At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
“Scornful men bring a city into a snare: But wise men turn away wrath.”Proverbs 29:8
This proverb provides us with a good example of how parallelism can really flesh out the meaning of a proverb. In this one, the two halves of the proverb contrast with each other, and each side sheds light on its opposing half.
Scornful men bring a city into a snare, on the one hand, and on the other wise men turn away wrath. This is a contrast, and so we are learning that wise men are not scorners, and that scorners are not wise men. That is the first thing. The second is that when a city is ensnared, that is described as wrath, and the turning away of wrath is the city avoiding a snare.
Scripture takes a dim view of what it calls mockers, or scoffers, or scorners. This does not mean that the wise man never mocks anything, because it is necessary to mock folly and every form of spiritual stupidity. We see multiple examples of this in Scripture, but one should suffice. The Lord Jesus goes on an epic takedown of pharisaical hypocrisy through the entire 23rd chapter of Matthew, and He doesn’t really stint.
Those who do not like this kind of insightful analysis will frequently tell the godly to lay off, because nobody should ever, ever “sit in the seat of the scornful” (Ps. 1:1). But here is the thing. If we refuse to mock folly, we are not stepping into a world where there isn’t any mockery. What we are actually doing is stepping into a world where absolutely anything can be mocked and scorned—except for the sin that is currently in the ascendancy.
The city fills up with cynics and late night comedians, where everyone knows the price of everything and the value of nothing, and the city falls into a snare. And when the city falls into this sort of a snare, they are headed for the wrath of God. God may try to spare them, sending them wise men, but they are all told to shush.