The Seat of Scoffers | Psalm 1:1

nor sits in the seat of scoffers

Psalm 1:1 ESV

The first verse of Psalm 1 concludes with a third description of the blessed man by way of negation. Those who walk in the favor of the LORD do not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor do they stand in the way of sinners. Finally, they do not sit in the seat of scoffers.

Scoffer is not a commonly word used today, but it is very common within the wisdom literature of the Bible. A scoffer is typically presented as a kind of fool, one who has rejected the wisdom of God entirely, with a particular emphasis upon his speech. Indeed, scoffer is sometimes used synonymously with mocker to describe a person who is so critical that they have soundly left wisdom behind.

If you have ever read The Last Battle (the final book in The Chronicles of Narnia), the dwarfs who scoff at risking their lives to defend Narnia and eventually scoff at the heavenly reality around them are great examples. Their self-imposed blindness is exactly how scoffers end up. “Claiming to be wise, they became fool” (Romans 1:22). Thinking themselves to be the wisest of all, scoffers mock any real wisdom and plunge themselves into the depths of foolishness.

Sitting is a fitting action to associate with scoffers, since they sit back and jeer at goodness and wisdom. But while sitting may appear to be less active than walking and even standing, the psalmist is warning us that sitting with scoffers is active participation in their scoffing. To be seated with them is to be one of them. At the very least, it only fuels their continued mockings.

Before we pride ourselves in avoiding such scoffers in our lives, I would make the argument that too many Christians today gladly sit in scoffing seats as they consume various forms of entertainment. The sad reality is that much of the media that we consume is produced by those who very much openly scoff at God’s wisdom as found within His Word and who actively seek to promote values antithetical to those in Scripture.

Is consuming such media only harmless entertainment (as many tell themselves), or is it sitting in the seat with those who scoff at the instructions of God? The problem with considering entertainment harmless is that stories have ways of shaping us at a subconscious level, and consuming an abundance of worldly stories will inevitably mold us into worldly people, who begin to submit ourselves to the authority of the culture around us rather than the Word of God. Again, those who sit in the scoffer’s seat inevitably become scoffers themselves.

Blessed are those who turn away from the seat of scoffers, choosing to prize rather than ridicule the wisdom of God.

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