This is part two of a four-part study in the early chapters of Proverbs. I plan to post one each day over the next four days. Each post will have study and discussion questions for personal or group use. Since the early chapters of proverbs are words from a father to a son, these lessons are especially helpful for parents who desire to lead their children in the way of wisdom. The study will be based on four main points.
2. Accept correction and discipline (or Don’t be a fool)
The main distinction in the proverbs is between the wise person and the fool. And a primary difference between both is their willingness to accept instruction, correction and discipline.
“A wise man will hear and increase in learning” (Proverbs 1:5) whereas “Fools despise wisdom and discipline.”(Proverbs 1:7). Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool seems right to him but a wise man listens to advice.”
Wisdom is treated as a person show has a message (wisdom personified). Consider Wisdom’s rebuke in Proverbs 1:20-2:3: you paid no attention …. ignored my advice….rejected the correction…..hated knowledge and chose not to fear the Lord…. rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected ……simpletons turn away from me—Fools are destroyed by their own complacency. “My child,listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.”
Receiving counsel and correction:
- Proverbs 3:11-12 – “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Relate this to Hebrews 12)
- Proverbs 10:8 – “The wise in heart accepts commands”
- Proverbs 12:15 – “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.”
- Proverbs 13:10 – “Wisdom is found in those who take advice”
- Proverbs 15:5 – “A fool spurns his father’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.”
- Proverbs 15:31-33 – “He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding. The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.”
- Proverbs 18:1 – “He who separates himself seeks his own desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom.”
Questions for Discussion:
1. Read Proverbs 22:15. This verse reveals that we all begin our earthly existence with a wisdom deficit. What does it take to dislodge it?
Words alone are not adequate to dislodge foolishness from the child’s heart, but the hope is that a child will hear, listen and attend to wise counsel (cf. pr. 19:25).
2. Respond to this: “Criticism is hard to take; few respond to it with ease. It is ego damaging, yet accepting it and changing in response to it is the only way to succeed. Soil must be plowed, harrowed, and broken before it can be used. Clay must be kneaded and pounded before it can be shaped into a useful or beautiful vessel. People too must sometimes be broken in order to have bad habits and attitudes replaced with good ones. Blessed are those who take this sage’s advice and listen to criticism” (R. Alden, Proverbs, p. 28).
3. Excelling in most areas of skill and learning requires constant correction and discipline. Strong and constant doses of correction and discipline are necessary for gaining wisdom and living wisely.
Identify the disciplines you practice to receive correction and wise counsel on a regular basis:
4. Relate the emphasis of this study to Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:24-27
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
5. Do you have a Hebrews 4:12 and Hebrews 4:16 encounter with God every day? How would such a practice demonstrate and increase wisdom?