What does Proverbs 18:15 mean?
ESV: An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
NIV: The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.
NASB: The mind of the discerning acquires knowledge, And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
CSB: The mind of the discerning acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks it.
NLT: Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.
KJV: The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.
NKJV: The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
Verse Commentary:
Solomon observes that an "intelligent heart" is never satisfied with their stock of knowledge. In this context, that means someone seeking godly wisdom and information (Proverbs 15:14, 32; 17:28). Instead of stagnating in his current views, the humble and sincere seeker of truth looks for ever-deeper knowledge. Not all people are equally equipped for deep intellectual pursuit; that's simply part of God's plan for diversity within the church (1 Corinthians 12:12–26). Yet each person should seek as much godly knowledge as they, themselves, can comprehend (1 Corinthians 14:20). Anything God feels all believers need to understand is accessible (Romans 1:18¬–20; Mark 10:15) to anyone who seeks it (Matthew 7:7–8).

This verse also evokes the symbolic image of an ear tipping to notice important information. It's said that part of learning is realizing how much one does not understand. The is contrasted with an attitude assuming a person already knows all that's required to start broadcasting their opinions (Proverbs 18:12–13). The more knowledge a wise person accumulates, the more he realizes that there is even more to be learned. This leads a truly wise person (Proverbs 1:7, 20) to soak in all the learning he can get.

No one should believe he knows enough to set aside learning. Even the boy Jesus "increased in wisdom" (Luke 2:52). The more a believer knows, the better they can communicate the gospel. Such a person is better equipped to minister to others (1 Corinthians 9:22). Second Timothy 3:15–17 indicates that Scriptures are crucial in making a believer wise and righteous, so he "may be complete, equipped for every good work." The apostle Peter also understood the importance of increasing one's knowledge. In 2 Peter 3:18 he exhorts believers to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
Verse Context:
Proverbs 18:10–15 contrasts true security found in God with the illusion of wealth. As in the prior verses, Solomon explains the value of seeking out deeper understanding. This passage contains two famous biblical statements. One refers to God as a "strong tower," while the other notes that physical struggles are easier to endure than spiritual and emotional trials.
Chapter Summary:
This segment of Solomon's wise sayings includes several well-known and often-repeated remarks. Among these are references to God's "name" as a place of safety, the connection between pride and catastrophe, the value of a godly spouse, and the intimate loyalty of a good friend. As in other parts of the book of Proverbs, these teachings are tied to warnings about the consequences of poor decisions.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 18 continues a long string of wise sayings attributed to Solomon. These began in chapter 10 and will continue through chapter 22. This section contains numerous references to fair-mindedness and seeking out truth from multiple sources. Diligent responsibility—in words, actions, and beliefs—is a notable emphasis in this segment.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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