Proverbs 1:5 "A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:"
After outlining the three primary reasons for compiling a collection of his proverbs, Solomon shares his first proverb in verse 5. As is often the case throughout the Book of Proverbs, this first proverb is separated into two verses in our English Bible. As expected, this wise man uses his first proverb to motivate his readers to read on and listen up.
Instead of challenging his readers directly to keep reading, he offers them a proverb that indirectly challenges them to keep reading. The son or student reading this first proverb would be faced with a big decision: keep reading and be considered a wise man or stop reading and be considered a foolish man. This generic proverb strategically placed at the very beginning of the book was designed to keep the reader reading and listening. If the reader was tempted to stop reading out of boredom, laziness or disagreement, he or she would be internally confronted with this proverb – “a wise man will HEAR, which means a foolish man will stop HEARING.” No one wants to be labeled a fool and no one wants to do something that they have now read brands them foolish. On the flip side, everyone wants to be labeled wise and everyone wants to do something that they now have read brands them wise. So with this proverb, Solomon has indirectly motivated his listeners to keep listening.
This proverb highlights the basic virtue of the wise, which is the desire to learn. For a wise man to increase in learning, he must HEAR. For a wise man to hear, he must be in attendance. Therefore, the basic virtue of the wise is two-fold: Be in Attendance and Be Attentive. Wisdom is not just being in attendance in the place of instruction; it’s being in attendance as well as being attentive to the instruction. Going to class doesn’t make a student wise. Going to class AND being attentive to the teaching, however, is wise. Going to church is good but going to church will not in itself increase in any learning. Going to church AND being attentive to the teaching and preaching of God’s word will, however, result in an increase in learning.
A wise man will be both in attendance at home AND attentive to the words of his wife and children in order to learn more about them so as to meet their needs.
A wise woman will be both in attendance at home AND attentive to the words of her husband and children in order to learn more about them so as to meet their needs.
A wise child will be both in attendance at home AND attentive to the words of his father and mother in order to learn about life, the Lord and living.
A wise believer will be both in attendance at church AND attentive to the words of his pastors and teachers in order to learn more about God and His Word.
A wise child of God will be both present in the Scriptures AND attentive to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit in order to learn more about God and His will.
Given the context and full meaning of Solomon’s first proverb in the Book of Proverbs, verse 5 could be wrapped up in one word - the word, “HEAR.” If his readers wanted to be considered wise, Solomon was indirectly telling them to be “HERE” in order to ultimately “HEAR.” There would be no chance for his readers to be considered wise if they weren’t first in attendance and secondly, attentive. Ask the average wife and she’ll tell you that it’s one thing to be present and another thing to be listening!
Let us all benefit from the truth of Solomon’s first proverb. Let us be “HERE” in the Book of Proverbs on a consistent daily basis AND then let us “HEAR” the wisdom of God speaking. Let us be “HERE” in the pages of Scripture on a consistent daily basis AND then let us “HEAR” the Spirit of God speaking. On four occasions, the Gospels record the following plea, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Revelation 2:7 says, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith.” Read the Word of God in order to HEAR the Spirit of God. Attend the House of God in order to HEAR the Voice of God.
In order to increase in learning, your ear has to be before the teacher AND it has to be open to the teacher. The wise man is wise because he stays in attendance and because he stays attentive in the place of instruction. The person who chooses to stop attending church services or daily devotions will not increase in learning. In addition, the person who chooses to stop listening while attending church services or daily devotions will also fail to increase in learning. Sadly in either case, such a person cannot be considered a wise person. Logically-speaking, they must be deemed as foolish.
Solomon’s first proverb could be summarized this way: Be “HERE” and while you’re here, “HEAR.”