Proverbs 13:19-25 Spanking?

A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul,(AA)
    but fools detest turning from evil.

20 Walk with the wise and become wise,
    for a companion of fools suffers harm.(AB)

21 Trouble pursues the sinner,(AC)
    but the righteous(AD) are rewarded with good things.(AE)

22 A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children,
    but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.(AF)

23 An unplowed field produces food for the poor,
    but injustice sweeps it away.

24 Whoever spares the rod(AG) hates their children,
    but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline(AH) them.(AI)

25 The righteous eat to their hearts’ content,
    but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.

Spanking? (13:24)

Spare the rod, spoil the child is not actually what the Bible says.  It has been quoted that way for years.  An accurate translation tells us that he who hates his child spares the rod.  Some people take this verse literally, so they say, and believe that the Bible mandates spanking here.  First of all, if the Bible were advocating a literal translation we should be using a rod and not the open hand on bare buttocks.  The rod , in a pastoral society, may be understood as a guiding shepherd’s crook rather than a good thrashing, six of the best, trousers down.  The principle is more clearly emphasized in the second half of the verse where one is to discipline their child if they love him.  This means that a constant plan for reformation is proposed.  Strict adherence to the letter of the law misses the principle behind it.  The principle here is that a parent who loves their child uses some form of discipline to guide their child along the straight and narrow.  It is not that someone who doesn’t spank their child doesn’t love them.


  1. How do people see verse 24 as advocating spanking?
  2. What does the verse emphasize?
  3. How do you think ancient Israelites disciplined their children?
  4. How are parents spoiling their children today?  How does the bible describe the parents’ feelings when they spoil their child?
  5. What are good plans to discipline your children that you have seen work?

Going Deeper

My wife and I have been using Love and Logic with some success.

I have my students become familiar with Kendra Smiley’s book Be the Parent in order to support parents.


About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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1 Response to Proverbs 13:19-25 Spanking?

  1. I’m about halfway through the Love and Logic book. So far, it’s great. Haven’t gotten to the “Rod Exercises” chapter yet.

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