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Appreciating the Purpose of Discipline
Proverbs 3:11-12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
11 My son, do not despise the discipline of Jehovah
or loathe his reproof,
12 for whom Jehovah loves he reproves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.
Here in verses 11-12, we find that the author switches the topic by introducing the idea that ‘trusting in Jehovah’ may result in pain or difficulty. My son, do not despise the discipline of Jehovah: Now, we see the beginning of a new theme in the early part of Proverbs, which is marked by this form of address. Despise (מָאַס maas) is the rendering of a word having almost the same meaning as that used in 1:7 and 30. It means to reject someone or something (including corrective counsel) with contempt, having feelings of hostility, or great displeasure. Regardless of the amount of wisdom that one possesses, including that of Solomon, there is a need for Jehovah’s fatherly corrective counsel to increase wisdom and blessing. We should never resist such correction.
Discipline (מוּסָר musar) renders a word used in 1:2-3, 7-8, where the RSV translates it as “instruction.” Here in 3:11, the 2017 CSB also translates it as “instruction.” However, in this verse and this context, the sense is that of being disciplined (trained); it is referring to being chastised, corrected, rebuked, or warned. Jehovah’s discipline is the corrective criticism (firm counsel) or admonishment that Jehovah gives. Or loathe his reproof: Loathe (qûṣ) renders a verb that has the sense to abhor or to find repugnant, to hate, loathe, be disgusted with. Solomon, known for his great wisdom, is asking the one trying to acquire wisdom not to be disgusted with or hate the reproof (corrective counsel) or punishment that Jehovah gives.
For whom Jehovah loves he reproves: Reprove renders the active verb (יָכַח yakach) that has the sense of one admonishing or warning another forcefully. To love (אָהֵב aheb) means to have great affection for or to care for or to be loyal to someone based on a close relationship. As a father the son in whom he delights: Delights is the translation of the active verb (רָצָה ratsah), which has the sense of being pleased with, taking pleasure in, or mental satisfaction. Jehovah has a feeling or attitude of affection and finding pleasure in his faithful servants, signifying that it is delightful and favorable in his conclusion.
Hebrews 12:11 says, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” In the book of Proverbs, discipline seems to suggest that one is walking with Jehovah through corrective counsel, like that of an obedient son.
The one whom God loves will receive discipline from time to time. Again, the word for discipline in Hebrew is (מוּסָר musar), which may be translated as “instruction, discipline, or correction.” This discipline references correction by way of teaching and training that educates the wrongdoer. When God disciplines us, be it through his word or by the congregation, it is to help us progress spiritually. We should feel bitter about his love. In the book of Hebrews, the apostle Paul cites this verse, which helps us better appreciate that God only disciplines those he loves.
Hebrews 12:5-6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
5 And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor faint when you are reproved by him.
6 For those whom the Lord loves he disciplines,
and scourges every son whom he receives.”
Thomas D. Lea writes “12:5–6. Verse 5 asks a question, ‘Have you forgotten?’ based on the quotation of Proverbs 3:11–12 in verse 6. Together these verses urge us not to belittle God’s discipline and not to lose heart in the face of God’s rebuke. We should not see trials as cause for discouragement, but as a sign of God’s determined love. We must reflect on the long-term benefits of our trials and recognize that discipline represents God’s method of developing our maturity. We must respond to afflictions by searching out the faults or failures that hinder our spiritual growth.”
 A quotation from Prov 3:11-12
 Thomas D. Lea, Hebrews, James, vol. 10, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 219.
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