6Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding. 7He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. 8Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. 9Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.Proverbs 9:6-9
Another Invitation from Wisdom
Wisdom is again inviting the simple ones to come and learn from her. When she speaks the words we’ve read in verses 6-9, she had just invited the simple and those who lack understanding (v. 4) to sit down and have a meal with her (v. 5). She is in teaching mode and giving us nuggets of wisdom that we can live by.
Go the Way of Understanding
She says to her guest that they should forsake the foolish. Leave from the silliness and emptiness of the past. The word foolish in verse 6 refers to someone who is easily persuaded and enticed. Someone who is not well grounded.
The former ways of the foolish must be forsaken and then she bids her guest to go in the way of understanding. To go down the path of life in a discerning way. A way that weighs information and makes decisions based on knowledge and understanding.
This brings us back to the definition of wisdom that we have seen several times in this series in Proverbs. We start with information (knowledge). Then as we pay attention to the information while putting it to use through experience we gain an understanding. The end result, as we continue to practice and become skilled with the information, is wisdom.
The word scorner is an interesting word that means to move the lips in a mocking manner. I wrote about that a few days ago.
Wisdom says that reproving a scorner, or trying to teach a mocker, will only bring shame to you. Trying to teach an unteachable person just causes them to hate you and they still will not learn.
Instructing a Wise Man
In contrast to a scorner hating you for trying to teach them, the wise man will be grateful and love you for your instruction. Teaching a wise man causes him to be wiser. He is teachable.
Scorner or Wise?
A mocker or scorner is unteachable. Do you know someone like that? I met someone who said to me that they learned everything they needed to know about life by the time they got out of high school. She was convinced that you probably couldn’t learn anything after school anyway. So what was the point in trying?
That is someone with an unteachable spirit. Wisdom warns us to not spend time trying to beat instruction into that person. Until they decide to become teachable, you are accomplishing nothing.
Then Wisdom says that a wise person craves instruction. They are teachable. They desire to learn more. Not for the sake of knowledge, but so that they can apply that knowledge; that is, to become wise.
Wisdom does not say, “once a scorner, always a scorner.” Both of these people (the scorner and the wise) have made a choice as to whether they will have a teachable attitude or not.
Which One am I?
The question then is, “which one am I?” Are you teachable? Maybe we are teachable in one area, but fight against anyone trying to teach us in another area. By that I mean, maybe we respond well to the boss when learning a new job, but rebel against anything our parents want to help us understand.
We ought to be teachable in every area. Wisdom says that we can continue to become wiser and wiser as we have the right attitude towards instruction.