Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.
When I read verses in Proverbs about instruction, I think back to a time I had to assemble a bicycle. As any man will attest, following instructions is not in our DNA. Solomon gives us a picture of one who loves instruction and another who hates it. Following instructions brings with it the ability to complete tasks and in turn great satisfaction, while not following instructions leads to futility and frustration.
The lover of knowledge is one who loves to follow instructions that work. The Bible is God’s instruction manual for life and it always works. The Complete Word Study Bible states: The reception of instruction brings life, wisdom, and the favor of the Lord (Prov. 4:13; 8:33); however, rejection brings death, poverty, and shame. Instructions are absolutes, they are guidelines that must be followed. If I were to attempt to put a bicycle together without instructions, no matter how much I thought I knew, I might get a bicycle at the end, but it would definitely not look or ride like the designer intended it to. The sure way to end up with a bicycle that works is to pull out the instruction manual and follow the step-by-step, absolute directions of the manufacturer. The result of following the manual is the knowledge of how to assemble a bicycle. This is the point Solomon is making in this verse. The knowledge of how to live, that I love, causes me to love the instruction of the Bible even more.
In contrast to the lover of knowledge, we have the “hateful brute.” Here is the man who opens the box with the bicycle parts and begins to assemble it, never checking if he is doing the right thing. He tells himself: “I don’t need those stinking instructions, I can do this myself.” You and I might tell this man that his approach makes no sense. God agrees. In fact, the word “brutish” means “without sense” in this verse. The brute loathes being told that he is wrong, and what the right course of action in life is to be. Solomon says, “He hateth reproof.”
Think again of that bicycle. The lover of knowledge who follows the instruction and the hater of reproof both could make something that looks like a bicycle. But to get the bicycle to function properly, one must follow the instructions from the manual. If I were to enter a race, I would choose the bike built following the instructions. So it is that the life worth living is not the life of a simpleton who refuses to follow the instructions from God’s Book for life. Rather, we ought to love knowledge, and thus love to study the Instructions day after day.
Everywhere we turn in this world today, we are told: “You can figure life out on your own,” or “You can make your own path.” God, thankfully, encourages us to love instruction and so choose the right over the wrong in every circumstance of life.