Proverbs 10:17

Keeping or Refusing Instruction

17a He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction.

1. Keeping instruction:

a. Keep = to keep, guard, observe, give heed; keep watch and ward, protect.

b. Instruction: discipline, chastening, correction

c. The one who keeps instruction is one who:
• Pays attention to and takes heed to any correction he recieves.
• The child who responds well to being corrected… disciplined…
• The church member who is rebuked by the elders or even disciplined… and who responds in repentance…
• The employee who is able to be told he is doing something wrong and it needs to change… and he changes!
• The student who is chastised for laziness and then put more effort into their schoolwork…

2. These folks are in the way of life.

a. The way of life = the way life OUGHT to be lived.

b. Correction directs us to the RIGHT way to live…

c. Instruction sets that right way before us to follow…

d. The whole purpose of instruction is to correct us from a wrong way, and set us headed down the right way.

e. The one who receives correction is headed down the right way… and will REMAIN on the right way… because he is humble enough to receive correction and change when he makes a mistake!

f. Are you humble enough to take correction?
• From your boss? From your wife? Your kids? The elders? The Pastor? A brother in the Lord? An unsaved friend?
• If we have enough humility to receive correction, and respond properly to that correction, we are on the way of life and will stay there!

g. Prov. 8:32-35 – those who hear instruction find life… the good life… the life worth living… they are blessed of God and discover God’s favor in their life.
• Do you have God’s favor in your life? You can’t fight against Him!
• There isn’t much sense in seeking to provide our own blessings in life. God can simply blow upon all that we gather together on our own.

h. It is also possible to understand this phrase as “he IS a way of life.” (no “in”)
• If this is the case, then the author is saying that the life of such a person becomes a GUIDE for others…
• Watch that person’s life—that’s the way to live. He takes correction.

3. Instruction, correction, chastening, and discipline are good for us.

a. It is often humiliating, hard to take, ego crushing, and embarrassing, but it is how we learn!

b. Prov. 27:6 – “A friend means well, even when he hurts you.”
• A friend is willing to wound you or me… not because they like to wound, but because they don’t want their friends headed down the wrong road.
• Count your critics as friends. (That’s hard to do… but true!)
• A friend is willing to wound because they want us on the way of life… not death.
• You’ve seen the bumper sticker, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk”… which is good as far as it goes.
• Sometimes God has to “hurt” us to help us. Faithful are His wounds too! Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth… even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

c. Prov. 27:9 – VALUE the counsel from a friend! It rejoices the heart.
• Prov. 20:15 – the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.
• Cf. Psalm 141:5 – it is like a precious ointment.

d. God corrects and chastens us to keep us in the way of life too.
• Heb.12: – no chastening for the present seemeth to be good, but grievious, nevertheless, afterward, it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness.
• Every time we open God’s Word to read (daily!) we are being chastened… trained… disciplined by the Lord, IF we receive His instruction.
• There is ALWAYS something God wants to teach us in His Word.
• We should pray like the psalmist, “open mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things from thy law.”
• The Bible is God’s complete manual, full of instruction!

e. Even when the instruction comes from another source (as opposed to reading the instruction in the Word)… consider it a message from the Lord.
• It may be the pastor needs to approach about an obvious trend in your life…
• It may be that your spouse has to point something out to you…
• It may even be your boss…a brother in the Lord.
• Consider this instruction ultimately from God. God uses people in our lives.
• THIS is the way of life.

f. Prov. 19:20 – no one LIKES to be reproved, but keep in mind that it is good for you in the long run… in the end.
• It may mean making some tough decisions today, but in the end, it will be worth it.
• Sometimes when men give us counsel in means backtracking… doing something over… changing direction… maybe eating some humble pie.

g. Give counsel and instruction to a wise man and he will become even wiser! (Prov. 9:9)

17b But he that refuseth reproof erreth

1. Now Solomon speaks about the opposite of a man who hears instruction… the one who REFUSES reproof.

2. Reproof: rebuke, correction, reproof, punishment

3. Refuseth: to leave, abandon, forsake, neglect

a. This is the man who hears reproof… but walks away from it… neglects it… ignores it… forsakes it.

b. There is no excuse for this kind of behavior. It is not a matter of ignorance. This man heard, but refused to heed.

4. To turn a deaf ear to the voice that is trying to help us… and to save us from ruin is a most fearful error!

a. Prov. 12:1-2 – this kind of behavior is “brutish” (stupid!)

b. This folly is the result of a heart that is not humbled.

c. Resistance to correction as a child leads to uncontrollable arrogance and pride later in life.

d. Parents need to nip this behavior in the bud… lest it develops into a habit, and then into character…

e. It is the responsibility of parents to MAKE their children obey. Dad, you’re bigger and stronger than that 4-year-old. You CAN make him obey. When he’s 18 and weighs 200 pounds it might be too late!

5. Refusing correction is the forerunner to destruction.

a. Prov. 1:25-31 – they refused my counsel… they will eat of the fruit of their own ways.

b. Prov. 29:1 – some men are reproved often, and seem to get away with it…
• There may be no immediate consequences, and hence they ridicule the advice and reproof… and continue in their foolish ways…
• Then suddenly they find the roof caving in…

c. Prov. 13:18 – when reproof is NOT heeded, it can bring a man to poverty or shame.
• Doesn’t it make sense to LISTEN to counsel and avoid the shame and poverty?
• Warn a man who drinks about the danger of drinking and you may be laughed at by him… yet he may discover later in life that alcohol ruined his life and brought him to poverty and shame!
• Warn a man who is unfaithful to his wife… that too could bring him to poverty and shame…

d. II Chron. 16:7 – end of chapter. The pride of Asa led him to refuse instruction from one of God’s prophets. He paid a dear price. (life filled with wars; died a diseased man)
• Life is NOT easier when one forsakes the way of life… when one forsakes good counsel and instruction.
• The way of the transgressor is hard. Asa is proof.
• God gives us instruction for our GOOD… not to make life more difficult.
» Vs. 7 – Asa was rebuked… a rebuke which should have been taken as instruction on what NOT to do.
» Vs. 8 – a reminder of God’s faithfulness in the past was given.
» Vs. 9 – A warning of the consequences was given: ye shall have wars!
» Vs. 10 – Asa’s response? He became angry at the messenger! He oppressed some of the people too.
» Vs. 12 – God sent him a disease to his feet… since he didn’t want to walk with God— don’t walk at all!
» How foolish to ignore good counsel… it is the result of arrogance and pride… and we will pay for it in the end.
» A good reminder to KEEP instruction… and hence remain in the way of life… and blessing.