I have read Psalm 1 multiple times but yesterday I decided to write it. As I copied and recited the words, the word “scoffer” seemed to stick in my head. So, I decided to look it up to see if I understood it’s meaning.
The Cambridge dictionary says a scoffer is:
The Bible says:
“Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride. – Proverbs 21:24
(After I read this, I was somewhat pricked by this definition but I went about my day. As events would happen, it wasn’t long until I dove head first into a scoffing session. It took only moments for the last haughty word to leave my mouth before I felt physically ill from taking such pleasure in my own arrogant judgement and condemnation. Needless to say, that prick turned into sword right to the heart, and I had what we call in the south “as a come to Jesus moment.” Disturbed and completely grossed out by my own self, I decided to reread Psalm 1.
Have you read the first psalm recently? The first verse says “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;” – Psalm 1:1
Truthfully, I hadn’t really thought about a scoffer or that he walks with the wicked and stands with sinners. But since I do claim to be a Christian, I thought I would look to the Bible to dig a little deeper into what it means to be a scoffer.
The Bible has quite a lot to say about a scoffer. Upon examining some 19 verses, I have to confess that I have been a scoffer and I am still a scoffer. Perhaps, we have just witnessed and participated in scoffing at the highest levels during this last political season. It seems that one thing our culture loves, it is a scoffer- a person who tells it like it is and sets someone straight without regard to truth, their own hypocrisy or the consequences of his or her words.
Scoffing in our culture seems to be the rule rather than the exception, and it seems that most people have allowed scoffing to be an acceptable, honorable and even respectable way of speaking. Not only do we have no shame in our unadulterated scoffing but we also like to hide it in comedy, commentary, memes, news, opinions, silence and entertainment.
On some level scoffing feels good or we wouldn’t do it. It makes one feel superior, like a winner, unique, smarter and different. By all accounts, scoffing makes us feel righteous. But what does scoffing really do but destroy opportunities to love our neighbors and enemies, divide us into us vs them, deflect us from the truth and devise folly? Scoffing cannot produce what is right, good and true because scoffing is evil. It is not intended to build anyone or anything up, just tear it down. Regardless of who or what it is-bad or good.
Perhaps, you grew up with the kid who would always tear up anything you built. He had no desire or joy in building but just tearing stuff down. Even if he did build something, he wasn’t content or happy until he tore it up. It was as if he would only build, so he could tear it down. And anything you built, he would try to destroy it, along with the joy you had been given in building.
There are many levels of scoffing. If scoffing is not properly understood and responded to as a child or at its earliest forms, it will grow like a virus until it consumes you, and everything you say and do will be an act of scoffing. You’ll scoff at truth, at science, at your teachers, at your leaders, at your neighbors, at religion, at anyone different than you and even at your own self.
Does scoffing not determine and is it not reflected in how we care and nourish our spirits, hearts, minds and bodies? How do we respond to truth in regards to our very own health, a virus or eating foods that help our bodies do as their designed, if our first reaction is scoffing?
We cannot seek truth nor can we be truth, and be a scoffer. To seek truth requires humility and seriousness, and to be truth and speak truth requires a relationship with The Truth. Scoffing is not the truth, it is a reaction to truth that helps us avoid the truth and our responsibility to seek truth, be truth and love truth.
We are not designed to be scoffers. Repeat… human beings are not designed to be scoffers. Scoffing hurts and destroys us as much as it hurts and destroys others. Scoffing is not the same as speaking truth. It should not be tolerated in any relationship or place where we desire to peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to grow.
There are some things that we must stop participating in if we want life, love, hope and truth to grow and flourish. Scoffing will never help us remember who we are and how we are naturally designed to be givers and receivers of love and truth. Rather, it will deny us the opportunity to use or words to help and encourage others and ourselves, to make things new, to heal hurts, to confess sins and to imitate the way, the Truth and the Life.
Perhaps, you have never thought about scoffing, or if you are a scoffer? Perhaps, it’s time to ask yourself?
Verses for further reflection-
“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? Proverbs 1:22
7 Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.
8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. – Proverbs 9:7-8
A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. – Proverbs 13:1
A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding. – Proverbs 14:6
A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise. – Proverbs 15:12
Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence; reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain knowledge. – Proverbs 19:25
Condemnation is ready for scoffers, and beating for the backs of fools. – Proverbs 19:29
When a scoffer is punished, the simple becomes wise; when a wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge. – Proverbs 21:11
Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease. – Proverbs 22:10
The devising of folly is sin, and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind. – Proverbs 24:9
Scoffers set a city aflame, but the wise turn away wrath. – Proverbs 29:8
“‘Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.'” – Acts 13:41
17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.
18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”
19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,
21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. – Jude 1:17-21