13
  • And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
proverbs 29:15

What Proverbs 29:15 Means for Mothers

No matter how you choose to view the rod, the idea is the same, correction and discipline produce wisdom, but if you leave a child to their own way and don’t bother to discipline, they will bring shame to their mother.

How do we discipline in such a way that produces wisdom? Simple. We do it according to God’s word.

First, we discipline from a place of love. We don’t do it out of anger or pride, but from a heart that wants what’s best for our children. Hebrews 12:6-10 tells us that God disciplines those He loves because it is for our good and will produce righteousness and peace. We parents need only follow His example.

Second, we discipline using wisdom. If we want our children to gain wisdom from discipline, we have to use wisdom while disciplining them. This means that we correct them using scriptures. We give them a Biblical truth for why their behavior is wrong and what their behavior should be. 2 Timothy 3:16 NIV says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,”

Furthermore, we let them know that their poor choices are sin and separate them from God. We make them understand that doing things God’s way is the only way to live and to be in peace with God.

Finally, we discipline with blessings and consequences firmly established. Unless there are real boundaries in place and real consequences for breaking them, we cannot hope that the reprimand will mean much. We have to say what we mean and mean what we say. We cannot grow lax or lazy but stick to it.

The same way, we can encourage our children in right living by showing them the blessings that come from these actions. i.e. When we ignore insults instead of returning them, we reap peace. When we are honest, people trust us. And of course, righteous living pleases God.

We see this example in the Bible. In Deuteronomy 28-30, Moses lays out the blessings and curses before the children of Israel. The blessings for them following God’s way and the curses for refusing to obey. In verses 16-18a NIV, he says, “I tell you today to love the Lord your God. Walk in His ways. Keep all His Laws and all that He has decided. Then you will live and become many. And the Lord your God will bring good to you in the land you are going in to take.  But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but leave to worship other gods and serve them, I tell you today that you will die for sure.”

The end of the proverb reminds us of the alternative for us mothers not discipling with wisdom, “a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.”

Prayer to Discipline with Wisdom

Lord, give me a heart to discipline my children with wisdom. I want every correction and reprimand to move them closer to obeying the truth of Your word. Give me understanding and knowledge along with patience and love as I show them the way You want them to live. Forgive me when I get angry or lazy with my discipline. Help me to guide them to love and value Your word so that it becomes precious to them. Amen.

Find more Wisdom in Proverbs for Moms devotions here.

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