Proverbs 23:12

Apply your heart to instruction

    and your ear to words of knowledge.

Proverbs 23:12 ESV

In this verse, the writer implores us to give our heart to instruction, to set our affections upon godly instruction or wisdom. How should we get that instruction? The writer answers that in saying, “[apply] your ear to words of knowledge.” We need to actively listen to godly instruction. We could summarize this verse as follows: “Set your affections on the godly instruction you hear.” Or we could simply borrow the wording of Proverbs 7:1, “My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you.”

While the scriptures do not implore us to be ignorant about the world and the things in it, the priority is to be wise, to first and foremost know and treasure God. Jeremiah 9:24 says it this way, “but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

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