The Seat of the Scornful (2022)
Robert Wurtz II
Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. (Psalms 1:1–3 NKJV)
Now the house was full of men and women, and all the satraps of the allophyles were there, and on top of the house there were about three thousand men and women, watching Sampson being made fun of. (Judges 16:27 NETS/LXX)
There are few things that have a negative emotional impact as when we’re mistreated, scorned, or made fun of. We’ve all experienced it at some point in our lives. Generally, in junior high school, kids practice sharpening their tongues to cut one another to pieces. In time, unregenerate adults normalize talking to public servants like animals with no pain of conscience. What I’m most concerned about is when professing believers behave this way. Paul describes this cruelty in Romans 3:13 by quoting the Psalmist… “They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; The poison of asps is under their lips.” (Psalms 140:3 NKJV)
I quoted Judges 16:2 from the NETS translation of the LXX (Greek Old Testament). It’s a familiar story that reveals exactly what Samson experienced once stripped of the Spirit’s power. We read that “… on top of the house there were about three thousand men and women, watching Sampson being made fun of.” These bloodthirsty pagans taunted this once great man of God like a circus act. They made sport, mocked, and ridiculed this wounded man. I’m reminded of Solomon, who, at the end of his life, made this comment, “For like the crackling of thorns under a pot, So is the laughter of the fool. This also is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 7:6 NKJV)
Earlier in his life, Solomon spoke of God’s attitude towards “scorners.” Toward the corners, he is scornful, but to the humble, he gives favor. (Proverbs 3:34) A scorner is one who expresses contempt and ridicule towards others. The implication is that scorners are proud. This is verified in the LXX (NETS translation of the verse). It reads, “The Lord resists the arrogant but gives grace to the humble.” It has the familiar ring of James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5. A scornful person is an arrogant person. They think of themselves as better than others and treat them accordingly. Pride numbs the scorner to the shame they should feel when mistreating or making sport of others.
Characteristics of the Scornful
The Hebrew word that is translated as scorn is lis or lason. Fools scorn and mock at sin (Proverbs 14:9) and judgment (Proverbs 19:28). The scorner (Qal participial form) may be described as proud and haughty (Proverbs 21:24), incorrigible or past reproof (Proverbs 9:7-8; 15:12), and hating any rebuke (Proverbs 13:1). Wisdom and knowledge easily elude him (Proverbs 14:6). So despicable is the scorner that he or she may be labeled as repulsive to all men (Proverbs 24:9) and therefore must be avoided (Psalm 1:1). A good way to get rid of strife and contention is to eject the scorner. Afterward, strife and contention will cease (Proverbs 22:10). Judgment awaits them as they have delighted in their scorning (Proverbs 1:22. Isaiah 29:20). (TWOT 1113)
In Psalm 1:1f, we have several things that characterize the blessed and fruitful. One is that they don’t sit in the seat of the scornful. They’re not the type of person who sits around criticizing or making fun of people. They don’t mock God or mock at sin. Rather, their delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law, he meditates day and night. In other words, they meditate and speak aloud the word of God continually. They’re careful not to wrongly criticize, belittle, or make fun of the less fortunate. The benefits? He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.” (Psalms 1:1–3 NKJV)
Lessons from the Hornworm
I once saw a picture of a large green hornworm wreaking havoc on a lady’s tomatoes. I realized that scorners are to churches what hornworms are to tomato plants. Is your church experiencing fruitlessness? Does the church struggle with growth and fruit? If so, there may be a scorner in the midst. The pastor may be praying and preaching with all their strength, and unbeknownst to them, there’s a scornful person making fun of someone’s clothes, shoes, how they sing, or anything else. We don’t expect professing Christians to behave in this childish and cruel way, and wonder how someone could act so unchristlike?
We should never judge people as described in this article. A person could be going through hard times and don’t need criticism. What they do need is encouragement. Perhaps it’s time to ask the congregation, How do you treat one another? Do you make fun of your fellow brothers and sisters? Are you critical of things that don’t amount to anything? Do you judge people by their speech or their appearance? Do you judge them by how wealthy or poor they are? Are you critical of others when you should be having compassion for them? Or, more pointedly, Are you sitting in the seat of the scornful?
Nobody is more spiritual than they are Christ-like. To be spiritual is to imitate Christ. If a professing Christian behaves like an unbeliever, they are carnal and need correction. They need to repent of their bad behavior, make amends, and seek God for the refilling of His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will enable us to behave in a Christ-like way. When Christians behave like sinners, it is a stain on the churches and a mockery of Christ. As we read in Romans 3:13, if the poison of asps is under the lips of a professing Christian, destruction and misery are sure to follow.