Proverbs 15:33

The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility.
– Proverbs 15:33

Proverbs begins with the root issue of acquiring wisdom. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). There is no wisdom without the fear of the Lord. Fools do not want the fear of the Lord and therefore do not acquire wisdom, though they try to get it other ways (Proverbs 17:16). The word for instruction means discipline, or training. So the fear of the Lord is not only the beginning of the way of wisdom, but it is the whole course. Acquiring wisdom requires humility, and that is the only way to the honor wisdom brings (Proverbs 3:16). The contrast is pride that refuses reproofs and goes on to destruction (Proverbs 18:12; 29:23).

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Proverbs 15:32

He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.
– Proverbs 15:32

The word for instruction means discipline and it is the tutelage of wisdom. To refuse it is to harm oneself (Proverbs 8:33-36). The word for heareth means to hear intelligently, or listen attentively. To hear reproof is to acquire and grow in wisdom (Proverbs 15:14; 18:15). It is a mark of the wise to receive reproof and grow in wisdom (Proverbs 9:9-10; 17:10; 19:25). It is not that the wise enjoy reproof or correction, but it has its intended effect and they rejoice in gained wisdom (Proverbs 21:11; Hebrews 12:11).

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Proverbs 15:31

The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.
– Proverbs 15:31

The last three proverbs of chapter 15 touch generally on being teachable and receptive to instruction and reproof. The word for reproof means a correction, or rebuke. Reproof is one of wisdom’s primary instruments (Proverbs 1:23; 6:23). Here it is life giving and puts one among the wise. Abiding among the wise increases wisdom (Proverbs 13:20;19:20).

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Proverbs 15:30

The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.
– Proverbs 15:30

The light of the eyes and a good report go together in this proverb. The image portrayed is of the cheerful face of one bringing good news. A happy look can denote favor (Proverbs 16:15). The word for rejoiceth means to brighten. The expression, maketh the bones fat, means good health and prosperity generally (Proverbs 3:8; 16:24). The point of the proverb is the good effect produced in those who hear good words (Proverbs 25:25). It can be viewed as medicinal, restorative, or even curative (Proverbs 12:25; 17:22). It is a wisdom lesson on the power of words and the right use of them.

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Proverbs 15:29

The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
– Proverbs 15:29

Being far is contrasted with hearing prayer. The wicked go their own way, so God does not hear their cries (Proverbs 28:9; Psalm 34:16). The righteous walk in the way of wisdom that is pleasing to God. He is near to them and hears their prayers (Proverbs 15:8). The subject of prayer is infrequent in Proverbs.

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Proverbs 15:28

The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth our evil things.
– Proverbs 15:28

This proverb is similar to Proverbs 15:2, but that one speaks of wise and fools and this speaks of the righteous and the wicked. The terms are not technically synonymous, but can be used for one another naturally because righteousness is a necessary consequence of wisdom, as wickedness is a necessary consequence of folly. The word for studieth means to meditate or muse. The word for answer means a response. In the first phrase, the reply of wisdom comes from the heart, or the mind. Put simply, the wise think before they speak and, therefore, they say better things (Proverbs 15:2; 16:23). By contrast, the wicked answer with their mouth rather than their mind. The word for poureth means to gush forth. Fools are quick to pour out their thoughtless opinions (Proverbs 10:19; 13:16; 29:11, 20; Ecclesiastes 10:12-14).

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Proverbs 15:27

He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.
– Proverbs 15:27

The word for greedy means covetous, but also violence. The greedy want gain at all costs, even to death (Proverbs 1:19). They are in a hurry to get rich (Proverbs 28:22). Greed is a driving force rather than wisdom and brings trouble, or disturbance, to his own house (Proverbs 11:29). The contrasting phrase juxtaposes life, so we infer pursuing greed leads to death (Proverbs 11:19). The way of wisdom and way of life is to hate gifts (Proverbs 8:13). The word for gifts means a present. The word sometimes means a bribe and Proverbs warns against bribes to pervert justice (Proverbs 28:16; 29:4).

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Proverbs 15:26

The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.
– Proverbs 15:26

The word for thoughts means contrivance, or plan. The plans, or imaginations, of the wicked are abominable to God (Proverbs 6:16-19; 24:9). The contrasted phrase, words of the pure, emphasizes God’s knowledge of the thoughts of men. Our hearts are ever open before him (Proverbs 15:11). The word for pure means clean and pleasant means agreeable, or delightful. The Lord hates a lying tongue but loves a tongue of truth (Proverbs 6:17; 12:22).

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Proverbs 15:25

The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.
– Proverbs 15:25

The word for proud means lofty or arrogant. The proud are pictured in Proverbs as making gains through oppression and exploitation (Proverbs 16:19). The proud are numbered among the wicked targeted for divine retribution and judgment (Proverbs 16:18; 14:11). There is nothing inherently virtuous in being a widow, but along with the fatherless, the widow stands for those who are weak and vulnerable. Widows are easily and often oppressed and deprived of justice (Isaiah 1:23; 3:14; 10:2; Matthew 23:14). The tenor of the proverb would count the widow here as among the righteous weak and they have protection and justice from the Lord, which is greater than the spoils of the wicked (Proverbs 12:7; 14:11).

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