Proverbs 27:5

Open rebuke is better than secret love.

– Proverbs 27:5

Verses 5-6 address an issue of true friendship—open and direct communication. The word for rebuke means reproof, or correction. Rebuke sounds harsh and hateful to our ears today, but receiving it is crucial to acquiring wisdom (Proverbs 1:20-23). Refusing reproof is to embrace death and destruction (Proverbs 1:24-33). The way we respond to rebuke reveals whether we are foolish or wise (Proverbs 9:8; 23:9).

This saying speaks to the value of a friend who will speak up when it is needed. The word for open means to uncover and here refers to one not hiding a needed reproof. It contrasts with secret, which means to cover, or conceal. This is a “better than” saying where the sting of open rebuke is to be preferred to the hidden correction left unspoken, allowing us to go on in folly. A love that doesn’t manifest itself is worthless (Proverbs 3:12; 13:24; 23:13; 1 John 3:18).

 


 

 

Proverbs 25:12

As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.
– Proverbs 25:12

This proverb is along the same line as the previous in considering the aptness of a fitting word. The image used continues to convey beauty, craftsmanship, and value in wise words. The word for reprover means to correct, or prove. Wisdom is not only found in the selection of words, but also in the right time and place for the speaking of them, and the right listener for them. The word for obedient means to hear with intelligence, or to give careful attention to. Wisdom knows when to speak and when to keep silent, particularly when it comes to reproof or instruction (Proverbs 1:8-9; 9:8; 15:5, 31-32; 27:5-6).

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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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