Hebrews 12:5

Thursday, 11 April 2019

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
Hebrews 12:5

Along with the books of Moses, the Hebrew audience would have been rather familiar with the Psalms and the Proverbs. In this verse, the author rebukes his audience by saying, “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement…” He then goes on to quote Proverbs 3:11 –

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor detest His correction.”

Here, the words are rendered, “And you have forgotten this word of encouragement.” Some translations render it as a question, “And have you completely forgotten…?” Either way, the idea is that they have let it escape their memory that the Lord is, in fact, with them – even in times of trial. In the previous verse, he said, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

The intent of his words, then, is that in their struggle against sin, the Lord may send discipline; but it is meant as a means of tender reminder and of correction, not condemnation. This is seen with the words, “as a father addresses his son.”

When a father corrects his son, it is a correction for his good, and which is intended to bring out positive effects in him. It is true that not all fathers are good fathers, but this is a general statement. If the model for a father is to correct a son positively, then we can expect that the Lord, who is the Father par excellence, will always do so in a positive way when dealing with His own children.

The proverb itself begins with, “My son.” This was Solomon speaking as a father to his own son, or as Solomon as the head of the people of the land speaking to all in a broad way. Either way, it is an example of how they should perceive the treatment they receive. Thus, it is ultimately a truth which can be applied to how the Lord treats his sons. This is why the author explains it as such in verse 12:7.

Therefore, because of this, the proverb continues with, “do not despise the chastening of the Lord.” The word translated as “despise” means to treat something lightly. It is found only here in Scripture, and it gives the sense of holding that thing in low esteem.

Rather than this, when such a time comes, instead of despising it, we should demonstrate wisdom and say, “I am the one who deserves this, and I am the one who needs to learn from it.” In such, there will be an acceptance of the Lord’s hand of correction. As it says, “do not detest His correction.”

The word “detest” means “to grow weary,” or even “faint.” Instead of growing weary of the Lord’s hand of correction, we are to be encouraged and reinvigorated by it. It is as if we are to take the Lord’s correction as if He is saying, “That’s the wrong way. Try again… you can do it!” Each seemingly unhappy occurrence is actually a chance to push us forward in a positive way, knowing that He is doing these things for our own good.

Life application: Interestingly, the Lord (Jesus) is equated with God in the author’s current train of thought and yet back in verse 12:2 he said that Jesus “sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” As noted then, the right hand does not mean a different physical location. Rather, it indicates the position of authority. The math is pretty easy here – 1) Jesus carries all the authority of God; 2) the Lord (Jehovah as is evidenced from the Proverb) is called God; therefore, 3) Jesus is Jehovah God.

This isn’t an unusual pattern that could somehow be misconstrued. Rather, it has been the common practice of the author throughout the book of Hebrews. It is a pattern we have encountered numerous times already. When you call on Jesus, you are now God’s son through adoption, hence this verse here is applicable to all believers.

If the world is beating you up, take time to think on this. God loves you as His precious child. Though you may be disciplined, He will never take His love or His favor from you. Keep this in mind and know that He has a good plan and purpose set aside just for you.

Lord, it is often hard for us to think of ourselves as Your children. Things often seem harder than we can bear. But Your word says that because of our faith in Christ Jesus, we are, in fact, Your children. Be with us and help us through the difficulties we face. And we will remember to give You the praise and worship You deserve. Hear our hearts, and lead us according to Your wisdom. Amen.

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