Reproving a Scorner and a Wise Man
1. What Solomon says in this section is as much for the one reproved as it is for the reprover.
2. The one being reproved is counseled to listen to the criticism. The one giving the reproof is counseled to be careful to whom and how he gives it.
7 He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. 8 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee:
1. Here Solomon warns against reproving a scorner… or rebuking a wicked man.
a. These two expressions are virtual synonyms.
b. Scorner: one who scoffs; mocks; or talks arrogantly.
c. Wicked man: criminal; one who is guilty of a crime.
d. Solomon has in mind those who mock God, truth, holiness, or righteousness.
e. The term wicked man would include any sort of wickedness or evil.
f. They are both very general terms describing the ungodly…
2. The warning is against reproving (discipline; instruct; correct) or rebuking (rebuke; correct; point out error) them.
a. “Reproof” is a theme often repeated in Proverbs.
b. It does not appear that Solomon is forbidding the reproof of a fool. Rather, he seems to be saying that such reproofs are wasted—they accomplish nothing because the fool doesn’t respond properly.
c. Prov. 28:23 – here Solomon speaks highly of reproving a man who needs reproof. This man may not like it at first, but afterwards will appreciate it.
d. The problem with reproving is we don’t know how men will respond to it. We don’t know if they will act foolishly or wisely in their response.
e. But if we DO know a man to be a stiff-necked fool—then the point of this passage is, “Don’t waste your time reproving him!”
f. Reproving a fool does not result in anything good—no good fruit comes of it. In fact, it results in BAD fruit!
3. Three results of reproving a scorner or a wicked man:
a. Shame: shame, disgrace, and dishonor.
• The one who ignores this truth, and seeks to reprove foolish men anyway should expect to receive dishonor in return.
• Ex: If we are constantly reproving a smoker for smoking; a drinker for drinking; a curser for cursing; or a tardy person for being tardy—we very well may be provoking an argument… stirring up trouble unnecessarily…
• As a result, we may bring shame to ourselves… and to the Lord we represent.
b. A blot: blemish, spot, defect;
• The man who disregards Solomon’s advice, and continually rebukes wicked men for their wickedness may get a blemish or a blot.
• That person is damaging his own testimony.
• Our constant nagging will be perceived as a defect in our character—especially if our reproof is done in public!
• Solomon warns us against such behavior. It is a waste of time… and worse—it will bring a blemish to our reputation.
c. Hatred: hatred; enmity
• Again, the one who disregards Solomon’s advice here is stirring up hatred… unnecessarily…
• And even if the evil we are pointing out is real, we are not serving God in doing so—not if we violate this Scripture!
• Some believers might attempt to point out all the evil ways of evil men and do so with a sense of self-righteousness… or believing they are doing God’s will. But that is not the case if they are disregarding this passage!
• Prov. 15:12 – a scorner loveth not one that reproveth him.
• Prov. 23:9 – he will hate your words! Don’t do it!
• Reproving fools only stirs up anger and hatred.
• Apply this passage while driving on the highway. Some “fool” cuts you off. Should you yell a word of rebuke to him? Scold his behavior with a pointed finger? You may be stirring up road rage!
• You get a blot on your reputation—by having your picture on the front page of the paper for inciting road rage.
• You might end up quite ashamed… shame… blot… and hatred—all from reproving a wicked man.
4. Solomon’s point in these verses is not that we should never reprove or rebuke. We should. However, we should be DISCERNING.
a. There are times when rebuke will be helpful and necessary.
b. There will be times when rebuke does more harm than good.
c. His point: avoid irritations. Wait for a favorable circumstance to reprove. Be discerning—not everyone can handle reproof. Some men are hardened fools!
d. Prov. 26:4-5 – Solomon gives two opposite commands in these verses.
• v. 4 – Do NOT answer a fool—or you will be foolish like him! Sometimes, a foolish or a wicked man does something foolish or wicked, and it is best to be silent. Otherwise, you will end up in a foolish argument that brings a blot, shame, and dishonor.
• V. 5 – Answer a fool—or you will cause him to become proud—thinking that his actions or argument is right… and the Christian has nothing to say against it!
• Obviously, Solomon is NOT contradicting himself—not in the very next verse. This was no oversight. These two passages were placed next to each other by design.
• His point is that when it comes to dealing with foolish and wicked men—you can’t win!
• If you speak up—you are letting him draw you into a foolish argument. (As Nabal dragged David into a foolish debate!)
• If you don’t speak up—he, in his conceit, considers himself the victor.
• In other words—you need discernment in dealing with a fool. There will be times when it is necessary to answer him. At other times, under different circumstances, it is better to remain silent.
• Solomon later wrote, There is a time to speak and a time to keep silent.
• The challenge comes in discerning when it is the time to speak up and when it is time to be silent. Pray for that kind of wisdom and discernment.
• Rom. 15:14 – Believers need to be filled with the knowledge of God and His word in order to ABLE to ADMONISH one another!
5. If we discern that the person is a fool, then wisdom dictates to us to keep silent.
a. Matt. 7:6 – Jesus warned against casting your pearls to the swine!
b. We have pearls of wisdom in God’s word. Some men will want to hear them… and will appreciate them.
c. Foolish men are like pigs—they care not for pearls. They will sniff at them and then trample them under foot…
d. They may even turn and trample over you! That’s the kind of warning in Prov. 9:8 – don’t reprove a scorner. He will not only not appreciate the correction—he will hate YOU!
8b Rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. 9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
1. It is often difficult to know what to do and how to handle foolish men.
2. However, wise men are much easier to deal with…
3. Solomon instructs us TO reprove a wise man… to give instruction to a wise man… to teach him… correct him… rebuke him…
4. Three results of rebuking wise men:
a. He will love thee.
b. He will be yet wiser.
c. He will increase in learning.
d. What a contrast to the fool: 3 results = shame; blot; hatred!)
5. The fool will hate you, but the wise man will love you!
a. Prov. 28:23 – Solomon warns us that even wise men may not LOVE you at first… it may take a while for the rebuke to do its work… but eventually, they will appreciate it.
b. Heb. 12:11 – it does not seem joyous but grievous at first, but AFTERWARD… when it has its desired effect, it is appreciated.
c. Ps. 141:5 – Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head:
d. Prov. 13:18 – regarding reproof leads to honor!
6. All of these warnings concerning GIVING reproof can also be understood as a warning about the way we RECEIVE reproof.
a. WISE men receive reproof. Fools reject it. Don’t be a fool!
b. WISE men profit from reproof. They respond and make the appropriate changes, which is to their honor.
c. WISE men eventually appreciate the one who points out his error.
d. We need to learn to be wise reprovers—but also to be willing to RECEIVE reproof. That is a sign of wisdom.