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The Shepherd's Cudgel

Photo: Christoph Burgdorfer
“He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” – Proverbs 13:24

In biblical terms, a rod was a serious piece of equipment, most generally associated with punishment in some way. A shepherd’s cudgel was a short thick club. He used this rod to beat off his sheep’s enemies.

None of the definitions for rod I found point toward loving discipline. And yet, through King David, God used the word rod quite differently. Psalm 23:4 says “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

In most states, the law rejects parents’ use of corporal punishment to teach their children to obey. In fact, parents who do use a rod or anything other then their hand on a child’s bottom to punish or discipline their child may likely be thrown in jail. Corporal punishment in this day and age is considered abuse.

Words that harm

According to Webster, abuse is the excessive use of treatment, a corrupt or improper custom; language that condemns or vilifies unjustly, intemperately, and angrily. Physical or psychological maltreatment. Thoughts and feelings expressed in a vehement manner with harshness or disapproval.

Are you using a rod on your child today? A rod doesn’t only mean a stick or club; it can also be misuse of one’s tongue. Are you quick to criticize your child? “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction” (Proverbs 13:3).

Statistics show that most parents make ten negative statements to their children for each positive one. Furthermore, studies have concluded that it takes four positive statements to overcome one negative statement. A critical statement is like poison ivy—one small contact spreads out of control and becomes seriously injurious to the receiver.

If you find yourself struggling with the after affects of abuse in your own childhood; or if you are struggling with how to discipline your own child in a loving manner; remember that God’s way and man’s way are completely different. Man’s way injures--God’s way comforts.

“He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps” (Psalm 40:2).

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By Denise Taylor, pseudonym. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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