Your 50 Favorite Proverbs: #38 Term of Endearment

April 2013 |"Your 50 Favorite Proverbs" | Liz Curtis Higgs

Straight-up honest? I love the Lord and his Word. But it’s taken me all week—okay, more like thirty years—to get excited about this passage.

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not resent his rebuke,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    as a father the son he delights in. Proverbs 3:11 and 12

Why the struggle? Not because I’m a daughter instead of a son. I know God’s truths are for all his children.

Is it all those negative words? Despise, resent, rebuke? Not really. Love and delight are in there too.

No, what made me bristle is a word that’s used twice: discipline.
The main point of the proverb. Something I need but almost never want.

Then God showed me that his discipline is another word for his love.


"My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline"

My son,…

A term of endearment meant for us all. Right from the start, God expresses his deep and abiding affection for us. Listen, “my child” (CEV). This is for you, “dear friend” (MSG).

When we’ve failed in some way—big or small—our Heavenly Father promises we won’t be neglected or abandoned or forgotten. He is with us and loves us. Always.

In the Father's Hand

…do not despise…

Imagine the Lord holding your hand, tugging you close, whispering these words in your ear. “Don’t sulk” (MSG), he says gently. Don’t “shrink” (AMP) or “turn away” (CEV).

He knows us so well. Correction is never fun. Pulling away is a natural instinct. But God wants us close by his side, so he can show us why this process—this painful, humbling, often difficult process—is for our ultimate good.

Lee Ann, who chose this week’s passage, confessed, “These verses mean a lot to me because I’ve needed his discipline so often.”

We’re right there with you, sister.

Discipline: Term of Endearment

…the Lord’s discipline,…

If his “chastening” (ASV) isn’t a spanking, a time out, or an assignment to write the same sentence 500 times on a blackboard, then what does God’s kind of discipline look like?

Sometimes it looks like Wait. Sometimes it looks like No. Most of the time it looks like “training” (NIRV) or “instruction” (CEB) or “teaching” (WYC). God the Father kneeling beside us, showing us how to live according to his will.

Discipline isn’t something negative. It’s something positive.
Knowledge. Education. Wisdom. Good stuff.

Yes, it means we need to stop marching solely to the beat of our own drum. That’s the hard part. But staying close to him and experiencing “his loving correction” (MSG)? That’s the satisfying part.

Proverbs 3:12

…and do not resent his rebuke,…

Sulking is usually short-lived, but resentment can last a lifetime. That’s why God cautions us not to become “bitter” (CEV) or “impatient” (AMP) or “angry” (ERV). Such things grow inside us like malignant cells, slowly destroying our joy.

His “correction” (CEB) is meant to serve as a “warning” (GW). Think of the back-up camera systems in vehicles that alert the driver, “Stop! There’s something behind you.” When God corrects us, that’s what he’s doing. Keeping us from hurting ourselves and others. Making sure we’re safe—physically, emotionally, spiritually.

So, beloved, “do not give up when He tells you what you must do” (NLV). Instead, picture him holding you, guiding you, loving you. The best parent, on his or her best day, cannot come close to what our Heavenly Father does for us all day, every day.

"Have I told you I love you today?"

…because the Lord disciplines those he loves,…

There it is: the reason why God “reproves” (ESV) and “corrects” (AMP) and “trains” (NIRV) his children, no matter how mature we may think we are. It’s “proof of his love” (TLB). It assures us we belong to him.

When a toddler is mastering a new skill—say, eating with a spoon—the whole messy process could be avoided if Mom just continued spooning in each mouthful. But that’s not the loving thing to do.

The loving thing is to give a child the right tools, then eat with her, side by side. Show her by example. Patiently correct the way she holds the spoon. Let her try again and again. Make certain she doesn’t spoon in too much at once. Chase after the spoon when she flings it across the kitchen.

For those of us who are prone to flinging spoons out of sheer frustration, here’s good news: God is still in the kitchen, waiting to teach us. He never gives up. He never lets go. He never stops delighting in his children.

Bonnie also chose this as her favorite passage. “I love knowing that He ‘delights’ in me, and ‘corrects’ by allowing me to make those mistakes that instruct and draw me closer to Him.”

His pride and joy

…as a father the son he delights in.

Years ago, when I was trying to help our son with his homework, I finally ran out of patience and said more loudly than I meant to, “Do you know why I’m pushing so hard?”

Matt’s little shoulders drooped. “Because you want me to get a good grade.”

“No, sweetie.” I hugged him, then whispered into the curve of his ear, “Because I love you.”

So the truth. God doesn’t care about our grades. He cares about us.

When God parks us in a waiting room, or nudges us to make amends, or pinches our conscience until our attitude improves, we’ll remember that “a father’s delight is behind all this” (MSG), and we are the Lord’s “pride and joy” (VOICE).

I’m (finally) excited about this passage. How about you?

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not resent his rebuke,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    as a father the son he delights in. Proverbs 3:11-12

A Father's Love

Now it’s your turn

  • What does God’s discipline look like to you?

I’m eager to hear your take on this. It means so much when you take a moment to Post a Comment below.

Your Printable of Proverbs 3:11-12 will take just a few seconds to download. And look for this week’s pin on Pinterest.

Can’t believe the joy of Palm Sunday is right around the corner! “They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” (John 12:13).

Your sister, Liz
@LizCurtisHiggs #50Proverbs

Your sister, Liz Curtis HiggsBible Gateway Blogger Grid Member April 2014 Your 50 Favorite Proverbs

P.S. If Billings, Montana or Columbus, Ohio is where you call home, consider joining me this spring for the Women of Faith Survival to Revival Tour 2014. I would love to have the honor of encouraging you in person!
Women of Faith

35 Responses to Your 50 Favorite Proverbs: #38 Term of Endearment

  1. Elaine Steil April 9, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

    Liz, have you ever said to your child, upon discipling them, “this is going to hurt me more than you?” Do you think God is saying the same thing? I just thought of this as I read your lesson. I call it a lesson because I always learn. Thank you for motivating me to think and then think some more.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs April 9, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

      YES, Elaine, I thought of that familiar saying as I wrote this post!

      Because the Lord knows his discipline will produce positive results, it may not be painful for the him in the same way it’s painful for earthly parents to discipline their children.

      But when we consider Jesus, and how much he suffered…well, he certainly experienced more pain than any of us ever will. Once again, his motive is love. Truly amazing.

  2. Regina April 9, 2014 at 6:18 pm #

    To me, God’s discipline often looks like coaching. A good coach can look at your form and tell you how to correct it. They know when to push you, when to hold you back. Most importantly, they know how to draw the best from you, and can somehow see your potential long before you know its there. While it might catch you by surprise, it’s like they knew it was there all along.

    They make you pay for it when you mess up, but in a way that makes you stronger for it (and hopefully in a way that helps you learn from your mistakes). They’re not afraid to sit you on the bench if you’re not ready (or if you need to be held accountable), and but they’re also not afraid to give you your chance to shine.

    A good coach will say the hard truth, but there’s also nothing quite like a coach’s pep talk either. How many great sports movies feature those locker-room or final-moment-of-the-game speeches that remind you of who you are and what you can do, making the hair on your arms stand up, and your inner conqueror rise to the challenge? And as someone who grew up playing both sports and music, I can testify that those speeches don’t just happen in locker rooms either. They take place backstage too.

    So yeah, maybe it’s because I’ve been blessed to have wonderful coaches cross my path, but When I read “discipline”, that’s often the imagery that comes to mind.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs April 9, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

      A brilliant analogy, Regina. Even with my limited basketball experience (some kind of Junior-Junior Varsity 6th grade girls team) I can affirm the value of a great coach. Thanks for sharing this great play-by-play description!

  3. Christina Anderson April 9, 2014 at 7:41 pm #

    When our kids make poor choices they often get to suffer “negative consequences”. That’s exactly what God’s discipline looks like to me. I made some very bad choices and as a result am living with the negative consequences. Thanks to God’s unfailing mercy and grace, I am forgiven and even though I may not like the scenario I’ve brought on myself, I understand why my heavenly Father needed to discipline me. He had to get my attention!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs April 11, 2014 at 9:56 am #

      Thanks for sharing a bit of your journey, Christina. Lessons learned the hard way are definitely lessons LEARNED. So glad our God is holding you close!

  4. Susan Shipe April 9, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

    I have been the recipient of God’s discipline many times and, although reluctant at times, I must say it was always for my good and his glory.

  5. Susan Ireland April 9, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

    Disipline is such a big word and covers a wide area, from a child to an adult. In each stage of our life I think God disiplines us. I wrote this poem some time ago – GOD SINGS – ” I think my Lord loves me without measure, he sings over me in the night a lullaby that brings peace to my spirit, he talks to me mysteries I do not understand, and during the daylight hours he laughs with me and he shakes his head when I make a mistake and talks to my heart and lets me know so I can confess and move on with Joy and Love , and Hope for eternity. He catches my tears and saves them. He sends his angels to protect me from disaster and he Sings not just for me but all his children ”

    • Liz Curtis Higgs April 11, 2014 at 9:58 am #

      So beautiful, Susan, and biblically accurate. When I have a spare minute, I’m going to look up all the verses these lovely lines capture!

  6. Rebecca Mahannah April 9, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

    For me, it’s like, if I accept God’s protection in the form of His angels coming to save me(and I can remember a few times that happened), then I should be able to accept His discipline. That is what I keep reminding myself when I feel that I’m being disciplined. Also, as was said, I remind myself how much He loves me or He just would let me go but the scriptures say that He will not abandon me. That makes me feel so good because it seems that thru my life I’ve been abandoned so many times because I was misunderstood. Thank you Liz, for your wise teaching.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs April 11, 2014 at 10:06 am #

      I appreciate your words, Rebecca. Even if people are physically in our lives, we can feel abandoned emotionally. If we keep reminding ourselves that God’s discipline means love, not judgment, and training, not punishment, it will make those times a bit easier to bear. And it’s true: he will never leave you or forsake you!

  7. jaime April 10, 2014 at 12:27 am #

    To me, the word discipline is more like disciple than punishment. We are His children, His students, His disciples. We need to learn to be more like Him. No punishment. Just gentle correction. Just as we teach our children( love the spoon example!) the Lord teaches us. I’m thankful He has patience to keep disciplining us even after we don’t get it for the umpteenth time in a row. Ever so gently repositioning our fingers on the spoon. Just nudging us in the right direction.

    • Cynthia Stevenson April 10, 2014 at 1:07 am #

      I like what you said “discipline is more like disciple.”

      • Liz Curtis Higgs April 11, 2014 at 11:19 am #

        Okay, sisters, here’s the whole story on those very similar words! The Greek word for disciple is “mathétés” meaning “a learner, a pupil.” And in English, both discipline and disciple come from the Latin word “discipulus,” which means “pupil.”

        Of course, the Hebrew words found in Proverbs 3:11-12 have more ancient roots. And there is more than one word for discipline used in these verses. “Musar” means “correction and chastisement” and “yakach” means “to decide, adjudge, prove.” So, we have a bit more going on.

        Still, I LOVE that for both Hebrew words, it’s clearly GOD who is doing the work in us because he LOVES us. We are indeed his disciples whom he disciplines, and it’s always for our good and his glory. Hooray!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs April 11, 2014 at 10:08 am #

      P.S. When that spoon analogy came to me, Jaime, I could feel the applesauce dripping from my fingers and onto the floor! Thanks for your wise words.

  8. Cynthia Stevenson April 10, 2014 at 1:00 am #

    My grown son told me the thing that got to him most was when I said “I’m disappointed in you for . . .” I don’t want God to be disappointed in me although I know I have made him so. I think I’m more disapponted in myself when this happens. Just like a child I hang my head down and say I’m sorry and promise not to do it again. God is really patient because there always seems to be a next time. 🙁

  9. Ginny Campbell April 10, 2014 at 1:56 am #

    For me the discipline comes when I realize deep down that I have disappointed the Lord by something I have said or done….or perhaps should have done. I know he knows and that saddens me, To disappoint the one who loves me most brings grief to
    my heart and soul. But He forgives and cleanses. I try to learn from those times.

  10. Linda H April 10, 2014 at 8:55 am #

    For me it is a deep stirring in my heart and soul that lets me know I have wronged. God pursues me by bringing His word before me, reminding me over an over the right path to walk. The comment resentment lasts a lifetime and how bitterness, impatience, and anger can grow and rob me of joy truly spoke to me. It reminds me how I feel when I keep running away from the dicipline. It will keep eating away at me and steal my joy that only He can give. I get so down on myself sometimes that I keep doing what I don’t want to do. So thankful the Lord loves me and will never give up on me!!!!

  11. Diane Comer April 10, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    What a beautiful reminder that God is my Father… not my taskmaster or hard-to-please boss or benevolent buddy. That He actually cares enough and is involved enough to correct me when I’m off… well, this just made my early morning! Thank you for reminding in such a beautiful way. Your writing both cheers and instructs.

  12. Phyllis Burroughs April 10, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    I believe discipline looks like my heart grieved because of the way I have treated someone. Knowing it has also grieved the heart of my father.
    Thank you Bonnie and Liz for sharing this verse. It made me stop and think. It was a wonderful new way to look at Father’s love.

  13. Debi April 10, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    Thank you Liz, I welcome discipline , I know I am far from perfect, so I praise God for His Holy Spirit to convict me, I know the discipline will follow….and because of that I draw closer to the Lord. Your statement that discipline means He loves us….makes me want to love Him more. I also think that if he doesn’t discipline us, our hearts may have been hardened. I don’t ever want to go back there.

  14. Beckie Turner April 10, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    Liz, about 15 years ago, I heard a sermon taught by Brandon Braun, a young Bible College student. The message focused on why God disciplines us. He shared the 3 C’s. God disciplines us because He created us (in His own Image), He cares for us (He gave His only Son that we may live with Him forever) and He is committed to us (He is with us always, He never slumbers or sleeps). After I realized that God disciplines us as a Father, I always felt a peace about His discipline. Oh it my sting for the moment, it might frustrate me in the instant, but I always go back to Brandon’s message and it brings peace.

  15. Nana Peaches April 10, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    I have tasted God’s discipline many times and can attest to the fact that when He does do it, it is with such love that I know that I have never experienced before. He brought me back to Himself after I had strayed so many years. He kept me safe all the time I was in rebellion then He wooed me right back to Him.

    1 of the most recent disciplines He gave me I’d like to share with you and whoever might need it. I did something in my youth really stupid and wrong. I can’t undo it ever and have been very contrite for decades. 1 day I was crying and once again praying and asking forgiveness for this almost 40 years ago sin when I felt a shout. God said “Who do you think you are? Are you better than me that your forgiveness is worth more than mine? Stop hurting yourself and forgive yourself as I have forgiven you.”

    You can imagine my shock! I want to say that I didn’t hear with my ears, but with my heart. I didn’t hear voices, just my heart felt it and the words came into my mind.
    He spoke to me of His love and forgiveness where I was condemning myself.
    He made it clear to me that not forgiving myself was like a slap in His face. I was not accepting the forgiveness that He extended to me and refused to forgive myself and when we do that, we are telling Him that we believe our forgiveness is more valuable than His.
    I hope no one else has to learn this lesson the way I did. Though I really came out much better afterwards.

  16. Eleanor Howell April 10, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    There is another side to this as well, which I recently learned. When we speak of a military platoon, brigade, etc., and say they are well disciplined, we are not commenting on their “punishments/spankings”, but instead on their effectiveness. You touched on this with the child & spoon analogy. It is not always a correction issue, but instead a training issue. We are learning to display/bear the fruit, HIS fruit in every way. 😀

  17. Janet April 10, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

    Ah, synchronicity. I read this proverb today in my morning devotion, copying the study note in my journal. My husband and I are going through a very hard time in our lives right now. The study note said God is teaching us. My response–What is it You want us to learn?

    Some of it is to depend solely on Him.

  18. Julie Sunne April 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    Another home run Proverb lesson, Liz. Your wonderful insight pulls the grace right out of every verse no matter how full of law it is. Truly a gift. So grateful to be the recipient of it.

  19. Kathy April 10, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

    To me, God’s discipline looks like correction done in love to teach me that there is more. More to growing and molding me into the person He is making me. Not always easy, and with lots of growing pains. I know He loves me and I want Him to know I love Him.

  20. MARY-ELLEN PARADIS April 11, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

    Thanks for the way you enlighten things. I never quite understood this passage like this. Bless you.

  21. Julie Ramsey April 12, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    I like you am not fond of being in trouble and usually respond bh getting defensive. You have given me a better understanding of these verses. Thank you!

  22. Margie Ghaffari April 13, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    I am a 2nd-time newlywed. My 2nd husband and I were engaged for 16 months before we were married 9 months ago. There were many times when it was tempting to take the shortcut and elope–skipping all the hassles of wedding planning. Every time I started to entertain the thought, a calm voice came into my head, “Be patient with the process: it will teach you something very important that will help your marriage” That can apply to many things in life when the timing of events isn’t to one’s liking. “Be patient with the process; it will teach you things that will help you.” That’s part of what this passage means to me.

  23. Donna April 14, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    Children are happier with perimeters and rules although they don’t KNOW
    it ! :-). I think, as adults we are the same way! His disipline and love bring
    a contentment and a feeling of security!

  24. Lori April 14, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    Well, God just disciplined me for judging others. I work in a CPA office and we get all kinds of people here. This morning a lady came in wearing pajama pants and looking unkempt. I immediately (internally) shook my head and rolled my eyes. Later I made a snappy comment about her, only to find out that she is in a shelter for battered women and that is the only clothes she has. God just smacked me upside the head. When will I ever learn?

  25. Mary E Taylor April 15, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    I love the words you used, pinch your conscience, it certainly seems like it and HE pinches until I pay attention. Thank You Lord that you love me enough to get my attention, I learn the hard way but I do learn and continue to learn through old age. I am blessed.

  26. Cherrie April 19, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    Wait! I have been struggling with finances this pass year, helping to support my grown son who has cirrhosis of the liver. He is doing so much better and is able to work but because of a mistake made he has a felony charge. He is finding it hard to find a job. We are surviving, I just need to remember God knows our needs and will take care of us.