Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you,
Reprove a wise man and he will love you.
Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser,
Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
For by me your days will be multiplied,
And years of life will be added to you.
If you are wise, you are wise for yourself,
And if you scoff, you alone will bear it.
- Where does wisdom come from? (Read James 3: 13-17)
- Verse 9 tells us of the importance of instruction. How do you personally receive correction or discipline? Throughout this book we will see the benefits of correctly receiving "rebukes." Read Proverbs 10: 17; 12:1; 13:13 and 15:32?
Starting with the first thought question, since it's very familiar territory now, wisdom begins with the "fear of the Lord" (vs 10), with the blessing of long days and years. Our thought question authors ask us to read James 3, entitled in the NASB "Wisdom from Above":
"Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy."
--James 3: 13-17
James corroborates the "fear of the Lord" and adds some rich adjectives to help us recognize it even better--pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy (vs 17). Wow...humbling.
Verse 9: "Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning." Once you have an understanding of what wisdom adds to your life, you want to continue to learn more. It all comes back to honoring God, and God is honored when we grow in our relationship with Him through understanding and demonstrating His Word.
Our thought question authors throw a couple of proverbs out there (early!) for us to consider:
Although all of these verses align themselves with what 9:9 is saying, you almost get a bit thrown when you go back to 9:7. I needed to take a deep breath and break it down a bit. Is reproof important? Absolutely! If we do not receive discipline, we cannot hope to fully understand the right way to do things. We are not always going to receive wisdom and understanding perfectly. In fact, as I said the other day, hindsight is 20/20 most of the time (at least for me!).
"He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who ignores reproof goes astray." (10:17)"Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid." (12:1)
"The one who despises the word will be in debt to it, but the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded." (13:13)
"He who neglects discipline despises himself, but he who listens to reproof acquires understanding." (15:32)
So reproof is important, but what we need to clarify is from whom the discipline comes. The lover of wisdom receiving wisdom from God will gain. The fool who hates wisdom is not going to receive wisdom from anyone (although God may deem discipline necessary at some point in time, at His discretion, and God may also change the heart of the scoffer, again, at His discretion).
We may desperately want to steer someone onto the path of righteousness, but we're learning here that the scoffer is not one who will listen. We are being told it is a wasted effort. We are being told that it is not our job. Our job is to make sure that we are close to wisdom, and in doing so, God will advise us as to what we are to do--which all ties into today's last verse, "If you are wise, you are wise for yourself." (vs 12)
Here's another take on why we need to be that way:
It is when we walk in wisdom that we can accept Godly reproof from another in love. We recognize that wisdom when we hear it, as clearly as we understand the words James has used in describing the fear of the Lord. And, once we have that wisdom, we can offer Godly reproof to another who joins us in that walk. Words from Ephesians come to mind, closing us out:
"It is vain to seek the company of wicked men in the hope of doing them good; we are far more likely to be corrupted by them.[!!!] It is not enough to forsake the foolish, we must join those that walk in wisdom."
--from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible
"Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ."--Ephesians 4: 14 & 15
Tomorrow's Scripture Focus and Thought Questions:
Proverbs 9: 13-18
- Compare and contrast wisdom and folly using verses 1-6 and verses 13-18?
- Often a person's true character is seen when adversity strikes. How do you deal with adversity? Read Matthew 7: 24-27 and Proverbs 10:25.
Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation, specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB). I will quote other sources if used in a post.
I also use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (with notes from the King James Version).