"Mockers stir up a city, but wise men turn away anger." Proverbs 29:8
Mockers are tough to deal with. Mockers are wise guys. Not wise as in, "Boy, is he SMART." But a wise guy as in, "He has a sharp tongue. He’ll cut you to the quick."
Mockers are quick-witted. They always have a snappy answer. And it usually is sharp and penetrating. If they direct their remarks to you, others will likely laugh, thinking the mocker is hilariously funny. But, you will feel the sting. You’ll know there is something besides the face-value of the humor. There is a sharp point that pierces your heart and your pride. And there are sharp barbs that keep the arrowhead painfully buried in your memory.
The mocker appears strong. If you challenge their humor with some humor of your own directed back at them, you will lose. Your joke won’t go over as well, or they will turn it back around on you. They already have the energy and momentum going in their favor. They already have the group laughing WITH them AT you. If you challenge the mocker, you are going against a stacked deck.
Mockers seems to be well adjusted people who are popular and well-liked. They seem to always have people around them. Those people are usually laughing. Some people are actually envious of mockers.
Mockers are quick-witted, no doubt. But mockers really aren’t strong. They appear that way externally, but inwardly they are a raging torrent and that rage actually makes them weak. The hurtful sarcasm is simply a way to keep people at arms length. They may lack self-esteem. They are often the ones who are envious of the higher character of someone else. They feel alone in a crowd because, even though it looks like they are accepted by other people, they haven’t accepted themselves. So, despite appearances, mockers are not well adjusted. They are "stirred up" inside - uncertain of themselves, poor self-esteem, angry. That is why, according to Solomon, they "stir up a city." They project their unease and discomfort onto everyone else with a biting, sarcastic humor that leaves other people hurt.
In contrast to the mocker is the wise man. The wise man may not be as quick-witted as the mocker, but he doesn’t have to be. He is not engaged in any put-downs of other people. He values their relationship too much to embarrass them in front of others. The wise man not only appears strong; he is strong. His inner strength comes from an assurance of the value God has assigned to him. And the mocker is well adjusted. He may not be popular, but whatever recognition he does receive from others is because of his calmness, his sense of value, and his fair treatment of others.
The wise man may not gravitate toward the center of attention like the mocker, but he doesn’t need to. His strength of character is read by people who recognize the value of character. And through them his influence is felt by others.
The influence of the mocker is to disrupt, disturb, upset. "Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended." (Prov. 22:10). Mockers use their insults to "stir up a city." But the influence of a wise man is to impart wisdom, build others up, calm the disturbance of the mocker. Wise men "turn away anger" - the anger of the mocker and the anger they create in others.
One of God’s blessing to us is the presence of wisdom mediated through other people! The wise offer a calm, soothing stability in our topsy-turvy world. They are powerful with a strength that comes from God - knowing his Word and living in relationship with Him. And they pass this strength on to the rest of us with their well-spoken words: "A man find joy in giving an apt reply - and how good is a timely word!" Prov. 15:23. By the speech we use, we can all choose to be the means by which God blesses others with his power for today.