The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.
Open to Instruction
As of this writing, I am about to enter into a new phase of life, a new field of ministry, a place for which I feel a tad bit (maybe more) under-prepared. At the very least, I know that in this new position I will be faced with responsibilities and challenges I’ve yet to encounter; therefore, I have been seeking advice from other pastors who have personal experience.
If there is anything I’ve learned in life, it’s to not think I know everything. If I’m willing to admit I need advice, there’s a good possibility I will be successful in my future endeavors. But advice and counsel are not exactly what is being discussed in the above verse/proverb; we’re talking about “commandments.”
Commandments are not “advice,” but prescriptions for life. They are not given with options; they are our orders – period.
As a matter of fact, they are so important that Solomon (the preacher) tells us in Ecclesiastes that other than fearing God, nothing is more important than keeping his commandments…
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. – Ecclesiastes 12:13
The difference between being open to advice and receiving commandments can be huge! Being open to the wise instruction of others is not the same as being humble and obedient. It’s not all about us; it’s all about God.
Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. – Deuteronomy 13:4
Prating and Falling
When we examine the word “prating” in today’s proverb, what we find is that it means “to open the lips, i.e. to begin to talk”* and carries with it the idea of someone running off at the mouth with as much understanding as the babbling of a brook.
The “wise in heart,” or those whose character is humble enough to know that there’s One who knows all, stands (ironically) in stark contrast to the fool who is so confident in himself that he runs off at the mouth without any regard for the commands of God.
So he falls. Or, rather, is made to fall.
The wise in heart knows he can’t stand in his own strength, but obeys the One who will help him to stand. The prating fool is too busy listening to his own lips that he can’t even hear his Creator, so the fall is not by accident.
LORD, give is a wise heart that listens to and obey Your commands.
*Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003), 793.