WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
MAY 26, 2021
TOPIC: BIBLICAL CHILD DISCIPLINE
BY T. O. BANSO
“His father [David] had never rebuked him at any time by asking, ‘Why have you done this?’ Adonijah was also a very handsome man, and he was born after Absalom” (1 Kings 1:6 Amplified Bible).
There are mainly two aspects to child discipline: instructions and physical/corporal punishment. The two are needed and parents must not shy away from either, particularly with young children. Failure in these two areas is dangerous for the future of a child. “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15 New King James Version).
Some parents and experts think they can do without physical punishment or the rod of correction and some societies have even declared this illegal contrary to the Word of God. This is not loving but spoiling the child. “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24 New King James Version).
The New Living Translation says, “If you refuse to discipline your children, it proves you don’t love them; if you love your children, you will be prompt to discipline them” (Proverbs 13:24). If you truly love your child, you will apply the rod when necessary.
The appropriate use of the rod for a child for correction, not to injure the child, is not child abuse. Proverbs 29:15 says, “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (New King James Version). Similarly, Proverbs 23:13-14 says, “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell” (New King James Version).
Don’t neglect child discipline. Don’t leave it until it is too late. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 New King James Version). Start instructing your children with the Word of God early in life. When they go wrong, correct them with the Word of God, and where necessary, apply the rod. However, avoid beating your children in anger so as not to injure them. Also, avoid any other physical discipline that may harm them. Discipline must be done in love. Forgiveness must follow correction.
Eli ran into trouble with God because he failed in child discipline. God found him guilty of honouring his sons more than Him (1 Samuel 2:29). Despite God’s warning to him that his children were treating with contempt the sacrifice offered to Him, he failed to do anything other than rebuking them (1 Samuel 2:22-25). Eli should have brought his rebellious sons to the elders to be dealt with in accordance with Deuteronomy 21:18-21.
God’s judgment eventually came upon his children, himself, and his father’s house. The children died on the battlefield, the ark of God was carried away, he died at home, and the priesthood was removed from his family (1 Samuel 2:12-17, 22-36; 3:11-18; 4:1-18).
Also, King David did not know how to discipline his children. The Bible tells us this about his third son, Adonijah: “His father [David] had never rebuked him at any time by asking, ‘Why have you done this?’ Adonijah was also a very handsome man, and he was born after Absalom” (1 Kings 1:6 Amplified Bible).
In other words, Adonijah was a spoilt child. No wonder, while his aged father was still alive, he went to gather people to make himself king. After this was reported to his father, he overruled him by making Solomon the king (1 Kings 1).
David failed in disciplining his son, Absalom, and in forgiving him thereafter. When Amnon raped his half-sister, Tamar, the Bible says David was only furious – the Bible does not tell what else he did. There is no record of disciplining him for his grave sin (2 Samuel 13:21).
And when Amnon’s half-brother, Absalom, killed him for raping his sister, the Bible says, “The king jumped up, tore his robe, and fell prostrate on the ground. His advisers also tore their clothes in horror and sorrow” (2 Samuel 13:31 New Living Translation). He did not do anything to punish Absalom who, anyway, had fled.
David could be aware that these negative events in his family were a manifestation of the judgment of God that the sword would never depart from his house for what he did to Uriah taking his wife and getting him killed (2 Samuel 12:10). However, it was most probably a weakness in his personality.
This defect in bringing up his children could be because David had suffered rejection as a child – rejection by his father and brothers. This was evident in how Jesse, his father, excluded him from a very important programme to anoint a king in place of Saul (1 Samuel 16).
David suffered rejection in the family as a child. See how Eliab, his eldest brother despised him at the battle where he killed Goliath. “But when David’s oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. ‘What are you doing around here anyway?’ he demanded. ‘What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and dishonesty. You just want to see the battle!’” (1 Samuel 17:28 New Living Translation). He was not appreciated in his family. This probably affected his personality.
Still on David’s weakness as a father – Absalom, after fleeing, stayed for three years in Geshur. King Talmai of Geshur was his maternal-grandfather. (2 Samuel 13:38; 1 Chronicles 3:2). 2 Samuel 13:39 says about David, “And King David longed to go to Absalom. For he had been comforted concerning Amnon, because he was dead” (New King James Version).
Nevertheless, when David eventually allowed Absalom to return to Jerusalem, he did not seem to have forgiven him wholeheartedly. Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years without seeing the face of the king (2 Samuel 14:28).
Absalom was frustrated and desperate. He sent for Joab, the commander of his father’s army, twice to send him to the king, but he would not come to him. Therefore, he sent his servants to set Joab’s field on fire and they did. This forced Joab to go to Absalom’s house and ask him why his servants did so.
Absalom replied, “Because I wanted you to ask the king why he brought me back from Geshur if he didn’t intend to see me. I might as well have stayed there. Let me see the king; if he finds me guilty of anything, then let him execute me’” (2 Samuel 14:32 New Living Translation). Did you see that Absalom did not seem to realize he did anything wrong by killing his half-brother who raped his sister? He was wallowing in self-righteousness or self-justification.
After protesting to Joab about the way his father had treated him, he was summoned by the king and there was a reunion. Probably the seed of Absalom’s rebellion against David, leading to his removal from the throne and escape from Jerusalem, was sown in Absalom during that period of isolation by his unforgiving father.
David paid dearly for his wrong attitude to his son. He ought to have instructed his son well, discipline him when he erred, and then forgive him wholeheartedly. Many parents still make the same mistake today and suffer for it. Parents should not overcorrect and destroy their children.
It is one thing to fail not to discipline your child; it is another thing not to know the limit of discipline. Correction should be for a short time after which you draw the child close to yourself in love. Don’t isolate your child long enough for the devil to minister to and possess him. Don’t let them become despondent.
Ephesians 6 talks, among other things, about the responsibilities of both parents and children. We must never forget to balance this important relationship. There must be both correct sonship/daughtership and correct parenting; we must not emphasize one and neglect the other.
Children are to obey and honour their parents while fathers (parents) are not to provoke their children to wrath (Ephesians 6:1-4). What does it mean not to provoke your child to wrath? J. B. Phillips translation puts it in simple words: don’t overcorrect. The Twentieth Century New Testament says, “Don’t irritate your children.”
The book of Colossians also gives a similar instruction: “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21 New King James Version). The New Living Translation says, “Fathers, don’t aggravate your children. If you do, they will become discouraged and quit trying.”
The New Century Version renders it in nearly the same way: “Fathers, do not nag your children. If you are too hard to please, they may want to stop trying.” The J. B. Phillips translation again renders the phrase “do not provoke your children” by the New King James Version as “Don’t overcorrect.”
I believe we can apply the instruction given to biological parents to spiritual parents, too. Only God knows how many parents have violated this instruction while they focus only on what the Bible says to the children. Both the children and the parents, biological and spiritual, must align their beliefs and behaviour to the Word of God to ensure healthy relationships.
Biological parents and spiritual parents must never feel that they cannot be wrong or they do not need to change where and when necessary. Only God does not go wrong and does not change. And this is not to encourage rebellion by children but to balance the parent-children relationship.
However, there are exceptional cases where children become rebellious despite the parents giving them biblical upbringing. This makes such parents feel guilty, blaming themselves. Parents of rebellious children must never give up on them or continue in self-condemnation.
Prayer is an essential component of parenting. No parent should take credit for his child turning out well or mock any parent facing challenges over his/her children. Without God’s help, our efforts will be in vain. As we continue to pray, God will touch the hearts of rebellious children and make them repent like the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, help me to train up my children in the way they should go so that when they are old, they will not depart from it. Help me to show true love to my children by disciplining them promptly. Holy Spirit, guide me to discipline my children in a way that I will not provoke them to wrath. Help me not to overcorrect them. Father, let my parenting not be in vain; let my children turn out well. Holy Spirit, convict all rebellious children and bring them to repentance. Let them become obedient, godly, responsible, and law-abiding children that will give their parents joy.
(For over 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit: www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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