Tehilim is the Hebrew word for Psalms which means “Praises or Hymns.” Here, treasures are hidden in plain sight. The wonder and mystery of this book is that when life is pressing in around us, we can grab our bucket in childlike faith, take off our shoes, and run into this river of Praise. It is our safe place. These treasures come from my own bucket and the discourse that often follows my coffee time with the Lord.
Psalm 1:1 Nor sits in the seat of the scornful…
Seat of Deception
I met Serena in 2nd grade. She was that girl. The beauty with the brains. The center of the entourage. No one ever got the best of Serena. Her tongue was as sharp as her looks. From the beginning, the dynamics that would define our relationship were there and as we grew, our dysfunction grew with us. When she wasn't wooing me back into her affections, I was the target of her sarcasm. It was as if she needed to prove some invisible something. I either belonged to her or I was an outcast.
Scorn – a. Contempt or disdain felt toward a person or object considered despicable or unworthy. b. The expression of such an attitude in behavior or speech; derision. c. The state of being despised or dishonored.
One spoken of or treated with contempt. 1. To consider or treat as contemptible or unworthy. 2. To reject or refuse with derision. 3. To consider or reject as beneath one's dignity. www.thefreedictionary.com
Synonyms for Scorn are: Mockery, Disdain, Ridicule, Contempt, Disrespect, Disparagement, Despise, Belittle, Revile, Sneer at, Reject, Spurn, Rebuff, Disregard, Hate…
Scorn is a huge problem among Christians today. Feelings of religious pride and superiority are rampant. Believers from different denominations don’t talk to one another. Preachers tear other ministries down and make jokes at their expense. Family members are alienated and separated by doctrine. Even within a particular denomination, God forbid a member leave a church and join another. They may as well have filed divorce papers.
The slightest disagreement can stir up offense. Offense leads to anger. Anger to rejection. Rejection to hatred. All are synonyms for scorn.
The church is the place where scorn should have been eradicated. It has flourished instead.
Psalms 22:6-8, But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord, that He would deliver him: let Him deliver him, seeing He delighted in him.
Job 12:4, I am as one mocked of his neighbor, who calls upon God and He answers him: the just upright man is laughed to scorn.
Psalm 69:12, They that sit in the gate speak against me; and I was the song of the drunkards.
The faces of Serena’s clique changed every year, but we had history together. I didn’t realize it, but I was growing to love her for I had caught a glimpse of the girl behind the mask. No one else was ever around when the real Serena showed up. It was, indeed, a rare occasion. One year, when we were still very young, she began to ask questions about eternal life during a sleepover at my house. Yes. We were that house in the neighborhood. Mom was always having a “Good News Club” or something mission oriented to invite my friends to. This was the only time I ever saw tears in Serena’s eyes. I shared the message of salvation with her, but she did not make a commitment to Christ.
In those days I was naïve to the nightmares that torment the innocent. I knew nothing of the darkness that creeps in and takes virtue from children or steals their dreams away. All I knew was that something had made her hard and cold and at a very young age.
For God so loved the world… What a simple truth. Ageless.
Scorn has prepared a seat for her children, but can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Proverbs 6:27. I can’t tell you how many youth pastors have used chapters 6&7 of Proverbs to cast suspicion on the character of young, hormonal girls and stir up fear in young, hormonal boys in the hopes that it will keep them from hooking up. Or how many times I have watched the gray hairs shake their heads, longing for leaders who have the humility to crave wisdom.
Fear will never produce revival like scorn will never produce honor.
The Israelites understood these passages in Proverbs from an entirely different perspective than we have interpreted them. They recognized the literal meaning was that of a harlot (note: a professional prostitute, not a young girl), but they also recognized that it had another, metaphorical meaning, which was heresy, or deception. I challenge you to read these chapters again with their metaphorical understanding. For example: “Deception is loud and stubborn. Her neck is stiff and unyielding. Deception flatters with her tongue and then she casts down her wounded. Numerous are all her slain. They hasten to the snare and do not know that it is for their life, Proverbs 7:27.”
We can all be deceived, Obadiah 3.
Fear has become the basis for much of the teaching in the church and we wonder why we are reaping such poor harvest. Fear leads to offense, to anger, to hatred, to rejection, to betrayal, to deception and all are in the heart of the scornful. It isn’t far from fear to deception. As we breathe fear into the lives of our children believing it will keep them from sin, we are watching them make the journey into the arms of deception instead.
Yet! Though we have changed God’s message to accommodate our fears, His mercy remains.
While many sit in the seat of the scornful, God has prepared a seat in heavenly places. However, sitting there requires a change of perspective for fear cannot sit where Love abides.
Ephesians 2:4-6, But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.
Year after year, our lives were entwined despite the awkward dynamics of our relationship. I had long since come to realize that in order for Serena to be popular, someone else had to be unpopular. Someone had to be on the outside. Food for conversation. Gossip. Hatred. Scorn.
Our first year of high school was intense. By now, I was the outsider. Serena’s affection had turned cold toward me. Indifferent, I thought. She seemed to find ways to make my life miserable, especially when it came to my love for Jesus Christ. The school we attended was quite large, so I tried to stay out of her way. Then again, there were times when the old Serena would appear, catch me off guard and ask me to sit with her at lunch. In those moments I saw the childhood friend. Vulnerable. Wounded.
Somehow, her entourage would always show up. Following. What would start out to be a pleasant afternoon, would suddenly take a sharp turn, especially once I bowed my head to pray over the meal. Sometimes she would even ask me to pray over hers. It was only a set up. The sarcastic remarks would begin. Jokes. They felt like hot darts. I would attempt a lame response, but that only gave them more ammunition. Each time it happened, I left the table vowing never to fall into her trap again.
Jesus was the target of ridicule.
Matthew 9:24, He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed Him to scorn.
Matthew 27:29, And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand: and they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
Luke 23:35, And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He be Christ, the chosen of God.
Jesus endured the test of scorn.
So did the apostles… after His resurrection. They went from crude, angry fishermen to men of great patience. Men compelled by Love. Despite scorn, ridicule, and persecution, they pursued the souls of men and women until the church was born.
Acts 17:32, And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
On the last day of our Junior year, my church was planning a youth revival. After service, a group of us stopped at a new hamburger place. There, behind the counter, stood Serena at her summer job. As soon as my youth pastor realized I knew her, he pushed me to invite her to the meetings. “Ugh!” I thought, “If only he knew who we are talking to, he would just leave her alone!” But I obeyed. I invited her to the meetings and steeled myself against the response. In typical Serena fashion she threw her head back, let out a loud, mocking laugh and retorted, “Thanks, but no thanks! I’ve been a Catholic, an Episcopalian, a Presbyterian, a Methodist, and a Baptist! I think I’ll be an atheist for a while!” She said it to get a response, which it always did.
Proverbs 26:18&19, Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I was only joking!”
Today, scorn is applauded and the scornful are celebrated, but who is really getting the last laugh?
By the thousands we see young men and women sitting in the seat of the scornful today; offspring of pastors, youth leaders, and children who grew up in church and yet now they profess atheism and agnosticism. We are hemorrhaging a generation who do not know who they are.
Like Serena, when we teach fear we are teaching control, but no one actually controls anything. The truth is we worship what we fear, but the lord behind their fears is the master of the good of evil. All the shiny they desire has a dark and toxic underbelly, which they cannot see.
Proverbs 1:7, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Honor, respect, submission, and reverence; this is what it means to fear the Lord. Consequences are bound to the choices you make. You can have your choice, but you cannot choose your consequence, Dr. Ravi Zacharias. We are not the master of our fate after all.
Respect is an antonym of Scornful.
Proverbs 10:10, He who winks maliciously causes grief…
The next day Serena reported for work. Another employee was waiting for her when she arrived. A young man had been hired as a cook, but for weeks had fantasized about going out with her. There was no one in the dining section and only a couple of other workers in the back when she entered the restaurant. They were virtually alone. According to his testimony, he approached her and asked her out on a date. Surprised, Serena tilted her head back, let out a sharp, sarcastic laughed and responded, “Not if you were the last man on earth!”
Scorn is deadly. It is the tasteless poison of bitterness slipping out of our soul. It indulges our hatred while soothing our conscience. Amusement, diversion, and self-gratification are the conduits by which it delivers its mortal blow.
Proverbs 26:&25, A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit. Though his speech is charming, do not believe him, for seven abominations fill his heart.
Proverbs 16:30, He who winks with his eye is plotting perversity; he who smirks is bent on evil.
Scorn is concealed hatred.
Proverbs 10:18, He who conceals his hatred has lying lips and whoever spreads slander is a fool.
I John 4:20, If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates a brother or sister, that person is a liar, for if we don't love people we can see, how can we love God whom we cannot see?
Angered by the rejection. Especially, in that icy tone that only Serena could express. He pulled out a knife and held it to her throat. I can only imagine the fear that surely pushed all thoughts of scorn out of her mind. He led her out of the restaurant and to his apartment where he raped and murdered her.
Proverbs 29:3, Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet.
Proverbs 19:28, A corrupt witness mocks at justice, and the mouth of the wicked gulp down evil.
We are never more out of control than when we believe we are in control. The seat of the scornful is a place of deception. The person who indulges their quick witted sarcasms has already been betrayed by the deception of their all too sharp tongued ego. For the scornful are blinded by their own contempt.
Proverbs 14:6, The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.
Proverbs 14:9, Fools mock at making amends for sin…
Proverbs 15:12, A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise.
He shoved her into a large cardboard box and threw it into a dumpster. The box was found in the incinerator where her body had been burned beyond recognition. Gone was the long, golden brown hair she often threw back in flirtatious gestures. Gone was the greenish brown eyes that pierced straight through you and the tongue that could cut you to the heart. There was little left to identify this beauty that had once drawn so many people around it. Her father, who would never be the same again, confirmed the death of his beloved youngest daughter by the rings she wore on her fingers.
Scorn is a deadly sin and it grows at will within the church. It causes us to commit murder with our tongue. To despise the Knowledge of God that others have cultivated, watered with their tears, and developed from years of time spent in His presence. Scorn makes us suspicious and distrustful, using our words to wipe out what someone else has incubated. Scorn has an agenda; a dark and hidden motivation that even we cannot see. Behind words that seem harmless and actions that appear innocent is the desire to bring others down to our unhappy, unsatisfied level. And only God knows…
In Ancient Israel, the people understood the seriousness of sins of the tongue. They believed that slander was the equivalent of murder, that what is called character assassination was exactly that – assassination. Murder. They also believed that anyone who listened was an accomplice to the crime. By listening, they were actually encouraging the speaker. Today, we laugh at scorn. We enjoy ridicule. Slander. Disrespect. As long as we aren’t the one being belittled…
Proverbs 12:18, Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Serena was 3 days older than me, a fact that she dearly enjoyed holding over my head. This past December, I celebrated my 60th birthday, a reminder that she has been dead for 43 years. Her death was one of those moments that left a forever imprint on my life. She was proof of how desperately we need Someone greater than ourselves. We are not the masters of our fate.
Serena was young. She was passionate. Fiery. Beautiful. Serena was scornful. Cruel. Mocking and dismissive. She answered to no one and no one gave orders to her. And she paid the price with her life.
The seat of the scornful is not a place of wit and humor. It is a place of deception.
There is another place, a seat where no scorn or offense or hatred or fear can sit.
At the Good News Club mother held the day Serena came, she had hidden a special gift under one chair in the room. I still remember how excited and giggly we all were as we looked under our seats to see who had won the prize.
There is a seat that has been prepared for you. This seat cost God everything. In fact, He had to bankrupt heaven in order to make the arrangements. Just by sitting down you win the prize! The eternal Love of the Father and every good and perfect gift.
Don’t be fooled by the scornful jesting of the crowds. Don’t sit in the seat just because it is popular.
Today, I want to challenge you to check your seat.
If you are not sitting in heavenly places, then I beg you: trade seats!