Proverbs 23:14
Strike him with a rod, and you will deliver his soul from Sheol.
Discipline in Divine WisdomE. Johnson Proverbs 23:12-18

I. THE TEMPER OF DOCILITY. (Ver. 12.) It is submission of the affections to a higher law. It is the resignation of the will to a higher leading. It is the opening of the understanding to Divine counsels. It is the realization, on the one hand, of dependence and need; on the other, of the light, the wisdom, and the goodness which ever meet that need.

II. THE NECESSITY OF DISCIPLINE FOR THE YOUNG. (Vers. 13, 14; see on Proverbs 3:27; Proverbs 19:18; Proverbs 22:15.) Luther says, in his blunt way, "Beat your son, and the hangman will not beat him. There must be a beating once for all; if the father does it not, Master Hans will; there is no help for it. None ever escaped it; for it is God's judgment." Another sternly says, "Many parents deserve hell on their children's account, because they neglect to train them in piety."

III. JOY IN DUTIFUL CHILDREN. (Vers. 15, 16.) It is next to the joy in the personal sense of God's grace. None but a parent knows the heart of a parent - the "travailing in birth" over their souls, the joy of discovering symptoms of the new life. "May all my sons be Benaiahs, the Lord's building; then will they all be Abners, the father's light: all my daughters Bithiahs, the Lord's daughters; and then they will be all Abigails, their father's joy" (Swinnock). What must be the joy in heaven and in the bosom of God over his returning and dutiful children!

IV. ENVY OF THE WICKED REBUKED. (Vers. 17, 18.) When Socrates was asked what was most troublesome to good men, he replied, "The prosperity of the wicked." Here, then, is a great temptation. It needs an antidote in reason. There is no reason for this envy. They are not truly happy. We look at them from the outside; the dark discontent of the heart is concealed from us. To live in the communion of God, on the other hand, is a secret, a certain, a profound and all-compensating joy. The enjoyment of the wicked, such as it is, must have its end; while the child of God ends only to begin anew - sinks below the horizon to rise in the power of an endless life. We have thus three resources against sin: the avoidance of evil example; reverence before God; and constant recollection of the blessings of piety and virtue. - J.

Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.
I. Because of its own WORTH. A knowledge of the creation, its elements, laws, objects, extent, is valuable, but a knowledge of the Creator is infinitely more valuable. "This is life eternal, to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent."

II. Because man is PRONE TO OVERLOOK THE IMPORTANCE of this knowledge. It is sad, that that which man requires most he cares least for, that the most priceless treasure is least valued.

III. Because to ATTAIN IT THERE MUST BE PERSONAL APPLICATION. "Apply thine heart unto instruction." It is a knowledge that cannot be imparted irrespective of the use of man's own faculties. He must apply persistently, earnestly, devoutly.


Observe the connection between the application of the heart and the ears. The heart open to sound advice or moral precept is yet shut to Christ and His doctrine. It is closed up in unbelief, prejudice, indifference, and the love of pleasure. A listless heart, therefore, produces a careless ear. But when the heart is graciously opened, softened, and enlightened, the attention of the ear is instantly fixed. This, indeed, is the Lord's creative work; yet wrought by a God of order in the use of His own means. Awakened desire brings to prayer. Prayer brings the blessing. And precious then is every word of knowledge.

(C. Bridges, M.A.)

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