Scoffer Is His Name | Proverbs 21:24

“Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man
who acts with arrogant pride.

Proverbs 21:24 ESV

Proverbs does not speak well of scoffers. They “seek wisdom in vain” (14:6) because they do “not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise” (15:12). They “set a city aflame” (29:8) and are “an abomination to mankind” (24:9). Thus, “condemnation is ready for scoffers” (19:29). Indeed, “drive out a scoffer, and strife will cease and quarreling and abuse will cease” (22:10). Striking and punishing scoffers also makes the simple wise and teaches them prudence (19:25; 21:11).

Although the term is thrown about online like candy at a parade, scoffers are very much what should be meant by toxic individuals. Their tongue is a hidden dagger laced with venom and lit on fire, and with it, they mutilate, poison, and incinerate everything in their path. The scoffer, therefore, is most certainly a fool, yet he is particularly a destructive fool, whose punishment will be a source of joy to all the wise.

In this verse, we discover an enlightening truth: the proud and the scoffer are one and the same. When Proverbs speaks of the proud, arrogant, and haughty, it is also speaking of the scoffer and vice versa. The proud are all scoffers, and all scoffers are prideful and arrogant. Indeed, ‘scoffer’ is the name of the proud, which means that it represents the very core of who they are.

We should not be surprised. How can someone’s defining character trait be their scoffing, mocking, critical attitude of others without being filled to the brim with arrogance and pride?

Lewis once made the point that “the more pride one had, the more one disliked pride in others.”[1] Our culture’s literal parading of pride through the streets might seem to prove Lewis wrong, as would the constant approval and affirmation of the pride of others. But let us not write off Lewis’ insight just yet.

Few would deny today that scoffers are running rampant (or should we call them trolls?). Hardly any dialogue can now be had without mockery and vitriol being lobbed like verbal hand grenades at one another. All of this raises the great question of our time: “Why can’t we all just get along?”

The answer is that you simply cannot affirm and celebrate pride as a virtue without consequence. The name of the proud is “scoffer.” To quote Lewis again:

Other vices may sometimes bring people together: you may find good fellowship and jokes and friendliness among drunken people or unchaste people. But pride always means enmity–it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God.[2]

This enmity arises because “pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others.”[3]

Indeed, such a mentality is baked into the cultural Marxist worldview that fuels wokeism under the term intersectionality, which says combines victimhood categories together in order to see how much pride someone ought to have in themselves. Straight, white males are, of course, not permitted any ounce of pride, only perpetual sackcloth and ashes for the sins of their fathers. A gay, white male, however, gets one pride hole punch, and an overweight, black, transgender woman gets a free pride ice cream cone for checking all the victimhood boxes.

Do you sense the enmity that is structurally bound to pride?

More pride and self-esteem and affirmations and approvals are not the solution to our society’s divisive problem, for our elevating of pride into a virtue is precisely what foments divisiveness in the first place.


[1] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 122.

[2] Ibid, 124.

[3] Ibid, 122.

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