Proverbs 19:25

Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.
– Proverbs 19:25

The scorner, the simple, and the man of understanding feature in this proverb. The distinction revolves around how correction is received. The word for scorner means to mock and scoff. Scorning is where the simple will end up if they do not receive correction and instruction (Proverbs 14:18). The word for simple means foolish, or naïve. Proverbs paints the simple as thoughtless and easily led (Proverbs 14:15; 15:21). Reproof alone will seldom correct the simple. They need stronger demonstration (Proverbs 21:11). The word for understanding means to separate mentally, or discern. Wise men have understanding and so instructions and reproofs are more effective and profitable for them (Proverbs 9:9-10; 15:5; 17:10).

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Proverbs 17:10

A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.
– Proverbs 17:10

Proverbs consistently distinguishes the wise from the foolish by how they respond to correction (Proverbs 9:8-9; 15:5). The word for entereth means to sink as we would say “sink in.” It’s like instructing someone and then telling them to let it sink in. The first phrase’s point is that the spoken word of reproof sinks in deep to a wise man. He hears reproof, considers it, and is wiser for it (Proverbs 9:9). This contrasts with a hundred stripes the fool receives, but yet will still not amend his way. The term fool is not a comment about mental capacity, but mental outlook that decidedly refuses wisdom (Proverbs 1:29). He won’t respond to the word of reproof, much less the beating of a rod (Proverbs 27:22). He prefers his folly and returns to it like a dog to its own vomit (Proverbs 26:11).

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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 15:12

A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.
– Proverbs 15:12

The scorner is at the hard end of folly. His obstinacy keeps him from wisdom (Proverbs 14:6). He hates reproof, and therefore will not go to or with the wise (Proverbs 9:7-8; 13:1). He refuses two primary means of receiving wisdom—reproof (Proverbs 3:11-12) and having wise companions (Proverbs 2:20; 13:20).

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Proverbs 15:10

Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.
– Proverbs 15:10

This proverb does not make a contrast, but shows a progression from bad to worse. Forsaking the way amounts to leaving the path of wisdom and walking in the way evil (Proverbs 2:12-15). He does not like correction but trusts to his own understanding (Proverbs 12:15; 15:5). He progresses to hatred of reproof. This marks a fool as a scorner, or scoffer. This is the hardened end of folly. He hates reproof (Proverbs 9:7-8; 13:1), and inherits the “judgments … prepared for scorners” (Proverbs 19:29; 3:34). Such scorners love and inherit death (Proverbs 8:36; 5:23; 11:7).

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Proverbs 15:5

A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.
– Proverbs 15:5

Proverbs teaches wisdom is had by instruction and correction (Proverbs 1:2-4, 23). The prudent, or wise, will heed it (Proverbs 1:5; 9:9). The fool despiseth, or scorns, sound correction and instruction (Proverbs 10:1; 13:1). They will not hear wise counsel (Proverbs 1:7; 10:8; 12:15) and they mock sin (Proverbs 14:9). Referring to his father’s instruction shows his foolishness early on (Proverbs 22:15), which can lead to an irremediable scoffing fool (Proverbs 27:22). This proverb also reveals character by how we respond to correction and instruction.

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Proverbs 13:18

Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honored.
– Proverbs 13:18

This proverb is a truism of outcomes in life. The word for shame points to disgrace, or dishonor, and poverty is just that. This comes to one who refuses instruction, which is discipline including correction. Despising instruction is the proverbial characteristic of the fool (Proverbs 1:7). The contrast is to regard reproof. To regard is to keep or give heed. The word for reproof leans more to the correction. Such correction is an indispensable part of acquiring wisdom (Proverbs 15:5, 31-32; 9:9; 25:12).

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Proverbs 12:1

Chapter 12 continues the major section of the Proverbs, “The proverbs of Solomon,” which starts with chapter 10 and goes through chapter 22. There is no obvious topical arrangement of the proverbs, but several subjects have been addressed more than once to this point. Chapter 12 will add some proverbs to these subjects and cover a few more.

Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.
– Proverbs 12:1

The contrast in this proverb is between love and hate. Instruction and reproof parallel, with the first meaning discipline or training and the second meaning correction, even chastisement. To acquire and grow in wisdom, we must receive correction (Proverbs 9:7-8; 13:18). Hating instruction and correction will be the last lament of the fool as he is finally brought to shame and ruin (Proverbs 5:11-13). The word for brutish means an animal like a cow. When it is used of people, it means stupidity of the highest order (Psalm 32:9; 92:6). An animal has no reasoning capacity and doesn’t know what is best for it. A person who despises the correction of wisdom is just like a brute beast.

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