October 30, 2006
Meditation Commentary on Proverbs 1:5-9
A wise man will hear and increase learning,
And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,
To understand a proverb and an enigma,
The words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
My son, hear the instruction of your father,
And do not forsake the law of your mother;
For they will be a graceful ornament on your head,
And chains about your neck.
Throughout the book of Proverbs, wisdom is continually tied to hearing, to listening, to instruction, to correction and to rebuke. “My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight” (Proverbs 5:1). “Listen, for I [Wisdom] have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right” (Prov. 8:6). “Listen to [Wisdom’s] instruction and be wise; do not ignore it” (Prov. 8:33). If you read Proverbs through, it becomes clear that without a humility that allows you to receive instruction, you are little more than a fool.
Unfortunately, no one enjoys taking correction, especially if it is given in arrogance or self-righteousness. But in reality, every slap on the face for your behavior is a gift that is worth praising God for. It is so difficult to see your own strengths and faults without bias that apart from the intervention of others, it is nearly impossible to see much of yourself at all. Others, though, have an objectivity that you will never obtain, an objectivity that grants them immediate grounds to speak. Every rebuke ought to be taken seriously, no matter where it comes from. Granted, however, that not every rebuke is legitimate; some should be considered, prayed through, compared to the truth of Scripture, and discarded. But when a person accuses you of selfishness, of pride, of greed, or anything else, the criticism should never be taken lightly.
In particular, every correction from parents should be respected. I have found this particularly difficult, perhaps because is easy for me to see their faults that need correcting. But the truth is, the more humbly I receive their instruction, the more carefully I hear their words and examine my life, the more aware I become of my own faults—and, by extension, the more clearly I see what needs to change that I may be more fully transformed into the image of Christ. Proverbs is not only full of admonitions to hear and take heed, but it is also full of promises to those who choose to do so. (See Proverbs 2:7, 4:10).
Correction is truly a blessing. It is painful, and even offensive; but it is only through pain that we are able to learn at all. And when we are willing to endure the discomfort of hearing, and also to take to heart the rebukes from our parents and others, the rewards are great indeed.