So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
Listening and loving, submission and passion, are keys to wisdom and understanding. Are you willing to pay the price? Solomon listed personal qualifications needed to learn wisdom, and the two in this verse are submission and passion (Pr 2:1-4). Will you turn your ear to hear correction and instruction? Will you engage your ambition to pursue it?
What is it to incline your ear unto wisdom? It means to submit to the verbal instruction of others. Most will not do this. They are too proud to listen to others, too set in their ways to change, too busy to take the time for it, and too lazy to concentrate on a verbal lesson. They will not submit by turning their ear to hear and obey instruction from another.
Israel would not give ear to God’s prophets, which led to their destruction by Babylon (II Chron 24:19; 33:10; Neh 9:29-30; Jer 13:11). The Jews stopped their ears from hearing the apostles and Stephen (Acts 5:33; 7:57), which led to their destruction by Rome. They did not want the wisdom of God in either case, so they turned away from hearing it.
Most Christians today will not hear. They want entertainment and fables, not Bible preaching. Paul warned about itching ears not enduring sound doctrine and turning away from the truth (II Tim 4:3-4). The growth is in seeker sensitive, contemporary worship churches. They clap for Jesus rap, but they do not want to be corrected and instructed by Bible preaching. They despise sound preaching, even though told not to (I Thess 5:20).
If you will not hear preaching with a ready mind (Is 55:3; Acts 17:11), you will never find wisdom, and He will take from you what you think you have. If you do not believe this, you are already ignorant of the Jesus of the Bible (Luke 8:18). Your prayers will also become an abomination (Pr 28:9). Take heed how you hear! No wonder Jesus said, “He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear” (Matt 13:9; Rev 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22).
If a child does not listen to his parents, he is heading for a bruising in life. His parents have more wisdom than he can measure or appreciate, let alone obtain. They have lived his life before him and had many years to reflect on it. But why should a child incline his ear to his parents, if they do not incline their ears to the sound preaching of God’s word?
What is it to apply your heart to understanding? It means to love learning, truth, and wisdom more than any other pursuit. Your heart holds your affections, and you must set your affections on things above, on understanding and wisdom (Pr 8:17; Col 3:2). God has promised He will be found by those who seek Him with their whole heart (Jer 29:13).
But there is a big problem today. Because iniquity abounds, the love of many has waxed cold (Matt 24:12). Most Christians are double minded – seeking to love Christ and the world – which is both dangerous and impossible (Jas 1:8). God rejects two masters (Matt 6:24) and a lukewarm approach (Rev 2:4; 3:16). He hates spiritual adultery (Jas 4:4).
Wise men pray for God to enlarge their hearts, so they can learn and do more (Ps 119:32). They pray for Him to incline their hearts to His word and away from the world (Ps 119:36; 141:4). They delight and glory in the Lord (Ps 37:4; Jer 9:23-24), which leads them to separate from worldly distractions and pursue wisdom with great desire (Pr 18:1).
Consider Stephen’s harsh and sober words to his generation. He cried, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51). Notice! They had closed both heart and ears to the truth. They had violated both parts of this proverb. Reader, are you willing to incline your ear and apply your heart to the wisdom of Jesus Christ? If not, you will remain a fool.