Proverbs: Accepting Correction

“For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” Proverbs 6:23

King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, the Bible tells us. God granted his request for knowledge and discernment…a desire that he held above all others…and gave him an understanding mind and a wise heart. By inspiration of God, Solomon wrote several books in the Bible, including the practical book of Proverbs, which is rich in instruction and prudence.

One of Solomon’s major themes is the acceptance of correction, as evidenced in the above passage from chapter six, verse twenty-three, where he calls it the “way of life”. For a man as wise and learned as King Solomon to call the acceptance of reproof an essential part of life is an impressive statement.

What exactly was Solomon’s meaning? He expands in other passages throughout the book.

“He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.” Proverbs 10:17

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


Here Solomon goes a step further. Not only is learning and receiving correction to be a way of life, but to refuse or to hate correction is actually to error; to be “brutish”.

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

“He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.” Proverbs 15:32

“He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” Proverbs 29:1 

There are consequences for a pride that is too great to listen to the advice and the chastening of others.

“Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.” Proverbs 13:18

Solomon was not only the wisest man who ever lived, he was also one of the most wealthy. Here, he gives his “secret for success”: the humility to listen to the wisdom, and even the criticism, of others.

“A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.” Proverbs 13:1

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

“Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” Proverbs 29:17

Solomon links the acceptance of instruction to the parent-child relationship. He advises a “wise son” to listen, and encourages a father to correct his child faithfully. Those who adhere to correction are called “wise” and possessing of understanding.

“The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.” Proverbs 15:31

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

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

The man whom Solomon calls a “fool” and a “scorner” who is too prideful to harken to reproof is “brutish” and can only be taught with physical injury, with the “rod”. However, the man who pays attention to the chastisement of others without haughtiness and with a spirit eager to learn, gains more from words than a fool does from blows.

Solomon also speaks praise for the honest individual who loves his brother or sister enough to correct them.

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

“Open rebuke is better than secret love.” Proverbs 27:5

“He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.” Proverbs 28:23

The best and wisest instruction of all comes from the word of God.

“Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.” Proverbs 13:13

“He that turneth away from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” Proverbs 28:9

Those with the humility to listen to the words of others and, most importantly, to obey the commandments of God will be blessed and honored. Not all instruction is correct, but when we receive reproof of all kinds with a humble, discerning heart, sift through the words and discard what is worthless or unbiblical while keep what is worthwhile, we will truly grow in the understanding of the Lord.


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