Proverbs 15:31

The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.

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This short proverb is simple but profound. How well do you listen? Especially to those reproving you? Willingness to humbly take correction and instruction is a condition for wisdom. If you resent being rebuked, then you reject wisdom, which is necessary for successful living. If you want to be a wise man, then you must learn to accept reproofs.

Solomon in the next proverb restated it this way, “He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding” (Pr 15:32). If you refuse correction and instruction, which are necessary for prosperous and successful living, you must despise your own soul, for you have rejected the very means of wisdom.

A chief rule for life is the importance of gaining wisdom through correction, instruction, rebukes, reproofs, and warnings of others. A wise man will accept them, love you for doing it, and become wiser. A scorner will reject the correction and hate you for it (Pr 9:8). One grows in favor with God and man; the other is hated and rejected by both.

What is a reproof? It is when someone expresses disapproval of your conduct, actions, beliefs, etc.; when they rebuke, blame, or find fault with you for doing something wrong; when they censure, criticize, or warn you that your current direction in life is foolish and will end in pain or trouble.

It is hard to accept and appreciate criticism. Why? Because every way of a man is right in his own eyes (Pr 16:2,25; 20:6; 21:2). Since every man thinks he is right, he resents anyone who reproves and warns him about the folly of his choices, character, or conduct. If you are wise, you will doubt your ideas and opinions on every subject.

It is hard to accept and appreciate criticism. Why? Because human nature prefers foolish entertainment over a rebuke from a wise man (Eccl 7:5). But open rebuke by a faithful friend, though it hurts and wounds, is better than the lying kisses and secret love of a false friend (Pr 27:5-6). Wisdom says to love those that reprove you (Ps 141:5).

What is a reproof of life? It is correction or instruction from someone whose goal is to stop you from killing yourself in any number of ways, in order to help you have a prosperous and successful life. It is criticism or warnings to help direct you into the right way for God’s blessing and favor on your life. It is a reproof necessary for good living.

Where do reproofs come from? They first come from parents (Pr 6:20-23; 7:1-2; 15:5). Parents are almost infinitely wiser than their children. While this gap closes with age, maturity, and experience, it is so wide in childhood and youth that parental reproofs should be treated like wisdom from heaven.

Reproofs also come from teachers, pastors, employers, husbands, and other rulers with wisdom and experience. They are bound by God’s law to rebuke any sin in your life in order to show their love of you this way (Lev 19:17). Do you prove love by reproving? Do you accept love in a reproof? It is a test of character and necessary for your success.

Most reproofs come from the Bible, which is God’s word to reprove foolish living and teach wise living (II Tim 3:16-17). It is the light in this dark world to which you should give great heed (II Pet 1:19). It brings blessings on those who will read it and do it (Jas 1:21-25). How well do you listen? How much do you love it? How well do you obey it?

This proverb is one of the simplest, yet it is one of the most important, and it is repeated in other words throughout the book of Proverbs. Your response to this commentary about the proverb indicates whether you will submit to the lesson or not. From this explanation, can you examine yourself and see your foolish resistance to reproof? Get over it today!