Chapter Three Chastening - Indications.

Chastening indicates:1) Divine Relationship, and, 2) Divine Affection.

Divine relationship: The following Scriptures make this abundantly clear. “Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee.” (Deuteronomy 8:5). “For whom the Lord loveth He correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” (Proverbs 3:12). “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” (Amos 3:2). “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He received.” (Hebrews 12:6).

Conversely, if the presence of Divine chastening indicates the relationship the absence of such chastening indicates otherwise. “But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye reprobate, and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:8). This is a very solemn statement, and causes one to feel good that he has known the Divine hand in affliction. To be without the experience should lead to self-examination and a certain trepidation.

A Christian blacksmith was taunted by a farmer of skeptical persuasion for his faith. He pointed out to the blacksmith, in spite of his faith in God, he was constantly experiencing trials to “which he himself was a stranger.

The blacksmith listened very quietly until the farmer finished speaking. He then invited him outside the smithy. Lifting a piece of old iron from the heap of scrap lying there he said, “Here is a piece of iron which is of no use to me. I have put it in the fire, plunged it in the water, but it refuses to take temper. Here it lies on the scrap heap.” Reverentially he then turned his eyes to Heaven, and in the hearing of the skeptic prayed: “Lord, put me in the fire, and plunge me in the water, but do not throw me on the scrap heap.” That farmer appreciated the words, “But, if ye be without chastisement… then are ye reprobate.”

One can hardly dwell on this phase of our subject without a thought of the 73rd Psalm. The psalmist Asaph had had a bitter experience, and he writes of it in this Psalm: “For all the day long have I been plagued and chastened every morning.” (verse 14). He reflects upon his sad lot, and concludes that the righteous living of a righteous man is for naught. He writes: “Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.” (verse 13). He has made a contrast between the righteous and the wicked. Studying the ungodly he envies them. They have prosperity, they are not experiencing troubles, they enjoy plenty, and “have more than heart could wish.” Why should this be? Why should God’s own people suffer, and the wicked prosper?

His reflections as they continued grew painful, so at last he goes into “the Sanctuary of God.” Here he learns and understands the end of the wicked. His reflections swiftly change. Confidence in God is restored. Glimpsing the marvellous glory of God—the destination of every true saint—and while travelling there having Divine counsel as his guide he is satisfied; his heart can sing. He sees now that there is a gulf between the ungodly and himself. The painful experience of Divine chastening teaches him he is a child in the Heavenly family.

In passing let us notice it is only in the Sanctuary the true purposes of God may be understood.

The portion of the ungodly in his latter end is bitter as gall; rejecting God and His truth his end is to “perish forever.” This awful portion the Christian will never know. The suffering he now experiences is transient; soon his night of sorrow shall end, and that celestial, shadowless day break eternal on the golden shore. To his boundless delight he shall learn the blessed meaning of Paul’s words, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Note three contrasts in the verse: “Glory” is in contrast with “affliction;” “weight” is in contrast with “light;” “eternal” is in contrast with “moment.”

Let us consider the words, “even as a father.” (Proverbs 3:11). When the Lord told David He would establish the kingdom under Solomon’s hand He said, “I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commit iniquity I will chasten him with the rod of men.” (2 Samuel 7:14). There is something tender between a beloved son and his father. Jacob loved Joseph. David loved Solomon. In the immortal story of the Prodigal one feels a tugging of the heart strings as we witness the deep, paternal affection of the father for the returning wastrel.

“As a father chasteneth his son.” Witness the grief of Joseph over his father’s dead body. See in Solomon’s references to his father a keen appreciation of that father. Both these respective sons must have known parental discipline, but there is no resentment shown. Dare any saint then resent the chastening of a Heavenly and beloved Father? Earthly fathers often err; their chastening was not always for profit, but, the believer can confidently sing:

Our times are in Thy hand,
Why should we doubt or fear?
Our Father’s hand will never cause
His child a needless tear.

Divine Affection: “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth.” (Hebrews 12:6). “As many as I love I rebuke and chasten.” (Revelation 3:19).

So often when the disciplining hand falls upon a saint he conjures in his mind a frowning Providence. Perhaps he feels he has angered God, Who, in His wrath now smites. Let these passages dissipate such conjectures. Always the hand stretched out in affliction is the hand of love Divine. He loves me, His blood-bought child.

I may have sinned, and the sin remain unconfessed. The hand of chastening falls, not to cause pain for pain’s sake, but for love’s sake that we may recover the blessedness of sweet fellowship with the Father. Except in extreme chastening the recovery and increased spiritual welfare of the saints are always in view.

The heavy hand of God was often laid upon Israel, but, “in all their affliction He was afflicted.” (Isaiah 63:9). Again we read, “His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.” (Judges 10:16). Only love could be thus afflicted; only love could be grieved.

The Psalmist, having passed through a testing, exclaimed, “Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.” (Psalm 119:75). Faithfulness springs from love; it is the byproduct of warm, abiding affection. A faithful, loving Father cares too much for the weakest saint to allow him to come to grief and sorrow because of the error of his wilful ways. He wounds, but, we can say, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” (Proverbs 27:6).

A young Christian mother, losing her baby, resented the Divine intervention that took the baby from her arms. Her spirit became embittered and her heart grew hard. She absented herself from the fellowship of God’s people for several months, but at last was persuaded to return. In the meeting that Lord’s Day morning for the Breaking of Bread one of the brethren announced a well-known hymn. As he read the hymn the Lord spoke very definitely to the bereaved young mother particularly in this verse:

He spared not His Son,
’Tis this that silences each rising fear,
’Tis this that bids the hard thought disappear,
He spared not His Son.

As the hymn was sung her heart melted. Love that would give an only Son could only chasten in loving-kindness. She knew God chastened her because He loved her.

It has been well remarked: If God loves us enough to give His only Son there is nothing He is not willing to give us; if for us He raised Him again from the dead there is nothing He is not able to give us.

Bless we then the hand that smiteth, O! how He loves.