“When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise: and when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge.” (KJV).
“A simpleton can learn only by seeing mockers punished; a wise person learns from instruction.” (NLT).
Consequences and Punishment:
I started Kindergarten way back in 1977 (no jokes about how old I am, please!). Back then, principals and teachers were still allowed to exercise corporal punishment as a form of discipline. If a child misbehaved, and if the bad behaviour warranted it, they would get the strap. Now, although I was no saint, I never had the fortune (misfortune?) of receiving that form of discipline. However, I did have a friend who got the strap, and I knew enough to know that I never wanted to experience that form of discipline for myself.
Now, don’t read too much into my illustration and its connection to the above Proverb. I’m not saying that I was a simpleton, but I can tell you that by seeing someone else being punished for their disobedience, I learned a lot! I had no desire to be spanked for my wrong doing, so I did whatever I could to be good, or at least make sure that if I misbehaved, I didn’t get caught.
As a parent with four children in grades 5-11, one of the most frustrating things I see with our education system today is the fact that the teachers exercise little or no discipline over their students. If a teacher gives an assignment that is due on a certain date, and the majority of students don’t hand it in on time, then the teacher extends the deadline for the students. It seems like teachers don’t even have the power to be able to fail a student, even when they don’t complete any assignments. (In the teachers’ defense, I realize that they are a part of a system where they could not discipline even if they wanted to).
When I was in school, if we didn’t hand our assignments in on time, we would lose marks for every day it was late, and after a certain point, the teacher would no longer accept it! What lesson are teachers giving their students when they don’t have negative consequences for not handing in assignments? How will that help them when they get into the real world? The answer is: it won’t.
Wisdom and Instruction:
Solomon teaches us that a wise person can learn from instruction. In other words, they don’t have to learn from their mistakes. When mom and dad say, “Don’t touch the hot stove,” they trust the wisdom of their parents, and receive knowledge. When the preacher says, “Don’t sin, because sin kills,” we believe the truth of the Bible, and do whatever we can to avoid sin.
The reality is that we’re living in a world where there are consequences for our actions – either for good or for evil. And the sooner we learn that, and instill it in our children, the better.