Proverbs 12:1 Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.
Growing up in the king’s house, it’s unquestionable that Solomon would have had many teachers. From his childhood, this king’s son would have had been expected to learn, to perform, and to obey instructors and teachers (Ps. 119:99). Yet this man, now king, and now the wisest human to ever walk the earth, is beginning this proverb with the warning that, in a nutshell, you’re stupid if you don’t like to be reproved.
The word “instruction,” like yesterday’s words, has a somewhat more profound usage in Scripture than the way we use it today. For instance:
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
This verse creates a parallel between “fear” and “instruction.” This connotation carries with it not only book learning or schoolwork, but also reverence, discipline, and correction, meaning that if you don’t like getting “spanked,” then you’re a stupid ignoramus. Thanks, Solomon.
Someone once said that the day you learn nothing is a wasted day. In the same vein, I heard of an old, 90+ year-old man that would take out his violin and practice every day. He had played for decades, and was a very accomplished violinist, so someone asked him why he continued practicing. He responded that he still had more to learn, even at his advanced age! See, there is no way to “arrive” at the end of learning. Just like the 18 year-old that graduates high school, or the 22 year-old that graduates from college, who think that they are done learning, often people assume that they don’t have to learn anymore, or receive any more instruction, but this tends to ignorance and stupidity.
Another verse in this chapter is of similar interest:
Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.
The only reason that an individual would not listen to instruction is because he thinks he is smarter than everyone else. Obviously every situation is different, and not everyone offering advice fully understands the whole scope of the matter, but the Bible has a lot to say about seeking counsel.
2 Kings 12:13 And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him;
14 And spake to them after the counsel of the young men…
Here is another common mistake made by people: they seek peer justification instead of older wisdom. This is not to say that every person with gray hair should be looked to for advice! However, the troubles and mistakes of youth can often be mitigated significantly by an individual who is willing to accept the counsel, wisdom, and instruction of the older generation. After all, they’ve already been through all that junk! It always amazes me how young people can so flippantly ignore the wise words of older folks who have been around for much longer, thinking that they in their long 21 or however many years of life have everything figured out. How brutish!
We should always be open to correction, no matter who it is from. I seem to recall an old philosopher stating that “Every man is my teacher.” Kent Hovind once said that every Christian has a role in the battle: the worst of us can at least serve as bad examples not to follow. We can learn from everyone, and we should never be too proud to accept instruction, because the day you learn nothing is a day wasted.