Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.
Here is some of the best advice you will ever hear or read! These nine words teach profound wisdom. Your character, your reputation, your present situation in life, and your future expectations are dependent on how well you have kept, or will keep, this simple proverb. The defining trait of a wise man is his ability to follow this basic three-part rule.
Solomon used an extended personification of wisdom at this point in Proverbs (Pr 8:1 – 9:12). Lady Wisdom addressed children in her kind appeal for them to be wise and obtain her great blessings (Pr 8:32). The advice is so short, so simple, and so basic that most will ignore it. They think there cannot be wisdom in so few words. They are wrong!
Lady Wisdom first said, “Hear instruction.” First for all learning is the ability and choice to listen to another person. Arriving in this world totally ignorant, the only knowledge you will acquire must be from others. Not many like to be told they know nothing and must learn how to think and act. But wise men crave this process (Pr 1:5; 9:9; 12:1).
Wise children appreciate and enjoy listening to their parents, for they consider and remember that their parents know far more than they know (Job 32:6-7). Wise parents listen to their parents, for they know yet more! And wise saints will crave the house of God, where they can hear God’s word opened and explained for the profit of their souls.
Paul commended hearers in Berea for their nobility in hearing his preaching with a ready mind (Acts 17:11). Yet the Bible clearly describes different levels of hearing. Herod Antipater heard John the Baptist gladly, but he also cut off his head (Mark 6:16-28). Jesus told His hearers to take heed how they heard in order to bear fruit (Luke 8:18).
Lady Wisdom then added, “And be wise.” How do you respond to what you hear from parents, pastors, and teachers? Do you reject your own thoughts to accept and apply what you hear? She required true wisdom, which learns from others (Pr 6:6; 19:20; Ps 2:10; 94:8). Arrogant wisdom that rejects instruction is foolish and dangerous (Pr 3:7; 26:5,12).
Then she said, “And refuse it not.” A bristling response to correction, instruction, or warning proves a foolish heart. Reject such reactions, and listen submissively. Do not turn away from a teacher, even if he says things you dislike. Paul taught, “Despise not prophesyings,” meaning for his hearers to love, seek, and accept preaching (I Thes 5:20).
Do you love teachers, rejecting your ideas, and accepting instruction? It is the measure of your wisdom; it tells your future peace and prosperity (Pr 1:20-33; 8:34-36; 10:17; 29:1).