Stiff-necked . . . now there is a term you don't hear too much any longer. Yet, it would be wise for us to avoid being stiff-necked - especially when it comes to how we receive correction and reproof from others - and from God.
The "hardened-neck" is the one that is stiff, and it also has the idea of being severe or fierce. Thus the hardening is very decided. When a man hardens his neck - he is doing so with quite the attitude. Zhodiates brings out that this means someone who is harsh with anger - cruel - stiff-necked. This is a difficult person - stubborn and hardened and filled with resentment toward the one offering the reproof.
The reproof is not just criticism. It is also not just a one time statement. The proverb says "after much reproof." There are those who are offering the needed rebuke and correction - and when they offer it - they are offering A LOT of it. But - from the previous word - it is clear that the one receiving it is not interested in hearing it.
Suddenly speaks of something that happens all at once - there is an aspect to this that is shocking. The promise of the proverb is not for a slow decline - but for a sudden moment of retribution from the Lord. The one who receives this "sudden" consequences is broken. Broken is "shabar" means to break in pieces - and also has the idea of being abolished, crushed, demolished, destroyed, smashed, shattered, or torn down. This is a devastating breaking from God. What is worse is this breaking is described as bein beyond remedy - literally "no healing or cure" - This is something that is not recoverable. When I consider this, it makes me fear pride and arrogance. It also makes me want to turn from areas where I am receiving much instruction - and much rebuke - and turn to the Lord with a humility and brokenness that is self-imposed. Actually, it makes me want to turn in any area where I'm receiving correction - why wait until it becomes "much" reproof - respond now. Oh to have the brokenness that comes from the Lord as a gift - the broken and contrite heart that He gives as a loving gift to His children - rather than the brokenness that comes as a horrific retribution when we resist Him and those who are sent of Him to correct and train us in righteousness. Learn to receive correction and reproof as good friends - friends who only want us to avoid the breaking that comes with arrogance and self-centered thinking that rejects comments not meant to hurt - but meant to protect us from a stiff neck and its consequences.