How does God discipline his children, and how should we discipline our children?
We need both gentle instruction and painful discipline to mature and grow up into obedience to our Lord. This discipline must be done in love, swiftly, consistently, and be appropriate to the transgression.
Psa 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod (H7626) and thy staff (H4938) they comfort me.
The staff and rod are very different tools the Lord uses to in our lives to raise us up as his children. We will come to see that both his discipline (rod), and his staff (comfort/ guidance) are needed.
H4938 – Staff
Feminine of H4937; support (abstractly), that is, (figuratively) sustenance or (concretely) a walking stick: – staff.
Here is the root word of H4938- Staff
From H8172; a support (concretely), that is, (figuratively) a protector or sustenance: – stay.
Here is an example of this root word, demonstrating that it means “stay”, or “protection”.
2Sa 22:17 He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters;
2Sa 22:18 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me.
2Sa 22:19 They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay (G4937).
Examples of “Staff” H4938
This word often means a walking stick, which a man leans upon and help him walk. We are to lean
upon God and trust him in all ways. In the same way, we must be a comfort and help to others in our life.
Exo 21:19 If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed.
Here is an example of the negative application of the word “staff”, which is when we lean upon idols, typified by Egypt, and not God.
(2Ki 18:21 KJV) Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on him.
Here is an example how the staff is gentle.
2Ki 4:29 Then he said to Gehazi, Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again: and lay my staff upon the face of the child.
2Ki 4:31 And Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child; but there was neither voice, nor hearing. Wherefore he went again to meet him, and told him, saying, The child is not awaked.
The “rod” is a stark contract to the “staff”. The word literally means a stick. This word when translated as “rod” is used for discipline and punishment. We’ll also look at how this “rod” must be used with love in conjunction with “reproof” or “instruction”. The word for “staff” (H4938) is only used twelve times in the Old Testament, while the word for “rod” (H7626) is used 48 times referring to discipline or as a weapon. Here are the KJV uses:
Rod- 34 times
Scepter- 9 times
Staff -2 times (the context is a weapon of war, not comfort)
Correction – 1 time
Darts- 1 time
Sceptres (scepters)- 1 time
Simply looking at the frequency of use, we see that God uses a lot more discipline with his children that he does comfort. Let’s now look at the Hebrew word for “rod”.
From an unused root probably meaning to branch off; a scion, that is, (literally) a stick (for punishing, writing, fighting, ruling, walking, etc.) or (figuratively) a clan: – X correction, dart, rod, sceptre, staff, tribe.
(Pro 23:13 KJV) Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
(Pro 23:14 KJV) Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
There is often fear of mentally or physically harming a child when spanking them, so God gives us this encouragement in Proverbs that they will not die but rather be saved from hell (the grave). The grave, “Sheole” is the place of the dead, symbolizing being carnally minded and disobedience. So this verse is saying that discipline delivers us from disobedience.
See the Milk Doctrines of “Resurrection from the Dead” and “Eternal Judgment” for more on this topic.
Milk Doctrine Studies
Eph 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Eph 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Discipline comes in two parts, verbal teaching and a physical consequence.
Pro 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
Here are examples of reproof.
Pro 1:25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
Pro 5:12 And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof;
Pro 10:17 He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.
In the scriptures, the rod is literally a stick used for physical discipline. This would be what we call “spanking”.
Pro 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
Pro 26:3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.
Pro 29:19 A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer.
This verse demonstrates the difference between physical discipline and teaching.
(Pro 19:25 KJV) Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.
The Lord deals with us the same way as we are to deal with children. He teaches us through his word and preaching, while also giving us physical consequences. He can take things way from us in our life and also inflict physical pain to teach us, both mental and physical.
Heb 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Heb 12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
Heb 12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Heb 12:9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
Heb 12:10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
Heb 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
If this discipline is not done in love, then it will have no effect and actually make the situation worse.
1Co 13:1 NKJV Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
1Co 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
1Co 13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
1Co 13:4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
We need to teach in gentleness and kindness, explaining the truth and the consequences for disobedience. God gave Israel all the rules they needed to follow and warned them of the things that would happen if they disobeyed. He was kind to them.
(Rom 2:4 CLV) Or are you despising the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, being ignorant that the kindness of God is leading you to repentance?
We must be gentle.
Isa 40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
2Ti 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach,patient,
2Ti 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
2Ti 2:26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
Eph 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Eph 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
We do not want to provoke our children to wrath, but teach them in love.
Eph 6:4 NKJV And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
Col 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
Col 3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
Christ is both a lion and a lamb. There is a time to be kind and gentle and a time to roar with a sharp rebuke and chastening.
Rev 5:5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
Rev 5:6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
Mat 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
Tit 1:13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;
Your Brother in Christ,