Song of the Drunkards


The Delight of Discipline

February 7, 2021 in Authority, Bible - OT - Proverbs, Children, Covenantal Living, Human Condition, Judgment, Lord's Day, Meditations, Parents, Responsibility

Proverbs 29:17 (NKJV)

17 Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul.

Last week we insisted that a good father, an earthly father who imitates our Father in heaven, will discipline his children for their good. A loving father does not discipline out of frustration or anger or impatience. Outbursts of wrath are not the fruit of the Spirit but the works of the flesh. Such outbursts do not reflect the loving discipline of our Heavenly Father but the perverse self-interest of Satan and his minions. For, as James reminds us, the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

While our discipline of our children is not to be self-centered, there is a blessing that comes to those parents who discipline their children. It is to this blessing that Solomon points us today, Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul.” A wise son gives delight to the soul, gives a deep and abiding sense of comfort or, as Solomon puts it, rest. Parents have no greater joy than to see their children joyfully serving the Lord and walking uprightly. “My son, if your heart is wise, My heart will rejoice—indeed, I myself; Yes, my inmost being will rejoice When your lips speak right things” (Prov 23:15-16).

But note that this delight and rest are the fruits of godly discipline. “Correct your son, and he will give you rest…” A child left to himself when young rarely brings delight when old. So Solomon urges you, “Chasten your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction” (Prov 19:18). Now, while your children are young and the concrete is still wet, discipline and train them so that, when the concrete sets, it doesn’t have to be destroyed. Use your lips, in love, to correct your son. Use the rod, in love, to correct your son. And if you want to know how to do that faithfully, then contact Bob or Jackie and join their upcoming parenting class; seek out older mentors who can give you wisdom.

The fact that we parents are to train our children to be a blessing, reminds us that untrained children are a curse. Children, considered in the abstract, are a blessing from God and the fruit of the womb is His reward (Psalm 127:3). However, parents who fail to train their children take that blessing and twist it into a curse. “A foolish son is a grief to his father, And bitterness to her who bore him” (Prov 17:25). Untrained children are a curse and a grief to mother and father as well as to others. So be diligent to train your children that they may be a delight. This is one way that you love your neighbor as yourself. Who enjoys being in the company of a child that lacks self-control, that refuses to listen to correction, or that is a regular disruption? No one. So if you don’t like it, then love your neighbor as yourself by training your own children so that they are not like that.

And, children, notice what your calling is. Your calling is to learn the lessons that your parents are teaching you. Give heed to their verbal corrections; welcome their discipline; and strive to bring joy to your parents and to others by growing in wisdom and maturity. Little children, pray that you may be like your Lord Jesus who “grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him” (Lk 2:40). Teens, be like your Lord Jesus who “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Lk 2:52).

Reminded that discipline is to train us to bring joy to others, let us acknowledge that we often fail to bring the joy that we ought; we often fail to grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. So let us confess our sin to the Lord, seeking His forgiveness through Jesus Christ. And, as you are able, let us kneel as we confess. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Other-Centered Discipline

January 31, 2021 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Children, Covenantal Living, Discipline, Love, Meditations, Parents, Wisdom

Proverbs 3:11-12

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights”

The Word of God assures us that God is absolutely sovereign, absolutely in control of each and every event, good or bad, which befalls us. Hence, even when we are experiencing a severe trial, we can be assured that it comes from the hand of God. As Job reminded his wife, “The Lord gives; the Lord takes away…” (Job 1:21; 2:10).

So why do such trials come? Do they come because God hates us? If you are in Christ, the answer to that question is, “Absolutely not!” If you are in Christ, then Solomon assures you that the Lord sends trials to correct you because He loves you. “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Prov 3:11-12 cf. Heb 12:5-6). God corrects us because He is a good Father who loves us. It was this knowledge that enabled Jacob to endure under Laban’s evil schemes; that fortified Joseph with joy and hope despite the treachery of his brothers, the lies of Potiphar’s wife, and the forgetfulness of the cupbearer; that emboldened Israel to cry out to God while suffering under Pharaoh’s heavy hand; and that comforted our Lord Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Whom the Lord loves He corrects.

So notice what this means for earthly fathers. A righteous father, one who loves and cherishes his children, is concerned for his child’s spiritual and personal growth and maturity. Consequently, a righteous father corrects his son. He knows that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of his child” (Prov 22:15) and so he uses “the rod of discipline” to “drive” this foolishness far away from him. He wants his child to receive God’s blessing. And this blessing only comes to those who have been trained in the ways of righteousness and self-control.

So fathers, how are you doing? Are you engaged with the discipline of your children? Are you concerned for them even as your Heavenly Father is for you? A loving father disciplines his children. “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Pr 13:24). And loving discipline, discipline that glorifies our Father in heaven, that imitates His character toward His children, must always be for the good of our children. Our discipline must be designed to bless them and strengthen them; to train them in righteousness and self-control; to make them ever more faithful servants of Christ Jesus. Biblical discipline, discipline that imitates our Heavenly Father, is a gift not a noose. God commanded Israel, “You shall not boil a kid [a baby goat] in its mother’s milk.” Yet how many children have been destroyed by the very discipline that should have been the means of blessing them?

So what are ways we can be tempted to distort the gift of discipline? Our chief temptation is to discipline our children not for their good but for our good. So we discipline them to get them out of our hair – to prevent them from disturbing our tranquility or our enjoyment of some other activity. Or we discipline them because we are frustrated with ourselves or with our day at work – we take out our frustration on them. Or we discipline them because we are concerned about what others might think of us, perhaps because we are embarrassed by our child’s behavior. In all these cases, the discipline is for us rather than for them.

Note carefully, however, that this is not how our Heavenly Father treats us. Therefore, if we discipline our children in this self-centered fashion, we are preaching a false Gospel, a Gospel that says, “God is so concerned about Himself that He lashes out at those who irritate Him.” Let us rather teach a true Gospel, a Gospel that says, “God is so satisfied in Himself and filled with love for His sons that He disciplines them for their good.”

And for you children out there, remember that this passage teaches you an important lesson – if your parents love you, they will discipline you. It is the permissive parent, the parent who says, “Oh do what you like I don’t really care” who truly doesn’t care. So when your parents limit your screen time, when they rebuke your attitude, when they spank you for disobeying them, when they give you consequences for your behavior, when they question your choice of friends or music or movies, be sure to thank them for loving you and caring for you. Discipline is a gift – and we all know what we’re supposed to say when we receive a gift, don’t we? Haven’t your parents trained you to say, “Thank you!”?

Reminded that the Lord chastens those He loves even as a father the son in whom he delights, let us confess that, as parents, we often fail to train our children as we ought, and that, as children, we often fail to thank God for disciplining us. And, as we confess our sin, let us kneel as we are able before the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Blessed and Cursed Marriages

January 24, 2021 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Love, Marriage, Meditations, Politics, Trials

Proverbs 31:10, 23

10Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies… 23Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land.

As we begin this new year, I want to deliver a couple exhortations regarding family life, first marriage and then children. The book of Proverbs regularly extols the blessedness of marriage. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord” (18:22). “Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, But a prudent wife is from the Lord” (19:14). When God created Adam in the Garden, it was God Himself who declared that the man alone was not good. Consequently, God put the man to sleep, crafted Eve from one of his ribs, and presented her to the man. God created marriage and blessed it – for the mutual advantage of both husband and wife. A man who finds a virtuous wife finds a treasure more valuable than rubies; and a woman who finds a righteous man derives great honor from her marriage to him.

While the Scriptures extol the blessing of marriage, they regularly extol its dangers as well. Marriage in itself is a blessing for the world, a good gift from a generous God. However, an unhappy marriage is a curse. Hence, when I have done pre-marital counseling, I regularly tell couples, “The only thing worse than being single and unhappy is being married and unhappy.” So Solomon warns us, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones” (Prov 12:4). And even as a wife who causes shame is a misery to her husband, so a husband who causes shame is a misery to his wife. When David was determined to destroy Nabal’s entire household because of Nabal’s folly, Nabal’s wife Abigail pleaded with David, “Please, let not my lord regard this scoundrel Nabal. For as his name is, so is he; Nabal [Fool] is his name, and folly is with him!” (1 Sam 25:25) Better not to marry at all than to marry a foolish man or woman.

As we commence a new year, therefore, give heed to a few exhortations. First, single, marriageable men and women – so develop your character that should God see fit to bless you with a spouse, you prove a blessing to your spouse and not a curse. Rarely does marriage radically transform the character of a man or woman; more commonly, marriage reveals your character. Marriage takes the musical chords you have been playing while single and plugs them into an amplifier. Hence, if you are indulging selfishness or impatience or lust or greed or anger now, that spirit will plague your marriage. Consecrate your life to the service of Christ and cultivate a godly character that you may prove a blessing and not a curse to your future spouse.

Second, married men – so develop your character that your wife be proud to be married to you. Your wife is called to respect you. So be respectable. Cultivate such wisdom and godly character that others want your counsel, solicit your direction, and imitate your character. A wife doesn’t want a husband who follows in her wake but a husband who loves her by leading her, providing for her and protecting her. Earn her respect by stepping up to the plate and doing so. Push yourself and stretch yourself to be a better man.

Finally, married women – so develop your character that you make it easy for your husband to love and lead you. Ground yourself in Christ and imitate Lady Wisdom in Proverbs. Routinely take the log out of your own eye before attempting to take the speck out of your husband’s. Beware being a dripping faucet. Beware being cold sexually. Beware exposing your husband’s faults to others. Make his home a haven to which he may return regularly with joy and not resignation. Enable your husband to put his full trust in you.

Reminded that marriage to an honorable man or virtuous woman is God’s good gift to us, let us confess that we often fail to cultivate the character necessary to be a blessing to our spouse; and, as we confess our sin, let us kneel as we are able before the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.