Scornful men bring a city into a snare: but wise men turn away wrath.…
Here is a triplet of truths we may gather from these three texts.
I. THE SENSELESSNESS OF SCORN. (Ver. 8.) To be of a scornful spirit, to bestow scornful looks, to use scornful language, - this is gross folly.
1. It is utterly unbecoming. Not one of us is so removed above his fellows as to be entitled to treat with entire disregard what they may have to say or what they propose to do.
2. The wisest men, and even the Wise One himself, think well to listen to what the humblest can suggest.
3. It leads to a blind opposition to true wisdom; for often wisdom is found with those in whom no one expects to discover it; even as the scornful Greek and the proud Roman found it in the despised teachers from Judaea.
4. It ends disastrously. It "brings a city into a snare," "sets a city in a flame." It refuses to consider the serious danger that is threatened, or it provokes to uncontrollable anger by its disdainfulness; and the end is discord, confusion, strife.
5. It deliberately neglects the one way of peace. A wise man who does not refuse to listen and to learn, who prefers to treat neighbours and even enemies with the respect that is their due, "turns away wrath," and saves the city from the flame. Scorn is thus a senseless thing in every light.
II. THE USELESSNESS OF CONTENTION. (Ver. 9.) We are not to understand that it is a vain or foolish thing to endeavour
(1) to enlighten the ignorant, or
(2) to convince the mistaken. Where there is an honest and loyal spirit, it may be of great service to do this. What is useless is
(3) to debate with the contentious. Nothing comes of it but the clatter of the tongue and the triumph of the complacent "fool." He may rage or he may laugh; he may passionately declaim or he may indulge in banter and in badinage, but he does not seek, and he will not find, the truth. He is no nearer to wisdom at the end than he was at the beginning. Time is wasted; the heart of the wise is disappointed; the way ward man is confirmed in his folly; - let him alone.
III. THE AIM OF THE UPRIGHT. This is twofold.
1. Peace. The wise man, who is the upright man, "turns away wrath;" and he objects to a contest with the contentious, because "there is no rest." Those in whom is the Spirit of Christ are always setting this before them as a goal to be reached; they speak and act as those that "make for peace." They feel that everything which can be should be avoided that makes for dissension and strife; they are the peacemakers, and theirs is the blessing of the children of God (Matthew 5:9).
2. Life. They (the upright) "seek the soul," or the life, of the man whom the bloodthirsty hate (Ver. 10). To "seek the soul" or the life of men is the characteristic of the good.
(1) They care, in thought and deed, for the preservation and the protection of human life; they seek the removal of all that threatens it.
(2) They care much for all that enlarges and ennobles human life - education, morality, sound discipline.
(3) They care most of all for that one thing which crowns human life, and may be said to constitute it - the return of the soul to God and its life in him. In this deepest and truest sense they "seek his soul;" for they are regarding and pursuing its spiritual and eternal welfare. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Scornful men bring a city into a snare: but wise men turn away wrath.