“Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.”
Listen Very Carefully
Alternative meanings for the Hebrew word translated in the KJV as “hearken” (verse 32) and “hear” (verse 33) include “hear intelligently” and “listen carefully.” Some years ago, a popular UK comedy series featured the catchphrase; “Listen very carefully I will say this only once.”
It is interesting that Solomon doesn’t say it only once. Instead the book of Proverbs hammers home the need for wisdom, time and time again. A good comparison might be a parent constantly repeating instructions to a child. It is no surprise that Proverbs 8:32 includes the word “children” directly after the instruction to listen carefully.
Having listened to wisdom the next challenge is application (for blessed are they that keep my ways). Dipping into Strong’s again the Hebrew word shown as “keep” may also be translated as “guard.” Why would we guard wisdom? Because it is precious and to be valued (Proverbs 3:15 and Proverbs 8:18-19). And yet, like children, we struggle with the difficult concept of wisdom.
God never intended for us to remain as children. Learning and applying wisdom is part of growing up. Growth is not just about height and girth. We are also required to grow in our relationship with God. This challenge is clearly presented in Scripture.
My eldest son is thirty-two in August. I’m glad he has grown up. I am blessed by the way in which he has matured as a man, but I am even more blessed by his spiritual growth. He is fractionally taller than me, but that does not change the fact that we are father and son. He calls me Dad, not David, and he often seeks my advice, just as I still turn to my eighty-one year old father in the same way.
It doesn’t matter how much we grow, our relationship with God will always be one of Father and child. We will always need to listen carefully to His voice. We will always need to seek His wisdom and follow His ways. But sometimes, just like children, we may need correction.