It’s a very popular seat, but also a very perilous one.
“The scorner’s seat.”
That’s what the anonymous author of Psalm 1:1 called the place where wholesale criticism takes place. Charles Spurgeon, the “Prince of Preachers” in London in the mid-to-late 1800’s, described it this way:
“The scorner’s seat is a very lofty seat, but very near to the gates of hell. And, those who sit there have received their doctor’s degree in damnation.”
Wow! Powerful words indeed! And, when you realize they’re at the end of the downward “Road of Degradation” described in Ps.1:1, it’s clear you won’t want to end up there.
Yes, even a cursory examination of v.1 shows how a person moves from “walking in the counsel of the ungodly” (listening to the views-and-values of the world) to “standing in the way of sinners” (mulling over the world’s fads and philosophies) to “sitting in the seat of the scornful” (having adopted and advocating the world’s point-of-view).
That’s why the psalmist said only those who DON’t do those things are “blessed.”
Why is that?
Simply because anyone can be scornful of another. Taken from the Hebrew word “luwts,” the word “scornful” also means “scoffer, mocker, to hold in derision, etc.” Thus, it’s the picture of a proud, cynical, sarcastic, judgmental critic who sits as judge-and-jury on someone or something.
And, dear Reader, our world is full of those today!
The only difference is we call them “experts” or “commentators” or “columnists” or late-night talk show hosts who make a living publicly mocking or making fun of someone else. And, even if we’re none of those, we’re still guilty of doing the same when we make a critical comment in social media, Twitter or the local coffee shop.
Sadly, sometimes the “scorner’s seat” is found in the local pulpit or Sunday School classroom. While there are numerous examples in the Old and New Testaments of the prophets or Apostles warning others of specific individuals or beliefs, we need to be careful of always finding fault with any and everyone who disagrees with us.
Yes, as Spurgeon said, “It’s a very lofty seat, but very near to the gates of hell.”
Spurgeon also once wrote about the “Three Tests of the Tongue.” In it, he said whatever we’re about to say/write should pass these three tests before doing so. What were they?
1. “Is it true?” Not just because I say it’s true, but is it objectively and provably true.
2. “Is it necessary?” Just because something’s true still doesn’t mean it needs to be spoken. That’s why the Bible says “Words fitly (appropriately) spoken are as apples of gold in picture frames of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). Ecclesiastes 3:7b also says “There’s a time to keep silence and a time to speak” (cp., Prov. 26:5-6).
3. “Is it kind?” Most of the time, if we’re biting-at-the-bit to “give someone a piece of our mind,” we can rest assured that what we’re about to say doesn’t pass this third litmus test for the tongue. This doesn’t mean there aren’t times when “tough love” demands “tough talk;” however, even then, Christ’s Love must be at the root of what we say and do.
No wonder the Apostle James said “The tongue is a little member (of the body) and boasts great things…It’s also a fire, a world of iniquity and is set on fire from hell…And no man can tame it because it’s an unruly evil and full of deadly poison” (James 3:5-6, 8).
All we can do is seek to bridle it even as one would a high-spirited stallion (v.2-3). Thankfully, just as that bucking, frothing-at-the-mouth, kicking stallion can finally be “broken” and become a beautiful, head-held-high, under control show horse, so can we learn to watch what we say by daily sitting at Jesus’ Feet, not in the “scorner’s seat.”
God bless you.
NOTE: If you’d like to contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at email@example.com.