Often, the phrase, “spare the rod, spoil the child” is said to be a verse from the Bible. Actually the verse does not exist. Instead, there is another verse:
“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” (Proverbs 13:24)
It seems that the wrongly quoted phrase comes from this verse in the Bible. Also, there is another verse in the Old Testament which refers to ‘the rod’, in the 23rd Psalm:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” (Psalms 23)
So, in one verse it says “He that spareth his rod hateth his son”, and another verse says “thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”. How is the same rod supposed to be applied to children that is supposed to be applied to ourselves?
I believe that many have misinterpreted the verse in Proverbs. I found this explanation on the Internet:
“The coiner of the version that we use in everyday speech was Samuel Butler, in ‘Hudibras’, the satirical poem on the factions involved in the English Civil War, which was first published in 1662:
Love is a Boy,
by Poets styl’d,
Then Spare the Rod,
and spill the Child.
[by ‘spill’, Butler did mean spoil – that was an alternative spelling at the time]
The precise words were Butler’s, but the proverbial notion is much older. William Langland’s ‘The vision of William concerning Piers Plowman’, 1377, includes this line:
Who-so spareth ye sprynge, spilleth his children.
‘Spilleth’ is used to mean ‘spoils’, as in Butler’s poem. ‘Sprynge’ was commonly used in mediaeval English to mean the verb ‘spring’, i.e. ‘rise quickly, at a bound’. It seems that Langland was using here as a synonym for ‘sprig’, i.e. rod or offshoot of a plant, although the OED has no other records of ‘sprynge’ being used that way.”
Instead of this misinterpretation, the Book of Mormon helps to clarify what is really meant by the scriptural term ‘the rod’, for which the word ‘shebet’ is used in the original Hebrew. In 1 Nephi 8, Lehi has a dream, in which an iron rod leads along the path to the tree of life. In 1 Nephi 8:30, it is explained that the faithful continually hold fast to the rod of iron. Later on, in the Book of Mormon, it is explained that ‘the rod’ is ‘the word of God’, and the tree of life represents the love of God (1 Nephi 11:25).
So, with all of this in mind, the 23rd Psalm and Proverbs 13:24 both describe that the rod leads to righteousness. Sparing the rod is not sharing the word of God, and not sharing the word of God is not showing love, or hating, another; and I need to share the word of God, or the scriptures with others. If I don’t, then I am not showing my love for them, nor for the scriptures, nor the word of God, with which I have been so richly blessed.
This is what I wrote previously when I read 1 Nephi Chapter 8: Receiving The Love Of God.