Proverbs 9:8-9 Reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Instruct a wise man, and he will be still wiser. Teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
This is an interesting concept that seems to raise the question of why a wise person would need further understanding. We typically consider that those who have knowledge are those who do not need further instruction, since they already have the knowledge. We will usually spend our time instructing those who do not have understanding so they can grow in their learning. If we are instructing someone, we feel we are giving them knowledge that they do not have, and they will be better off for it.
While this may be generally true of teaching others, the idea of reproving or rebuking a wise person is also shown to be effective, as well as being necessary at times.
Proverbs 19:25 Strike a mocker, and the inexperienced learn a lesson; rebuke the discerning, and he gains knowledge.
Proverbs 25:12 A wise correction to a receptive ear is like a gold ring or an ornament of gold.
With wisdom can come a sense of superiority and an attitude of knowing it all, therefore there can arise a conceit that prevents open-mindedness and seeks for control of others. However, a true wise person of integrity will remain humble regardless of the revelation and understanding they have received from God. A righteous person of integrity, in Hebrew, a tzaddik, will understand that even with great learning they don’t know everything, and that they still have room to be instructed further. In many ways, having a wide breadth of wisdom and understanding only highlights how much more there is to learn.
It is truly the know-it-all person who has closed their mind, thinking they have all the information they need on any given topic. Yet they typically have only enough information to be dangerous, and have not plumbed the further depths of wisdom and understanding. Sometimes even God needs to step in to help them recognize that they are out of line, and ultimately they are better off for it.
Job 5:17 See how happy is the person whom God corrects; so do not reject the discipline of the Almighty.
Integrity, or acting in righteousness, is to keep an open mind to further instruction.
There is a Hebraic way of understanding the Torah or instruction of God which demonstrates that wisdom may have many different levels and aspects to it. They involve the Hebrew words Peshat (“surface”), Remez (“hints”), Derash (“inquire”), and Sod (“secret”). The Peshat means the plain or contextual meaning of the text. Remez is the allegorical meaning. Derash includes the metaphorical meaning, and Sod represents the hidden, or deep spiritual meaning. It is a good practice of integrity to remain open to other ways of looking at things, as long as they remain consistent with the overall message of the Bible.
We can see these various levels of messaging throughout the Bible, whether it is a prophecy that was to be applied in a specific circumstance with additional deeper meaning, or whether it was parable of Yeshua meant to allegorically teach a spiritual truth using common elements of daily life. All wisdom comes from God, but if we are to exhibit integrity in our walk, we should remain open to the possibility of learning new things to add to our repository of knowledge we have attained thus far.
Being a disciple of integrity in the kingdom of heaven is similar to the example of teachers of the law in Yeshua’s day who became believers. They recognized that they had access to depths of ancient wisdom of the Hebraic culture as well as the new insights that the Messiah brought to those ancient teachings.
Matthew 13:52 “Therefore,” he said to them, “every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom treasures new and old.”
For us today, we have the ongoing inspiration of God as we continually review the wisdom of God in his Word. We should continually add to our “storeroom of wisdom” with humility and integrity, all the while keeping our focus on the Almighty God as our ultimate source and guide for all truth.
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom. The knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.