Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child

August 31st, 2009 by G.

As we all know, what this verse from Proverbs really means is that we teach our children the scriptures. Rod = Iron Rod = Word of God = Scriptures. Spare the scriptures, spoil the child.

I’m having my doubts. Looking into scripture passages on children for another purpose, I’ve discovered two things. One, there is no such verse in Proverbs or anywhere else. Two, the verses that are in Proverbs are not talking about the scriptures.

Proverbs 22:15

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Proverbs 13:24

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Proverbs 29:15

The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

Proverbs 23:13-14

Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

I think when we’re talking about beating, we’re probably not talking about reading the scriptures to your kid anymore.

So how did we get to the point where a ridiculous exegesis of a fake scripture is so widespread in the church? I can only find one reference to it in a church publication, but I’ve heard it dozens of times over the pulpit, in seminary, in conversation, etc.

Cross-posted at the Old Country.

Comments (14)
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August 31st, 2009 10:45:35

August 31, 2009

Wishful thinking. We want all our modern sensibilities about child-rearing to be validated by Scripture, to console us over the fact that they don’t seem to be working.

August 31, 2009

I’ve never heard this proverb as you are referring to it (being about teaching your children scripture.) I have always heard it referred to as being about discipline. And I’m not TOO old, so if it is a modern interpretation, it hasn’t made it’s way to the Midwest yet.

August 31, 2009

I should add that using a hands-off approach with my son didn’t work out well at all.

August 31, 2009

Never heard this one before today in years of living all around the country. Maybe it is a localism.

Mark B.
August 31, 2009

Never hear it, either. Sounds like more “mush from the wimp.”

I’m certain that my father never heard it either.

sister blah 2
August 31, 2009

Weird. I’ve never heard the rod referred to as the Iron Rod/scriptures. I think it’s kind of cute, so sue me.

Ian Cook
August 31, 2009

I’m with Ginger, Bill and Sister Blah 2, I’ve never heard any such thing.

I’ve only heard the “Spare the rod, spoil the child” in reference to discipline.

Weighing In
August 31, 2009

Also never heard it.

September 1, 2009

Don’t be so quick to dismiss. I have a large size quad and I bet I could beat my 16yo pretty good with it while not killing him.

That said I do like this as an alternative interpretation to rod. I probably could stand to read the scriptures to my kids more.

Add me to the list of people who never heard that rod=scriptures explication.

Adam G.
September 1, 2009

Apparently there’s a secret society that follows me around with this stuff. Although its popped up over at the Old Country just today:

September 1, 2009

Truth is, Lehi’s Tree of Life Vision shares a lot of characteristics with the Wisdom literature in the Bible, particularly Proverbs. Case in point, look at Daniel Peterson’s “Nephi and his Asherah” . Both of them use the same symbols, and using them together clarifies a lot.

I had a blog entry over just this thing a few month back. http://themeaningofvirtue.blogspot.com/2009/05/tree-of-life.html

We are not even the only church to come to this conclusion.

September 1, 2009

You are awesome and I love your insight.

September 2, 2009

I want to contribute to this guy’s legal defense fund.

However, if I had been there, I might have slapped the parent.

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