Discipline your son, for there is hope;
do not set your heart on putting him to death.
A man of great wrath will pay the penalty,
for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again.
Listen to advice and accept instruction,
that you may gain wisdom in the future.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
The RSV rendering of 18 should be followed, giving the meaning that failure to discipline one's son is tantamount to destroying him. A mistaken sense of leniency is a killer. This has been borne out by recent observations by psychiatrists to the effect that the problems caused by the strict disciplining of children are much more amenable to treatment than the problems caused by giving them a free hand and allowing them to do as they please. In 19 the teaching is that a quick temper that has refused discipline will be a constant and repeated source of trouble to the one who displays it. Therefore, on the basis that prevention is better than cure, such an one should be referred to 11 and 12, and advised to give these verses earnest study and consideration. The implication in 20 is that it is not a very great compliment to anyone to land up in middle age and still be a fool, and still not have learned anything worth learning. Wisdom is a long-term investment. There may be a connection between 20 and 21 -certainly the acquisition of wisdom is in the Lord's will for us, and if our many and ambitious plans for our own lives are not in line with the counsel and purpose of the Lord, they will come to grief, and we will too, if we hold on to them. This is one of the areas in life where we can see how practical the doctrine of divine sovereignty is. The old saying, 'Man disposes, God proposes' is a very true one, here as elsewhere in life.