Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 19:20
"Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days"
This is the Hebrew word sama, which means to hear, listen, obey. Solomon is insistent here that we pay attention and act on the correction, the information, the counsel, and the rebukes that we receive. In our day and age we have developed an ability to not hear what we don't like. We ignore those things that we don't agree with or those things that don't please us. This is a problem – for the surest road to foolishness is surrounding yourself with people and advice that is friendly only. You must force yourself to pay attention to the critic, the authority, the corrector.
This is the Hebrew word esa, which means counsel, purpose. Notice that the word is about purposes or expectations or plans. When you have a plan or a goal or an idea, it is good to get other people's input into it before you begin. The idea is that of alternative direction or a revision of your goal. When we are trying to accomplish something, it is wise to pass it by others before we set out; or we will then receive counsel about what we should have done or how we should have a slightly different goal. It is correction to our ideas and plans that Solomon is talking about here. The unexamined plan of the strong willed is often in for some hard revisions. So listen to the counsels of others before you begin.
This is the Hebrew word qabal, which means to take or receive. Are you willing to receive a correction to your ideas or plans? Do you push away at other’s ideas or rebel when your goals are blocked or rejected?
This is the Hebrew word moser, which means band or bond. The idea is something is restricting you or redirecting you. Solomon is using the image of chains or leather straps to talk about how God sends the message that you are not to go in a certain direction or a certain way. It is not easy to train yourself to accept when you are being restricted or redirected. It is often easier to get angry or depressed. Solomon is trying to get us to see that maybe there is purpose in the fact that God is not allowing us to do what we want to do.
This is the Hebrew word hokma, which means wisdom. We must not forget that being wise does not mean getting our own way all the time. It means moving to the rhythm of God's will and digging for the way to make the triple-win happen.
the rest of your days
This is the Hebrew in the latter end which refers to the latter part of life. Many times when we are blocked from something we want, we picture a dire future. But actually on many occasions God blocks us from doing what we desperately want because it will be bad for us and end us up in a place that is not good.
One day, Moses tells us, we will present our souls to God to see if we have collected any wisdom in our years on the earth. It is this presentation to God of our soul that Solomon has in view. Moses says, "So teach us to number our days that we may present you a heart of wisdom." It will be radically important when we get to that point that we can show the Lord, through our actions, that we were not just selfishly seeking our goals; but we were willing to look for His glory and opportunities to love others.