To prepare Egypt for the coming seven years of famine, Joseph recommended that Pharaoh appoint a biyn, someone who was discerning so as to be able to understand and apply the discretion and wisdom it would take to manage the situation (Gen. 41:33). This is the same word translated “discerning” in Proverbs 10:13.
On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found,
But a rod is for the back of him who lack understanding.
Since the mouth speaks from what is in the heart, this proverb indicates that the “discerning” speaks wisdom because he possesses wisdom on the inside. Since people are not born with wise hearts (Prov. 22:15), he had to have obtained wisdom from outside of his own thinking. That required humility. Learning God’s wisdom comes at the cost of one’s own ideas about what is wise, which requires setting aside pride, something hard to do. It also requires self-discipline to listen and apply.
The one who lacks understanding lacks it because doesn’t want to listen to wisdom. Someone who won’t listen won’t learn from teaching. For example, correcting a stubborn toddler is not just a matter of reasoning with him, as so many parents try to do. He’ll even talk with you; it wears you down while he remains implacable. That is why discipline is the fit and necessary means of educating one who won’t listen.
According to Proverbs 10:13:
- If you want wise counsel, consult a discerning person.
- People who reject words of wisdom can be controlled only by forces outside of themselves.
- One lacking wisdom in the inner man needs a wise helping hand upon his outer man.