Stop listening to instruction, my son,
and you will stray from the words of knowledge.
Stop hearing instruction and you will not only stop learning more, but you will stray from the path of knowledge. Ceasing to learn more is not a matter of slowing down and letting others pass you by. Rather, it is straying off the path of knowledge altogether. A patient who stops receiving physical therapy too soon, not only stops improving but regresses. So it is for anyone who thinks he no longer needs to hear instruction.
James says that if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he will forget what he learned (James 1:22ff). Solomon is saying that if anyone thinks he no longer needs to hear, he will begin to do what is wrong. He will stray. He begins to interpret wrongly what he sees. He will make mistakes in judgment. And worse, he will lose his ability to discern when he makes mistakes. He no longer has the ability to hear.
The mark of wisdom is not reaching a plateau where you no longer need instruction. It is reaching the point where you delight in hearing instruction. Certainly for the believer, it is the delight in hearing instruction in the Word of God. The true person of knowledge cannot hear the gospel enough; he cannot receive enough instruction in the teachings of grace nor of the law which guides him in the way of righteousness; he cannot hear too many times about the greatness of his God and the wonders of his works; he cannot desire too much to live a life that glorifies his Lord.
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. 4 Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.”[a] And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
11 They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short.”
13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. 15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.