What’s your go-to response when you come across an unfamiliar word? Do you skip over it or pause to determine its meaning from contextual clues? Or perhaps you actually take a minute or two to look up the definition.
When reading works of fiction or certain non-fiction pieces, it may suffice to ignore or speculate about the meaning of unfamiliar words, but what about when it comes to the Bible? Skipping over certain words in Scripture can completely change the intent and purpose of the text, leaving us with an incorrect interpretation of God’s Word.
While reading the book of Proverbs, I realized that I continually skipped over a repeatedly used word, “scoffer.” Eventually, I succumbed to consulting Mr. Webster to properly educate myself on its meaning. A scoffer is a person who mocks or makes fun of someone, typically for religious or moral reasons. Although the writer of Proverbs frequently warns about being like a scoffer, after reading Webster’s definition, I failed to see any similarities in myself to one. But in truth, a deeper look at Scripture revealed that, at times, my life more closely resembled that of a scoffer than the righteous person Proverbs encourages us to be.
Let’s examine the book of Proverbs to uncover what God says about scoffers and how that looks in our lives.
As previously mentioned, a scoffer is someone who mocks or ridicules others for their beliefs, but what exactly does that mean? The Hebrew word for “scoffer” can also be translated as “ambassador”; therefore, one may engage in mocking others to represent an opposing idea or argument. He is vocal in his disagreement, and specifically, in the Bible, he is one who openly opposes God: “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 10:4).
Characteristics of a scoffer:
They Despise Godly Wisdom and Look to the World for Truth
Proverbs 1:22, “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?”
In these verses, wisdom is personified as a woman calling out to those around her to heed her words. But the simple-minded and mockers ignore her; they don’t just ignore godly wisdom but actually delight in their wicked ways. Scoffers reject the wisdom and truth found in Scripture. Instead of biblical knowledge and godly wisdom, they rely on their own intuition, feeling, and experiences. Without hesitation, they reject anything that contradicts their personal beliefs, choosing to accept only the things that align with their own narrative and sense of entitlement.
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