Part 1: What Are We Doing Wrong?
Part 2: Biblical Authority
Part 3: The Gift of Communication
Part 4: Biblical Discipline
Part 5: The How & When of Spankings

Hello again. Welcome to our continuing series on child-rearing, loosely bringing together ideas from Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp.

In our last post we stated:

There are two parts to Biblical child-rearing. They both address the heart in different ways but they must be woven together when training and shepherding our children:

  • communication
  • the rod

We talked about communication in Part 3. Here’s a little recap:

  • Communication is an essential part to Biblical child-rearing and discipline. We need to let our child talk through the situation before we jump in and vent our disappointment in them. Our goal is to understand our child, not for them to understand us. If they’re having trouble sharing, we can draw them out with gentle questions.
  • Communication doesn’t happen if parents are too ‘busy’ to talk. And children don’t always wait to open up their hearts when it’s convenient. When the opportunity comes, seize it.
  • There are many ways to communicate with our children. These include: correcting, disciplining, encouraging, rebuking, entreaty, instructing, warning, teaching, and prayer. Some may be needed in certain situations more than others, but they’re all important to use if we’re to see into their hearts.

Today we’re focusing on Biblical discipline with the rod.


Part 4 Parenting

There’s a lot of controversy in those two little words: the rod.

There are those who picture a parent angrily spanking a screaming child with flailing arms and legs. Others see a totally different picture. The picture we should see – the Biblical rod – applied in the controlled and loving way it was intended.

What Does ‘Rod’ Really Mean?

According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, the word ‘rod’ comes from the Hebrew word shebet which literally means ‘a stick’ for punishing, writing, fighting, ruling, walking, etc. Examples of its use are found in:

Proverbs 13:24, He who spareth his rod, hateth his son.

Proverbs 29:15, The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

The rod represents a parent’s God-given authority to enforce the rules of their home. This includes everything leading up to and including corporal punishment (i.e. standing in a corner, writing sentences, extra chores, spanking a hand or backside, etc.)


“I’m glad to recommend this book for its remarkably clear, biblical, and practical teaching. Earnest fathers and mothers will find it also eminently ‘do-able.'” – Elisabeth Elliot, author, radio Bible teacher


What is the Purpose in the Rod?

God’s Word is without error. Totally and completely accurate, right, and good.

God’s Word tells us that children are born sinners. Even the sweetest baby has in their heart, a sin nature. You could raise her in a scientific bubble in which she sees no evil, hears no evil, and is subjected to no evil – and she will still have a sin nature. It’s born in her. Every man, woman, and child is a sinners.

This means that we’ll struggle with doing what is right and good our entire lives. Now of course we don’t expect our newborns to sit up and talk back to us, but the sin nature is there, in the deepest regions of their heart.

When that sin nature is allowed to grow unchecked, we end up with toddler tantrums, rebellious teens, and destructive adults. I may sound like a doomsdayer, but the truth is that no man is inherently good. As parents, God’s Word instructs us to use the rod to discipline our children, combining it with communication (rebuke, instruction, correction, etc.) to train our children in wisdom.

  • Proverbs 13:24, He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
  • Proverbs 22:15, Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him
  • Proverbs 29:15 & 17, The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.
Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness
and peace for those who have been trained by it. – Hebrews 12:11

What It Is and What It Isn’t

Let me say again that the rod encompasses more than just spankings. But spankings are often misconstrued; we need to be sure that we’re using this method in the wise and loving way God intended it.

I’m not advocating child abuse in any way, shape, or form. The rod, as used in spankings, is NOT:

  • a way to vent our anger
  • something we do when frustrated
  • uncontrolled beatings
  • payment for wrongdoing
  • a stand alone act of discipline – it must be woven with correction (Part 3: The Gift of Communication)

Now, let’s clarify what the rod, when used as a spanking, IS:

  • a parent administering a spanking
  • carefully given in a controlled and calm manner
  • used only in the context of correction and discipline
  • to teach children that there are consequences for sin
  • to train a child to be under authority

Our goal should not be to punish them for wrongdoing, but to restore them.

Man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. – James 1:20

Common Questions & Comments

1. Will my child resent me?
We all want our children to love us. But we can’t forgo a spanking (when it’s needed) simply because we desire their affection. Rather than producing angry and bitter children, spankings produce children who see a mom or dad who care about them enough to have boundaries and rules, who desire that they grow in wisdom, and who love them enough to discipline them in a calm and controlled manner. What child deeply resents a parent who puts them first in this way?

2. How can you teach a child not to hit if you’re hitting them back?
Okay, this isn’t an episode of The Three Stooges. We don’t bonk our children on the head and back and forth we go. When a child hits someone, it is usually out of anger or frustration. When we give spankings, they are to be done in a calm manner for the purpose of correcting sinful behavior. Not because they took one of our toys. It’s how we spank and when we spank that’s the difference.

3. How can physical abuse teach them anything but fear?
Physical abuse will teach them fear. Spankings given in a Biblical manner is not physical abuse.

4. I’ve given spankings and it just doesn’t work for my child.
This should cause us to step back and examine how we spank.

  • Are we consistent? Do we give a spanking one day for an offense but the next day, when we’re tired or preoccupied, we let it slide?
  • Did we apply the Biblical method of spanking for more than a couple of days or did we just give up and go back to the flipping-out-parent routine?
  • Are the spankings given through a diaper and two layers clothing and done so lightly they think we’re swatting a fly? A spanking not felt is not doing a bit of good.
  • Are we giving spankings in anger? What’s our heart attitude when we give the spanking?

5. Haven’t you seen the latest news? Spanking leads to mental illness!
At this point I will give a most unladylike snort.

I wonder if the researchers also asked, “How many of you went fishing as a child?” Would their reports now state that fishing on open water causes aggression, bullying tendencies, and mental disturbances? Well, there goes fishing opening!


Coming up in Part 5 we’re going to go into more detail about the when and how of using the rod.


Part 1: What Are We Doing Wrong?
Part 2: Biblical Authority
Part 3: The Gift of Communication
Part 4: Biblical Discipline
Part 5: The How & When of Spankings


Shared With: Time-Warp Wife, Far Above Rubies, Vintage Wanna Bee, Growing Home, Women Living Well, Raising Homemakers, Deep Roots at Home, Our Simple Country Life, Your Thriving Family, Comfy in the Kitchen, Christian Mommy Blogger, The Modest Mom Blog,

photo credit:

Paula, CHS, Certified Level 3 Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant

Paula, CHS, Certified Level 3 Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant

Hi, I'm Paula - wife and homeschooling mom of six. Several family health issues involving candida, food allergies, and Lyme Disease have created a passion to better understand our God-created bodies. Today I share that enthusiasm by bringing you information on ways to improve your gut health. You can follow me on Facebook, and Pinterest.
Paula, CHS, Certified Level 3 Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant
Paula, CHS, Certified Level 3 Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant

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    9 replies to "Shepherding A Child’s Heart – Part 4: Biblical Discipline"

    • Raia Torn

      Thanks for posting this little series! What an encouraging and helpful book. God bless you as you raise your kids according to His Word!

    • Ellie@Fit for the Soul

      Ommghshhhh Paul, I love you and your god-loving heart! I am so blessed by everything you post in your blog, and I’m glad that my husband found you yesterday! He was helping me find info on Candida because oddly enough, after years of having on and off stomach troubles (and lately it’s been bad) and always somewhat sensitive and cannot digest easily, I was directed by some people to check out the Candida diet. Then I was really curious because I thought it might be a God-thing that 2 people brought it up, and there you were! I’m still torn whether or not I do have candida but I’m doing my best from today to do trial and error with my food. Well, it hasn’t been perfect but who’s perfect anyway? 😛

      And I will definitely check into that book someday. My husband and I are only 3 month newlyweds but we always desire to raise our future children to the best of our God given abilities.

      • Paula

        Hi Ellie,

        Thanks for your sweet words – I’m glad you’re finding useful information here! I don’t know if you saw this yet as you were browsing, but there is a test/questionnaire I link to on this page that you can take to see if you have candida.

        Popped by your site and found your Back on Track workout. I love it! Those are the exact kinds of workouts I do – pink gymboss and all!

        So nice to meet you! Looking forward to getting to know you!

    • Ellie@Fit for the Soul

      woops!!!! hahaha I meant Paula…..:D

    • Paula, I am blessed with your series on Shepherding A Child’s Heart. It is an excellent book! Would you please link up part 5 tomorrow? Excellent post!

    • Julie Sørensen

      hello I am a pro spanking mom I am married and have 2 daughters who are 7 and 10 years old we right now only use hand for spanking our girls but as I talk to many parents about discipline and many tell me it is importaint with an implement (rod)

      so I am just want to ask how you think about the rod is it a switch or can it be me or dads hand

      • Paula

        Hi Julie,

        I would encourage you and your husband to search the scriptures, study the words in their original language, and pray solemnly about it.

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