God’s Word for You
Proverbs 26:16 Be willing to listen
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, February 12, 2020
16 The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes
than seven people who can answer with discretion.
Here the lazy man comes close to the Proverbs’ description and understanding of the fool, except that while the fool might have some intelligence; the lazy man has none at all (Proverbs 26:12). The lazy man doesn’t think about his answer, nor is he really interested in a thoughtful answer of any kind. He tends to fill a conversation with anecdotes that don’t touch the subject, or some bit of gossip that would have been better left unsaid. Yet he thinks that other people are no better than he is. To him, his running mouth is a sweeter sound that anything any number of other people (“seven” here stands for “many” or “any number”) who truly could supply something fitting, something comforting, or (best of all) something uplifting or instructive from the word of God.
How should we apply a proverb such as this, about the dregs of humanity, to ourselves? By reversing it as a caution and applying it to our lives of faith in Christ. I should not be wise in my own eyes or be conceited about my words. I should be willing to listen to those “who can answer with discretion.” If there are people willing to listen to what I have to say, then I must be willing to listen to what others have to say—far more willing to listen than to speak. The apocryphal Sirach offers a wise word: “The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself; so you will find favor in the sight of the Lord” (Sirach 3:18). And again, even closer to the inverse of this proverb: “Do not slight the discourse of the sages, but busy yourself with their maxims, because from them you will gain instruction and learn how to serve great men” (Sirach 8:8). Most especially, I should listen to and meditate on the word of God. As I do this, I will understand the will of God and the grace of God more and more every day. Then when trouble comes, or loss, or even death, I will be able to take it as a man who knows that God is with me, who assures me that he will not forsake me, and who will uphold everyone who is troubled or who grieves. He is compassionate. He is with us always, to the very end of the age; to the very end of life and beyond, into everlasting joy and peace in eternal life.
Pastor Timothy Smith