Here are three verses from chapter 12 that contrasts the wise and the unwise man. This is a theme we’ve seen already in Proverbs and will observe again and again.
Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.Proverbs 12:1
We’ve seen that knowledge brings understanding. Understanding with experience gives wisdom. But how does one obtain knowledge? Through instruction.
This word instruction in verse one can mean teaching learned from a teacher, or it can be the lessons learned from punishment and harsh correction. Either way, the person who is disposed to learn welcomes the lesson and will benefit from it.
But those who hate reproof—translated from a word that only means harsh instruction—is brutish. Brutish is not a word that is commonly used today, but it (unsurprisingly) means like a brute. A brute means an animal.
This literally means that those who refuse to learn must be treated like an animal to get them to do anything. It isn’t that they can’t learn, but they refuse to learn.
A man shall be commended according to his wisdom: but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised.Proverbs 12:8
The wise will be praised for their wisdom. But the crooked in heart will be hated.
The wise love instruction and knowledge. They are praised for their use of that knowledge. But the fool refuses to be taught and is hated for their perverse, crooked, twisted heart.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.Proverbs 12:15
The fool will look to himself for praise, but the wise will look to the counsel of others.
I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance that left me befuddled. In one moment he was telling me about how he is struggling financially and that the bad business practices of others in his line of work is driving him out of the market. In the very next breath he said that he is in demand as a speaker at conferences because he is so good at making a successful business of it.
He is clearly in need of help to keep his business afloat. Yet, by positioning himself as an expert in demand, he is saying that he didn’t need the counsel of others because he was the one other people turned to for advice.
Needless to say, he isn’t doing well and I don’t really know how to help him.
Questions to ask ourselves concerning instruction from others:
- Am I willing to take instruction from others?
- Do I welcome the counsel of others?
- Do I refuse instruction even to the point that I have to be punished just to get me to move in the right direction?