You don’t have to beat a wise man up to get him to correct his course.
You can talk quiet sense to a woman who needs to think again and, if she’s wise, she’ll listen and act.
A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool. (Proverbs 17:10 ESV)
The wise have thin skin, in the best and uncommon sense of the expression. They’re correctable, eager to fix what’s wrong, responsive to the hard word of a caring friend.
This, in the matrix of biblical wisdom, represents one of the most vast distances of the moral landscape that spreads out between the discerning person and the fool. In a context that did not spare the rod, you could beat the fool silly and he still won’t get it, won’t change his direction, won’t make amends. The fool is almost by definition incorrigible. He gets more stupid every day, precisely because foolishness dulls and eventually dooms its object. Like wisdom, but in the opposite direction, folly crescendoes.
The English Standard Vision, with its disciplined literalism, captures a nuance that is too quickly smoothed out by other versions: a rebuke goes deep into a man of understanding. He doesn’t have his shields up. The truth penetrates. It bites him, it stings him, he aches, and he responds.
Correction gets inside of the discerning woman quickly. The damage she’s done with her carelessness or her temporary obstinance is limited. She makes her mistakes, this is true, but she leaves no trail of catastrophe behind her. Her errors are small ones, committed with declining frequency and soon left behind. Her learning curve is constant.
Such people, with the help of their friends, become gently bruised but wiser every day.