Monday, April 25, 2016

Christ in the Proverbs: Proverbs 19:25

Proverbs 19:25
Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence;
    reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain knowledge.

In this section of Proverbs that Waltke calls a "catalogue of fools," we run into two kinds of fools in this proverb.  The first is the scoffer.  This is the apostate, incorrigible person, who is unteachable because of his colossal pride:

                “Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man
                    who acts with arrogant pride (Proverbs 21:24).

His pride is so large and his narcissism so obstructive that the scoffer cannot see the greatness and glory of the Lord.  Thus, he has no ability to understand himself nor his sin, for human beings only know themselves truly in relation to the triune God.  "In Your light do we see light" (Psalm 36:9).  The scoffer in Proverbs is not only unteachable, the opposite of the wise, but he is also destructive to true community (Proverbs 22:10; 29:8) and hates the Lord and his people (Proverbs 9:7-8; 15:12).  Fill a society with such people and the results will not be good, and even one such person can create many problems in a family or community (Proverbs 22:10).

The other kind of fools are called "the simple."  This is a person, who is usually young and gullible.  If the scoffer has a mind closed to the Lord, the simple has a mind devoid of the Lord.  Our natural default mode as sinners is foolishness, which increases and deepens the older we get, unless the Lord graciously intervenes in our lives.  But at least with the simple, there is hope of repentance and change, something that rarely happens with the hardened scoffer.

This proverb teaches us that discipline has different effects on different kinds of people.  A scoffer simply will not listen to the Lord.  He is apostate.  He may learn other kinds of knowledge, but in terms of the Lord and true wisdom, he is unteachable:

                A wise son hears his father's instruction,
                    but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

So why discipline a scoffer if he won't listen?  The reasons are penal and as a lesson to others.  As the simple see what happens to the scoffer either through the legal process or through the scoffer's own folly, the simple, who are not beyond help, may learn and get on the Lord's path.

Yesterday, I was in church and listened to a man's testimony.  Two deaths had a salutary effect on this man, who as a young person thought of himself as an atheist.  With the encouragement of a Christian and seeing two people he was close to die, this person the Bible describes as simple entered the camp of the wise.

And who are the wise?  The wise are those who listen and learn from the Word of God.  The wise are the followers of the only man who was truly and thoroughly wise, Jesus Christ, whom Psalm 1:1-3 describes in the context of both the simple (implied in verse one) and scoffers (specifically mentioned in verse one):

Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Jesus Christ is the blessed man, who never walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of scoffers.  But his delight was in the instruction of his Father, and he always did what pleased him.  Therefore, Jesus is the vine/tree, to whom his people are engrafted by grace.  And as his people, we too love the instruction of our Father, which instructs us and corrects us for our eternal good.



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