Recently my daughters had to go to the doctor to receive some routine vaccinations. Of course, they don’t give one or two, but three! There is nothing worse than hearing your child scream out in pain. As a parent, if it were possible, I would gladly step in and receive the pain for them. Any other parent would agree with me. We would do everything in our power to not cause pain to our children.
But sometimes, there is a necessary pain that we need to inflict upon our children. Now, I’m not talking about abuse of any kind (physical, mental, or emotional). I’m talking about the pain we cause when we rebuke our children for wrongdoing and when we punish our children for wrongdoing. It causes a child pain to be corrected by his/her parents, and it causes a child pain to be punished by his/her parents. That is never enjoyable to the parents, but it is necessary.
In the book of 1 Kings, David is nearing the end of his life. He knows his reign is coming to an end, and he names his successor: Solomon. But David had other boys as well. One of those boys was named Adonijah. He selfishly exalted himself and said, “I will be the next king” (1 Kin 1:5). He didn’t ask or inquire of his father or brothers about the possibility of being the next king, he just wanted it and declared it. Verse 6 says, “His father (David) had never crossed him at any time by asking, ‘why have you done this?’” Literally it says, David had never pained him, or caused him pain. This is not any sort of abusive pain, but confrontational pain to Adonijah’s wrongdoing or wrong thinking.
The Bible declares that David was not complete in his parenting because he did not cause his son pain. It’s talking about the pain of confrontation or rebuke for wrongdoing. For whatever reason, David did not or could not confront or correct his son when he was wrong. Of course, it never feels good to rebuke and punish our children. It pains me to have to spank my children when they do wrong. But without that confrontation, the sinfulness in a child’s heart goes on unhindered and allows him/her full expression of selfish desires. Case in point: Adonijah.
Adonijah wanted to be the king and took steps to attain that, and David never confronted him about it. The story has a sad ending, as Solomon ends up executing Adonijah because he is a challenger to Solomon’s throne. The point is that we have a responsibility before God as parents, to rebuke and correct when our children show sinful thoughts or behaviors. We are God’s main agent in the restriction of our children’s sinful tendencies. When we let sin continue because we don’t want to hurt their feelings (or their bum) then we actually cause them more pain in the long run, because their sinful tendencies are allowed free expression. That dishonors and displeases God. There is a necessary pain we must cause as parents, for the long term benefits of our children.
I would also like to speak directly to children now. If you think that your parents enjoy punishing you or correcting your bad behavior, believe me, they don’t. But your parents have a responsibility before God to correct and train you in righteousness. Part of that training is punishing that which is evil or wrong. As difficult as this may sound, welcome the correction because your parents have your best interest at heart. It would have been more beneficial for David to correct and punish his son, Adonijah, than to just let him do as he pleased.
Pastor Mark Scialabba