“They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth.” (Psalm 73:8-9)
“Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride.” (Proverbs 21:24)
Have you ever wondered why, given the importance of the Ten Commandments, that there is no commandment against pride? Why didn’t the Lord command his people to be humble, as Jesus did? Well, I submit that he did when he gave us the first three Commandments: worship no other God, have no idols, and don’t take God’s name in vain. These laws require submission to God as the highest authority, who is supreme to all other “gods.” Scoffers pridefully set themselves above all other beings, even God, by their arrogant disregard for the Lord, the heavens (God’s dwelling place), and all creatures on earth.
Proverbs 21:24 names this characteristic of scoffers three times. They are arrogant, haughty, and prideful—supercilious, puffed-up, and superior. Psalm 73 exposes their motivations as malicious, meaning cruel, with the intent to harm. They threaten others, who are inferior, with abuse through oppression. The Egyptian Pharaoh who enslaved the Israelites in Moses’s day is an example of an arrogant, malicious dictator who scoffed at God’s miraculous plagues to the point of losing his young son (Exodus 12:29). In the New Testament, King Herod was determined to kill all the boys in his territory to murder the Savior of the Jews (Matthew 2:13-18). One ruler scoffed at his refusal to submit to God; the other scoffed in his aggression toward God.
Christians are called to do the opposite of both: to submit in humble obedience to the Lord’s revealed will in Scripture, and to honor God’s name, worshipping him. We are also called to reject all idols—those things or people who would demand our worship and capture our hearts—even ourselves. As much as we hate to admit it, we are our own biggest fan clubs. We congratulate ourselves on our obedience and humility, and we neglect regular confession as if we do no wrong toward God or others. We become haughty in our complacency as if a day without the gospel working in us is normal and acceptable. We scoff at our need for and Christ’s provision of sanctification.
Rather than scoff, will you spend some time today reflecting on the gospel, allowing it to break through your self-righteousness and complacency? Christ came in humility and holiness, lived perfectly and innocently, died obediently and sacrificially, rose victoriously, not arrogantly, and ascended in glory, spotlessly, so that we will live mercifully and eternally, in union with him.