Friday, July 13, 2007

The Correct Response to Divine Chastening

“My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction.” (Prov. 3:11)

The fact that Job characterized the man or woman who is chastened of God as being “happy” is proof positive that people don’t always look at Divine correction in the same way (Job 5:17). He goes on in the verse, however, to say the same thing Solomon says in the cited verse in Proverbs and the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 12:5: “[D]espise not thou the chastening of the Lord.” Divine chastening is a given in the Christian life. As Charles Spurgeon has rightly observed, “God never allows His children to sin successfully.” The question is how should we respond to it?

Solomon gives us some help in verse eleven of Proverbs three, where he points out two mistakes that we as God’s children are in danger of making when we experience chastening. As this text (and the others mentioned) indicates, our first instinct is to despise it. In other words, treat it like a bitter pill that has to be swallowed; so just grit your teeth and tough it out. This kind of attitude lends itself quite easily to blaming our “misfortune” on other causes and visible instruments, refusing to see the hand of God wielding the rod of correction. They are like the people we read about in Jeremiah2:30. “In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction.” God means for His chastening to be both felt and acknowledged for what it is. Obviously, not all misfortunes, whether they are physical, financial, or relational, etc., are the result of Divine chastening. But it’s safe to say, the man or woman who does business with God regularly will know the difference.

Secondly, we can become “weary,” or as the writer of Hebrews says, we can “faint” when God rebukes us. This is just as bad. Here is the person who becomes despondent and full of self-pity, whose “soul refuse[s] to be comforted” (Psl. 77:2). They will not accept forgiveness, choosing rather to wallow in their despair. They lie in a spiritual swoon, until what they consider to be sufficient penance has been achieved.

Sadly, neither of these individuals is in a position to hear what the rod of God is trying to tell them. “[H]ear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it” (Micah 6:9b). Do you want to know what the Rod of God is saying? Turn to Hebrews 12 for the answer. And here I borrow from one of my husband Richard’s sermons.


1. to show He loves you (v.6)

2. to show you are His (v.8)

3. to bring you into subjection (v.9)

4. to help you live a holy life (v.10)

5. to make you more fruitful (v.11)

Verse 12 of Proverbs 3 tells us that God does not delight in chastening us; He chastens us because He delights in us. To a child, there is one thing worse than being corrected, and that is being ignored. Like any good parent, God does not leave us to ourselves to fester in the corruption of sin and disobedience. He kindly applies the rod of correction; for, as the old Puritan said, “God loves us when He strikes us just as well as when He strokes us.” We should respond to Divine correction in the same way we respond to all God’s manifestations of love to us: with thanksgiving. Now what was it again Job said? “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth.”

1 comment:

  1. This was a great random find when searching some definitions while reading some scripture :)

    ...and it is not just for girls btw! thanks!