Proverbs 29:1, “Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed without remedy.”
The Lord will rebuke everyone in life from time to time. The word rebuke means, “sharp disapproval of one’s behavior.” God will either rebuke you personally or through people. When God rebukes you personally it will generally happen through prayer and study of the Scriptures. However, sometimes like with Peter, it can happen in a vision or dream (Acts 10:15). And on rare occasions God might send an angel to speak on His behalf like He did with the prophets.
When God uses people to rebuke you, it can come through the preaching of His Word, church leaders, godly friends or even a spouse or parent. Most of the time it will be through someone you know and trust. Rarely will God send a stranger into your life to rebuke you and even in those times, we are told to make sure it is from God by “testing the spirit” (1 John 4:1). The Bible is full of examples of God using people to rebuke others on His behalf (most of the prophetic books in the Old Testament are rebukes to various people; see Isaiah and Jeremiah). In the New Testament, Paul rebuked Peter face to face in Antioch because Peter was favoring Jewish customs over the gospel of grace in Galatians 2:11 and Peter rebuked a man trying to “buy the Holy Spirit” in Acts 8:20.
If you cannot remember a time that the Lord rebuked you, it is because you haven’t been listening! God rebukes and disciplines those He loves.
The question is not, “Will you be rebuked?” because everyone will be rebuked, but rather the real question is, “How will you respond when you’re rebuked?” If you’re stiff-necked (unteachable), you will eventually be broken beyond repair. However, if you’re flexible and willing to change, you will prosper. Watchman Nee wrote, “Sometimes Satan provokes us to harden our spirit. It can become stiff, unyielding, narrow and selfish. Such a spirit cannot work with God nor can it do His will.” Resist the temptation to be prideful by being humble instead; because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).
What’s terrifying about today’s proverb is that God said the stiff-necked, “will suddenly be destroyed without remedy.” In other words, the destruction will not come when they expect it and no one will be able to stop it. This kind of judgment can be seen with the people of Israel. God had continually sent them warnings but they did not listen (Jeremiah 6:19). Then suddenly God punished them by allowing their enemies to conquer them and there was nothing anyone could do to stop the destruction (2 Kings 24). The same is true in the end times when God hands over the unbelievers to delusion and allows them to be destroyed because they refused to listen to the truth and be saved (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12).
As a result, this proverb is best understood in the context of God’s judgment because even if we do sin, God will be patient, desiring that we confess and renounce it. However, if we refuse to listen to God’s warnings about our sin, our destruction is sure. God said in Hebrews 10:26-27, “26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” Make a decision today to listen to what God is saying to you through His rebukes.
- Ask God to remove any pride you may have in your life in regards to being rebuked.
- Be quick to listen and repent whenever the Lord rebukes you; either from Him personally or from others.
- Don’t live in continual sin.