The book of Proverbs is specifically written to provide wisdom and instruction, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence, knowledge, discretion, and guidance (Pr. 1:2-5). What better place to look for guidance and instruction on how to deal with the scoffers and mockers which fill the world today?
Proverbs contrasts wisdom and foolishness, exhorting us to follow the way of wisdom and avoid the way of fools. The fool is one who has reject God and His Word, despising wisdom and instruction (1:7). This foolishness is revealed in various attitudes and actions, including scoffing and mockery. Mockers or scoffers are not merely the simple, foolish, stupid, stubborn, or lazy fools of Proverbs but the most odious, wicked, and incorrigible fools who refuse reprove and correction.
So then, how is a believer to respond specifically to this attitude of scoffing and mockery? What wisdom and insight can we learn from Proverbs?
First, let us define what it means to be a scoffer or a mocker. The Holy Spirit, through King Solomon, gives us the basic meaning: Scoffer is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride (21:24). A scoffer disdains all that is wise, righteous, and godly. He hates wisdom and loves death (8:36). Scoffers delight in their scoffing (1:22) and do not listen to rebuke (13:1). They abuse those who correct them and hate and injure those who reprove them (9:7-8). Scoffers are an abomination to mankind (24:9) and set a whole city aflame (29:8 – this can refer to setting a city aflame by stirring up trouble, but it certainly also apply to scoffers who literally burn down cities.
First, believers are not join them in their evil ways. Do not walk in the way with sinners who entice you to walk with them (1:10,15). In fact, we are told to leave the presence of fools (14:7).
Believers should also not be hasty to temper because of their scoffing, but be slow to anger and avoid folly (14:29). We are called to be prudent and ignore an insult (12:16).
If you correct a scoffer, do not expect your correction to be heeded. They will abuse you and injure you in response (9:7). They will resist you and the call to repentance. Your help and guidance will be rejected and they will hate you as they hate wisdom, and love their scoffing as they love death (cf. 8:36; 9:8; 13:1; 15:12). That is one of the most standout qualities of the scoffer – he refuses correction. There may be a place for answering a fool according to his folly (26:4-5), but it does no good to correct a scoffer. Even speaking in the hearing of a simple fool will result in him despising the good sense of your words – much more the scoffer (23:9). A scoffer has no respect for wisdom from anyone, even God Himself. To mock God, as the scoffers do, is to commit blasphemy.
Believers are to resist the scoffers and mockers. We are not to give way before the wicked. Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked (25:26). We are not to give way or be swayed by the wicked mockers and scoffers. A righteous man must stand up for Christian principles in the face of the opposition of the scoffers. As the proverb goes, the root of the righteous will never be moved (12:3). We need not fear them. God guards the paths of justice and watches over the way of His saints (2:8).
If you are in authority over a scoffer, you are to punish him. A wise king winnows the wicked and drives the wheel over them (20:26). Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts (20:30). A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools (26:3). In general, scoffers are beyond even the correction of physical punishment. Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence and become wise (19:25; 21:11). Note that it is not the scoffer that learns prudence and becomes wise, but the simple who are naïve and impressionable and gullible enough to follow the scoffer. These simple fools witness the punishment and from it they may learn prudence.
Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarrelling and abuse will cease 22:10. If you are his employer, fire him. If he is your son, kick him out of the house. If you have judicial authority over him, throw him into prison. The church is certainly to excommunicate such a person because they cause division (Rom. 16:17), so that they may learn not to blaspheme (I Tim. 1:20), and so that the rest may stand in fear (I Tim. 5:20). Whatever we must suffer in this life because of scoffer and mockers, in the end, God will destroy them. Toward the scorners the LORD is scornful (3:34). God mocks the mockers. Their end will be calamity which strikes them like a whirlwind, terror will strike them like a storm, and God will not answer when they call to Him but will laugh at their calamity (1:26-27). Condemnation is ready for scoffers (19:29) and the righteous will look upon their downfall (29:16). Mockers will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by vultures (30:17).
3 thoughts on “SJW Toolkit – Proverbs”
Why is this article entitled “SJW Toolkit”?
The term SJW, an acronym for “social justice warrior”, refers, pejoratively, to those who believe themselves to be fighting for social justice – be that true biblical justice, or the world’s faulty ideas of so-called “justice” – in overzealous or unhelpful ways. However, the article discusses how to deal with “scoffers and mockers”, which by context implies those anti-Christians who scoff at and mock the name and the word of God.
The two are not synonymous. On the one hand, there are those who might be describe as SJWs, based on their errant viewpoints and/or obnoxious behavior, who are nevertheless professing Christians, who believe in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and in the authority, inspiration, and inerrancy of the Word of God. They are not scoffers and mockers; they are fellow believers. On the other hand, there are scoffers and mockers who want nothing to do with social justice – be it true biblical justice, or worldly so-called “justice” – yet who nevertheless do not believe in, scoff at, and mock, our God.
It seems, then, that this article is an “unbelief toolkit”, not an “SJW toolkit”.
Also, the article calls for “punishment” of scoffers and mockers, based on select verses of Proverbs, but entirely neglects to mention Jesus’ procedure for dealing with error, as described in Matthew 18:15-19. Jesus tells us to give several chances for the erring person to be rebuked and to repent – first, one on one; second, with two or three witnesses; third, in the presence of the church – before resorting to excommunication. As well, the article calls for physical punishment of scoffers and mockers. Apart from the fact that, nowadays, such action is illegal in many jurisdictions, and, if taken literally, could result in charges of abuse being pressed against the one who punishes, it departs from the procedure that Jesus gave us: first verbal rebuke, then being cast out of the assembly.
SJW Toolkit is the name of a series of articles dealing with how to respond to various situations Christians are facing in the world today. This particular article looks specifically at how Proverbs tells us to deal with scoffers.
The punishment those in authority are called by God to inflict on scoffers has nothing to do with how a Christian is to deal with a brother who sins against him. You are mixing up what the government is called to do and what the church is called to do.
Thanks for the clarification, Pastor Nieminen. But the article pertains to what the church is to do, yes? The article poses the question, “So then, how is a believer to respond specifically to this attitude of scoffing and mockery?” The answer to that question describes the church’s, not the government’s, response. Then Matthew 18:15-19 is indeed relevant, as it describes, specifically, what the church is to do: admonish privately [one-on-one, then with witness(es)], then admonish publicly [in front of the whole church], and only then cast out.