What is a scorner in the Bible?
Question: "What is a scorner in the Bible?"
Answer: The Bible speaks often of scorners, scoffers, and mockers. Those English words are often used interchangeably, especially in the book of Proverbs, as translations of the Hebrew word luts. A scorner is one who mocks the things of God and expresses his negative opinion of wisdom with derision, in order to involve others. Fools may think foolish thoughts, but scorners go a step further and blurt them out proudly. Scorners are unteachable because they refuse to listen (Proverbs 9:8; 13:1). Proverbs 15:12 says it can be a waste of time and effort to show a scorner the error of his ways.
The Bible gives several characteristics of scorners and warns us to avoid them and beware lest we become like them. Here are some biblical descriptions of scorners:
• Scorners may seek wisdom but cannot find it. One reason they cannot find wisdom is that they are already convinced of their own opinion. We cannot grow wise if we won’t learn from the wise (Proverbs 14:6).
• Scorners refuse to learn from rebukes or mistakes. They keep doing the same dumb things over and over again (Proverbs 13:1).
• Scorners are the source of strife and contention. When we get rid of the scornful, we have peace (Proverbs 22:10).
• Scorners resent correction. They cause trouble for those who try to show them truth (Proverbs 9:7; 15:12).
• Scorners are arrogant and haughty (Proverbs 21:24), which keeps them at odds with God because He “resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
• Scorners don’t benefit from severe consequences, but others can learn from watching their downfall (Proverbs 19:25).
Psalm 1:1 gives an excellent description of a wise and discerning person—such a person avoids scorners. The KJV says it this way: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” In this verse we can see the progression from innocence to foolishness. It begins with simple acquaintance (“walk”) as we start to listen to the opinions of those who do not follow God. The downward shift continues as we hang around (“stand”) with people who are open and unapologetic about their sin. The result is that we then “sit in the seat” of those who openly mock truth and godliness. The Bible says we are “blessed” (happy) if we do not follow this progression of becoming more and more comfortable with scorners but instead delight in God’s Law (Psalm 1:2; 119:165).
Scorners in the Bible include the boys who mocked Elisha in 2 Kings 2:23; Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem in Nehemiah 2:19; and God’s enemies who mocked Ethan in Psalm 89:51. The scoffers of Judah rejected God’s prophets and ultimately brought judgment on the nation: “The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians” (2 Chronicles 36:15–17).
We are seeing an increase of scorners in our world as established wisdom is now being rejected in favor of emotion and human opinion. Scorn has never had a wider audience. We are all vulnerable to becoming scorners if we do not stay grounded in the Word of God. We have the weapons we need to keep from “sitting in the seat of the scornful.” We must be sure that we are “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). When we voluntarily subject every idea and opinion to the scrutiny of Scripture and the Holy Spirit, we can protect ourselves from the often seductive words of the scorner.
Recommended Resource: Proverbs NIV Application Commentary by Paul Koptak
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What is a scorner in the Bible?