Proverbs 17:5

Mocking and Gloating

5a Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker

A. Mocking the Poor

1. Mocking: to mock; deride; ridicule; scoff; speak words which disparage another.

a. This term was used of men laughing at the servants of God: Job (Job 21:3 – mock on); Jeremiah (Jer. 20:7 – everyone mocketh me); Asaph (Ps 80:6 – our enemies laugh among themselves); Nehemiah (Neh. 2:19 – they laughed us to scorn…)

2. Mocking the poor an expression of arrogance, pride, self-righteousness, and extreme cruelty.

a. It is judging a person on the basis of his wealth or lack thereof.

b. We are not to be respecter of persons. (Jas. 2:1-4)

c. But this is a step beyond that. It’s bad enough to treat them as inferiors. It is far worse to mock them—taunt them—to make fun of them… laughing at their misfortune.

d. Some people are poor because of their own folly. (lazy; drunks; covetous and buy everything they can.)

e. But MOST poor people around the world are poor because of factors beyond their control: what continent they (in God’s providence) were born on; war; famine; corrupt dictators; injuries (blind; crippled; etc.)…

f. Seeing the plight of the poor ought to evoke sympathy and compassion. When it evokes laughter or mocking… it does so because of an especially depraved, cruel, and evil heart.

3. Oppressing the poor – (Prov. 14:31)

a. Here Solomon speaks of another cruel treatment of the poor: oppression.

b. Oppression: violate; defraud; get deceitfully; extort’ exploit.

c. This term speaks of those who take advantage of the poor.

d. It was used in the sense of abuse of power… taking advantage of those who are unable to defend themselves.

e. The wealthy benefit greatly from the labor of the poor… take advantage of them… and God hates oppression.

f. The poor and the weak have always been mistreated throughout history.

g. Prov. 14:20 – the poor is hated even of his own neighbor.
→ dislike, to be hostile to, or to loathe someone or something.

h. Power goes to a person’s head and corrupts. It’s human nature.

i. Wealthy people in positions of power think of themselves as superior… that’s human nature.

j. And they use that power to oppress the poor and the weak… to their own advantage. That’s human nature too!

B. Reproaches His Maker

1. Notice in BOTH passages, Solomon says the result is the same: they are actually reproaching their Maker.
→ To mock the creature is to mock their Creator.
→ The Creator is Sovereign over all the earthly position of every one of His creatures.

2. Reproach Defined: to taunt; blaspheme; defy; rail; upbraid; treat with contempt; insult; defame; cast blame upon.

a. Prov. 14:31 – reproach is seen here as the antithesis of honor (dishonor).

b. The one who oppresses the poor INSULTS the Maker… God, our Creator…

c. God is the One who “maketh” the poor! (I Sam. 2:7-8)

d. The one who mocks the poor INSULTS the Maker. Same effect.

3. As Creator, God is SENSITIVE to how treat other people…

a. All men are made in the IMAGE of God… rich and poor.

b. Treating those made in God’s image in a demeaning manner is in a sense treating GOD in a demeaning manner…

c. All sin is against God ultimately… and perhaps especially this sin.

d. Prov. 19:17 – Solomon also notes (on the other hand) that those who LEND to the poor do so to God in a sense too.
→ “Lends” … to mean to lend… to help someone out.
→ The point is that in the Theocracy of Israel one who helps his poor Jewish brother is lending to God… serving God.
→ In the Christian dispensation helping the poor doesn’t have the same meaning… (it becomes mere humanism)… unless there is a Christian testimony attached.

e. In Israel, God was close to His people; treating them well was a service to God. Mistreating them was an insult to God.

f. In the church, God is close to the Body too. (Acts 9:4) Persecuting the church was persecuting Christ Himself. It was His body!

g. In the tribulation period the same will be true. (Matt. 25:35-40) The way one treats the persecuted Jews in the Tribulation period is in a sense doing so to Christ. They are His servants!

4. In any age, the way one treats God’s people is an expression of one’s attitude towards the Lord Himself!

5. And even if they are NOT God’s people (not believers)… they are God’s creatures… created in His image. God is their Maker and mocking them is an insult to their Maker.
→ Every human being has been created in God’s image and is to be valued as such.
→ Anyone made in the image of God deserves respect… not oppression or mockery!
→ God observes the way we treat others.

5b He that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.

A. Glad At Calamities

1. Calamity defined:

a. Distress; burden; calamity; destruction; disaster.

b. It speaks of misfortune of all types.

2. This is in a sense a parallel to the expression in the first part of the proverb: poverty… as a calamity that befalls a person.

a. Oftentimes a calamity or tragedy left a person in poverty.

b. No social security system—widows were sometimes left destitute.

c. No insurance—a storm or flood could leave a whole community in poverty.

d. Not much medical knowledge—a disease could leave a family or a community in poverty.

e. War often left the defeated nation in poverty.

f. Of course the term calamity is much broader than “poverty”. It would include all kinds of other disasters and troubles.

3. GLAD defined:

a. Joyful, merry, glad.

b. Happiness or contentment, with a possible focus of making an outward expression of that joy.

c. The term is usually used in a good context… but here it speaks of a perverted or twisted kind of joy and gladness.

d. To actually take delight in someone’s misery and misfortune is especially cruel and ungodly.

e. Unfortunately, this too is part of fallen human nature.

f. Slapstick comedy is built around this aspect of human nature. (The pie in the face; the person slipping on the banana peel and dropping all their bundles… it makes us laugh.)

g. That’s fine when it is a joke or comedy routine… or even if it did not cause real injury.

h. But in REAL life… when the misfortune causes real pain and suffering, it is NOT a laughing matter.

i. That’s what Solomon is getting at here. (Not the innocent chuckle over something minor)… but the real thing.

4. Ps. 18:18 – Men may mock us and be glad at our misfortune, but the Lord is our stay in the day of calamity.

5. Prov. 24:17 – we are told specifically NOT to be glad over the misfortunes of others.

a. To do so is more than just poor manners. It’s sin.

b. And sin does not go unnoticed by God.

c. And MAYBE that wrath will fall on you! (Hence, the next part of the proverb.)

B. Shall Not Be Unpunished

1. Unpunished: innocent; clean; free of guilt or punishment; acquit.

2. Obad. 1:12-13 – Edom gloated over Israel’s destruction.

a. This is what the book of Obadiah is about!

b. Edom rejoiced over Israel’s calamity.

c. Edom did so because of pride. They felt they were secure forever! (vs.3-4)

d. Vs. 15 – therefore Edom will receive the same!

3. INSTEAD of oppressing the poor… mocking them… and gloating over them:

a. Prov. 29:7 – the righteous consider their cause. (Their cause could be YOUR cause tomorrow!)

b. Prov. 22:9 – be bountiful to them… and God will be discovered to be bountiful to you!

c. Prov. 28:27 – give to the poor… that man shall not lack!

d. The example of David.
• Ps. 35:15-16 – his enemies lashed out at him in his day of adversity.
• Ps. 35:13-14 – David treated them as a friend and a brother. What a contrast!
• Ps. 18:18 – They prevented (confronted) me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay (support)