“I Stand Corrected”
“Remove your plague from me; I am consumed by the blow of Your hand. When with rebukes You correct man for iniquity, You make his beauty melt away like a moth; surely every man is vapor (Psalm 39:10-11).”
It wasn’t yet Mother’s Day but after her actions during the Baltimore riots were seen nationwide, many hailed Toya Graham as Mother of the Year. She recognized her son, Michael Singleton, on TV as a member of those rioting and hurling bricks at police. When she arrived she delivered a strong rebuke slapping her son about the head and scolding him publicly forcing him to drop the brick he was holding and retreat.1
But many so called experts are criticizing Graham’s actions and claiming they are not effective.2 The challenge to these critics is to provide a constructive way the single mother of six children could have better rescued her 16 years old son from behavior she feared put him in grave danger.
Throughout the Bible we see examples in which God exerts strong discipline on His children. He banished Adam and Eve from the garden, took away their right to the tree of life, and cursed the earth for their sins (Genesis 3:23-24). Too harsh? Notice that God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground FOR YOUR SAKE (Genesis 3:17).” It would seem that the punishment fit the crime. They were allowed to eat fruit from every tree in the garden save one. Because they were not satisfied with eating freely God punished the means by which they earned their daily bread. In their natural relationship man was to have rule and dominion over the earth but now the natural order was altered and the earth would no longer yield to man easily.3 Cain complained that God’s punishment for killing his brother was “greater than I can bear (Genesis 4:13).” God did not wish to take Cain’s life but in order to save him from the perilous position he had entered into He marked him and made him a vagabond (Genesis 4:14-15).
As our Father, it is God’s right to discipline us. The Hebrews writer asks rhetorically; “What son is there whom a father does not chasten (Hebrews 12:8)?” God metes out discipline for his children out of love for them (Hebrews 12:6) for their wrongdoing (Psalm 39:11).” In spite of the “experts” of our day who say that Graham’s actions were harmful the Bible supports her strong action toward her son. Solomon wrote; “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly (Proverbs 13:24).” Again he says, “Discipline your children, for in that is hope; do not be a willing party to their death (Proverbs 19:18).”
God deals in this same fashion with us when we forsake the right path and sometimes resorts to harsh discipline (Proverbs 15:10). The thing about discipline is it is not only a responsibility for a parent to deliver it, it is the responsibility of each of us to receive the correction and repent or else we will die. In what may be likened to an old fashioned, “Go out there and cut off a switch for your whippin’,” God confronted David for his sinful pride in ordering a census (1 Chronicles 21:1). God offered David three options for punishment for his wrongdoing (vv.11-12). David accepted his responsibility and discipline and submitted to the Lord (v.13).
Certainly, receiving discipline from God or other authorities (Romans 13:1-5) is not pleasant but it is for our good. David, Peter, and Paul accepted suffering for the cause of righteousness and confessed their errors. Cain, King Saul, and Judas would not and they seemingly perished refusing both God’s chastening and mercies. Michael Singleton told ABC news, “I understand how much my mother really cares about me, so I’m just going to try and do better.” Amen!
“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11).”
Bruce K. Waltke, Genesis, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2001, pp.94-5