Saturday, July 24, 2010

Is Spanking Biblical? Part 1: Proverbs, CONTINUED

Since I posted on Proverbs and the spanking issue, I remembered a few more things that I would like to add.

In my last post, I addressed the implications of taking Proverbs literally and applying it to your life as a believer, especially the literal meaning of the "rod" verses. I would like to add another implication of reading and applying these verses literally: the rod you would need to use is a "shebet." This is not a small stick, a wooden spoon, or a paddle. The Hebrew term "shebet" is used many times throughout the Old Testament. It is translated many different ways. Here are the ways, according to Strong's concordance:  

Strong's Hebrew Lexicon #7626:
rod, staff, branch, offshoot, club, sceptre, tribe
a. rod, staff
b. shaft (of spear, dart)
c. club (of shepherd's implement)
d. truncheon, sceptre (mark of authority)
e. clan, tribe From an unused root probably meaning to branch off; a scion, for example literally a stick (for punishing, writing, fighting, walking, ruling, etc.) or figuratively a clan.

The Shebet is not a small instrument. A shepherd's staff was a thick, long rod. If you were to literally beat your child with this, on the back (as this is what is literally indicated in the Proverbs), you would likely kill him/her. Recently, a little girl was killed because here parents spanked her with a small switch over and over again. Her internal organs failed, and she died. These were supposed loving, Bible-believing parents! I will post more on this story later. If a small switch can kill a child, imagine what a literal rod could do!! 

Exodus 21:20 warns about the use of the rod: "And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished." This verse is speaking about an adult being smitten with a rod, not a child. And an adult smitten with a literal rod could die!

One more thing I would like to address: Proverbs is a book of Hebrew poetry. This is an important contextual fact to look at when you are interpreting those pesky "rod" verses. If you look at Proverbs as poetry, you will see that the "rod," or the "shebet," is a symbol of authority. When the Hebrews read the term "shebet," they would have had in mind the leader of a tribe, a shepherd's rod (which, incidentally, was never used to beat the sheep. Sheep are very timid creatures, and will not trust a master who raises his hand against them), a king's sceptre, or the shaft of a spear. "Shebet" would have meant authority to them. In the New Testament, believing parents are encouraged to nurture, admonish, train, correct their children: clearly, they are to be in authority over the, so this is a New Testament principle as well.

I would like to explain what I mean when I say that we should not apply Old Testament rules to our lives as believers. When I was a young woman, I used to read Proverbs 31 and feel incredibly guilty because I didn't measure up. I tried to be like her, and I failed. Then I began to learn that I do not have to use the Old Testament as a law by which to live my life. I can read about that woman, and see a picture of someone who is godly, but I do not need to read Proverbs as a rule-book for my Christian life. I learned that I could walk by the Spirit, and that God would then work through my individual personality to be the woman He created me to be! Because I have the Holy Spirit, God Himself, living in me and working through me, He can use me to accomplish greater things than this woman ever did. So, when I realized this, I did not have to compare myself to anyone else; I just needed to stay plugged into Christ. As Christian parents, we need to walk by the Spirit. We do not have to follow rules and regulations in order to be godly parents...we need to walk with God; He will show us how to parent.

1 comment:

  1. Your series here is excellent and very helpful to me. Thank you.