Because of our fallen natures, there is a natural tendency to turn away from these two verses. But before you do, please recognize that they are far more positive than negative. They are not as harsh as someone might first think. For example, there are three apparently related words – There are the two verbs – “chastening” and “correction” in verse 11. And in verse 12 is the verb “correcteth.” I am not going to say that the translators were mistaken in the English words they used to convey the Hebrew, but the original language opens up some additional insight. If you’ll permit my paraphrase – follow along once again. “My son, refuse not the instruction of the LORD; neither be weary of his arguments: For the LORD reasons with the one he loves; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”
Our devotional this evening is primarily an illustration.
Picture a family with a father, mother and one son. Dad is an accountant by trade, working 8 hours a day at his office downtown. His son, whom he loves very much, is 10 years old, and of course, is still very much a child – a kid. When Dad isn’t working, he is in his shop, where he makes beautiful works of art out of wood. His father taught him how to use 18th century tools to shape, carve, polish and perfect objects which could be sold for hundreds of dollars each. They both could be called “craftsmen.” And junior has begun to show an interest in following his dad in his hobby and craft. Of course, the older man is absolutely delighted, wanting his son to become as skilled as he is.
So one Saturday they go into the workshop. Dad selects a piece of good hardwood with lots of grain and color. He has a simple object in mind which he thinks his son can duplicate. Hopefully it will become a birthday present for mother which is coming up in a month. Even if it isn’t prize-winning quality, he is sure that the boy and his mother will be happy with it. Dad takes one of the old, sharp tools and shows his son how to apply it to the wood. But as young people are prone to do, the boy starts whacking away in a way which seems reasonable to his inexperience mind. Dad quickly redirects the boy, showing him again how to hold the instrument. Not only is he concerned with producing the best piece of craftsmanship. He knows that this is a sharp instrument, and if his son isn’t careful he could be seriously injured. After watching for half an hour father turns to one his own projects, letting the boy carry on. But after a few minutes he glances over, and again sees junior holding the blade in a dangerous way. Instantly he grabs the boy’s hand and shows him again, how it is to be held in order to get the best results. And for a few minutes under his father’s eye, the boy complies, until dad moves on to another bench.
For the next two hours the projects continue, with instruction and compliance and progress. But after lunch when the pair returns to the shop, again the boy reverts to his own methods. Dad speaks to him again and again, thinking that his son should learn without having to be reminded. As they move to different tools, father thinks that his son should be able to apply what he learned from the more simple tools to the more complex, but such is not the case. Over and over again Dad must explain how the tools work and why they should be held or used in the proper way. He shows his son what happens when they are misused, and he even shows what could happen to the boy’s hands if his foolishness should cause an accident. At the end of the day, Dad is convinced that progress has been made.
Ah, but then a week passes, and his son is anxious to get back into the woodshop. Dad is excited too. There are only a few weeks before mother’s birthday. At 9 a.m. they are back in their places once again, and junior begins to grab his father’s tools. But it seems that he has forgotten every point dad made a week earlier. Father can’t believe it. Once again, he patiently begins at the beginning reminding his son how to get the most out of the equipment and the wood. But this Saturday is much like the last one. After a while the boy returns to his own methods. And by mid-afternoon, the man’s patience is beginning to wane. He begins to snap at the boy when he sees his hands in a dangerous position. He wonders if his son has inherited any of his grandfather’s skills at woodworking.
By the third Saturday the tension in the shop has increased – time is running out. And the boy doesn’t seem to be progressing at all. Over and over again, Dad corrects his son’s misuse of the valuable tools. And on a couple of occasions, he even slaps the boy’s hand.
And why? It’s because he loves his son and doesn’t want him to be injured. It’s because he loves his craft and wants it to be correctly passed on. Has the father begun to hate his son after three weeks of instruction? Is it because the man has somehow changed and become a sour, mean person? Not at all.
On the final weekend before mother’s birthday the following Thursday, the boy’s grandfather comes to visit. Junior is discouraged and angry that his father has been so hard on him. Grandad senses the tension and after privately talking with his son, he gets a few moments alone with his grandson. And in essence he says, “My grandson, refuse not the instruction of your Father; neither be weary of his arguments: For he reasons with you this way because he loves you; He is delighted that you want to become a craftsman like your grandfather.”
Of course, Solomon is not talking about woodworking or even ruling a nation.
The Holy Spirit is speaking through Solomon, talking to you and me about the things of God. The dangers of life are far more severe than anything that can be found in the shop. The tools of the craftsman are sharp but the temptations and sins of life are more dangerous. And when the Lord, through His Word, or through His Spirit, or through other brethren directs and corrects, it is not because Jehovah is being mean, or that He hates you.
“My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” The word “despise” can be translated “abhor,” which is a very strong word. But it is also rendered “reject” and “refuse.” “My son, don’t refuse or reject the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction.” And the word “chastening” is four times as often rendered “instruction.” “My son, don’t refuse or reject the instruction of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction.” “Correction” in verse 11 is also translated “reproof” and “argument.” “My son, don’t refuse or reject the instruction of the LORD; neither be weary of his arguments.” And the verb “correcteth” in verse 12 is also rendered “reasoning.”
The Lord deals with His children in love, despite what they might think about His severity. He loved each of them enough to send His son to die for them. God deals with his children with infinite wisdom, sometimes chastening and sometimes correcting. Sometimes He punishes and sometimes He simply reasons with them. But it is because He delights in His children, and He wants the very best for them.