- Dr. Stieglitz
Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 21:11
"When the scoffer is punished, the naive becomes wise; but when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge"
This is an interesting proverb because it details a cause-and-effect sequence that one would not expect. It also suggests ways to educate certain groups. Third, it seems to imply that the scoffer will just never be receptive to new knowledge.
This is the Hebrew word lis which means scorn, scorning, mocking, satire, sarcasm. We do not often think about the definition of and the power of scorn because it is such a regular feature of our day and age. We are just used to the cynic, the scoffer. The word scorn means open dislike and disrespect; derision mixed with anger. Contempt and disdain are the not-so-hidden emotions in their words. English synonyms are jeer, sneer, mock, stinging sarcasm.
This is the person who always has a negative or critical thing to say about other people’s achievements. It is never good enough or never measures up; there is always some fatal flaw. They take delight in poking fun at others. They can always see what is wrong or how something won't work.
Notice that when these people are punished, they do not grow and learn. It is the naive who grow. To the simple people, the scorners sound very smart until they get punished for their scorning. Only then does it prove to the simple person that the sophomoric process of mocking, poking fun at, and sarcastically putting someone or something down is not helpful.
This has direct application in a number of places. The first is in the home when junior high children get very full of themselves and scoffing at everything their younger siblings do. Unless you punish this scorn, your younger children will get a smart mouth also. It should not be acceptable to put someone down through words and then say, “I was only kidding.” If you want your children to choose the wise path, then they must see scorn being punished.
This is the Hebrew word anas which means confiscation or fining. The root word is used with all sorts of punishment – tribute payments, imprisonment, etc.
In this case punishment does not mean severe beatings but some form of discipline must be administered in order to point out to the simple that it pays to turn away from this tact.
What is interesting is that when the scorner is fined or has something confiscated, the naive person actually begins to think about how to have their speech produce wins for others. This is a great consequence.
The naive becomes a compliment factory because they don't want to be fined. It might be a good idea to have a fine bucket for negative talk. Then people will get the idea that that kind of behavior is not appreciated.
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