Proverbs 20: Don’t Ruin their Lives

Have you shared an elevator with the undisciplined child? Or flown on a plane with said child? In my last post, I highlighted Proverbs 19:18 from the New Living Translation: “Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives.” Chapter 20 continues by shedding light on how one can ruin your child’s life: “If you insult your father or mother, your light will be snuffed out in total darkness” (20:20). A parent should steer their child’s conduct from sin through corporal punishment for the purpose of purging their inmost being; “The Lord’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive” (20:27). “Physical punishment cleanses away evil, such discipline purifies the heart” (20:30). Such punishment, however, is not merely to change a person’s conduct out of fear of physical pain but to help him mature.[1]

Such parental action is ultimately trying to reach the heart of a child. And the parental example should not be taken lightly: “But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck” (Mark 9:42). “The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them” (Proverbs 20:7). “Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling” (20:3). What kind of example are you? Are you displaying a life of integrity? Do your actions reveal a heart of wisdom or uncontrolled foolishness?

What a person says does not always indicate what he is. This is true of children as well. Their actions and conduct reveal what they are like, whether they are pure (20:9) and godly (20:7). One’s behavior reflects one’s character. Therefore, it is important not only to listen with one’s ears to what people say but also to observe with one’s eyes what people do (20:12). Both senses of watching words and actions should be used to see if people are consistent.[2]

The best movie I’ve ever seen with the children running wild and the “new” father having to inflict corporal punishment is “Family Honeymoon” starring Fred MacMurray. If you’ve never seen it, it provides some really good pointers as well as laughs!

            I’ve asked for prayer in the past concerning my nephew who sits in jail approaching two years now. After hearing from my sister today, the following two verses from Proverbs 20 stand out like beacons of God’s absolute authority and control:

“Don’t say, ‘I will get even for this wrong.’ Wait for the Lord to handle the matter” (20:22). “The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?” (20:24)

To take vengeance in one’s hands is wrong (cf. 17:13; 24:29; Deut. 32:35; Rom. 12:19). It is far better to leave the punishment of injustice in the Lord’s hands, for in time He will deliver (20:22). The Lord guides a man’s steps (similar statement in Ps. 37:23; Prov. 16:1, 9; 19:21). Since God has the ultimate “say” in one’s life, it is often difficult for a person to understand fully his own way (20:24).[3]

There is much we cannot understand but to hear of my nephew being a modern-day Joseph causes me to trust God all the more, and that His Sovereign control and authority reins supreme! Hallelujah!


[1]Sid S. Buzzell, “Proverbs,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 950.

[2]Buzzell, 948–949.

[3]Buzzell, 949.

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