Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,[a]
and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.
This proverb presents a recurring theme in Proverbs a mark of a wise and godly person is being a good learner. Just in the last chapter and a half, there are six proverbs that refer to this theme:
A fool despises his father’s instruction,
but whoever heeds reproof is prudent (15:5).
A scoffer does not like to be reproved;
he will not go to the wise (15:12).
The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge,
but the mouths of fools feed on folly (15:14).
The ear that listens to life-giving reproof
will dwell among the wise (15:31).
Whoever ignores instruction despises himself,
but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence (15:32).
How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver (16:16).
The proverb that most closely parallels this proverb is 13:13:
Whoever despises the word bring destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.
The principle is simple: the way to succeed in life is to be a good learner. The second half of the proverb clues us into what type of word is meant: blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. The wisdom/word of Proverbs is the fear of the Lord wisdom, that which comes from knowing God and how God would have us live. The one who gives attention to this kind of word, and who trusts this wisdom, will know the good life. The problem with the fool is that he doesn’t want to learn, nor does he want to trust the Lord.
Why? It may be that he fears what he will have to give up or take up. He is comfortable being lazy; he likes the sins that he indulges in. The wisdom of Proverbs and Scripture do not encourage such behavior. It may be that he fears he will fail or will be let down. Maybe he doesn’t have the ability to stay on the straight path and trying to do so would expose his weakness. Maybe it will turn out that God (whom he cannot see) doesn’t come through. He leaves his old life only to find the new has more troubles. That does happen. There is a lot of risk to walking along the path that the wisdom of God would have one go. By definition, walking by faith is walking without clear sight. But this proverb teaches that the one who will walk by faith in the Lord will find what is truly good, for what he finds is the eternal, joyful life given by Christ.
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews[a] among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.
11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”
12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”
15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.