Men’s Breakfast Study: Proverbs 3:11-12
In the first speech (Prov. 3:1-10), the father extols the virtues and value of remembering and obeying the law of God given by the parents. Here, however, the father warns the son that this wisdom and obedience does not come automatically, but it comes God’s fatherly correction and instruction.
The Instruction of the Lord
This section begins with praise for “correction.” This is a key word for Solomon, used thirty times in the book of Proverbs alone, often translated “instruction” (e.g. 1:2-3, 7-8, Prov. 4:11, 13, 5:12, etc.). This Hebrew word musar is translated as paideia in the New Testament, meaning discipline or chastening (e.g. Eph. 6:3, Heb. 12:5-11). In Deuteronomy 11, Moses describes this musar/paideia of the Lord as the entire story of God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt, His greatness and His signs, His care for them in the wilderness as well as His judgment on those who were disobedient (Dt. 11:2-8). In other words, the discipline/instruction of God is a full-orbed training that includes illustrations, corrections, instructions, judgments, and salvation, all with a fierce fatherly love (cf. Ex. 4:22-23).
Do Not Despise
The word “despise” is often used in a macro-covenantal sort of way, not merely low-level preferences. Remember fools were identified in the introduction as those who “despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7). It is frequently referring to formal, judicial rejection of God and His law. It is also used several times in the 1 Samuel narrative tracing Israel’s rejection of God as their king all the way through to Saul’s rejection of God, culminating in God’s rejection of Saul as king (1 Sam. 8-16). It can sometimes literally mean “cast away” (Job 8:20, Lev. 26:44, Is. 31:7), and becomes something of the key word referring to God’s rejection of disobedient Israel (Lam. 5:22, Ez. 5:6, Hos. 4:6, 9:17, Amos 5:21).
Because He Delights
Solomon underlines the fact that the training and discipline of the Lord is grounded in His love (Prov. 3:12). It is because of His “delight” in His son that He trains him. We see this pattern throughout Scripture: when God created Adam and Eve and delighted in them, He sent them the challenge of a serpent. When God delighted in Noah, He sent him into the flood. When God delighted in Abram and Jacob and Job, He sent them challenges, difficulties and tests. Ultimately, when God announced that He was very pleased with Jesus, His Son, He immediately sent Him into the wilderness to do battle with Satan and ultimately to the cross to win salvation. God’s delight in His sons compels Him to push His sons toward glory (Heb. 2:10).
Putting this all together, despising and rejecting God’s discipline is rejection of His salvation, His love and care for His people – ultimately it is a rejection of God as Father and King. It is like the prodigal son’s rejection of his father, leaving home to seek another life, another king, another love. But God sent His own son into the far country to seek and to save that which was lost, to bring many sons with Him back to the glory of the Father. This is the greater Exodus, the greatest sign and wonder, the great correction that saves the worst of sinners.