Summary: God's wise men wrote His truths down so that we could be wise & so that we could readily share them with others.
THE WORDS OF THE WISE
God's wise men wrote these truths down so that we could be wise and so that we could readily share them with others(CIT). [The sayings in 22:17-24:34 were written by wise men other than Solomon, and were compiled either in his lifetime or later. As stated in 22:20, the following portion (22:17-24:22) includes 30 sayings. Walvoord, John & Zuck, Roy. The Bible Knowledge Commentary. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983, S. 954]
[The first section in Proverbs comprises the first nine chapters. The second comprises the tenth chapter up to chapter 22:16 which contain general proverbs usually, though not always, consisting of one verse. The third section starts here and goes to the end of the twenty fourth chapter, and is more connected and paragraphic in its style. The fourth section includes the twenty-fifth chapter to the twenty-ninth inclusive. The fifth section extends from the thirtieth chapter to the close, the authorship of which is still unsettled and in controversy.]
The subject this third section of the book addresses is spiritual truths, which are in this passage called "excellent things." These spiritual truths are directly related to man's spiritual nature-its moral condition, interests, and obligations. They are the greatest realities in the universe, of greater long term import to man than the whole material creation.
To awaken attention the teacher now address his students directly, intently, and personally as the pronouns "you" and "I" indicate. [Ministers must not simply preach and teach before their hearers, but must talk to them. Nor is it enough to preach to them all in general, we should address individual persons as we teach our congregation.]
I. AN APPLIED AND AMPLIFIED LIFE, 22:17-19.
II. ASSURED ANSWERS AND TRUTH, 22:20-21.
The exhortations in verse 17 show how to gain God's knowledge. "Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge" (NASV). ["Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge" KJV].
Note first the authority, ability, and integrity of those who taught. Those who teach are those who have been taught and have gained sufficient wisdom from God to be wise.
Note next the imperatives or exhortations: pay attention (4:1, 20; 5:1; 7:24), listen (1:8; 4:1, 10, 20; 5:1, 7; 7:24; 8:32-33), and apply your heart ( 2:2). These verbs call us to pursue and obey what is presented in the sayings or "Words of the Wise."
Nothing less than our full attention will do. We are to "incline," lean our head forward so we don't miss a word; "hear," take it all in and ponder it; and "apply," or to grasp the meaning with our all our mind and use our whole intellect to decide how to put it to work.
We are thus powerfully exhorted to get wisdom and grace, by laying hold of "the words of the wise," both written and preached, and the knowledge which this book gives men of good and evil, sin and duty, rewards and punishments. To these words, to this knowledge, the ear, the chief receptacle of wisdom, must be bowed down in humility and in serious attention and the heart, the center of thinking, choosing, deciding, must be applied in faith, and love, and intensive consideration. For the ear will not serve without the heart [Henry, Matthew: Matthew Henry's Commentary. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1991, S. Pr 22:17].
People often say, "I wish I knew what God wants me to do." If you have heard or thought those words, you are not alone. No matter how I've longed to know which direction to go next, I've not heard God speak audibly (yet I have heard Him speak louder than that) nor does He often tell me in prayer exactly the thing to do next. For me, discerning God's will has required an ongoing, process of clarifying His leading step-by-step as I walk in the light of His Word.
In this verse the Book of Proverbs help us learn how to discern what God wants. We do so by paying attention, listening, and applying God's teachings to our daily life. This process demands active listening. We listen for God's direction by reading and studying Scripture, by praying, by worshiping, by hearing God's Word taught, by participating in Bible studies, and by engaging in conversation with other believers, all the while applying the Word to our life.
As we listen for God to speak to us through our daily spiritual disciplines, we build confidence and trust in Him. He reveals His ways and we learn to follow His will. As we listen, understand and apply His Word, He the proves Himself a wise counselor and guide in every step of faith. We should pray: Father, speak to me through Your Word for I have determined to follow Your will for me. Help me to listen, grasp, and apply what You say so that I may learn to confidently trust You.