Soft Bottoms Lead to Hard Hearts {2}


As mentioned in the previous post, there is are two meanings for the word sebet in the Old Testament – tribe and rod/scepter. It is used almost exclusively to refer to the tribes of Israel until the book of Isaiah. When used to refer to a rod, it is always in the hand of the one in authority or power (the rod of the oppressor – Is 9.4; the rod of God’s anger – 10.5, cf 10.24; the rod belonging to the one who fashioned it – 10.15; God’s rod to strike the earth – 11.4; scepter of rulers – 14.5)

And in Ps 2.9 speaks of the righteous judgments of the Messiah when he comes with his iron scepter. Of particular note is Psa. 23.4:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,        I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod [sebet] and your staff, they comfort me.

Therefore, although there is definitely an affliction element to the “rod” (sebet), it is also seen as something of comfort. How? Hopefully we will answer that soon.

The texts most often cited to support physical discipline of children are found in Proverbs (Prov 10.13, 13.24, 22.8, 22.15, 23.13-14, 26.3, 29.15).

The comfort and love aspect found in Psalm 23 is pronounced in Prov. 13.24:

Whoever spares the rod [sebet] hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.The one who withholds his hand from correcting the buttocks of his son hates him! Let that sink in. This is the last thing you would think of. In fact, our culture speaks of spanking in the opposite way, “How could you spank your son? Don’t you love him? Doesn’t it break your heart to see him cry?” It may break our hearts, but better our hearts than shattering their lives.

The reason David is comforted by the painful rod (the same one he felt when he sinned with Bathsheba) is because he knows that God wields it for his sake – for God’s and David’s sake. David is very aware of the fact that when he does wrong he deserves punishment…and when he is under God’s wings of protection the rod is what keeps him safe. May the same kind of duality be true of the rods wielded in the hands of fathers and mothers.

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Filed under Family | Parenting, Interpretation, Theology

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