Proverbs 29:1

“He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck,

    will suddenly be broken beyond healing.”

Proverbs 29:1 ESV

This proverb provides the visual imagery of Proverbs 13:1, “A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”

Thinking of a potter has helped me understand the imagery in this proverb. Most of us have probably seen a potter take a blob of clay, plop it onto a wheel, and begin to shape it. Round and round the piece goes as the potter presses his thumb to move the clay. Think of his thumb as the reproof or correction. As the clay receives the corrective thumb of the potter, it begins to take shape into something usable. To the degree that the clay does not receive the potter’s shaping, to that degree it remains a blob of clay.

If you’ve seen a potter working on a wheel, you’ve probably seen him put a bit of water on the clay to keep it moist and malleable. In other words, as long as the clay is moist, it can be shaped. Though it naturally resists being shaped, it can still be shaped. However, as the clay dries it becomes more risky to make changes. But, at a certain point, the clay is too dry and hardened to be changed at all. Any effort to shape the dry, hardened clay, will break it. Each time a fool resists correction, he dries a bit and becomes more susceptible to breaking.

I don’t think the potter and clay imagery is perfect, but it has helped me to visualize the danger of being a fool, one who does not listen to rebuke.

Lord, soften my heart that I may not only receive correction, but be shaped into a vessel fit for your use.

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