"Cease listening, my son, to discipline, and you will stray from the words of knowledge"
There is a temptation that comes to everyone, that it is possible to get smarter and wiser without hard work or being open to rebuke and correction. Solomon wants us to realize that this is a myth, a temptation, a mirage.
This is the Hebrew word shama which means to hear, to obey.
This is the Hebrew word musar which means discipline, chastening, correction, reproof, instruction. The idea here is that one has to be corrected or instructed in a new way or the proper way. This word is the point of this proverb. You must be open to correction and new information or you cannot continue in the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge. There is never a point that you will be insulated from being wrong, from learning something you don't know, from being shown a better, more efficient way of doing something.
Solomon is saying that if you want to pursue the course of wisdom and knowledge, hardening of the view point and an unwillingness to be corrected and even redirected is lethal. At each point along the way of life's journey, we think we know all there is to know. It is this temptation to pride that keeps us from really being wise and enjoying life. It happens at 13, 15, 17, 20, and every age past puberty. If you let this arrogance win, you will be headed for a fall. Solomon says you will wander from real knowledge as you try to protect what you already know.
Become a lifelong learner. Now it is also true that there is lots of information out there that is parading around as knowledge that is lies, misleading, and dangerous and one must make sure that one is not following this "new" knowledge. But one must be willing to examine new information and new methods if one is to avoid pride and continue on the path of knowledge and wisdom.
Who hasn't seen the teenager who knows it all? Some college graduates are convinced that they have everything about the world figured out. Who has not seen the middle-aged person who has made up his mind and is unwilling to consider new facts?
This is the Hebrew word shagah which means to go astray, to err, wander. It would seem that Solomon is suggesting that the person who is not open to being corrected and instructed does not plunge into stupidity but slowly wanders or strays into that place because of their unwillingness to listen to another point of view.
This is the Hebrew word yada which means knowledge in the form of information or skills. In this case it seems clearly to mean information. Solomon is clearly telling us that when you stop listening to alternative points of view, then you are robbing yourself of crucial information that you need. None of us can make great decisions with bad information. Good information requires that we listen to different points of view and even those who are in opposition to us. They may not have the right solution but they often have information that we don’t have.
One of the consistent problems in companies, political parties, families, and churches is that they only want to hear one aspect of truth. They surround themselves with people who will agree with them and never challenge the status quo. This is the path, Solomon says, to straying from true information. This insulated position will cost you dearly. Find a way to get information that is true and may be a little uncomfortable.