This is a simple admonition here in Proverbs - and yet if we will look at it carefully, it will yield to us some very helpful information.
The first thing we see is that we are to apply our heart to discipline. The word "apply" here means, "to bring to" - thus what God is saying to us is that we need to bring our hearts to something. Here we read that what we bring our hearts to is discipline. The word discipline is "musar" which means to instruct with discipline. It refers most often to the discipline given by a father - both by word and by the rod.
It is very easy when discipline is applied to us for us to not allow it to reach the heart. We may hear the words - and receive the correction - but we do not bring our hearts to it. True correction and discipline is for the heart - not the bottom. It might be applied to the rear end with the rod - but the aim in these things needs to be directly to the heart. Those who protest the use of the rod see the issue being striking a child - and they see it as evil in all circumstances. But the godly parent is not aiming for the rear end alone. They want to instruct with their discipline. They want their words and their use of the rod to affect the heart of the child. If you have their heart - in the end you will truly change their behavior. What Solomon is saying though, is for the one receiving the discipline. Apply your heart to what God is trying to teach you.
If you are like me - there are times when you bristle at discipline. It is not pleasant to have God apply the rod to us. It is not a delightful thing for us to be corrected and rebuked. But when God grants us discipline it is only for our best interests. We can be absolutely assured of this. Therefore we need to train ourselves to receive it joyfully - gratefully - and educationally. If we do, maybe we won't need a second dose of discipline to complete the job for us.
The second admonition here is that we also apply our ears to words of knowledge. Knowledge here refers to more than just head-learning. Solomon is telling us about a knowing of God and His ways. He refers to a working knowledge - a practical knowledge - intimate knowledge - knowledge that truly changes the way we act. The verb "apply" is assumed here - thus we are told to bring our ears to this knowledge that God is seeking to give us. It is more than just hearing it - it is concentrated listening. It is listening to learn and to apply it to one's life. This is key to us becoming wise.
If we will truly bring our hearts and ears to what God is seeking to communicate to us, we will be blessed greatly. God longs for us to be wise and to know and follow Him with all our hearts. These two practices - bringing our hearts to times of discipline - and bringing our ears to hear obediently what God says to us - will assure that we grow and personally experience all the godliness that God desires to give us when He works and speaks in our lives.
POSTSCRIPT: Recently, individuals have quoted articles from this section and stated that we teach child abuse at Calvary Chapel Jonesboro. To this I feel the need to respond. First, biblically, we are told that if we have a problem with our brother to go to our brother - not the internet - and confront our brother. To date, these individuals have yet to contact me to discuss these things. That should say volumes in itself.
Second, we do not teach child abuse at our fellowship. This blog is an endeavor to teach what is in the Bible for the edification and upbuilding of God's people. Anyone who has been to our fellowship knows that in our classrooms we administer NO physical discipline. We correct with words and with "time outs" and eventually with a report to parents. From our nursery throughout every age group our people are instructed NEVER to administer physical discipline. We believe this right alone belongs to a parent. Even then we teach the following about any application of physical discipline.
Discipline is about the heart of a child. Physical or corporal punishment is ONLY to be administered in a spirit of love for the child. Teaching and loving verbal correction is key - as is prayer for the child's eventual salvation in Jesus Christ. Any physical punishment administered due to anger or rage is out of line and wrong. The parent is to discipline the child with appropriate discipline - not abuse. In the end the child should be taught - and in every circumstance hugged, loved, and prayed with after any physical punishment to assure them of our love. The idea of a "beating" is completely out of step with what the Scriptures are teaching. Instead the idea of loving discipline is intended.