Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence;
reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain knowledge.
Strike the scoffer and at best he will curtail his behavior; yet he will not learn. As Proverbs 9:7, 8 note: “Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse...Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you.” A scoffer is someone to be controlled. His attitude prevents him from actually changing. He only grows more hardened.
The simple, however, might change, whether he be the one receiving punishment or observes it in on others. He is the foolish teenager who cleans up his act when a friend dies in a drunken car wreck; he is the person who hangs out with the wrong crowd, but wises up when they get arrested. He has a chance to change for the good because he is marked more by folly than by a hardened heart.
The man of understanding welcomes and improves from being reproved. Because his desire is for knowledge rather than to be thought knowledgeable, he benefits from correction. Because he desires more to give than to receive, to be useful than to attain luxury, he benefits from lessons regardless how they are delivered to him.
This is a theme that runs through Proverbs. It is attitude that matters. To be wise one must desire wisdom, and as one grows in understanding then he will all the more grow in wisdom and knowledge. In the matter of wisdom and knowledge, it is true that he who has little will lose what he has, while he who has much will receive all the more.
Pray for the scoffer to be restrained; pray for the simple to learn prudence; pray for yourself that you may be a person of understanding who gains wise knowledge from each day’s lessons, however those lessons come your way.