Day 9: Reprove not a scorner (9:8,9)
“Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning”
Before we turn to the “Proverbs of Solomon”, Chapter 10 onwards, which is an assortment of short, pithy quotes skilfully covering many subjects from sublime to the ridiculous, without pious gobbly gook, we round of these earlier chapters that are to do primarily with wisdom and understanding, and the importance of fearing the Lord and knowing Him, encapsulated in one of the most memorable of all the proverbs: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (9:10). We are told at the start of our chapter “wisdom hath builded her house” (9:1). She is inviting all and sundry to dine at her house, notably those who are confused about life, and not knowing what’s going on, and for them to leave their impoverished confusion and live.
Try as best we might, our persuading people to follow the right path is going to work with some but not all. We are told if we do try to reason with an arrogant cynic, we will effectively get slapped in the face and, when we confront bad behaviour, we may well get a kick in the teeth. The moral is not to waste time on a scoffer as all we will get for our pains is abuse. But if we correct those who care about life, that is a different proposition: they will love us for it. The moral here is to save our breath for the wise and they will be wiser for it. We should tell them what we know and they will profit from it. The lesson is skilled living gets its start in the fear of God and insight into life from knowing a Holy God. It is through Lady Wisdom that our lives deepen, and the years of our lives ripen. The choice is a stark one and one we all need to make: live wisely and wisdom will permeate your life; mock life and life will mock you. Being told we are wrong is never easy and neither is receiving counsel that takes us out of our comfort zone but if we want to be truly just and wise then we know what to do. We conclude this section of Proverbs by returning to an often-repeated theme, that of a predatory, immoral woman trying to entice the foolish, who may well be going about his regular business, to do the wrong thing. “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant” (9:17) may appear an attractive proposition, but consider where going down that path ends: “he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell” (9:18).
Prayer: we thank you for the wonderful truth that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. May we be those who seek after wisdom and righteousness; to receive instruction to be wiser and teaching to add to knowledge so that in all things we may honour you.