Ask the Question: Proverbs 18

Text is New American Standard Bible, italicized commentary by Matthew Henry,and some comments follow.

13He who gives an answer before he hears,
It is folly and1 shame to him.

Some take a pride in being quick… They think it is their honor to take up a cause suddenly; and, when they have heard one side, they think the matter so plain that they need not trouble themselves to hear the other… Whereas, though a ready wit is an agreeable thing to play with, it is solid judgment and sound wisdom that do business. Those that take a pride in being quick commonly fall under the just reproach of being impertinent. It is folly for a man to go about to speak to a thing which he does not understand, or to pass sentence upon a matter which he is not truly and fully informed of, and has not patience to make a strict enquiry into; and, if it be folly, it is and will be shame

15The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge,
and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

Those that are prudent do not think they have prudence enough, but still see they have need of more; and the more prudent a man is the more inquisitive will he be after knowledge, the knowledge of God and his duty… Those that prudently seek knowledge shall certainly get knowledge, for God never said to such, Seek in vain, but, Seek and you shall find. If the ear seeks it, the heart gets it, and keeps it, and is enriched by it. We must get knowledge, not only into our heads, but into our hearts, get the savour and relish of it, apply what we know to ourselves and experience the power and influence of it.

17The first to plead his case seems right,
until another comes and examines him.

This shows that one tale is good till another is told. He that speaks first will be sure to tell a straight story, and relate that only which makes for him, and put the best colour he can upon it, so that his cause shall appear good, whether it really be so or no. The plaintiff having done his evidence, it is fit that the defendant should be heard, should have leave to confront the witnesses and cross-examine them, and show the falsehood and fallacy of what has been alleged, which perhaps may make the matter appear quite otherwise than it did. We must therefore remember that we have two ears, to hear both sides before we give judgment.

The objective should be truth. The Bible clearly instructs us to pursue truth, and to examine that which claims to be true. Yet, in reality we often quench the questions that arise when we hear or read something claiming to be true.

One reason may be that we view the challenge to think about something logically and rationally as unspiritual. Yet God calls us to reason with Him, and in so doing truth will be supernaturally, rationally and logically revealed. In our own understanding we quench the Spirit, by acknowledging all His ways we are subject to the Spirit who will teach us all things.

Secondly, by mistaking questions for criticisms we may view the quest for truth as judgmental and unchristian. To be sure, those on the defensive usually make this their first accusation. That is why our questions should be motivated by a desire to know the truth and not a desire to be proven right. Then as information is revealed and weighed against the word of God, it will be proven to all parties involved what is true.

Our response to what is true is the evidence of our heart and motive. Our actions and words should bless, build each other up and bring glory to God. James tells us to “be swift to hear, slow to speak”, Proverbs 1:7 tells us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”, and Colossians 3:17 instructs us “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."


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