"Grievous punishment is for him who forsakes the way; he who hates reproof will die."
This proverb pushes out in the open a lesson that many people – and especially young people – don’t notice or choose not to notice. It is important that we understand and constantly realize that there are consequences to our actions and especially our repeated actions.
The word punishment is the Hebrew word moser which is the word which is translated in a number of ways: instruction, chastisement, bind, bondage, even discipline.
The word translated grievous is the Hebrew word ra which is the word for evil.
Solomon is saying in this proverb that there is an evil bondage or a very hard and painful type of chastisement for those who leave the moral boundaries of the Ten Commandments.
This is the truth that inside those Ten Commandments is the place one wants to be where the lessons and life are less severe and harsh and evil. Outside the Ten Commandments there is life, but it is a harsh life and one that has buckets full of injustice and bondage.
I have often used this analogy: We are to grow a garden of loving relationships within the boundaries of the Ten Commandments; and if one gets outside of the boundaries of the garden, there is a jungle out there. The jungle is not a safe place but a wild place where all types of evil and destruction take place. If one gets far enough out in the jungle, there are slave labor camps that capture the residents of the jungle. These slave labor camps hold people in bondage and drain away the life of the individual. The jungle is not the fun and free wild place that many think it is when they are tempted to go there. The slave labor camps are the addictions and bondages for those who choose a life of immorality.
This is what this proverb is pointing out. Living with no moral boundaries looks like a great way to live when you are young. Go outside the Ten Commandments – it makes life so much easier if there are no rules. Steal, fornicate, blaspheme, rebel, lie, covet, violence – using these tools one can accomplish so much in a hurry it seems. One is coloring outside the box and life seems so much more full and easy to accomplish things. This, however, is not the case. You are slowly being lured into a slave labor camp where your bondage will be your addiction, prison cell, mental or emotional devastation.
It is imperative that all of us – and especially teens (who tend to believe they are immortal and nothing can happen to them) – understand that evil bondage is waiting for those who forsake the moral boundaries of the Ten Commandments. Just talk with the people who have been out there for ten or twenty years. It is not the paradise they were led to believe. Don't be lured outside because it seems to make life easy and looks so fun.
The righteous life looks restrictive and narrow and it is, especially at the beginning. It seems like there are far more things you can't do than things you can, but it really is a liberating life; and the freedom to truly love and build strong, lasting relationships is great. The righteous life opens up more and more as one lives within it. As the garden grows, you discover more and more depth and joy and space in the garden.
he who hates reproof will die
This is saying the same thing as the first statement only much more strongly and is also an extension of the idea of grievous punishment. The person who will not be corrected will end up killing relationships and in this way die. It may be that physical death is the result of not listening to correction but way before that form of separation is the separation from key relationships and the internal separation from one’s self. This is death.
Right now in every one of our lives there are people who are trying to correct us, to give us advice, to redirect us. And we don't want to listen to what they are saying because we don't like the person who is saying it or we don't like the way they are saying it or we are absolutely convinced that our present course of action is the correct one. But listen to the proverb here: the one who will not listen to rebuke will die. They will experience separation. So listen. Now it is true that not all rebuke is worth paying attention to, but we should sift through it and look for the kernel of truth and seek to understand why they are saying what they are saying.
What are the reproofs in your life right now? Are you listening? Which ones are righteous and need to be listened to even though it would be hard to change direction?