When the wicked cometh, then cometh also contempt, and with ignominy reproach.
Sinners bring contempt. If a home, church, or nation accepts a wicked person, contempt of that home, church, or nation will follow. Ignominy, which is dishonor and disgrace, brings reproach. If infamous or shameful conduct is not repudiated, reproach will soon follow. The cure for contempt and reproach is to get rid of sinners.
This proverb is not the easiest to grasp. Many perceive the contempt and reproach to be the action of the wicked person against good men. In their view, the wicked person brings his contemptuous insults and ignominious reproaches against good men and righteous practices. But when Solomon wanted to warn against the contempt and reproach of scorners, he stated it clearly (Pr 9:7-8; 22:10; 23:9). There is a better interpretation.
When a wicked person arrives, contempt will also come, because contempt is the result and consequence of allowing wickedness. Men will despise the presence of a wicked person. When ignominy – dishonor and disgrace – occurs, reproach will also come, because reproach is the consequence and result of allowing such conduct. Ignominy, or a shameful situation, is not doing the reproaching, but rather being the cause of reproach.
Israel was the glory of all nations, when they obeyed the holy and righteous laws of God (Deut 4:6; I Kings 10:6-9; Zech 8:23; Mal 3:12). But God promised they would become a contemptuous and reproachful byword, if they allowed sin in the nation (Deut 28:37; 29:22-28; I Kgs 9:6-9; Ps 44:13-14; Is 52:5; Jer 24:9; Lam 2:15-16; Joel 2:17; Rom 2:24).
Wisdom and righteousness bring glory and honor to men and nations (Pr 1:9; 3:16,22,35; 4:8-9; 8:12-21; 16:31; 21:21; 22:4). But folly and wickedness bring contempt, reproach, and shame (Pr 3:35; 11:2; 13:5,18; 24:9; 25:8-10; 28:12). Godly men despise vile men (Ps 15:4; Pr 29:27), and God despises them as well (Pr 3:32; 11:20; 15:26; Ps 18:25-27).
A gracious woman, a woman always speaking and acting with grace and wisdom, is perpetually honored, for there is nothing to corrupt her pleasant reputation (Pr 11:16; Eccl 10:1). But the odious woman is contemptuously hated and reproached by all, for her froward speech and actions cannot be disguised or hid (Pr 11:22; 27:15-16; 30:21-23).
Paul severely rebuked Corinth for protecting a fornicator in their church (I Cor 5:1-13). They should have mourned and eliminated this reproach on the name of Jesus Christ, for wickedness should not be named once among believers (Eph 5:3-7). It is the church or nation that is free from evildoers that will be honored and prospered (Ps 144:9-15).
Solomon was a king, and he trained his son to be a good king. If wicked men or ignominy were allowed to exist in government or society, it would bring contempt and reproach on the nation (Pr 14:35; 20:8,26,28; 29:12). He rather desired for Israel the honor and glory that accompanies righteousness and wisdom (Pr 14:28; 16:10,12; 25:5; 29:4,14).
The lesson of the proverb is this: wicked conduct brings contempt and reproach on God’s name and religion, so wicked doers and wickedness must be repudiated and rejected. If this is not done in homes, churches, and nations, the name and doctrine of God will be blasphemed (II Sam 12:14; Neh 5:9; I Tim 5:14; 6:1; Titus 2:5,8,10; I Pet 2:12; 4:14-16).
Whether in the home, church, or nation, wicked men and disgraceful conduct must be identified and avoided (Psalm 101:3-8; 139:21-22; Rom 13:1-7; 16:17-18; Eph 5:11; II Thess 3:6; I Tim 6:5; II Tim 3:5; Titus 3:10-11). Like Solomon’s prince son, you should use any influence you have to mark and reject evildoers for the glory of God and truth.