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 23:15

My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine.
– Proverbs 23:15

Verses 15 and 16 form a saying reminiscent of the fatherly addresses in the first nine chapters of this book. The word for heart is common and can refer to the mind, emotions, the inner being, or even the whole man. If the son’s heart is wise, he has received the instruction and correction of wisdom (Proverbs 1:10; 2:1; 4:1). When children grow up in wisdom, the parents rejoice (Proverbs 10:1; 15:20; 23:24-25; 29:3).

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Proverbs 22:17

Introduction
The next section in Proverbs begins in Proverbs 22:17 and goes through Proverbs 24:34. This section is titled, “The Words of the Wise,” per 22:17. Solomon did not write these proverbs but rather collected them as wise sayings from his predecessors. The collection has over 70 proverbs that are typically two to three verses in length, and do not follow the two-line structure of the Proverbs of Solomon. The collection features three sections—22:17-21; 22:22-24:22; 24:23-34—touching on various wisdom themes common to Proverbs. The first section is a short introductory section, calling for attention to wisdom and enumerating blessings of wisdom that treasures up wisdom, deepens trust in the Lord, creates stability in the life, and fits the lips to speak sound wisdom to others.

Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.
– Proverbs 22:17

The word for bow down means to stretch, or bend. The word for hear means to listen with attention. You must think about what you hear and strive for understanding. The word for apply means to set and the word for heart indicates the mind. The word for knowledge means perception, or understanding. Wisdom continually calls us to listen and exercise all our faculties to understand and retain the words of wisdom (Proverbs 2:1-5; 3:1; 5:1-2; 8:33-34; 23:12). Wisdom teaches effort must be expended and wisdom sought for diligently (Proverbs 2:2-6). The reminiscent exhortation to hear gives three imperatives to the prospective learner—bend your ear and listen to “the words of the wise,” and commit your faculties to “my knowledge.” We might also add, expect repetition.

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Proverbs 21:22

A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof.
– Proverbs 21:22

This proverb presents a military image. The wise man is skillful and shrewd. Through wisdom, he is able to take down a stronghold of the powerful. This proverb presents wisdom as better than strength, whether in terms of fortification or weapons (Ecclesiastes 7:19; 9:13-18). Wisdom is better than strength alone. The word for confidence means trust, or refuge. Hoping or trusting in strength rather than God is evident folly. Wisdom trusts in God and wise counsel and is therefore better than human strength (Proverbs 24:5-6).

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Proverbs 21:20

There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.
– Proverbs 21:20

This proverb is straightforward and we shouldn’t pull its punch by trying to spiritualize it. Wisdom says the wise lay up in store and the foolish squander all they have. The word for wise means skillful and is used throughout Proverbs to refer to living prudently and righteously. Proverbs never instructs to seek wealth (Proverbs 23:4-5; 28:22), nor does it instruct to seek poverty (30:7-9). Rather, Proverbs instructs to sacrificially and persistently seek wisdom, for it is more important and valuable than earthly treasures (Proverbs 2:2-4; 3:14-15; 8:18-19; 16:16; 23:23). While Proverbs never promises wealth to those who acquire wisdom, wealth will generally come to those who acquire money wisely (Proverbs 10:4; 11:8; 16:11; 21:6; 22:22-23), and use money wisely (Proverbs 3:9-10, 27-28; 6:6-8; 11:24-26; 13:22; 22:9; 28:27; 31:16, 20-22). Proverbs also warns that wealth can be lost through folly (Proverbs 11:6; 21:5; 23:20-2124:30-31; 27:23-27; 28:22).

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Proverbs 21:11

When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise: and when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge.
– Proverbs 21:11

Teachability is a mark of maturing and growing in wisdom (Proverbs 1:5; 9:9). The proverb contrasts the wise and the simple. The wise receives instruction and the simple has to see the scorner punished to wise up. Proverbs teaches us wisdom is imparted by instruction, correction, warning, and punishment. The wiser we are, the less time we will spend toward the punishment end of that scale.

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Proverbs 20:26

A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.
– Proverbs 20:26

The word for scattereth is the same as in Proverbs 20:8 (see commentary). The term combined with the use of the wheel in the second phrase completes the threshing, winnowing image. The previous proverb highlighted discernment in judgment. The winnowing image had to do with the searching eyes of the king separating the innocent and the guilty. This proverb uses the same imagery, but with two different emphases. Here wicked are not just sorted into proper categories, but rather the wheel is brought over them. So this proverb highlights the execution of just judgment and maintenance of justice by bringing punishment to evildoers.

The second emphasis is the attribution of the king who does this. He is wise. The word for wise means skillful. It was a term used commonly to describe a master craftsman; one who had learned the art and science of his craft and gained the technical expertise to execute a master work. The word was so used to describe the craftsmen who built the tabernacle and its furnishings (Exodus 36:4). The word was also used to describe the work of the craftsmen who fashioned an idol in Isaiah 40:20, where it is translated cunning. The word appears 46 times in Proverbs and refers to one who is skilled in applying the word of God in all areas of life. So a wise king is one skilled in mastery of the art of ruling well and maintaining justice in the fear of the Lord and according to his word.

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Proverbs 19:20

Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.
– Proverbs 19:20

The fatherly addresses in the early part of Proverbs give repeated admonition to hear and receive wisdom (Proverbs 1:8; 2:1-9; 8:34-35). This proverb fits with general tenor of Proverbs that wisdom is accessible and offered to all (Proverbs 9:4-6). Though freely offered, wisdom is costly to acquire (Proverbs 2:3-5). Acquiring wisdom requires humbling oneself to hear counsel and receive instruction (Proverbs 2:1-2). The word for counsel means advice and the word for instruction means discipline. Both come to us from others and we must be willing to receive them. Ultimately, wisdom comes from God and he stores it up for the righteous (Proverbs 2:6-7). Being willing to receive counsel and instruction from others does not mean we merely take in all men’s opinions (Proverbs 14:15; 15:14). Acquiring wisdom is a lifelong pursuit and not a one-time event, but it does lead to blessedness (Proverbs 8:32-35).

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Proverbs 18:15

The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.
– Proverbs 18:15

The word for knowledge means understanding, or learning. Getting and seeking knowledge means it can be increased. Our understanding and learning can, and should, grow. The proverb’s punch is in the seeming paradox. The prudent and the wise are seeking knowledge. The modern utilitarian mind wonders why they would do that if they are already wise and prudent. The word for prudent has to do with separating, or making distinctions. The word for wise means shrewd, skillful, or crafty. The first means having discernment—the ability to sort out the things learned. The second means being able to figure things out and make plans. They are continually looking and listening to acquire learning (Proverbs 1:5; 9:9; 15:14). Fools are only interested in what they think they need to know (Proverbs 14:6; 18:2; 26:12).

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