He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
– Proverbs 13:24
This proverb speaks directly and plainly to parents rearing children. More modern times turns the words upside down to make them opposite their intended meaning. The contrast is between love and hate and sparing and chastening. Love and hate are not to be understood only in terms of emotion and sentiment. They are meant to speak to actions. The word for rod means a branch or stick and it is an instrument of correction (Proverbs 10:13; 19:18; 22:15; 29:15, 17). To spare the rod is to withhold correction and it is a hateful action toward the child because they are not being trained. The word for betimes means early and points to early in life and maybe also early in the sense of being quick to give needed corrections. The motive of correction should always be the child’s good (Hebrews 12:5-11) and should not be done in anger or severity (Ephesians 6:4).