"A wise son accepts his father's discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke"
The first verses of this chapter of Proverbs discuss speech and words. This is the context of this discussion. So much of what we experience in life is the result of what we say to others. Very few people really understand that. The type of marriage and the climate for our family are all created by the way we speak and the speech that we allow others to use. If the speech is harsh and biting or deprecating, then the environment is stormy and cold.
This section of the proverbs – as well as other whole sections – deal with paying attention to what people say to you and saying what you say well. We don't have the freedom to just say whatever comes to our minds. This will usually get us into trouble.
a wise son accepts his father’s discipline
The actual Hebrew verse reads: a wise son a father's correction. There is no verb accepts or receives in the actual verse. It needs to be supplied. This is interesting because the whole of the book of Proverbs would suggest that we fill in a stronger word than accepts. We should potentially use the word seeks out.
Now the critical idea is that a son who is wise is connected to his father's correction. He doesn't push away at it. It is impossible to learn to play the game of life to win without being corrected. It is the people who we allow to correct us that determine how much and what kind of success that we will have.
Fathers have more experience and can look down the road of life further than their children in most cases. Fathers – in most cases – want what is best for their children. This verse talks about two skills that must be developed: the father's ability to correct and the child's ability to accept or receive correction. Both must be present to produce a wise son or daughter.
There are issues in which a child must be willing to take correction: choice of mate; work habits; career; friends; attitude; temptations; use of time. We are, unfortunately, living in a culture that expects children to rebel against their parents' advice right at the time they need it most. The choices that children make in the teen years can set the tone for the whole of their lives. Many never recover from the selfish choices they make in these turbulent years.
It is my desire that I would have built up a heritage of love and listening that will allow me to point out the pitfalls of some of the choices that my daughters want to make. It is my hope, prayer, and plan to have my daughters be wise enough to ask or listen to old dad before they make a really foolish decision.
In this process, parents, of correcting your children it is best to ask questions about the consequences of choices rather than just lay the law down as you did when your children were in the younger years. Ask questions like: What do you think happens to the typical person who makes that kind of choice? What are some other things that people could do other than that choice?
It is the skillful use of questions that allows a teen to accept their father's correction. I have found that most teens will come to good conclusions if they are given enough real facts about a situation. Teens and young adults, it is absolutely imperative that you learn how to be corrected. I watch people all the time who cannot handle correction or even constructive criticism. Some fight back against any form of help, instruction, or training. They already know all that. Some blame others for anything that is pointed out. This is not a winning play. Learn to accept responsibility. Jesus says that one of the qualities of a blessed person is the ability to mourn. Some immediately impugn the motives of anyone who would dare suggest that their performance could be improved or had flaws. Some are in complete and immediate denial about the opportunity or need for improvement.
One of the ways to separate the young people who will make the most progress in life is those who can receive correction well and make appropriate adjustments. On a totally different level, a Christian is always under His heavenly father's scrutiny. The book of Hebrews tells us that God chastises and corrects every person whom He loves. We should get ready for correction and training for better accomplishments. God loves us and wants us to be the most we can be. This means that God will put you in difficult circumstances. This means that God will, in a sense, spank you when you sin. This means that a good Christian who is learning to be wise does not run away when this happens. He or she does not blame God when God is trying to make them a better person.
but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke
The word scorn is the Hebrew word lason and means to be proud, haughty, ridiculing, and putting down. People who try to elevate themselves above others by putting down any criticism of themselves or others are fools. It is the cynical view that is so prevalent in our day. In fact, it is the ability to criticize that is held up as the intelligent and noble thing to do. Many of our best and brightest have become critics instead of producing any positive action. Don't become a scoffer. Listen to correction and training.
Now this does not mean that there is not a time for a critical analysis of any endeavor. There is always need for objective review. But just don't become a scoffer – that mocking cynic who has been jaded so badly by something or someone that they cannot see the good, the positive, the hopeful, and the helpful. If a person is not willing to be corrected, that person effectively stops growing and life has become maintenance. Hardening of the viewpoint is deadly. Listen to the critic – especially when it is someone who really loves you and has your best interest at heart.
Learn the fine art of receiving correction well. "Thank you for sharing that; I will think about that." "You know I would have never seen it that way before. That is going to take some thought to really process what you just said. Thanks. I will spend some time thinking about it."