This is the beginning of wisdom. At this point one recognizes that the scriptures often present loving rebukes to us and our sometimes sinful behavior.
A proverb is a saying that succinctly and effectively expresses a commonplace truth. To put it another way, it is common sense, that is, something that is understood universally without explanations being necessary. That is why I hesitate to expand on this clearly stated truth in this passage from Proverbs. What wisdom could I add to a truth that is so clearly stated?
The one thing I can say is that this passage causes me to reflect on my own life, just as all scripture does. How many times have I been a fool, rejecting the wisdom of a rebuke, even one kindly given out of love? How many times have I foolishly interpreted such rebukes as nothing less than a challenge to my self-righteous understanding of “freedom?” I’m reminded of Paul’s words, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)
As a young teenager and 20 something in the 60s I thought myself far more intelligent than my father and his generation and rejected all of his rebukes toward my behavior and thinking. I thought his ideas were passé, antiquated, and that I and my generation had surpassed his in wisdom. I did this no matter how many times my ideas proved to be foolish. It was not until I grew up emotionally, and intellectually that I began to see that I had been a fool and I began to see that my father’s wisdoms were indeed true and undeniable.
This passage is a recognition of the fact that one who has gained “understanding” is one who has lived through his/her foolishness, whose eyes have finally been opened by experiences understood in the light of grace. It is then that one becomes an adult, a mature man or woman who has learned to listen humbly to the rebukes of those who have proven themselves to be righteous and holy in their lives. This is the beginning of wisdom. At this point one recognizes that the scriptures often present loving rebukes to us and our sometimes sinful behavior. If we understand that God’s wisdom and love are behind the “rebukes” we experience in the center of our consciences, we will begin to pay attention and to grow in both wisdom and grace. If we refuse to hear them, if we continue to reject them out of prideful rebellion, we will remain only fools.
Lord, help us to listen to your rebukes with mature and humble hearts. In you and your wisdom alone will our hearts find their truest rest. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen!
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