“Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die” (Proverbs 15:10).
The sense of the first half of this verse is that those who do wrong, who “forsake the way”, are going to receive “grievous correction.” The warning here is that if we disobey the Lord, He will not just let us continue down that path with no response.
Hebrews 12 tells us that the Lord chastens (disciplines) His beloved children. That discipline seems “grievous” or unpleasant to us, but we’re told to recognise it as an act of His love. As a loving earthly father uses discipline to protect children from self-destructive behaviour, so our loving Heavenly Father uses discipline when we “forsake the way”.
Years ago, our family took a tour of one of the caverns in the Great Smoky Mountains. We were enjoying the stalactites and stalagmites, all the interesting rock formations and varied colours, when one of our small children “forsook the way” and began to fall into a deep crevice. A disaster was averted, but loving parents learned from their mistake and restricted that child’s freedom of movement for the rest of the tour. Those restrictions may have been “grievous” to the child, but forsaking the way is far more grievous.
If we forsake the way, we can expect correction, and the correction may be unpleasant. It isn’t because God delights in “zapping” us when we do wrong, but because He doesn’t want us to fall into the deep shafts in the cavern.
There is a second warning in this verse, building on the first. If we hate reproof or correction, we will die. The sense of “hate” in this verse is to oppose or reject, to treat as an enemy. If we refuse to accept correction, we treat correction as our enemy, whether we have the feelings that we normally associate with hatred or not. The result of such a refusal is death.
A drowning person may resist the lifeguard who has come to rescue him from the water. If he succeeds in his resistance, he will die. We need to recognize that the Lord’s correction is like that lifeguard. We must not be so blinded by the deep water into which we get ourselves that we fail to recognise help when it is at hand.
Thus, we have a double warning:
- If you forsake the way (do wrong), you should expect unpleasant correction. You are heading for the crevice, and God is correcting your direction.
- If you resist that correction, you are trying to drown yourself.
What should we take from this verse? 1) Don’t sin, because the correction may be “grievous”. 2) When we do sin and correction comes, accept it as the loving hand of God, and let Him carry you out of the deep water in which you are sinking.