Proverbs on Cynicism: “Scoffers” (lēsim)

Allen Ross states that the “scoffer” (lēṣ) is “the defiant and cynical freethinker.”[1] He is “the person who will not live by wise and moral teachings and is not content to let others do so without his cynical mocking.”[2] Derek Kidner writes, “The scoffer or scorner (lēs)… makes it finally clear that mental attitude, not mental capacity, classifies the man.”[3] Bruce Waltke writes, “Their spiritual problem is rooted in their overweening pride. His supercilious arrogance blocks him from wisdom.”[4]

(Prov. 1:22) Scoffers delight themselves in scoffing.

(Prov. 3:34) [God] scoffs at the scoffers, yet He gives grace to the afflicted.

(Prov. 9:7-8) He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, and he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself. 8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, reprove a wise man and he will love you.

(Prov. 9:12 NLT) If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit. If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer.

(Prov. 13:1) A scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

(Prov. 14:6) A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge is easy to one who has understanding.

(Prov. 15:12) A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, he will not go to the wise.

(Prov. 19:25) Strike a scoffer and the naive may become shrewd, but reprove one who has understanding and he will gain knowledge. (cf. Prov. 21:11)

(Prov. 21:24 NLT) Mockers are proud and haughty; they act with boundless arrogance.

(Prov. 22:10) Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go out, even strife and dishonor will cease.

(Prov. 24:9) The devising of folly is sin, and the scoffer is an abomination to men.

(Prov. 29:8) Scorners set a city aflame, but wise men turn away anger.

[1] Allen Ross, Proverbs (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991), 910.

[2] Allen Ross, Proverbs (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991), 949.

[3] Derek Kidner, Proverbs: An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1964), 39.

[4] Bruce Waltke, The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 1–15 (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004), 114.