20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,
and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.
21 The wise in heart are called discerning,
and gracious words promote instruction.
22 Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent,
but folly brings punishment to fools.
Sometimes instructions don’t make sense until you apply them. The one who rejects them limits himself to his own understanding, how can he make any progress? Whenever an instruction is confusing, there is an opportunity for growth. This is particularly true with the Lord’s guidance. The one who trusts the Lord obeys in spite of his doubts, and finds blessedness on the other side. Would you have marched around Jericho blowing a trumpet? If there is something the Lord is urging you to do, trust him and do it – you will not regret it.
“The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction.” Joseph is an example of one who obeyed the Lord in spite of his circumstances, and for thirteen years nothing seemed to go his way. But he persevered in wisdom, and was prepared when his moment of opportunity arrived. Pharaoh was impressed not only with Joseph’s interpretation of the dream, but also the humble way in which he gave it. “Since God has made all this known to you,” he said to Joseph, “there is no one so discerning and wise as you.” Whatever challenges you face, don’t waste the opportunity to grow in wisdom and grace.
“Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent, but folly brings punishment to fools.” Here is the fourth and final fountain of life metaphor in the book. “The mouth of the righteous” (10:11), “The teaching of the wise” (13:14), and “the fear of the Lord” (14:27) all share this image with prudence – and all of these flow from the heart. Are you searching for the fountain of life? Examine your heart, rid it of foolishness, and fill it with these things.