"Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.” - Proverbs 19:20 (Cf. 12:15).
          It seems that everyone is concerned for some gain and some viable progress between now and their future.  Likewise, everyone has their own idea about what the best way to achieve their desired future might be.  Solomon recognized the normality of this in people’s lives and, in several areas of Proverbs, addressed the idea and clearly, not to mention relatively simply.  This one of those places.  The desire to be wise, he recognizes here is both normal and able to be achieved in a relatively direct fashion.  It can be realized, Solomon tells us, with three basic steps in place:
I.    Seeing to it that we “hear” the counsel of God as best and as often as we are able.
          The first step, we’re told, is to see to it that we are “hearing” the counsel of God.  That means two things for us to consider.  First, the word “listen” means to take in via the ears (or perhaps, by reading, by means of the eyes).  Implied in the word is the idea of intention – we listen to the “counsel” of God  with the intention of taking action upon what we hear.  It is NOT just a matter of bulk take in.  We should also note the this verb (listen to or hear) is in the imperative mood.  It is not a suggestion but rather it is a command.  It is something that, if we are to achieve the stated goal (being wise in our latter end) we MUST accomplish, else we will not achieve the goal.  It is essential to the goal that we take in the counsel of God with the goal of application and understanding for the goal to accomplished.  Just to think a bit, we should also note that the manifestation of this “listening” does not occur immediately, it occurs when we approach our “latter end” or the end of our lives.  The “hearing” here can be understood to refer to hearing preaching, hearing teaching, our own study, discussion, etc.  It is NOT referring to hearing the professional speaking of the Prophets or Apostles.  It has more to do with recognizing that the speaking is coming from God and paying it due attention and respect.
           Solomon goes on and tells us that we are to “receive instruction”.  This idea tells us that this “counsel” is “instruction” that we are to “receive”.  In many versions instruction means virtually the same thing as “disciple”.  It is used in a couple of senses in the OT.  It can refer to discipline or to correction with the obvious implication in those ideas.  It can also mean, however, the idea of training or even exhortation with the point of those two words being changing ones’ behavior or thinking and ordering it to be in line with the counsel just heard.  Keep in mind that this entire section is imperative and is presented as that which is necessary and, in a sense, not optional; it is something that the believer MUST pursue.  We are to “accept” this discipline (many versions translated this phrase differently).  This word has to do with an aggressive grasping or taking hold of the object in view; in this case, the discipline mentioned.  The word “discipline” can be translated as chastisement, training, even warning.  It is speaking of the various functions of the counsel of God, the Word o God in our day and age.  The Word of God can give counsel and instruction/discipline and, as Solomon says here, can make us wise as we head on in and arrive at our “latter end” or that time we live out at, at end of life.  
          One of the other powerful implications is that true wisdom that serves God and makes us over in the image over in HIS image is available ONLY by this means.  Like it or not, we cannot appropriate in any other fashion!  So many these days imagine that they either are or can be wise by their own means.  The haughtiness and arrogance of much of the world is both astounding and a bit frustrating.  This is one of the truly mystifying and upsetting things we see in the world around us.  Men, albeit very smart men, think of themselves as possessing far more wisdom than they ultimately have.  They, ultimately, have trusted their own resource, rather than seeking the counsel of God (which like all men – they know exists and they need badly).  But there is none righteous, no not one.  All have gone out of the way…

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