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).