To understand this section of Proverbs 9, we need a clear understanding of the word scoffer. So what is a scoffer? The word means: to show contempt by derisive acts or language; to treat or address with derision. In other words, it’s about mocking, sneering, or rejecting with vigorous contempt. Scoffers feel compelled to scorn and ridicule others, especially when confronted with anything that opposes their own narrow and most times self-righteous view of things. Wisdom tells us that correcting a scoffer will only bring us dishonor, that it is vain for us to attempt chastisement in the face of contempt, and that it is best left to God.
Just the other day, I had the choice between censuring someone for their unacceptable behavior, or just leaving it to God. I choose to scold, and let me tell you, it did not turn out very well – it never does. It didn’t solve anything, and I can guarantee that NOBODY learned a flippin’ thing from it. I don’t know why it is that sometimes we feel the need to take matters into our own hands. Maybe it’s our less-than-perfect nature, or maybe it’s just that we are so busy telling God and everyone how things ought to be that we forget to stop and listen, we overlook wisdom’s warning. In Matthew 7:6, we are advised: “Do not give what is holy to the dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces,” yet it seems that many times, we throw wisdom to the curb and run head-long into situations that are best left to God.
Many years ago, while I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life, I read somewhere that when you find yourself to be the object of derision, where you are constantly berated and belittled, you should find a quiet place to sit and contemplate this: If I were to find myself standing in front of my maker right now, would this be what He sees in me, would what so-and-so has said or done even matter, or change my relationship to Him? The answer is NO, of course it doesn’t, and maybe our benefit from learning wisdom’s way, our promise of a long and prosperous life, doesn’t have to involve giving ourselves a heart attack over fools who, in the end, really don’t matter in our lives!
It’s a comfort, the promise that Wisdom makes us; Wisdom rewards those who are wise, and those who scoff will suffer alone. Like a bee, extracting honey from every flower, learning begets more learning, and understanding creates more understanding. Proverbs 9:7-12 assures us that the old adage is true; what goes around comes around, you reap what you sow, for every action, there’s a reaction. The common thread here is a singular train of thought: What you put out into the world, you will surely get back, and the one who seeks wisdom is rewarded with it.
I welcome you comments, Jan, and any feedback you’d like to give. I have done several Beth Moore bible studies, and it was her study on the book of James that got me to thinking about Proverbs. It was my New Year’s resolution this year to spend the year in Proverbs, and some of it has not been effortless, especially in the face of self examination and the patterns of behavior we can so easily be ensnared by.
Hi Sally, this is Jan Houghton-Cleveland soon to be Houghton-Dunne. I have been reading your devotions from time to time but wanted to comment and let you know, also if you are looking for feedback (don’t know if you are), I’d be happy to provide should I have any.
I retired a couple months ago and have some time on my hands (when they are out of the garden)!