Like most of the book of Proverbs, there isn't a specific setting that the words we find in Proverbs 22:17 are addressing but they are rather touching on the reality that faces us as image bearers of the LORD our God who are fallen and broken by sin and being restored and renewed by the Holy Spirit.
For in our creation in the image of God, we have been given minds of discernment and understanding – with the ability to reason and to reflect in ways that make plain that we are not animals but are a distinct creation of God.
We are created to be revelation-receivers.
We incline our ears and hear the words of the wise.
If you have a pet at home, you'll know that they receive communication from you – they'll incline their ears, but they are not hearing and comprehending the words of the wise in the way that the Word calls us to.
They hear instructions and words of affection – but as animals they are not then applying those words to the recesses of their hearts or thinking to themselves, “I'm sure glad I have such a wise master".
But we're different.
And we apply the things we hear – we hear the words of the wise and God says, “apply your heart to my knowledge”.
Receive it and store it and reflect on it.
Do you have time for this?
It's not idleness to devote time to this type of reflection – whether in the middle of the night when you're unable to sleep or during the day in personal meditation on the Word.
Do you have time to incline your ear and apply your heart to the knowledge of God?