Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs
..[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 13 ESV”] 1 A wise son hears his father’s instruction,
but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
2 From the fruit of his mouth a man eats what is good,
but the desire of the treacherous is for violence.
3 Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life;
he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.
5 The righteous hates falsehood,
but the wicked brings shame and disgrace.
6 Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless,
but sin overthrows the wicked.
7 One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
8 The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth,
but a poor man hears no threat.
9 The light of the righteous rejoices,
but the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
10 By insolence comes nothing but strife,
but with those who take advice is wisdom.
11 Wealth gained hastily will dwindle,
but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.
12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
13 Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself,
but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.
14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
that one may turn away from the snares of death.
15 Good sense wins favor,
but the way of the treacherous is their ruin.
16 In everything the prudent acts with knowledge,
but a fool flaunts his folly.
17 A wicked messenger falls into trouble,
but a faithful envoy brings healing.
18 Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction,
but whoever heeds reproof is honored.
19 A desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul,
but to turn away from evil is an abomination to fools.
20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
21 Disaster pursues sinners,
but the righteous are rewarded with good.
22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,
but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.
23 The fallow ground of the poor would yield much food,
but it is swept away through injustice.
24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
25 The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite,
but the belly of the wicked suffers want.
Proverbs 13:1 A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
Here is the essence of what it means to be a “scoffer” – one who gives little or no weight to anyone else’s opinion or understanding, but assumes their own understanding is complete, and superior to all others.
We live in the Age of The Scoffer.
I submit three examples: Congress, The Five on FOX News and several from the MSNBC team whose recent outbursts have become infamous. I mention the Five, but in truth this is just one example of what occurs on virtually every news network – the problem is not exclusive to them. It is a human problem amplified in our media environment.
Here’s how the Scoffer thinks: They do not simply take what others offer with a grain of salt – they dismiss it out of hand. They look down upon and thus scoff at the thoughts, opinions, views, or observations of everyone else. They alone are the arbiters of truth. You are right, if you agree with them. That is the only criterion. Conversely, you are wrong if you disagree with them – end of discussion.
Oh, the discussions go on, and on, and on, and on. But no one ever changes their opinion. No one ever (if perhaps ever so rarely) concedes the other’s opinion, or adopts modification. It is an exercise in endless clashes. Each simply hashing and rehashing why they disagree. And it ends there. Hence our Government faces nearly total gridlock on every major decision, and the talking heads in the newsrooms rail hour after hour at one another, and argue with their “guests”. But no one changes. No one seems to be capable of learning anything from one who disagrees with them. They – we – simply “scoff.”
As I said, we live in the age of The Scoffer. It infects the way we interact with our spouses, our children, our parents, those of differing doctrinal opinions and anyone else we have to do with. It is a trap. One which inoculates us from being able to truly grow in Christ. Prevents us from being corrected. Hampers us from being able to ever adopt a better way. Our feelings are hurt, the way we want it done is thwarted, and we are soon at war.
The word in the original includes scorn, ridicule, boasting, mocking and dismissiveness. One lexicon notes that it includes being carried away with oneself.
Scoffers never grow. We cannot be corrected, so there is no means to bring us to a better place. We give lip service to saying we’ve not “arrived” – but we interact with others as though we have. It is a plague on the soul of the Christian.
Do not be sucked into it Beloved. Be humble enough to still learn – from any and all who bring truth. Especially as you daily peer into the mirror of God’s Word. Let it show you the blemishes, the smudges, the distortions. And listen to the counsel it brings to make you better and better – as it conforms you more and more to the image of your Savior. Whether that confrontation with Biblical truth comes through your direct interaction with the Word in study and prayer – or through the lips of your spouse, friend, parent or child. Be willing to hear the Father’s instruction irrespective of the delivery method. And you will be a “wise son” indeed.
Lord deliver me from this mindset. I go so easily there.
Proverbs 13:4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.
This is as true in spiritual matters as it is in natural life. We cannot be “richly supplied” by that which we have not indulged in. And Christ is MEANT to be indulged in by His people. Those who do not labor diligently to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord will not make progress. They will get nothing. Those who pursue Him gain Him. Those who sit around waiting for spiritual maturity – never grow. Each day the Spirit inclines us to seek Him – but how the tyranny of the immediate drowns out His sweet voice. “Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling” wrote the hymnist – but the world is loud and boisterous and drowns out His patient, sweet wooing of our souls to step aside and refresh ourselves in the wonder of His love and grace.
We have spoken often of the “noetic” effects of sin; how the Fall has impacted our ability to retain the vital reality of spiritual things. Bishop Ussher, that grand divine of an earlier age in his famed “Body of Divinity” catechized on this issue when opening up the effects of the first sin by our parents, Adam and Eve. He wrote that when sin entered we suffered “The loss of the perfection of the Image of God, and the corruption of nature, in Man called original sin.”
He went on to show that this corruption shows itself in us in 6 primary things.
“Q. What is the first?
A. The blindness of the Understanding; which is not able to conceive the things of God.
Q. What is the second?
A. The forgetfulness of the memory; unfit to remember good things.
Q. What is the third?
A. The rebellion of the Will; which is wholly bent to sin, and altogether disobedient unto the will of God.
Q. What is the fourth?
A. Disorder of the Affections, of Joy, heaviness, love, anger, fear, and such like.
Q. What is the fifth?
A. Fear and confusion in the Conscience; condemning where it should not, and excusing where it should condemn.
Q. What is the sixth?
A. Every member of the body is become a ready instrument to put sin in execution.”
Note the second in his list: “The forgetfulness of the memory; unfit to remember good things.”
This is why we simply cannot sustain a healthy spiritual life on diet of one worship service on a Sunday morning. Because we do not retain it. Nature itself is designed to reinforce this reality in requiring us to take in physical nourishment several times a day – not just once a week. And if our bodies need that nourishment over and over just to maintain life, how much more our souls when the world around us is toxic to spiritual life and seeks to rob us of it at every turn.
Believer, we do not stress the need for prayer and Bible study privately, and teaching of the word more than once a week because we are trying to meet some hidden quota imagined to make sure we are “doing enough”. We press it because in our fallen condition, we need to be drinking at the fountain and feasting at that table over and over, or we cannot grow or sustain any kind of true spiritual health and vitality.
The glory, the wonder of it all is that our Christ and Savior is beckoning us to Himself all the time. Never too busy. Never distracted. Never unwilling to meet us and break bread with us afresh. If we are not refreshed in Him, if He seems distant and spiritual comforts escape us – we must ask if we have even made the effort to meet with Him in prayer or the Word? And if not, then hear the Master call again today “Come and dine!” He will receive you and meet with you as though you had never been away.
 James Usher, A Body of Divinity: Or, the Sum and Substance of Christian Religion (Eighth Edition.; London: R. J.; Jonathan Robinson; A. and J. Churchill; J. Taylor; J. Wyatt, 1702), 477.
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Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.