The other day I was standing in a line and overheard a conversation two older dads were having about children, and one of them quoted Proverbs 13:24 - “He who spares his rod spoils his child.” He then gave commentary explaining the problem with the youth today is they haven’t been spanked enough.
This is another example of how Christianity has misunderstood biblical context because of language and not understanding Jewish culture. The rod the Psalmist was referring to what is called the shebet. The shebet was a 20”- 24” stick shepherds used in caring for their sheep. The shebet had five common practical uses, and properly applied provide parents some good advice in raising their children.
The shebet was a symbol of the shepherds guardianship of the sheep. The rods were custom made with family symbol engraved on the shebet.
2. The rod could be thrown with great accuracy just beyond a wandering sheep unlike
the shepherd’s staff to send the animal back to the herd.
3. The rod was used as a weapon to ward off an intruder and protect the sheep from
animals that might attack.
4. The rod was used at the end of the day to count the sheep as they returned to the
pin by having the “sheep pass under the shebet”.
5. The rod was used to part the wool in order for the shepherd to examine the sheep
for disease, wounds, or defeats which may be treated.
Notice the shebet wasn’t used to strike or beat the sheep. The shebet was a tool for protecting the sheep, guiding the sheep, examining the sheep’s wool, keeping track of the sheep, and guardianship of the sheep. It was a rod of love, not a rod of discipline or punishment.
The passage in Proverbs 13:24 is saying, parents who don’t love and nurture their children, give good guidance to their children, protect their children, encourage and embrace their children, and compassionately care for their children spoil their children.