Reproof, Rebellion, and Mother Bears – Proverbs 17:10-13
“A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool. An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.
Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly.
Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.”
Verse 10 – “Reproof” means “Blame or censure for a fault” (MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY). Good criticism is of benefit to those who have wisdom and understanding.
A man or woman is foolish who will not heed criticism; nor the sting of a good lashing.
Verse 11 – Let us define evil. “Evil”, again from the MIRRIAM/WEBSTER dictionary, “1. Wicked, 2. causing or threatening distress or harm: Pernicious” In our text it would mean displeasing – Displeasing to God. Contrary to the heart and will of God.
The heart of sin does seek rebellion against God. The Wise writer says that this “wicked person will be met by the cruel messenger” probably sent by the king.
Verse 12 – One of the most tragic events that I have heard of happening is a hiker and his spouse getting caught between a mother bear and her cubs. In saving her life [the life of his spouse], the mother bear took his. It is a dangerous thing.
The writer of Proverbs saw it as better to be met by a mother bear separated from her cubs as to be caught in company with a foolish individual.
Verse 13 – (Psalm 35:12; 109:4-5; Proverbs 20:22; Matthew 5:39). King David rewarded evil to Uriah after the good and faithful service he had provided in the king’s military forces. David paid dearly for that grave evil.
We can also see from David’s evil act what happened to his house after his death. It could be that Solomon has these matters in his mind as he penned these words to the scroll.