Proverbs 13:1, 13, 18
A wise son hears his father's instruction: but a scorner hears not rebuke.
We have the positive and negative, the happy and the sorrowful aspects of the subject brought into view.
I. THE WISDOM OF DOCILITY. The excellency of docility is seen in its results:
1. In character. It is a "wise son" who heareth his father's instruction.
(1) Already he is wise. Apart from all that he will gain by his teachableness, readiness to receive instruction is in itself an admirable feature of character; it is so more particularly in the young. In them it is positively essential to spiritual beauty and worth; and it goes a long way to constitute such worth. It is an attribute of mind which is pleasing to God, and which commends itself greatly to the esteem of man.
(2) It has the promise of wisdom further on. For he who is ready to learn, and more especially if he is willing to "regard reproof," is on the high road to much attainment in knowledge, and also to heights of virtue and godliness. This habit of his will save him from many snares, and will enrich his soul with pure principles and houourable aspirations and right affections.
2. In circumstance. The docile son will "be rewarded," will "be honored." The path he treads is one which leads to competence, to comfort, to health, to honour, to "a green old age." But there are three things which must be included in this readiness to learn. No one will be "wise," and no one can expect to reap these desirable results, unless he
(1) is docile in the home, receiving "his father's (and his mother's) instruction (ver. 1);
(2) has respect to the "commandment," the will of God as revealed in his Word (ver. 13);
(3) is willing to be corrected when he has gone astray, unless he "regards reproof" (ver. 18). For all of us fall into some error, make some mistakes, go astray in some directions; and we all need the kind hand that will lead us back and replace us in the right road.
II. THE FOLLY AND THE DOOM OF THE UNTEACHABLE. What should we think of the young captain who insisted on setting sail without any chart, trusting to his native cleverness to shun the shoals and rocks, and to make his way to port? We know what to judge concerning him, and what to prophesy concerning his vessel; we are sure that the one is a fool, and that the other will be a wreck. And what shall we think of youth when it resolves to sail forth on the great sea of life, disregarding the experiences of the wise, and trusting to its own sagacity? To take this course is:
1. To be unwise. Apart from all consequences which are in the future, it is the indication of a foolish spirit which is in itself deplorable. It shows a very ill-balanced judgment, a very exaggerated conception of one's own ability, a lack of the modesty the presence of which is so great a recommendation, and the absence of which is so serious a drawback. It calls for and it calls forth the pity of the wise; it is well if it does not elicit their contempt.
2. To move in the direction of disaster. It is to be in the way which conducts
(1) to the loss of much that is very valuable, to "poverty" of more kinds than one (ver. 18);
(2) to shame (ver. 18), the forfeiture of good men's regard, and a descent to a condition in which self-respect also is lost;
(3) to ultimate destruction (ver. 13). He that feareth not God's commandment, nor regards man's warning, is a candidate for contempt, is a swift traveller on the road to ruin. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.