Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
Learn to judge. Can you identify a scorner and a wise man? Do you know how to treat each one? God wants you to be prudent and successful with people. Avoid scorners, for they do not deserve truth and will hate you; correct wise men, and they will love you.
Test your character. Are you a scorner or a wise man? The difference is huge. It depends on how you take correction. Either you are the worst person in Proverbs, the best, or in between. God and good men will either show you more truth or let you live life in error.
See your future. If you are a scorner – mocking or ridiculing parents or pastors God has sent to warn you – then He has already cut you off from truth. This prospect should terrify you. If you love His warnings and messengers, He will pour out more truth to you.
Men react two ways to reproof or rebuke; the difference shows their heart and character. Some appreciate correction, learn from it, and love the messenger. Others resent and reject it and hate the messenger. Set your character first, and then wisely discern others.
What are the lessons here? First, and less important, you must learn to respond like a wise man to correction. Second, and more importantly, you must recognize the character of others and treat them as the proverb states. Some men do not deserve reproof and God’s truth. Finally, if God tells you to reject scorners, guess what He has already done to them.
Wise men love to be corrected, for they know it is the only way to be wiser (Pr 9:9). This is true, even if the correction hurts (Ps 141:5). They know that true love will rebuke and wound them, and they prefer this to the kisses and deceitful love of enemies (Pr 27:5-6). When you reprove such a man, he will appreciate and love you for it, so do it (Pr 25:12).
But fools hate to be corrected, for their ignorant hearts presume they are right (Pr 12:15; 23:9). Scorners are even worse than fools, for their raging pride will not accept rebuke; they will hate the message and the messenger (Pr 9:7). Their haughty conceit causes them to despise instruction, correction, or warning (Pr 26:12). Beware of them, dear reader.
A haughty and self-righteous person will reject seven men with good reasons (Pr 26:16). Scorners reject advice that could save them, for they arrogantly hate being corrected. They have eaten the bread of conceit for so long, they are beyond hope (Pr 21:24). They are an abomination to men (Pr 24:9); if you are wise, you will throw them out (Pr 22:10).
While you might rebuke them a few times to shut their mouths (Pr 26:5), you must soon end arguing with them for wise reasons (Pr 26:4; 23:9). Wrangling, debating, or entertaining the questions of such persons is foolish and wrong (II Tim 2:16,23; I Tim 6:3-5; Tit 3:9). Let the precious wisdom of this advice set you free and give you peace.
The Lord Jesus taught this proverb in Matthew 7:6, where He commanded you not to cast your pearls before swine nor give holy things to dogs. The pearls and holy things are the precious jewels of God’s wisdom and truth. He gave two wise reasons. These conceited, brute beasts will first mock your words, and then they will twist them against you.
Avoid these wicked people. You are not obligated to debate them. Do not let your pride honor them by continuing to fight. You have been warned to leave them alone. If you get away from scorners, you can live in peace and quiet. In addition, correct any tendency in your life or family members to be like them. Such are not worthy of wisdom and truth.
Learn to love reproof, for that is how to get wiser (Pr 9:9; 19:20). Solomon identified the ability to take correction as one of the best measures of wisdom (Pr 15:5,31). Limit your friends to wise men, and you will be yet wiser (Pr 13:20). Where can you find such wise men? In a church of Jesus Christ following the old time religion of God’s word.
Jesus obeyed this proverb toward scorners He met. After rebuking and shaming them, He would walk away (Luke 13:17). He said about them, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matt 15:12-14).
To the degree you are a scorner, God has already left you in your arrogant ignorance, but you are too stupid to know it (Is 44:19-20). To the degree you are a wise man and love correction, God will show you more truth (Pr 4:18). This is the simple but profound rule of God’s dealings with men. Humble yourself like Solomon, and be wise (I Kgs 3:7-9).