Proverbs 19:25
Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that has understanding, and he will understand knowledge.
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(25) Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware.—For “scorner” and “simple” see note on Proverbs 1:22. Reproof is of no avail to turn the “scorner” from his evil way (Proverbs 9:7; Proverbs 13:1; Proverbs 15:12), punishment will also do him no good; but it may make the “simple,” whose character is not yet formed for good or evil, reflect and amend. So God at first punishes sinners for their good (Amos 4:6, ff.), afterwards, when they are obdurate, as a warning to others (Amos 4:12; Deuteronomy 29:21, ff.)

Proverbs 19:25. Smite a scorner — An obstinate and impudent transgressor, a derider of religion and virtue, who rejects and scorns all admonition: that is, punish him; and the simple will beware — Though the punishment do him no good, yet other inconsiderate persons, who sin, it may be, through ignorance, imprudence, or infirmity, will be awakened by it to a better way of thinking and acting; who, if they saw him pass with impunity, would be apt to follow his example. And reprove one that hath understanding, &c. — A verbal reproof will be more effectual for his reformation than the severest punishments will be to that of a scorner.19:19. The spared and spoiled child is likely to become a man of great wrath. 20. Those that would be wise in their latter end, must be taught and ruled when young. 21. What should we desire, but that all our purposes may agree with God's holy will? 22. It is far better to have a heart to do good, and want ability for it, than to have ability for it, and want a heart to it. 23. Those that live in the fear of God, shall get safety, satisfaction, and true and complete happiness. 24. Indolence, when indulged, so grows upon people, that they have no heart to do the most needful things for themselves. 25. A gentle rebuke goes farthest with a man of understanding. 26. The young man who wastes his father's substance, or makes his aged mother destitute, is hateful, and will come to disgrace.Words which embrace nearly the whole theory of punishment. If the man who offends is a "scorner," hardened beyond all hope of reformation, then punish him by way of retribution and example, and let the penalty be sharp, that even the unwary and careless may beware. If the man be "understanding," then let the punishment take the form of discipline. Admonish, reprove, educate. 25. Such is the benefit of reproof; even the simple profit, much more the wise. Smite a scorner; an obstinate and impudent transgressor, who rejects and scorns all admonitions, and therefore is to be taught with blows.

The simple; who sin through ignorance, and imprudence, and infirmity, being possibly drawn to sin by the scorner’s evil counsel or example.

He will understand knowledge; a verbal reproof will be more effectual for his reformation than the severest punishments will be to a scorner. Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware,.... That is, give reproof to a man that scoffs at religion, and makes a jest of all that is good; for though it may be of no use to him who will despise it, yet it may be observed, and be useful to another that hears it; who, though void of understanding, yet not hardened in impiety as the other, but open to conviction, "will become cunning" (x), as it may be rendered; or learns wisdom, and becomes hereby a knowing and understanding man; he hears another reproved, and fears, and becomes a wise man; so that though reproof may be lost on one, it succeeds in another, which is an encouragement to give it;

and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge; he will grow wiser and wiser; he will improve in the knowledge of things; see Proverbs 9:8.

(x) "astutus efficetur", Pagninus, Montanus; "astutus fiet", Junius & Tremellius, Cocceius; "astutior fiet", Michaelis; "solertiam parabit", Schultens.

Smite a scorner, and the {i} simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.

(i) That is, the simple and ignorant men learn when they see the wicked punished.

25. beware] or, learn prudence, R.V.

There is a triple contrast in the proverb, between the persons to be dealt with and between both the manner and the result of dealing with them. The scorner, or hardened scoffer (λοιμός, LXX.; pestilens, Vulg.; Proverbs 1:22; Psalm 1:1, and notes there in this Series), must be smitten, punished with severity (μαστιγουμένου, LXX.; flagellato, Vulg.), but not with any hope of his amendment, but only “that others admonished by his example may be the more afraid to offend.” But if one that hath understanding errs, he only needs to be reproved (ἐὰν δὲ ἐλέγχῃς, LXX.; si corripueris, Vulg.) to make him know better.Verse 25. - Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware; will learn prudence, Revised Verson (comp. Proverbs 21:11; and see note on Proverbs 1:22). The scorner is hardened to all reproof, and is beyond all hope of being reformed by punishment; in his case it is retribution for outraged virtue that is sought in the penalty which he is made to pay. Τιμωρία, not κόλασις - retributive, not corrective punishment. Seeing this, the simple, who is not yet confirmed in evil, and is still open to better influences, may be led to take warning and amend his life. So St. Paul enjoins Timothy, "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear" (1 Timothy 5:20). There is the trite adage -

"Felix quem faciunt aliena pericula cautum."

"Happy they
Who from their neighbours' perils caution learn."
Septuagint, "When a pestilent fellow is chastised, a fool will be cleverer (πανουργότερος) So Vulgate, Pestilente flagellato stultus sapientior erit. Reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand, knowledge. The scorner does not profit by severe punishment, but the intelligent man is improved by censure, and admonition (comp. Proverbs 13:1; Proverbs 15:12). Says the adage, "Sapientem nutu, stultum fuste (corripe)," "A nod for the wise, a stick for the fool." Another proverb with נשׂא:

A man of excessive wrath must suffer punishment;

For if thou layest hold of it, hindering it, thou makest it only worse.

The lxx, Syr., and Targ. translate as if the words were גּבר חמה (as בּעל חמה, Proverbs 29:22). Theodotion, the Venet., and Luther render the Kerı̂ גּדל־; Jerome's impatiens is colourless. The Chethı̂b גרל gives no appropriate meaning. The Arab. jaril means lapidosus (whence גּורל, cf. Aram. פּסּא equals ψῆφος), and Schultens translates accordingly aspere scruposus iracundiae, which is altogether after the manner of his own heavy style. Ewald translates גּרל as derived from the Arab jazyl, largus, grandis; but the possibility of the passing over of ר into ז, as maintained by Ewald and also by Hitzig, or the reverse, is physiologically undemonstrable, and is confirmed by no example worthy of mention. Rather it may be possible that the Heb. had an adj. גּרל or גּרל in the sense of stony, gravel-like, hard as gravel, but tow rather than gravel would be appropriate to חמה. Hitzig corrects גּמל חמה, "who acts in anger;" but he says שׁלּם חמה, to recompense anger, Isaiah 59:18; גמל חמה is without support. This correction, however, is incomparably more feasible than Bttcher's, "moderate inheritance bears expiation;" חמה equals חמאה must mean not only thick [curdled] milk, but also moderation, and Bttcher finds this "sound." From all these instances one sees that גרל is an error in transcription; the Kerı̂ גּדל־חמה rightly improves it, a man is thus designated whose peculiarity it is to fall into a high degree of passionate anger (חמה גדולה, Daniel 11:44): such an one has to bear ענשׁ, a fine, i.e., to compensate, for he has to pay compensation or smart-money for the injury suffered, as e.g., he who in strife with another pushes against a woman with child, so that injury befalls her, Exodus 21:22. If we compare this passage with 2 Samuel 14:6, there appears for תּצּיל the meaning of taking away of the object (whether a person or a thing) against which the passionate hothead directs himself. Therewith the meaning of ועוד תּוסף accords. The meaning is not that, הצּיל, once is not enough, but much rather must be repeated, and yet is without effect; but that one only increases and heightens the חמה thereby. It is in vain to seek to spare such a violent person the punishment into which he obstinately runs; much more advisable is it to let him rage till he ceases; violent opposition only makes the evil the greater. With כּי אם, "denn wenn" [for then], cf. Proverbs 2:3, "ja wenn" [yea if], and with ועוד in the conclusion, Job 14:7 (a parallelism syntactically more appropriate than Psalm 139:18).

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