Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
Proverbs 13:24 He that spareth the rod hateth his own son; but he that loveth him, chaseneth him besides.
Proverbs 23: 13-14 Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
Psalm 23:4 Yea though I walk through the valley of the shaddow of death, I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me. Thy rod, and Thy staff, they comfort me.
Genesis 49:10 The septre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from until Shilo come, and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
The original hebrew word is Shebet. The hebrew lexicon defines this word as:
A large walking stick, held by the head of the family
A shepherds crook
A king's septer
A clan, or tribe
A club, or sharp spear
In the OT the "rod" was a sign of authority. The head of the family held the rod, and that was a status that allowed them to instruct and teach their family.
I am not really trying to get into the "spank or not to spank" arguement here, but I do feel from the reading I have done from the original language, that the verses in Proverbs perhaps have more to offer than simply a beating with a stick. (Since the word used litterally means walking stick, or shepherds staff, we must then understand that this was a larger instrument than is generally used in our culture)
From what I know about hebrew, (which granted is not much, but I am learning :) ) It is a beautiful language full of poetry and word pictures, and many many metaphors. The hebrew people tended to use symbols and word pictures to communicate. There are beautiful examples of these all through the Psalms and Proverbs esp, since those books are very poetry focased. Psalms 23 is considered a clasic example of this type of language.
I find it interesting that the same word is used in Gen 49:10, to refer to the authority in the tribe of Judah. Since there was not (at least, not recorded biblically) an actual septre that passed from generation to generation in Judah, we are left to conclude that this is also a metaphore to mean an authority. One comentator I read, said that this verse is considered to be highly messianic in nature. The word "shebet" meaning the litteral authority of Christ himself.
All of this to say, that while there may be a case to say that the verses in Proverbs instruct a parent to use the rod, or walking stick as a method to hit their child (another verse in proverbs seems to imply on the back.. See Proverbs 29:19) Or, perhaps, the way spanking is done today can even be supported by these verses..
I wonder though if there is more here than what we give the text credit for. Perhaps we are missing the real point, because the ideas and culture simply to not translate well into english.
Perhaps what is really being stated (again, perhaps not exclusivly) is that we need to be the spiritual authority in our childrens life. Perhaps the rod, is more of a God given sign of that authority, and it should be used to dicipline, which means to diciple, train, teach, and nurture.
I know that this thought and concept goes against the way that most americans read those verses. I am not claiming to be right, but it definatly is food for thought for me as I consider what things I need to be doin to train and instruct Judah.. To use the rod of spiritual authority, under my husband.. To train him up in the way he should go.