Proverbsby David Cook
Proverbs 13:1-16 contains some of the most common themes of wisdom: righteous speech (vv. 2-3), diligence (v. 4), righteousness and integrity (vv. 5-6, 9), and attitude towards wealth (vv. 7-8, 11).
One prominent topic in this chapter, however, is about listening to and heeding wise advice and commands (vv. 1, 10, 13-14, 18). Clearly, the first important action we need to take in our search for wisdom is to listen and obey. The wise person's humility and willingness to listen (vv. 1, 10, 14) is thus contrasted with the mocker's stubbornness and deafness (vv. 1, 13). These two attitudes, with their associated deeds, will produce opposite outcomes-reward or punishment (v. 13). Those who listen to the words of the wise will find an abundant source of life, and avoid being trapped by the snares of evil (v. 14).
That's why verse 18 notes that those who heed correction will find the honour that comes from success, whereas those who ignore wisdom will not. Like the wise son, we need to heed the instructions (v. 1) in order to benefit from the book of Proverbs (1:4).
Like some young people, we may not recognise our need to listen, or we may listen to the wrong people-perhaps because our own peers are more influential or trendier than the wise. Listen to those who have your best interests at heart!
Let's take a quick look at the parts covering righteousness, pride, and wealth in Proverbs 13.
Verse 5: The righteous hate falsehood because they fear a God who detests lies (12:22), whereas the wicked indulge in lies and slander, which ultimately bring disgrace and shame upon themselves.
Verse 8: The rich may be disadvantaged by their wealth: they are more likely to be robbed, targeted, or held to ransom for their possessions. The poor, on the other hand, have a form of liberty because no one is interested in them. No wonder Ecclesiastes 5:10-12 notes that wealth will never bring ultimate satisfaction. The poor sleep well because they have no concern about thieves breaking in, but the rich are sleepless with worry.
Verse 10: Pride-or contempt for others' opinions-is an ever-present ingredient in every quarrel. A proud person listens to no-one, but a wise person is open to correction.
Verse 16: Wisdom and prudence-acting cautiously and circumspectly in all circumstances-are close friends. In contrast, the fool rejects advice and reacts impulsively, showing his folly through his actions.
Theologian John Calvin once said: ″Where riches hold the dominion of heart, God has lost His authority . . . Covetousness makes us the slaves of the devil.″4 How would this apply to you?
How can you make sure you're listening to the right advice and commands?
4John Calvin, Commentary on Harmony of the Evangelist, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, trans. William Pringle (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1845), 337-338.