Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.
Tough love works, directly and indirectly. When you punish a scorner, it should shut his rebel mouth, and you also send a warning to foolish onlookers thinking about rebellion.
Wise men only need reproof, and they grow in knowledge. Much good can be done by tough love, which is the correct punishment or reproof of those needing it (Pr 21:11).
This generation calls for gentle treatment of rebel children and youth, criminals, and even prisoners of war. America is more effeminate than pubescent girls. Most churches now teach that coddling is the best and effective treatment for sinning church members.
Reproof, rebuke, and judgment must be restored in God’s house and elsewhere (Is 58:1; Jer 4:1-10; II Tim 4:3-4; Tit 2:15; I Cor 5:1-5). Pray for holy men like Elijah, John the Baptist, and Paul to rise up and blast the trumpet of God’s word against sin and sinners.
Accepting this foolish generation’s perverse education, you will believe only kindness or reason should be used with a scorner, not force or punishment. They say pain is not a deterrent. But you must trust God’s word and hate every false idea of man (Ps 119:128). Sufficient pain will stop offenders, and this proverb teaches it will warn others also.
When Jesus preached, common people rejoiced to grow in knowledge (Mark 12:37; Luke 13:17; 19:48; 21:38). But scorners had their mouths shut and feared asking Him more questions (Luke 13:17; 20:40). Israel had not heard such a preacher in a long time, for their politically correct, effeminate, and refined teachers were a disgrace (Mat 7:28-29).
Publicly punishing scorners has side benefits. God required rebellious youth in Israel to be stoned, with an obvious effect on teenagers witnessing it (Deut 21:18-21). Paul wrote Timothy, “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear” (I Tim 5:20). Paul’s rule primarily applies to sinning elders, but it also confirms the proverb’s lesson for all.
Making a public example is wisdom. This can be in the church, the home, the school, the office, the military, or for the benefit of the nation. When a ringleader is taken down and punished, even stupid followers get a clear message that could not be communicated by mere words. Especially those in authority over a group must maintain their rule this way.
Parents, if you must discipline a child, do it before the whole family for the other children’s benefit. If this is done consistently with the oldest child, the younger will grow up to respect and obey you. If governments learned God’s wisdom, public punishments and executions would bring wide national benefits (Deut 17:8-13; 19:16-21; 21:18-21).
Consider Bible examples. Stoning a man that scornfully picked up sticks on the Sabbath got Israel’s attention (Num 15:30-36). Stoning those who modified God’s worship was effective for the whole church (Deut 13:6-11). Ananias and Sapphira scorned the apostles of God and fell down dead to the revival of fear in Jerusalem’s church (Acts 5:1-11).
When punishment is not executed speedily, both scorners and the simple get hardened in their ways to do evil (Ecc 8:11). If you have authority in a home, workplace, government, or church, it is your duty to practice this proverb for the punishment of scorners and warning of the simple. Wisdom and righteousness are exalted and spread by such actions.
“A word to the wise is sufficient” is true. It means wise men need only a little reproof or warning to learn knowledge (Pr 1:5; 9:9). Punishment is not appropriate for these men. The rod and stripes would be too much. “A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool” (Pr 17:10). Wisdom is the ability to discern this difference.
Because good men have a noble heart and seek correction, your duty to reprove and teach them is an honor (Pr 9:8; 25:12). Open rebuke is better than secret love, and the wounds of a friend are faithful (Pr 27:5-6; Lev 19:17). Wise men preserve their limited energy and time by avoiding scorners where possible and giving more attention to good men.
Wise men know their audience and alter treatment accordingly. If they are with sober and noble persons, they know a gentle reproof or kind warning will do the job. They do not hastily or ignorantly apply the wrong method to the wrong audience. They know to make a difference of compassion for some and others to pull out of the fire (Jude 1:22-23).
Get all three lessons of this proverb. First, publicly punish scorners for the residual benefit for the watching fools. Second, when necessary, reprove even wise men, for they will increase further in knowledge. Third, make sure you are not a scorner or a simple person, but rather a wise man that appreciates reproof and grows in knowledge from it.
Has the Bible’s record of scorners like Cain, Korah, and Judas being punished affected you? Or do you foolishly live thinking all is well with your life? Be sure your sin will find you out! The God of heaven does not tolerate sin; He will punish it. Choose to live soberly and wisely. Choose to seek and love wisdom, even if it involves some reproof.
God ordained His children to join into local churches. There they see the punishment of scorners in the Bible by God and scorners in the seats around them by a faithful pastor. There they have loving and wise church members to reprove and warn them about faults in their lives for their perfection before God and men. Are you in such a church?