Proverbs 13:24

ESV Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
NIV Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
NASB He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.
CSB The one who will not use the rod hates his son, but the one who loves him disciplines him diligently.
NLT Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.
KJV He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

What does Proverbs 13:24 mean?

This is the origin of the controversial English phrase "spare the rod, spoil the child." That paraphrase is usually quoted in defense of corporal punishment: the use of spanking or other physical means of discipline. In literal terms, this verse is a reference to corporal punishment. It is not, however, only about physical discipline. Nor is it meant to justify forms of discipline that cross the line into abuse.

The primary purpose of this statement is to endorse loving discipline. This is correction based on godly principles (Proverbs 1:7). A person who truly loves a child will provide discipline (Proverbs 3:11–12), to keep the child from developing evil habits. Without that, the natural tendency of human beings is to greater and greater sin (Proverbs 19:18). Lack of discipline also leads to life-destroying habits such as laziness and dishonesty (Proverbs 12:19, 24; 13:4). Because everyone inherits a sin nature, everyone needs discipline to reinforce the fact that sinning has consequences.

Christian discipline, physical or otherwise, must not be administered in anger, nor should it be given without just provocation. A father who disciplines his child shows that he loves him and wants to shape him into a responsible adult who loves and serves God (Proverbs 22:6). That kind of discipline builds character. Abusive, unfair, or harsh responses only frustrate the child and make them more resistant to truth (Ephesians 6:4).

Some parents do little to discipline their children at all. Such is not loving, or caring, or supportive. Rather, failure to correct misbehavior is a sign of cowardice and selfishness. Only a negligent, uncaring parent fails to discipline their child.

Hebrews 12:5–6 exhorts believers not to take God's correction lightly. He disciplines those He loves. Hebrews 12:11 assures us, "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
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