Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.
There are three requirements for learning truth and wisdom. And they are not listed in any college handbook. You must first humble yourself to admit you are ignorant; you must then stop thinking and talking, so you can be taught by those wiser than you; and then you must love and commit to what you are taught. This process guarantees learning.
Who gave this rule? Did he know what he was saying? Solomon taught these three points by inspiration from God and by his own experience. When his father King David died, Solomon was made king, though still young and tender. He followed these steps to become the wisest man that ever lived, short of Jesus Christ (I Kgs 3:5-28; 4:29-34).
By nature, men rebel against these three steps, so most live and die as fools. First, you are born with arrogance that resists humbling yourself to instruction from others. Second, you would rather think your own thoughts or speak them than listen to others. And third, your heart loves its own foolish notions and does not want to change to truth and wisdom.
Bowing down your ear is humbling yourself and admitting ignorance. David said, “LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me” (Ps 131:1). Solomon said, “And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in” (I Kgs 3:7). They got rid of any pride.
What level of truth and wisdom did these two acquire? More than any other natural men! And those who follow their example will have similar results. Reject any confidence in your own thoughts; admit you are ignorant; and beg God and your teachers to help a fool (Pr 30:2-3; Ps 32:8-9; 119:18; Is 66:1-2; I Cor 3:18). Learn a basic axiom of wisdom – His thoughts are above your thoughts as high as the heaven is above the earth (Is 55:8-9).
Hearing the words of the wise requires several things. You must stop contradictory thinking, so your mind can receive instruction (II Cor 10:4-6). You must stop sharing your ideas and opinions, so you can learn better ones from those wiser than you (Pr 18:2; 26:12). And you must select wise men as your teachers (Pr 19:27; Eccl 7:5; Is 3:12).
Children assume they know more than their parents. Amazing! They need to grasp the importance of hearing their parents. Citizens assume they know more than government officials. Amazing! They need to listen. Church members assume they know more than their pastor. On what basis, an Andy of Mayberry Bible study series? Listen, and learn!
Men today do not want to be taught, so they hire entertainers to tell them fables (II Tim 4:1-4). Seeker sensitive churches provide the place where these rebels gather for cookies and milk and a sensitivity session. While the situation is more widespread than before, the basic character flaw is old (Is 30:9-10; Ezek 33:30-33; Amos 2:12; 7:12-17).
Solomon often exhorted his son about the importance of hearing (Pr 1:5,8; 4:1,10; 5:7; 8:6,33; 19:20; 23:19). At the same time you must reject false instruction (Pr 14:7; 19:27). Cornelius had a glorious attitude about hearing (Acts 10:33), and the noble Bereans were ready to hear (Acts 17:11). Jesus warned strongly about how you hear (Luke 18:8). Do not provoke God to swear against you by refusing to hear (Ps 95:7-11; Heb 3:7-19).
Applying your heart to knowledge rejects old attitudes, goals, and opinions to learn new ones. It is a choice to love things you learn and hate contrary ideas (Ps 119:113,128). It is making true knowledge very important to your soul and paying the price to get and keep it (Pr 2:1-5; 18:1; 23:23). It means getting excited and thankful about wisdom (Pr 2:10; Ps 119:47; Jer 15:16). It also means holding on to it for dear life (Pr 4:4; 6:21; 7:3).
Your love or hatred of instruction says a lot about your character (Pr 10:8; 12:1; 15:5). And the consequences are great in both directions (Pr 8:36; 13:13,18; 15:10; 28:14). Job and David loved the correction and instruction of God’s words (Job 23:12; Ps 119:162-163). Truth and wisdom should be a most worthy cause for celebration (Neh 8:10-12).
Child, bow down your ear to your parents, hear them carefully, and choose to love and trust their experience and wisdom. It is for your life! They know more about the world than you can imagine. They have a far greater love for your future peace, pleasure, and prosperity than you do. Reject their instruction, and die young (Pr 30:17; Eph 6:1-3).
Adult, you first need to find a man of God to teach you the word of God without apology, compromise, or obvious error (I Kgs 22:7; Mal 2:7; Gal 1:6-9). Then you must bow your ear to your pastor, hear him carefully, and tremble before the word of God he preaches (Is 66:2; I Thess 2:13; 5:20; Heb 13:7). For those that do not like these methods, then God and wise men will watch you wallow in ignorance and trouble (Pr 13:15; I Cor 14:37-38).
Satan and your flesh hate Bible preaching. You must desire the sincere milk of the word as a newborn babe (I Pet 2:2) and recognize the conflict (II Cor 10:4-6). Can you humble yourself to admit ignorance? To allow another to correct, instruct, rebuke, and teach you? To despise your habits, ideas, preferences, and traditions to embrace the word of God on every subject? This is your great goal, for this is the means of truth and wisdom.