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― C. S. Lewis


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Monday, April 20, 2009

Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Comfort Me.....

I apologize to my readers for this being so long.. :)

Does anybody recognize where that comes from? It is part of the 23rd Psalm. David is using his experience as a shepherd to describe his relationship with God.

The words that came to life for me were "Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort me..."

Traditionally, when I hear the word rod being taught about, it is mostly talked about as a stick used to strike a person, typically a child who is unruly. I have heard sermon after sermon describing what parents should do TO unruly children. It usually is a "lay down the law" type speech, with "of course this is the loving thing to do". They will also justify
what they think by criticizing those who choose not to spank,or even use spanking as an absolute last resort, of not following scripture and they go on to say,that is what is wrong with society. blah blah blah..... However, you can go into any prison in America, and most of those prisoners have been abused PHYSICALLY.

In a recent sermon I heard a man describe having a large paddle with holes drilled in it. I have NEVER EVER read a scripture that says to drill a hole in a board to make the skin on a child's rear end get sucked into it when you strike them so that it will hurt more! EVER! I found this to be very discouraging and found it to be a sick distortion of scripture.

Those who advocate this will also say, "We are all sitting here, we all survived our parent's use of the rod..., we all lived..." Hmmmm..... well, gee I wonder why we have so many messed up people in the Church? Why do we have "Christian Counseling Services in every state and city in the country? If everybody "survived so well", does that mean it was OK? If somebody survives a robbery, and is living a productive life, does that mean the robber didn't harm them? If somebody survives severe child abuse, and is living a productive life, does that mean it wasn't such a big deal?
I'm sorry, but that is a very twisted way to think.

Does that sound comforting at all?

I'm not at all an indulgent parent who lets kids run amuck without proper instruction.
So, the good thing, is that the sermon I heard recently sent me to my knees and also to the Word of God. And let me clarify, I do not think the man who gave the sermon is a hard hearted child abuser. I know he is not. In fact, I find him to be a rather merciful and tenderhearted man..... but "societal tradition" ......

Many people will use a pet set of scriptures to justify striking children. They say the word "ROD" is a literal instrument and there are even books written to describe what it is and what it looks like. I personally believe that the word Rod can be both metaphorical and real.
There is no question that a rod was an instrument used to hit. So if you wish to take every scripture with the word ROD in it literally as an implement of destruction, then consider this:

In looking at the USE of ROD as with a shepherd. IT WAS NEVER USED TO HIT THE SHEEP! It was used as a defensive weapon to get rid of outside predators that would HARM the sheep.
On the other hand the staff, which was like a modern day cane, but a little longer, was used to GENTLY guide the sheep and keep them on the path. They would easily be hooked around the neck to get them back where they belonged. There were no fences to keep them in, and they needed to stay close to the shepherd in order to be SAFE.

If you take the famous proverbs verse:
Proverbs 13:24- Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
Placed in context of the Shepherd.... that makes TOTAL Sense. If a parent does not PROTECT his son from enemies, intruders, foes, wolves in sheeps clothing, but allows all those things in to lead him astray, that parent is not using the Rod and hates his son, because he doesn't care that he is being led astray. He has not protected his son.
A loving parent is diligent to discipline their child. YES.. to disciple, to guide, to instruct and to teach them of the harms that can surround them. To discipline them to stay away from TROUBLE and SIN..... INSTRUCT.... not attack! We don't attack the child with a rod, we discipline and guide the child with the staff of instruction.

In modern times, because we are so far removed from Shepherding... we don't understand many of the metaphors in scripture. AND NO I do not believe we should have a literal staff to hook our children around the neck if they were to run into traffic.

I dare to say, if you own sheep or goats as we do... if we were to use a rod to club them, they wouldn't want to stay around. There are times we have to use a staff, to hold them at bay or keep them from getting themselves into trouble, and a fence is a very large square staff if you will. :)

I personally know many families who were diligent to use the ROD on their children.
Not many of those children are serving the Lord today. They are estranged from their parents, and estranged from the Church. They are bitter and angry, and sadly, their parents are broken hearted, because they THOUGHT they were doing what was required of them. They THOUGHT they were right. How very sad.

In our society today, we use the "Rod" verses to justify striking small children.
I have read books that MANY people LOVE and consider close to scripture, not even caring that he person who wrote them was a Psychologist who says, spank from very young to 5 years old, after that it is just too late....?????? That a child's personality is formed by the time they are 5! BULL PUCKY FEATHERS!


I'd like to know how do you "tenderly raise a child" as scripture says to do, and justify boards with holes drilled in them?

I actually KNOW somebody who came up to me before we adopted when they found out we were going to adopt and said, "HOW CAN YOU ADOPT< YOU WON"T BE ABLE TO SPANK!"
As if that were the criteria used to decide if you would obey SCRIPTURE that says to care for Widows and Orphans!
I'm sorry, but to this day, that is one of the most chilling, sad, conversations I have ever had with somebody. It was a SHORT conversation. :)

I think everybody can agree that the word Rod is sometimes used as a metaphor, and sometimes used as a literal instrument.....
It is the application of the Rod I am going to start concentrating on....
From what I can see, CLEARLY in scripture, it is used to defend the sheep from intruders and predators, NOT to beat the sheep.
It is also used on the back of the slave to bring them into submission, but our children are not slaves, nor do we keep slaves today.
The author of "Heart Felt Discipline"stated....
In three of the four passages, the child is a naar (the fourth
is also by context), which in Hebrew means a young man (age 16-20). Young
children are not in view in any of the rod passages. In fact, the words used
for young children in Hebrew are always associated with innocence and the
need for protection. I would argue that there are no young children in
Clay Clarkson is working on a new book and I cannot wait for it to come out.
His other book Heartfelt Discipline is still available but hard to find as it is out of print.
Another author speaks of the Rod in Proverbs 22:15 as being "clearly metaphor".
"Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child but the rod of correction shall drive it out. The author states, "The rod OF correction, means that it IS correction. The correction is like the "long arm of the law". Is the law an arm? No. Is correction literally a rod? NO.

In reading the old testament, there are all sorts of "laws, beatings, stoneings, severe punishments etc. Why do we hold to the rod scriptures as for today, and the beating, stoning and harsh law scriptures as NOT for today?

The Word Shebet, is a word that means rod, it can also mean authority. Can a parent be the rod? Can a parent be the authority?

Back to the sermon:

In this same sermon the issue of "Time outs" came up. It was said that time out is not scriptural. I can think of plenty of metaphors for Time OUT.....

How about Jonah in the belly of the whale for 3 days....
How about the Children of Israel wandering the desert for 40 years.
How about God being SILENT for 400 years!
How about the Babylonian Captivity?
How about 3 days of darkness in Egypt?

Time out is used to ponder. To think. It is a VERY effective tool for children to get them to settle down and be instructed in the ways of the Lord. It doesn't have to be modern day "sit on a chair" or go to your room.... it can be come and stay with me on my lap for a minute. We need to talk.
Or how about the shepherd with the rambunctious baby sheep? We often see that picture of Christ HOLDING the baby sheep in his arms. Is that a form of "time out"?
( I realize that picture is not in scripture)
BUT... Christ is called the Good Shepherd who came to lay his life down for the sheep. As representatives of Christ to our children, are we laying our lives down for our sheep? Are we protecting them? Are we gently guiding them? Or are we using the tools we are supposed to use against enemies on our children.
Just a few thoughts.

In the New Testament there are 3 scriptures that come to mind.
One has the use of the word Rod in it.
1 Corinthians 4:21, which is addressed to ADULTS who are wolves within the church. (predators of the real sheep?)

The other 2 scriptures are directed at fathers:

Ephesians 6:4 - "Father's do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

Colossians 3:21 - Father's do not provoke your children lest they become discouraged.


Diana said...

Great post! I was spanked as a kid (sometimes with my dad's belt.) Though it was never to the point of "abuse" it has proven to be a difficult pattern to break as I parent my own kids. I confess, I used to spank my kids with my hand, one pop on the rear - but NEVER with a paddle or other instrument. But as I've gotten older, I've come to realize that it never leaves anyone feeling very loving or happy and always just leaves a bunch of negative energy floating around.

I now really try to keep it in the "if nothing else works" relm (especially since from a purely practical standpoint, spanking traumatized kids only usually makes things worse!) It isn't always easy because this is still sometimes my first automatic reaction, especially when my kids get real snarky or naughty. I find I still have to stop myself from doing it....which I am getting better at!

Truly, I don't believe physical discipline is the Lord's way of doing things. Nor will it bring us or our children closer to Him. Thanks for this awesome reminder that working to change habbits from the past and continuing to learn new ways is worth the effort.

ann clary said...

I have so many questions. i wish I had a whole day with you!

Christie M said...

Ann, I enjoyed talking to you last night on the phone. :)

Come and spend the day! :)

ninedays said...

I might have mentioned this to you before, but I have discovered an excellent parenting resource titled Grace Based Parenting, by Tim Kimmel that we have used in sunday school and it is right on. I only wish I had read this book twenty years ago. It is always fun to catch up with your blog. I am really beginning to see a lot of growth in Yuri lately. Praise God. I am headed to TSRH on Sunday for Lydia's MRI/casting.

Christie M said...

Oh wow! Do you think we can hook up?
What time are you arriving on Sunday?

I am going to look that book up!
Thanks! I love good resources. :)

Tereasa said...

What a beautiful post! My husband recently wrote a research paper on Parenting in Proverbs. He came to many of the same conclusions. I love the picture of the rod as a protection against enemies. I'll have to remember that!

Samuel Martin said...


I really enjoyed this post. This passage, of course, means so much to me.


Samuel Martin

You Are Still Holy