"Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy." - John Trapp

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

WoW: Bridges and Scoffers

Adrian Warnock posted a challenge to blog on one of the verses from Proverbs on scoffers (then two days later issued a similar challenge for sluggards). For this week's Wisdom on Wednesday I'm going to respond to the first challenge, specifically looking at Proverbs 15:12:

A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise. (Proverbs 15:12 ESV)

The term scoffer is used in many versions; the King James has scorner and the NIV and HCSB both have mocker. The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary (11th Edition) says a scoffer is one who shows contempt by derisive acts or language; scoff stresses insolence, disrespect, or incredulity as motivating the derision. The original word in Hebrew looks interesting, but I know no Hebrew really, and just enough about how to use the language tools in my Bible software to get me in trouble. If someone happens to read this who knows Hebrew and wants to comment on how the word is used outside of Proverbs, I would be interested.

Many Proverbs have either an example/opposite format (Proverbs 9:8 says, "Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you." ESV) or an example/reinforcement format, like Proverbs 15:12. A scoffer, someone who is unbelieving to the point of being openly disrespectful, does not like to be shown the error of his ways. Therefore, they will avoid the wise who know how to correct them.

Bridges on Proverbs 15:12

Bridges comments on this verse are few, but worth spending a little time on.
Not less grace and wisdom does it require, instead of revolting from our Reprover, to go unto him, and ask the continuance of his faithful offices. That most sensitive, delicate, and unvarying of all feelings, self-love, has been wounded, and the wound is not easily healed. The scorner has been his own flatterer so long, that he cannot bear to be brought down to his proper level. The truth-telling friend therefore he counts as his enemy (Galatians 4:15-16). He loveth not—yea--he hateth--one that reproveth him (Proverbs 9:8; 1 Kings 21:20, 22:8; Amos 5:10, 7:10-13), though before he might have reverenced him (Mark 6:17-20). "The Pharisee derided" our Lord with external scorn, when he struck at their right eye, and reproved their hypocrisy (Luke 16:13-14).

First, notice the capitalization of Reprover. Bridges is reminding us that the source of all wisdom is God. It is only by His grace that we overcome our tendency to scoff in unbelief and that we become willing to come to Him for correction.

Second, Bridges notes that the tendency of the scoffer to avoid reproof is based on the old enemy of "self-love." Many today scoff at the preaching and teaching of the Scriptures because it is an attack on their "self-esteem" (a modern way of saying self-love). They disbelieve that salvation is all of God. They deny that faith alone in Jesus Christ alone is sufficient to save. Because this truth strikes at the heart of my assumption that deep down I'm good. Apart from the grace of God, man does not believe that he really (and truly) deserves eternal condemnation.

Third, attempts to reprove a scoffer can separate those who were formerly friends. Bridges notes Paul's concern that his attempt to correct the errors in Galatia (where the sufficiency of Jesus' work was being doubted) might make the people there view him as an enemy. Bridges lists several verses that show Paul's concern was justifiable.

You Might Be a Scoffer If . . .

How does this apply to us? Adrian's specific question was whether or not bloggers are scoffers. I think there is a definite risk anytime one takes a critical stance that one could slip back into a scornful (scoffing) attitude. As Bridges shows with the reference to Luke, it was a problem the Pharisees had. We can become so entrenched with particular beliefs that when someone shows us where we are in error, we are offended and do not go back to that person again. The positive example Bridges gives at the start of his exposition (that I did not quote) is Peter. Peter is rebuked by Paul in Antioch but later writes approvingly of Paul, acknowledging Paul's writing (including the record of Paul rebuking him) as Scripture.

So my question is whether we are Bereans, who receive the word eagerly, or do we have itching ears, listening only to those who tell us what we want to hear? Look at your friends. Do you surround yourself only with those who agree with you? Are those who are willing to ask if you might be wrong not welcome? If so, you might be a scoffer.


Blogger Even So... said...

Cool, Eddie, you did the scoffer and I did the sluggard.

Uh, oh, methinks we both have hit the nail on our own heads a little, at least me...

1:09 AM EDT  
Blogger Adrian said...

Thanks for this - this is a great post!

1:32 AM EDT  
Blogger Taliesin said...

Adrian - thank you. Great challenge, BTW.

JD, I avoided the sluggard because it hits to close to home :). Not that this one does not have application as well.

6:51 AM EDT  

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