There's much to be said about applying the rod of discipline. Unfortunately, this series of articles will not touch on many of the beneficial topics in this realm of parenting, such as certain cautions, consistency, and particular "how to's" of discipline.
We simply wish to end this series by saying that discipline is just that: discipline. It is not punishment, per se.
Admittedly, we use those words interchangeably, but there is a technical difference. Punishment has primarily a negative connotation. It has to do with payback and judgment. The Hebrew word "pakad" (to punish) denotes suffering that is issued forth out of anger and comes upon those who are God's hated enemies.
Discipline is much more positive in its force. Well, of course, the paddle may have a 'negative force,' but the idea of discipline is that of discipleship. As a matter of fact, the Hebrew word in the above proverb (musar) can also mean "correction" or "instruction." It may very well be called the 'rod of correction' or 'rod of instruction.'
Maybe this is why my parents would often call it 'the board of education'?
The rod, we should understand, is for the purpose of training and looks towards future maturity. It's applied with the hope for improvement and comes forth as a merciful gesture, one which wishes to prevent greater pain/evil down the road.
Punishment, by contrast is vindictive. Punishment could care less about you or your future welfare. It is simply raw justice.
Discipline, on the other hand, may involve punitive measures, but it is not meant to drive one away or create alienation. It's ultimate purpose is much more relational. The person's foolishness is driven away, but not the person himself.
In a word, punishment has to do with retribution and fear while discipline has to do with redemption and grace.
In the gospel, Jesus was punished for our sins. This is why we need not fear God's condemnation. Now that we are God's children, we enjoy the loving discipline (correction) of our heavenly Father. We even welcome it as it does have our best interest in mind.
Our children might not go that far. They may not welcome the rod, but at least we can view it in its proper light. It is merely an extension of our discipleship ministry among our children.
Understanding the rod in this way will bear practical fruit for parenting. If we truly grasp it, a lot of the "how to" and "when to" questions will be largely answered.
Most of all, we will see corporal discipline as a fruitful thing. It will not just be that which we inflict upon our children, it will a tool for helping us develop our children. And, to be sure, it can help develop our relationship with our children.
Learn More about Biblical Parenting
We at Hopewell want you to be thoroughly equipped to serve the Lord. If you want to learn more about Biblical parenting, let us know. We'd be happy to arrange a study or provide you with solid materials so you can learn on your own.
This article is part of a larger series on Biblical Parenting which appeared in the Hopewell Weekly. Subscribe to our email list to get future articles delivered to your inbox.