Proverbs 14:9 ESV
Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance.
Getting a gift you really wanted- the next book in your favorite series, two hours extra of sleep, etc.- is an occasion of joy. Most people, when they open such a gift or understand its reality, are glad, accepting it with open arms and a smile. Indeed, we’d think it odd if somebody (a child, say) were to receive his gift, stand up, and dropkick it into the nearest body of water. We’d assume that something was off about the situation, that some fault lay in the gift, its giver, or its recipient. When we hear, therefore, that the fool mocks the gift of God, the gift the upright accepts, we know something is wrong here- once again, with the gift, the giver, or the recipient.
“But wait!” you say, “This is a guilt offering; God is the one the gift is given to, is offered to. Why are you walling it a gift from God when He’s the one getting it?” The answer is simple: the gift I’m referring to is the acceptance God gives to His people. This good gift of God is that He blesses the incense of our prayers (Rev. 5:8), our works (Heb. 13:21), and our lives (2 Cor. 4:11) with His acceptance of their good (even as Christ, the second person of the Godhead, takes onto Himself that which is evil in them). In a way like the honor which is due to him who gives a gift to kings, so too we His people are granted the honor of offering our gifts to the King of Kings.
So, we’ve both defined the gift and ruled it out as the problem; the next candidate, as God is obviously not to blame, is the recipient. Of course, I’ve put the cart before the horse here. The word ‘fool’ essentially gives away what precisely the problem in this whole affair is. The fool sins by spurning the gift of God to Him, out of hate (Deut. 5:9), out of pride (2 Chron. 26:16), and out of fear (Rev. 6:15-16). What does he spurn nowadays, though, when to participate in the guilt offering is anathema?
To mock at the guilt offering was, in the time of the proverb’s writing, to mock at the atoning power of God, to mock His law, and to mock His mercy. The guilt offering, after all, was a clearly understood symbol of the first, a consequence and institution of the second, and a witness to the third. All three traits, though, are seen in even greater measure in the antitype which the guilt offerings prefigured, the death of Christ on the cross. The dim form of this fulfilment would have been visible to the author of the verse (and to the fool he wrote of); Isaiah 53:10-11 states “… His soul makes an offering for guilt…. By His knowledge shall the Righteous One, My Servant, make many to be counted righteous, and He shall bear their iniquity.” The atoning power of God was revealed on that day; His law was satisfied; His mercy was proclaimed to all the earth, is proclaimed henceforth. The fool this verse speaks of, then, is particularly the one who mocks not merely the Jewish institution of the guilt offering but the fulfillment of that prophesy, who mocks the atoning work of Christ on the cross.
The upright, though, rejoice. We trust in Christ alone, by faith alone, not by our own strength nor by the works of the law, that we will receive salvation. Our gifts, therefore, are not gifts of necessity, given up as useless ransom for our sins, but gifts made from the virtue He has given us (Phil. 1:6) and given to Him for His glory, gifts which He accepts before His throne (Rev. 5:8). Without His grace, after all, we too would be like the fool, mocking His gift, unwilling to recognize His glory. Instead, by His grace, we rejoice in Him, in the bounteous grace which He has poured out upon us. John Newton put it well when he said, “’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved; I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I’m free.”
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.