If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know how much I love Matthew Henry. Here is an excerpt from his commentary on Proverbs 23: 12. (I’ve tried to make it a little more “reader-friendly.”
Apply your heart to instruction, And your ears to words of knowledge. Proverbs 23:12
1. A parent instructing his child.
He (the parent) is here brought in persuading him to give his mind to his book, and especially to the scriptures and his catechism [catechisms are simply questions and answers to help children have a solid understanding of what they believe. Here is an free resource from Bible Truths Curriculum], to attend to the words of knowledge, by which he might come to know his duty, and danger, and interest, and not to think it enough to give them the hearing, but to apply his heart to them, to delight in them, and bow his will to the authority of them.
The heart is then applied to the instruction when the instruction is applied to the heart.
2. A parent correcting his child.
A tender parent can scarcely find in his heart to do this; it goes much against the grain. But he finds it is necessary; it is his duty, and therefore he dares not withhold correction when there is occasion for it [spare the rod and spoil the child]; he beats him with the rod, gives him a gentle correction, the stripes of the sons of men, not such as we give to beasts.
Beat him with the rod and he shall not die. The rod will not kill him; nay, it will prevent his killing himself by those vicious courses which the rod will be necessary to restrain him from. For the present it is not joyous, but grievous, both to the parent and to the child; but when it is given with wisdom, designed for good, accompanied with prayer, and blessed of God, it may prove a happy means of preventing his utter destruction and delivering his soul from hell.
Our great care must be about our children’s souls; we must not see them in danger of hell without using all possible means, with the utmost care and concern, to snatch them as brands out of everlasting burnings. Let the body smart, so that the spirit be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Mathew Henry was writing in a time when it was OK by many to literally beat children. I am so thankful that that is NOT the case for our day; however, it saddens me to see children who are basically left to their own wishes and desires, never placed under any boundaries until the preschool teacher has to
constrain them, or rather CONTAIN them so they do not hurt themselves or others. I’ve seen situations where a student is just “corralled” so that she doesn’t hurt herself or others. Meanwhile, she is screaming her head off, throwing all sorts of fits, and wearing herself out. Oh, I believe God knew what He was doing when He gave us guidelines for correcting a child! Do you think you can trust His Word?
Could we start a conversation about this? What are your thoughts? What do you find that works? Any suggestions?