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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 switching 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: Here we see the beginning of a new theme in the early part of Proverbs, which is marked by this form of address. Despise (Heb. mā·ʾǎs) 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.

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Discipline (Heb. mû·sār) 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 the Jehovah gives. Or loathe his reproofLoathe (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 to not to be disgusted with or to hate the reproof (corrective counsel) or punishment that Jehovah gives.

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For whom Jehovah loves he reprovesReprove renders the active verb (Heb. yā·ḵǎḥ) that has the sense of one admonishing or warning another forcefully. To love (Heb. ʾā·hǎḇ) 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 delightsDelights is the translation of the active verb (Heb. rā·ṣā(h)), which has the sense of being pleased with, taking pleasure in, or mental satisfaction. That is, 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. The word for discipline in Hebrew is musar, which may be translated as “instruction, discipline, or correction.” This discipline is a reference to 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. The apostle Paul in the book of Hebrews cites this verse, which helps us to better appreciate that God only disciplines those he loves.

Hebrews 12:5-6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

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.
For those whom the Lord loves he disciplines,
and scourges every son whom he receives.”[6]

[6] A quotation from Prov 3:11-12

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