The most correctly quoted and totally misunderstood phrase in the Bible

“Spare the rod and spoil the child”

Proverbs 13:24

Yes, that phrase is in the bible. It does not need to be read in context, it can stand on its own. People rarely misquote it, but they just as rarely understand it. People think the quote justifies hitting children. As if a rod, is something to beat a child with, and I suppose that makes sense when you consider that the “rule of them” referred to the correct measurement of a rod for beating one’s wife. American culture has been about hitting the weaker over the head.

However, shephards did not beat the sheep with their rods. They gently but firmly used the rods to guide the sheep back to the right path. Shepherds weren’t out there swinging. I can understand that when I think of another famous psalm about walking through the valley of the shadow of death. At the end of the psalm it says that God’s rod and staff comfort. We need not fear God beating us with His rod. How did our culture get it so wrong? My guess is that people are looking for a way to justify being mean to people because it is human nature to be cruel–“in this flesh dwells no good thing”–I can believe that. However, people really want to feel that their cruelty makes them one of the good guys.

It just goes to show me, that people can take any words and twist them for their own purposes no matter what the author originally intended. I wonder if I will one day be appalled at how my words are misused?

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