“The bed is too short
To stretch oneself on it.
The covering is too narrow
To wrap oneself in it.
Yahweh will rise up
As on Mount Perazim.
He will rage
As in the valley of Gibeon.
To do his deed!
Strange is his deed!
To work his work!
Alien is his work!
Now therefore do not scoff!
Your bonds will be made stronger.
I have heard a decree of destruction
From Yahweh God of hosts
Upon the whole land.”
Isaiah explains that your beds will be too short and the covers on your beds too narrow to cover you. This would indicate that he was referring to taller people like giants who could not get a comfortable bed. Yahweh was going to rise in anger as he had done at Mount Perazim and Gibeon. Perazim was a place between Jerusalem and Hebron where King David defeated the Philistines in 2 Samuel, chapter 5 and 1 Chronicles, chapter 14. There it was called Baal-Perazim. Gibeon was a place north of Jerusalem where Joshua defeated 5 kings in Joshua, chapter 10. Yahweh’s work was going to happen, even if an alien had to do it. They were not to be scoffers. Yahweh, God of hosts, had issued a decree of destruction for the whole land.
“Scoffers set a city aflame.
But the wise turn away wrath.
If the wise go to law with fools,
There is ranting.
There is ridicule without relief.
The bloodthirsty hate the blameless.
They seek the life of the upright.
A fool gives full vent to his anger.
But the wise quietly hold it back.”
The scoffers or the cynics will set a city in flames with their comments. The wise, on the other hand, will turn away or stay away from anger. If there is a dispute about the law, the wise will win out because the fools will be ranting away and ridiculed non-stop. The bloodthirsty evil men hate the blameless since they seek the life of the upright ones. Fools give vent to their anger but the wise ones hold back quietly.
“Those who are generous are blessed.
They share their bread with the poor.
Drive out a scoffer!
Then strife also goes out.
Quarreling and abuse will cease.
Whoever loves a pure heart,
Will have the king as a friend.
Whoever is gracious in speech,
Will have the king as his friend.
The eyes of Yahweh keep watch over knowledge.
But he overthrows the words of the faithless.
The lazy person says.
‘There is a lion outside!
I shall be killed in the streets!’”
The generous people are blessed because they share their bread with the poor. Get rid of the scoffers, the mockers, and strife will go away. Arguments and abuse will cease if the mockers are gone. If you have a pure heart and gracious speech you will have the king as a friend. Yahweh watches over knowledge, but he overthrows the words of the faithless. The lazy person is afraid to go outside because he says that he is scared of being killed by a lion.
“The proud and haughty persons
Are named ‘scoffers.’
They act with arrogant pride.
The craving of the lazy person is fatal.
His lazy hands refuse to labor.
All day long the wicked covet.
But the righteous give.
The righteous do not hold back.
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination.
How much more is it
When brought with evil intent.
A false witness will perish.
But a good listener will testify successfully.
The wicked put on a bold face.
But the upright give thought to their ways.”
The proud and haughty people are scoffers, or ones who mock people. They act with an arrogant pride. The lazy ones, on the other hand, refuse to work so that it is fatal to them. The wicked want more things, but the righteous are generous and do not hold back. Any sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination. It is even worse when they make a sacrifice with an evil intent. The person who gives false testimony will perish. The good listener will testify successfully. The wicked have a bold face, but the upright think before they act.
“It is better to live in a corner of the housetop
Than in a house shared with a contentious wife.
The souls of the wicked desire evil.
Their neighbors find no mercy in their eyes.
When a scoffer is punished,
The simple becomes wiser.
When the wise are instructed,
They increase in knowledge.”
Watch out for contentious wives. You would be in better shape if you lived in a corner of a housetop attic. The wicked souls desire evil so that their neighbors cannot find any mercy in their eyes. Whenever the scoffers or mockers are punished, it helps the simple to get a little wiser. Now if the wise are instructed, they will increase in knowledge.
“A worthless witness mocks at justice.
The mouth of the wicked devours iniquity.
Condemnation is ready for scoffers.
Flogging is for the backs of fools.”
The worthless witness mocks justice. The wicked devour iniquity. The mockers or scoffers are to be condemned. Fools should be whipped. Those who mock justice and other people are useless.
“The sacrifice of the wicked is
An abomination to Yahweh.
But the prayer of the upright is
The way of the wicked is
An abomination to Yahweh.
But he loves whoever
There is severe discipline
For one who forsakes the way.
But one who hates rebuke will die.
Sheol and Abaddon lie open before Yahweh.
How much more the human hearts!
Scoffers do not like to be rebuked.
They will not go to the wise.”
The wicked are so bad that their sacrifice to Yahweh is an abomination. However, the prayer of the upright is delightful to Yahweh. The way of the wicked is an abomination to Yahweh because Yahweh loves righteousness. He rebukes those who forsake his way. However, the wicked do not like to be rebuked. These wicked ones will die and go to Sheol, the shadowy underground world, or Abaddon, the bottomless pit. Those cynic scoffers do not like to be rebuked either. They refuse to go with their human heart in following the wise ones.
“Whoever corrects a scoffer wins abuse.
Whoever rebukes the wicked gets hurt.
A scoffer who is rebuked,
Will only hate you.
The wise man,
Will love you.
Give instruction to the wise.
They will become wiser still.
Teach the righteous,
They will gain in learning.
The fear of Yahweh
Is the beginning of wisdom.
The knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Your days will be multiplied.
Years will be added to your life.
If you are wise,
You are wise for yourself.
If you scoff,
You alone will bear it.”
If you mock or deride people as scoffers, there is no sense in rebuking you. You will only get hurt and abused because you are as if rebuking a wicked person. They will hate you. On the other hand, if you give instruction to the wise ones, they will become wiser still. If you teach the righteous, they will gain in learning. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Yahweh. The knowledge of the Holy One leads to insight. Wisdom will multiple your days and years. If you are wise, it will go well with you. If you are a scoffer or cynic, you will bear the whole burden alone.
“Wisdom cries aloud in the street.
In the squares,
She raises her voice.
At the busiest corner,
She cries out.
At the entrance of the city gates
‘O simple ones!
Will you love being simple?
Will scoffers delight in their scoffing?
Will fools hate knowledge?
Give heed to my reproof!
I will pour out my thoughts to you.
I will make my words known to you.’”
Wisdom is personified as a female here. She cries out in the streets and raises her voice in the city squares like a prophetess. She cries out and speaks at the busy corners and at the gate to the entrance to a city or town. She calls out people for being simple. She wanted to know why they were deriding her. How long would these fools hate knowledge? There is a lot of mention of scoffers in these proverbs. A scoffer is someone who mocks others, a kind of a cynic. Why would they not accept a criticism? Nevertheless wisdom was going to pour out her thoughts and make her words known to them.
“Happy are those
Who do not follow the advice of the wicked.
They do not take the path that sinners tread.
They do not sit in the seat of scoffers.
Their delight is in the law of Yahweh.
On his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees
That are planted by streams of water.
They yield their fruit in its season.
Their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do,
Psalm 1 is considered a preface to the collection of psalms or praises. There is no attribution to this psalm. It may have been the biblical editor’s choice. This psalm emphasizes the two ways, much like the later 1st century CE Christian Didache. This is, in fact, a wisdom psalm. The happy or blessed ones are the people who do not follow wicked advice. They receive blessings. They are the prosperous or the righteous people. They do not walk down the way of sinners or scoffers. Their delight and happiness is in the law of Yahweh. They are like the strong trees planted by streams of water as they always yield their fruit in the correct season. Their leaves never wither. Everything that they do is prosperous because they are sustained by the water. They meditate day and night on the Torah that was given by Yahweh, the God of Israel, via Moses. They are much like Christian contemplatives or Buddhist monks. The happy blessed one is the one who follows the law. This psalm sets the tone for all the psalms to follow.