“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”
Scripture explicitly instructs us to train ourselves to take disciplined action in response to the word of God and the promptings of the Spirit. This “training” is the process of discipleship and spiritual growth.
We have seen throughout our study of Proverbs that wisdom—skillful living—is something that is learned. This core message is communicated in the very first verse of Proverbs, which says that the purpose of the book is wisdom and instruction. This was our first introduction to the Hebrew word musar, which means instruction, learning, and building skill through training.
“The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction …” (Proverbs 1.1)
As we have learned in our study, musar means learning to be discipline-driven. It is the process of getting wiser and more skillful every day by consistently applying God’s principles to your life. It is the process by which wisdom (hokma) is acquired. The opposite is to operate on default, which means to operate without discipline.
The disciplined process of instruction and training must be fully embraced if the wisdom of Proverbs is to benefit you. In order to be wise and live skillfully (hokma), you must learn and be trained (musar). Let’s revisit (again) some of the key verses in Proverbs that emphasize musar.
“Keep hold of instruction (musar); do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.” (Proverbs 4.13)
“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction (musar), and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” (Proverbs 1.8)
“Take my instruction (musar) instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.” (Proverbs 8.10-11)
“Listen to advice and accept instruction (musar), that you may gain wisdom in the future.” (Proverbs 18.20)
Default is easy; it is the path of least resistance. When you operate on default, you do not learn and grow. Discipline is challenging; it is the path of focused effort. When you operate with discipline, you grow and get better.
Trust God, exercise discipline, and build skill.