www.BibleMountain.com

How to not be stupid (Proverbs 12:1)

Early in the reign of King Saul, the Philistines gathered together to fight against Saul’s army. Saul waited seven days for Samuel to arrive so that a sacrifice could be offered before the battle, but Samuel did not arrive and Saul’s soldiers were starting to disperse, so Saul decided to offer the sacrifice himself even though he was forbidden to offer the sacrifice since he was not a priest. As soon as Saul finished offering the sacrifice, Samuel arrived and learned what Saul had done.

1Sam. 13:13-14 Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, for now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”

If you were Saul, how would you respond to that rebuke? Would you repent? Would you make excuses? Would you attack Samuel? What is the correct response?

Consider the following proverb:

Proverbs 12:1
He who loves discipline loves knowledge,
But he who hates reproof is stupid.

Unlike English poetry which is all about rhyme, Hebrew poetry is all about repetition and contrast. Proverbs 12:1 is an example of contrast. The first line is about those who love reproof; whereas the second line is about those who hate reproof. The first line is about those who love knowledge, whereas the second line is about those who are stupid. Just as this proverb presents two opposite responses to reproof, so too we need to choose between these two opposites when we are reproved. Let’s take a deeper look at this proverb and see what we learn about how to not be stupid.

In the original Hebrew, Proverbs 12:1 consists of eight words in this order: love, discipline, love, knowledge, but, hate, reproof, stupid. Biblical Hebrew words have more prefixes and suffixes than English words; thus, a single Hebrew word can communicate an entire phrase.

  • The Suicide of American ChristianityThe Suicide of American Christianity
The first word of Proverbs 12:1 is ahev which is the Hebrew word for love. It is a participle, meaning it is a verb that functions as a noun. It is also masculine and singular; thus, the first word is translated “He who loves”, the idea being the person’s love is ongoing.

The second word is musar. Musar is a noun and is the object of the love communicated in the first word. Musar can be translated discipline, reproof, instruction, punishment, chastening, or correction. Punishment and chastening carry a negative connotation of being corrected for wrong-doing; whereas instruction does not necessarily carry that negative connotation. Musar can be used both ways; thus, this line may refer to those who love to learn or it may refer to those who love being corrected when they go astray.

The third word is ahev and is exactly the same as the first word.

The fourth word is da’at and is the Hebrew word for knowledge. Da’at is the object of the love communicated in the third word.

So far we have two concepts: The first two words mean “He who loves discipline” and the third and fourth words mean “He who loves knowledge”. There is an implied equal sign between the two concepts; thus, the first four words mean ‘he who loves discipline, instruction, and correction is also one who loves knowledge” and vice versa.

The fifth word is a conjunction that joins the first line and the second line and can be translated “and” or “but”. In this case it is translated “but” because the second line of the proverb is the opposite of the first line.

The sixth word is sone’. Sone’ is also a participle, meaning it is a verb that functions as a noun. Sone’ is masculine and singular and is the Hebrew word for hate. This word is translated “He who hates”. Again, this is the opposite of the first word of this proverb which is the Hebrew word for love, and the idea is that the hate is ongoing.

The seventh word is tokhachat. This is a noun and is the object of the hate communicated in the sixth word. Tokhachat can be translated reproof, rebuke, or chastening; thus, the sixth and seventh words mean “He who hates reproof”.

The eighth word is ba’ar and is the Hebrew word for stupid. There is an implied equal sign before the eighth word; thus, the second line of this proverb means “he who hates reproof is stupid”.

When we put it all together, Proverbs 12:1 means “He who loves discipline, instruction, reproof, and correction is also one who loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof, rebuke, and chastening is stupid.”

Proverbs 12:1 seems to be counterintuitive. Why would anyone love discipline and reproof? Discipline and reproof are painful and unpleasant. Doesn’t everyone hate reproof? How can it be bad to hate reproof?

Reproof and correction are good because they remove sin from our lives and purging our lives of sin is supposed to be a primary goal for each of us. Consider the following verses:

Rom. 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

1Pet. 1:14-16 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

1John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

2John 6 And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.

The Bible teaches us to remove sin, worldliness, and imperfection from our lives. Reproof and correction help us do that; therefore, we should be glad when we are corrected and have our sins and imperfections pointed out to us. Furthermore, if we hate being corrected; we are basically saying we do not want to identify our faults and improve ourselves, and that is the exact opposite of what the Bible commands us to do.

Let’s ask ourselves a few questions. How do we respond when we are reproved? Do we respond in anger? Do we shoot the messenger? Do we make excuses and reject the correction? Do we prove we are stupid? Or do we respond wisely? Do we listen? Do we learn? Do we look for ways to improve ourselves?

Reproof and correction are not fun, but ultimately, reproof and correction are good because they help us remove sin from our lives and that is what God desires above all else. When we are reproved, the correct response is to see if there is a way to improve ourselves. If we don’t try to improve ourselves, we are stupid.

Proverbs 12:1
He who loves discipline loves knowledge,
But he who hates reproof is stupid.

 

“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”

 

Would you like to be notified when new posts are published?

  • Free Email Subscription

    Please join my email list

    • It is free.
    • By signing up you will get immediate access to all my free content. It will be delivered right to your email inbox.
    • This is the best way to make sure you don’t miss out on any of my free content.
    • Your email address will not be sold nor given away.


  • Follow Bible Mountain via Social Media