Proverbs 21:11 – “When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise: and when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge.”
There are two teachers mentioned in our text, both capable of helping the sincere learner. One is the instructor, “when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge.” The other is the scorner. “When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise.”
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are to be ever learning. We want to know His Word and how it applies to our lives. We want to be acquainted with His ways. We need to know His will for the decisions we must make daily. We desire to know how He would have us respond to the situations that life brings to us.
How are we to learn? First, we must take heed to our teachers, or instructors. God gives us many teachers. Our parents are teachers, instructing us from the time we are born. We also have our pastor or other spiritual instructors. We have teachers in school. Friends can teach us things we need to know. The Holy Spirit is given to lead us into all truth. As disciples, we are always in the classroom. We are always learning. Perhaps you have found yourself able to perform some task because you previously watched someone else in a similar situation. We need to take learning seriously. Many adults lament the fact that they did not take learning as seriously as they should have when they were younger. May we never outgrow the desire to learn.
Our verse says, “when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge.” Knowledge being received is the responsibility of the student, as well as the instructor. The wise person recognizes the need to pay attention to his teacher and receive knowledge.
There is another way of learning, other than formal instruction, and that is from experience. Our experiences, and what we observe from the experiences of others, can teach us valuable lessons. In particular, we are able to learn from mistakes. Our proverb tells us, “When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise.” The simple are able to learn from the punishment of the scorner. The scorner is not willing to learn from the wisdom of others, but the wise can learn from the foolishness of the rebel. As we see the consequences of disobedience in our lives, or in the lives of others, we can be instructed.