Proverbs 19:29

Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.
– Proverbs 19:29

The word for judgments means a sentence, or penalty. The word for stripes means blows, or strokes as with a rod. When instructions, corrections, reproofs, rebukes, and warnings fail to turn a scorner or fool, stripes will be called for (Proverbs 10:13; 18:6). It is the only means of restraining such men (Proverbs 26:3). The warning of inevitable judgment goes out to fools and scorners. They will not go unpunished (Proverbs 19:5, 9). Though punishment of a fool seldom does him good (Proverbs 27:22), it can be corrective for others who see it (Proverbs 19:25).

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Proverbs 19:28

An ungodly witness scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity.
– Proverbs 19:28

The word for witness means testimony, or evidence. Proverbs has several warnings or condemnations of a false witness (Proverbs 6:19; 12:17; 14:5; 19:5, 9; 21:28; 25:18). Here it is an ungodly witness, or witness of Belial. He is a thoroughly wicked and deceitful witness. Deliberately twisted testimony scorneth, or mocks, judgment, or justice in the sense of a verdict. The word for devoureth means to swallow, or we would say gulp down. The second phrase pictures the ungodly witness as enjoying and greedily devouring iniquity, or wickedness. It reminds us of how the fool laps up foolishness (Proverbs 15:14).

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Proverbs 19:25

Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.
– Proverbs 19:25

The scorner, the simple, and the man of understanding feature in this proverb. The distinction revolves around how correction is received. The word for scorner means to mock and scoff. Scorning is where the simple will end up if they do not receive correction and instruction (Proverbs 14:18). The word for simple means foolish, or naïve. Proverbs paints the simple as thoughtless and easily led (Proverbs 14:15; 15:21). Reproof alone will seldom correct the simple. They need stronger demonstration (Proverbs 21:11). The word for understanding means to separate mentally, or discern. Wise men have understanding and so instructions and reproofs are more effective and profitable for them (Proverbs 9:9-10; 15:5; 17:10).

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Proverbs 18:1

Chapter 18 continues the “Proverbs of Solomon.” These proverbs continue as primarily two-line parallels and touch on various topics, such as speech, pride, and friends.

Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom.

– Proverbs 18:1

This proverb’s wording is a little odd and various renderings have been put forward. The key is in the word for intermeddleth, which means to be obstinate, or against. It can be used to describe a defiant outburst. The desire mentioned is the man’s own desire. In other words, he is self-seeking and self-serving. So the man intent on his own way separates from others because he does not want their advice (Proverbs 12:15).

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Proverbs 15:12

A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.
– Proverbs 15:12

The scorner is at the hard end of folly. His obstinacy keeps him from wisdom (Proverbs 14:6). He hates reproof, and therefore will not go to or with the wise (Proverbs 9:7-8; 13:1). He refuses two primary means of receiving wisdom—reproof (Proverbs 3:11-12) and having wise companions (Proverbs 2:20; 13:20).

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Proverbs 14:6

A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.
– Proverbs 14:6

The scorner is a special type of fool in Proverbs. The word means to mock and includes the idea of arrogance. His disdain of correction is a chief obstacle in finding wisdom (Proverbs 9:7-8), and it is why he will not go to the wise (Proverbs 15:12). He fails to find wisdom, not because it cannot be found, but rather because he despises instruction and does not fear the Lord (Proverbs 1:7). Ultimately, the scorner comes to judgment (Proverbs 3:34; 19:29). The word for easy in the contrasting phrase means lightness and trifling. To have understanding is to have discernment. Here it is to find, or acquire, knowledge (Proverbs 8:9; 17:24).

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Proverbs 13:1

Chapter 13 continues the first section of the Proverbs of Solomon. The proverbs in this chapter mainly have a two-line antithetical structure. The proverbs in this chapter touch on words, or speech, wealth and poverty, pride, parenting, and wisdom generally.

A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.
– Proverbs 13:1

Training in wisdom begins at home with one’s parents. The word for instruction means discipline and so includes correction. A wise son is characterized as one who receives instruction and correction, which sets him at odds with a fool (Proverbs 15:5). The contrast is with a scorner, which is the hardest form of a fool, or the final progression of the fool. A scorner despises correction and hates those who try to correct him (Proverbs 9:7-8; 15:12). The word for rebuke means a chiding and is stronger than in the first phrase. The tenor of the proverb is that a son who chafes at the discipline of his father at home is on his way to becoming a scorner. Scorners ultimately find themselves scorned by God at the last (Proverbs 3:34).

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Proverbs 9:12

If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.
– Proverbs 9:12

Verse 12 concludes the section on the two responses to wisdom’s call. It is an individual and personal application of what has gone before. The verse emphasizes the individual benefit or detriment of either receiving wisdom or scorning wisdom. The point is not that your choice has no effect on others, but rather the primary effect is to your own life and soul. Wisdom can be neither received nor scorned by proxy. You must encounter wisdom and seek and receive or else scorn and suffer the consequences of folly. While your choice will affect others (Proverbs 10:1), your own soul is in the balance (Luke 9:25).

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Proverbs 9:8

Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
– Proverbs 9:8

Since scorners only respond to wisdom with mockery and abuse, wisdom passes by such. Scoffers and scorners put wisdom far from them because they will not receive reproof. Reproof is a correction and a necessary part of wise instruction. We are born into the world without wisdom and must attain it. However, if we will not abide our foolish notions beings corrected, we will never attain it. Wisdom passes the scorner because wisdom is not scattered like seeds on the pavement, but rather is stored up for the righteous who will heed the wise rebuke (Proverbs 2:7; 13:18). That the wise will receive rebuke and love the corrector shows that human never hold wisdom infallibly. We may always grow wiser and that is a mark of being wise (Proverbs 9:9).

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