Two Kinds of People, Which One are You Proverbs 9:7-12:
Who has not heard the phrase: There are two kinds of people in the world.? From humble to haughty, neaty to messy, folks seem to have no problem with finding two ways to categorize individuals. Of course there are those who categorize people and those who don’t.
In Proverbs 9:7-12, King Solomon adds a comparison to the two-kinds of people contrast. The comparison/contrast that he presents in this passage is one that will play out time and again through Proverbs. In keeping with this study’s theme of the lists of Proverbs, let’s look into the list of possible reactions to correction. The lists will fall into two categories: the reaction of wise and the reactions of the mocker. Take a moment and read Proverbs 9:7-12. As you do, make your lists and ponder which list best fits your response to correction.
Solomon begins by introducing a rather nebulous, or vague, individual. He is called “whoever” (v.7). This is the person who is doing the correcting of the person called mocker and the one called wise man. Could it be that Solomon is suggesting that it does not matter who is doing the correcting in a given situation? Might he be saying that the mocker won’t like it and the wise man will respond well no matter where the correction from? One thing can be said for the wise man, considering the source is not as important as considering the validity of the correction. At the same time, the mocker doesn’t care who the source is and there never is a valid reason for constructive correction.
It may be useful to define a couple of terms before going on to the lists of reactions. First, the mocker is an arrogant person. He or she put themself above all, including the Lord. It also describes a person whose talk does not make sense as in one who stammers or babbles on. This person is introduced in Job. Job uses this word to describe his friends (Job 16). He is also found in Psalm 1 as a person that the wise man steers clear of.
Then there is the wise man. Wise describes the person who seeks guidance, i.e. wisdom, from God. He or she understands that all wisdom comes from Him. The wise understand that the Lord may choose to use various people and events to pass His wisdom on. Now back to Proverbs 9.
Let’s put together the first list when considering there are two kinds people in the world, those who are mockers and those who are wise. Since Solomon started with the mocker so shall we. First up on the list of a mocker’s response to correction: “Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse” (v.7). Correct the mocker and the mocker will thank you with insults and abuse. To be insulted is to be dishonored or humiliated; abuse comes from the idea of being considered morally or physically stained. The mocker takes correction poorly and will one up the correcting person.
Next on the mocker’s list: he will hate you (v.8). Remember the mocker is one who is full of him or herself. To suggest that they have a flaw invites them to view you as an enemy which is another way to translate this Hebrew word for hate.
The end result of the mocker’s list? “If you are a mocker, you alone will suffer” (v.12) When all is said and done, the mocker’s rejection of correction ends n suffering. They will suffer for they have rejected God’s guidance and wisdom, His correction, which never ends well.
On the other hand consider the wise man’s response to correction. When a wise man or woman is corrected they deeply appreciate the concern and action of the corrector. How much do they appreciate the help? “Rebuke the wise and they will love you,” Solomon writes (v.8). The wise person recognizes that correction is meant to improve. They are grateful for those who will take the chance with the relationship in order to make another the corrected a better person.
Not only this, the wise man takes the correction and applies it to life thus making him all the more wise (v.9). He takes the event, though often difficult and painful to hear, as a learning experience. The wise person knows that one should never waste a bad experience. Instead, they learn from it.
The wise man is also a righteous man (v.9). This is the person who is right with God. The wise person takes correction, applies it, thus living in a right relationship with the Lord.
The wise understands that accepting correction has great benefits. Solomon puts it this way: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life.” (vs.10-11) Accepting correction from the Lord, regardless to the instrument He chooses to use to deliver that correction, demonstrates a fear or reverence of the Lord. This reverence is the gateway into God’s wisdom which leads to knowledge, understanding and a long life. This suggests that the person who does not reverence God, the mocker, will get caught up in stupid living that will cut life short.
One more benefit for the wise person: “If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you” (v.12). What is the reward? Perhaps it is the opposite of the mocker’s reward. The mocker finds suffering. Might the wise find joy and stability? Jesus noted this when He said, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24).
There are two kinds of people in the world, the mocker and the wise. When facing correction which are you? It’s not hard to determine, just look how you react to correction.
Next Week: God’s Thoughts on a Good Wife and Mother Proverbs 31.