The direction of the Book of Proverbs here begins to shift. Up to this point, the emphasis has largely been on the benefits of wisdom philosophically, now the emphasis turns to direct and wise advice—what we could call proverbial statements themselves.
Verses 7-9 are speaking about the subject of reproof (positive criticism), and how one should give it, and how one might respond when receiving it. As you know we are much better at handing out reproof than receiving reproof. This is because of our pride, and the ability we have to get our feelings hurt. "He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. 8 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee..." The thought clearly is that correcting a fool is not wise. He will not receive constructive criticism. Inherent in the concept of a fool are the terms scorner and a wicked man. You must know people well enough to determine if they are correctable.
My prayer is that each one of us will grow enough in finding our security in Christ, and thus, we will become people who are described in verse 8(b)- 9: "... rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. 9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." A wise man will receive correction and criticism. A lesson of life is to receive criticism and correction with a willing spirit. Wise men will, fools will not. Please take the time to examine your own life to determine how you have received criticism and correction in the past. If you have had a tendency to get angry, argue, or bristle, you need to grow in receiving reproof. You will be the better Christian for learning this great lesson of to whom you can impart reproof, and how to respond when being reproved.
9:10-12 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. 11 For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased. 12 If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it."
Verse 10 sounds similar to Proverbs 1:7. There, the text speaks of how fools despise wisdom and instruction. That has been the subject of the preceding context. In contrast, those who fear God will have a basic wisdom which will receive reproof. The matter of fearing or honoring the LORD is such a huge issue in life. People who allow themselves to be influenced by God are those who fear Him. This is where wisdom begins, and as you learn to honor the LORD you will grow in your knowledge and understanding of God and His holiness.
Verse 11 declares the benefits of fearing the LORD. Your days will be multiplied, and the years of your life will be increased. You will experience both fullness and joy as a result of walking down the path of wisdom, which begins by fearing God. The words expressed in verse eleven speak of both the quality and quantity of life one will experience through wisdom.
Finally, verse 12 states, "If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it." This thought concludes the section. When we are wise, we are the beneficiaries thereof. When we are fools, we will suffer the consequences—by ourselves all alone. How beneficial is wisdom and how senseless is foolishness!
May we meditate upon these great proverbial statements today and become the wiser, and become better as we put into practice the precious truths found in God's Word.
Your Friend and His,