A Wise Reprover
1. This proverb is probably to be read together with the previous verse.
2. Both verses speak about the beauty of wisely chosen and wisely timed words.
3. We all know that words can be extremely hurtful and ugly.
4. In verses 11-12, Solomon points out that words can also be beautiful… like gold jewelry.
1. Reproof defined:
a. Judge; rebuke; reprove; correct.
b. Lodge a legal charge against someone.
c. To convict; to convince someone of a moral wrong.
2. Reproof and correction is valuable and profitable.
a. But not all reproof is valuable or profitable.
b. Some reproof can actually be hurtful and damaging and make matters worse.
c. It is only WISE reproof that Solomon describes as a thing of beauty in this passage.
d. The implication here is that not all reproof incorporates wisdom.
e. The intentions may be good, but if reproof is carried out without wisdom, it can be damaging.
3. The characteristics of a wise reprover.
a. A wise reproof uses Scripture. (II Tim. 3:16)
• “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
b. A wise reproof reproves with divine authority. (Titus 2:15)
• “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority.”
• His reproof is based on Scripture and he makes that known.
• When that is the case, then it is an expression of God’s authority, not man’s opinion.
c. A wise reproof reproves with all longsuffering and doctrine. (II Tim.4:2)
• “…reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”
d. A wise reprover does so in love as a brother. (II Thess. 3:15)
• “Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”
e. A wise reprover reproves without hypocrisy. (Matt. 7:5)
• “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
f. A wise reprover speaks in due season. (Prov. 15:23)
• “…a word spoken in due season, how good is it!”
g. A wise reprover speaks graciously. (Col. 4:6)
• “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
4. For the reproof to be valuable and effective, it must be delivered in the proper manner.
a. Good intentions are not good enough.
b. Many a father has reproved his son with the right intentions, but with the wrong spirit. That can do more harm than good.
c. Col. 3:21 – “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”
d. Reproof that is intended to correct bad behavior may actually exacerbate the problem and result in anger and discouragement.
e. The one doing the reproving needs wisdom, grace, guidance, good timing, brotherly love, and most importantly, the truth of God’s Word.
f. For reproof to be valuable, beautiful, and effective requires wisdom on the part of the one reproving.
g. But there is also a prerequisite on the part of the one hearing the reproof.
1. An obedient ear refers to the ear of the one who is being reproved.
a. For reproof to be a thing of beauty, it requires wisdom on the part of the reprover AND obedience on the part of one hearing the reproof.
b. The point is that reproof (though necessary and valuable) is a delicate thing. It can go terribly wrong on either end… the one speaking or the one hearing.
2. An obedient ear actually implies two steps on the part of the one who is being reproved.
a. It requires first of all that he use his ear and is willing to listen. Not all persons in need of reproof will even listen. The fool thinks that he is above reproof. He’s too smart for that. He doesn’t need it.
b. Secondly an obedient ear implies that the one who listens also obeys what he hears, implements the reproof into action, and makes the necessary changes. Listening is not enough.
3. Acts 17:11 – Of course, all reproof needs to be examined in light of God’s Word.
a. Luke tells us that it is good to receive the word spoken with all readiness of mind, but also compare it to Scripture.
b. This proverb does not imply that we are required to obey ALL reproof.
c. Sometimes the one reproving is not wise. Sometimes his counsel or correction is out of line.
d. The proverb is really looking at a situation where the correction is good and necessary. That kind of reproof is to be obeyed.
4. Not all ears are obedient.
a. Prov. 1:30 – Lady Wisdom laments that the young men she cried out to rejected her reproof. “They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.”
b. Prov. 15:12 – Some will not even listen to reproof. They do not appreciate the reproof. “A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.”
c. Prov. 5:11-13 – Those who reject reproof will live to regret it. 11 And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, 12 And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; 13 And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!
d. Prov. 29:1 – Wise reproof rejected leads to destruction. “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”
e. That is a disobedient ear.
f. Not all reprovers are wise and not all hearers are obedient.
g. Both wisdom and obedience are needed for reproof to accomplish God’s purpose in it.
h. Reproof needs to be well given and well taken.
5. But when wise reproof falls upon an obedient ear, it truly is a thing of beauty.
1. In verse 11, words fitly spoken are like apples of gold in pictures of silver – a thing of beauty. In verse 12, wise reproof obeyed is also a thing of beauty – like fine gold jewelry.
2. “Earrings of gold and ornaments of fine gold” were intended to convey three main points:
a. Earrings and ornaments are considered to be things of beauty.
b. Gold earrings and ornaments are not only considered to be beautiful, they are also valuable.
c. Because they are beautiful and valuable, they are highly prized.
3. Solomon’s point is that a wise reproof on an obedient ear is:
a. A thing of beauty.
b. It is a most valuable thing.
c. And it ought to be highly prized and sought after.
4. The true beauty and value of wise reproof on an obedient ear:
a. The one with the obedient ear will love you! (Prov. 9:8)
• “Rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.”
b. Initially it stings, and even though it may take a while, eventually, the obedient ear will learn to appreciate what you did for him or her (Prov. 28:23).
• “He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.”
c. Wise reproof, even when spoken graciously in brotherly love, is painful. But the wound will soon be seen for what they are: the faithful wounds of a friend. (Prov. 27:6)
d. The one receiving the rebuke will be honored (13:18).
• “But he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.”
• When reproof is obeyed and the correction is made, it brings the one reproved to the place of honor instead of remaining in sin and dishonor.
• It restores his testimony and his reputation.
e. The one reproved will see the true value of it and it will have a lingering effect like sweet anointing oil (Psalm 141:5).
• “Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness; and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head.”