“A fool despises his father’s instruction: but he that regards reproof is prudent.” (Proverbs 15:5)
Many verses in Proverbs are wise instructions given to a son or daughter to keep them from straying from the right path. This verse says that the son, who listens to his father or mother by obeying their instructions and yielding to their reproof, will be a wise and prudent son. However, the son who despises their instructions and correction is a fool. This is not only true in the natural relationship of a father and a son, but it is also true in the relationship with our heavenly Father. We are blessed and wise when we remain as a teachable child, who obeys his father and yields to his correction.
It is a father’s responsibility as the head of the family to act as mentor to his children. He is responsible to lead, guide and teach them, and if necessary administer discipline in love. But the young person who despised that correction is described as ‘a fool’.
Proverbs instructs us to respect the instruction of father, mother, and people who are older and wiser (Proverbs 1:8; 4:1–6, 13) A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes. (Proverbs 13:1)
How well a person responds to discipline reveals his character. The contrast here is between the foolish son or daughter who has contempt for their parents who disciplines them, while a wise son hears and heeds reproof.
Children should obey parents and pay attention to them because:
- God has given parents authority over them.
- They generally are twenty to forty years more experience in life than their children.
- They have a lot more knowledge even if the children may think otherwise.
- Parents generally have the children’s best interests in mind, while children are often selfishly motivated by their own desires.
- No one has to prove a fool to be a fool; he will prove himself to be one, when he despises discipline and reproof.
A fool will not accept instruction, especially from his father and mother, because he thinks he knows it all. When instructions are offered, a foolish child or young adult’s face clouds up with rebellion, they argue, harbor hatred in their heart and may quietly listen with the intent to disobey.
On the contrary a prudent and wise child will seek his father’s counsel and listen eagerly to any advice he can gather. He will not be offended by correction, restrictions, or repeated warnings. He trusts his father’s experience, objective advice, counsel, and the love he has for God and for him.
Willingness to be corrected is an important characteristic that distinguishes the wise from the foolish. “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1) And Proverbs 13:1 tells us once again that: “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”
Correction = “reproof”, “chastisement” and “rebuke” – is an integral tool for educating. The one who heeds correction is prudent because heeding correction or reproof leads to wisdom (Proverbs 15:31).
The wise father instructs his son from God’s word: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; 12 for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12).
The problem with the fool is this: he or she actually does not know good council when they see it! A fool is too foolish to see wisdom. When the fool seeks out wisdom, he’ll go to the wrong place.
We read about king Rehoboam in 2 Chronicles 10:8-11, who “rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. 9 He asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?” 10 The young men who had grown up with him replied, “The people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.’ Now tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. 11 My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’”
Like king Rehoboam the fool is naturally drawn to those with flattering lips. Wise council is too harsh for him, because it means that some of his own foolish thoughts will be challenged. It means he may be rebuked, and he doesn’t want that!
We have a choice to make in our daily lives. Proverbs 15:10 tells us that those who hate discipline will die. And Proverbs 15:24 and 31 tell us that wisdom gained by rebuke will save us.
Five times in this chapter we read the refrain: ‘the wise receives rebuke, but the fool despises it.’ We see it repeated in vs. 15:5, 10, 12, 31 and 32. Why does Solomon repeat it so many times? There is no doubt that wisdom is only gained through rebuke and chastening. It is gained by listening to the words of the wise, which will often not be the words the fool wants to hear.