Condemnation is ready for scoffers,
and beating for the backs of fools.
Condemnation and beating is what scoffers and fools prepare for themselves. Scoffers will not win hearers (unless they are other scoffers and fools). For a brief time, some may try to listen to them, but will quickly realize that the scoffers have nothing constructive to say. They will see that scoffers delight in mocking rather than building up. Similarly, some will try to reason with fools but will learn the very folly of such effort.
Thus, all that is left for scoffers is condemnation. They will not listen to reason and even chastisement has no effect. They cannot be re-educated or reformed. What remains is to ignore them, and, if they make themselves too much of a nuisance, then to punish them. The best that can be done is to restrain them until their time of condemnation.
With the fool there is at least the possibility that a beating will sober them. They may possibly change some behavior to avoid punishment. Reason, however, is of little avail, as the earlier chapters about lady Wisdom calling out to the foolish and not being heard demonstrated.
All the more wondrous then is the work of God in us. For we scoffed at his commandments and foolishly thought ourselves wise to ignore him. Yet, instead of condemnation; instead of beating, we received mercy. The Son of God was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By D. Marion Clark. © 2021 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org