“Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.”
– Proverbs 22:10 (NIV)
“The eye that mocks a father that scorns obedience to a mother, will be pecked out by the ravens . . . will be eaten by the vultures. .”
– Proverbs 30:17 (NIV)
by Dr. Larry Poland
What an embarrassment it was to discover that the Book of Proverbs had a specific category for one of my main character weaknesses: mockery! Decades ago, I was enjoying what I thought was some lighthearted banter at the expense of one of my professional associates, when he declared, “You’re a mocker, a scoffer. You ought to check out what Proverbs says about that.” My curiosity piqued, I did check it out, and the teaching cut like a knife.
Wisdom Principle #24: The mocker uses ridicule, putdowns, sarcasm or mimicry to belittle others; the righteous person builds them up.
Let’s face it, scoffing and mockery are at the heart of most television sitcoms. Most are little more than verbal jousting matches in which the one with the most lethal mockery wins. Never mind that most of us bear the scars on our souls of parents or peers who scoffed at us. Never mind that a weak self image is commonly the result of stinging remarks from mockers and scoffers. We still reduce others to rubble through mockery.
Wisdom Principle #25: When relationships are marked by strife, seek out the mockers and eliminate them. If you don’t, they will continually stir the relational pot.
Proverbs makes it clear that mockers/scoffers are at the heart of other interpersonal relationship problems. We are told that if the mocker/ scoffers are rooted out of a group, they will take with them, “strife, quarrels and insults.” It makes sense. Nobody likes to be put down–no matter how it’s done–and mockery in humor is often thinly-veiled violence. So, the object of scoffing reacts, defends, and strikes back . . . and the war is on.
Wisdom Principle #26: If we don’t replace mockery of authority with joyful submission to and respect for it, it could cost us dearly.
Interesting, isn’t it, that Proverbs 30:17 (above) describes the objects of mockery as authority figures, in particular, parents? This may well explain why comedy commonly belittles the police, the military, the boss, the politicians, and even Mom, Dad and God. Could mockery be a coverup for inner rebellion against the authority over us?
The scary part of this wisdom teaching is the hard consequence promised to mockers and scoffers–becoming carrion for vultures! It’s the same violent end that faced the Sons of Korah when they rebelled against the authority structure (Num. 16:25-33). At God’s command, the earth swallowed them! Authorities typically move with force to destroy those who mock them!
To deal with my tendency to mockery, I actually had to cancel my subscription to a Christian satire magazine, invoke God’s help, and dull my spoken “cutting edge.” You may have to do the same.