Be Teachable – Exploring the Passages

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What does the counsel given in Proverbs 23:23 (printed below) tell us about the value of instruction (as well as the other items listed?)

Buy the truth and do not sell it; indeed, buy wisdom and instruction and understanding! (Proverbs 23:23)

The instruction to “buy the truth”—and “wisdom, instruction and understanding—and do not sell it” is emphasizing the fact that these are precious spiritual commodities: they are worth acquiring and retaining. The fact that we are to “buy” these things, as opposed to merely receiving them, points out that there is “a price” to be paid—these precious spiritual commodities are not just casually picked up, they are attained by diligence, obedience and sacrifice. The reason instruction is listed among such valuable commodities as truth, wisdom and understanding is because instruction is the means whereby we acquire those other valuable spiritual commodities.

2. What does Proverbs 22:17 (printed below) tell us is the way by which to receive and profit from the words of wisdom? Note, especially, the latter part of this proverb.

Make your ear attentive and listen to the words of the wise; apply your heart to the knowledge I impart. (Proverbs 22:17)

Proverbs 22:17a instructs us to be receptive to the truth and wisdom of God. We are to pay attention to it, as opposed to ignoring it; we are to accept it, as opposed to resisting or rejecting it; we are to appreciate it, as opposed to taking it for granted. Proverbs 22:17b goes on to inform us that being receptive to the truth is not enough; what is absolutely essential is that we apply our hearts to the truth of God. Let the truth of God enter the ear, pass through the mind, and reach the heart. Then let it arise from your heart and influence your life; changing and controlling your thoughts and conduct (cp. James 1:22-25).

3. What counsel does the father give his son in Proverbs 19:27 (printed below?) Do you think he seriously intends for his son to follow this advice? If not, why do you suppose he gives such counsel?

Stop listening to instruction, my son, but then you will stray from the words of knowledge. (Proverbs 19:27)

In Proverbs 19:27a the godly father of Proverbs facetiously instructs his son to stop receiving instruction. In so doing, the father is addressing that impulse and temptation with which the son grapples, namely, the desire to stop listening and stop submitting to the instruction and discipline (the Hebrew word used here means both instruction and discipline) of the godly father and the heavenly Father (cp. Hebrews 12:11). But, as Proverbs 19:27b indicates, if you give in to that impulse, it will not be long before you will “stray from the words of knowledge.” The point of this proverb: divine instruction, especially as it comes in the form of rebuke and corrective discipline, is hard, but it is also essential; its necessary and gracious function is to keep us on the pathway of life that leads to spiritual maturity.

4. What two different responses to discipline are mentioned in Proverbs 12:1 (printed below?) What does this proverb say about each of these responses?

Whoever loves correction loves knowledge; but he who hates rebuke is brutish. (Proverbs 12:1)

To “love correction” here means to accept it and to appreciate its purpose and its motivation; it is administered by the heavenly Father as part of His love. If you “love correction” you are demonstrating that you have a love for knowledge; you have a desire to know God and His ways, even if it means undergoing a painful learning experience. “But he who hates rebuke is brutish.” That is to say, to resist correction and reject it, spiritually puts you on the same level as that of a brute beast (note Psalm 32:9).

5. According to Proverbs 10:17 (printed below,) what is the consequence of refusing to accept rebuke?

He who heeds correction is walking in the way of life; but he who ignores a rebuke will go astray. (Proverbs 10:17)

One source of personal assurance is our teach-ability: if you listen to God when He corrects you, and seek to make the changes that are pleasing to Him, you can be assured that you are traveling the road of life. But “he who ignores a rebuke will go astray.” If one forsakes the Lord’s correction, he is making a very serious mistake. Either he will find himself confronted with a more severe measure of reproof and correction (note Leviticus 26:23-24), or, such a one will be abandoned by God to pursue his own way unto the eternal punishment of damnation (note Romans 1:28).