The act of belittling or exposing to contempt, derision, or mockery. There are a number of Hebrew and Greek words that express varying degrees of ridicule, the choice of word depending on circumstances. We therefore read in the Bible of persons that mock, deride, sneer, scoff, jeer, laugh at, or make fun of others.
Ridiculers are, in general, detestable to others. (Pr 24:9) If such do not accept reproof, they will experience disaster. (Pr 1:22-27) And how despicable are those who deride the poor, or their own parents! (Pr 17:5; 30:17) Ridiculers often refuse to listen to rebuke (Pr 13:1) and do not love those reproving them. (Pr 9:7, 8; 15:12) Nevertheless, they should be disciplined for the benefit of others. (Pr 9:12; 19:25, 29; 21:11) Instead of keeping company with such unholy ones, it is better to drive them away; much happier are those who refuse to sit with ungodly ridiculers.—Ps 1:1; Pr 22:10.
Ridicule Against God’s Servants. Unjustified ridicule of every sort is suffered by faithful servants of Jehovah. Job was falsely accused of deriding others (Job 11:3), whereas, in reality, he was the one derided, mocked, and made a laughingstock for his course of integrity. (Job 12:4; 17:2; 21:3) David was derided and mocked. (Ps 22:7; 35:16) Likewise, Elisha (2Ki 2:23), Nehemiah and those associated with him (Ne 2:19; 4:1), and many others “received their trial by mockings” (Heb 11:36). When King Hezekiah of Judah sent runners throughout cities of Ephraim and Manasseh, urging them to come to Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover, many individuals mocked and derided the messengers. (2Ch 30:1, 10) This, in fact, was the way apostates of both houses of Israel treated God’s prophets and messengers until the rage of Jehovah swept them all away.—2Ch 36:15, 16.
Ridiculing Jesus and his disciples. As God’s Servant and Prophet, Jesus Christ was sneered at, laughed at, made fun of, treated insolently, even spit upon, during his ministry on earth. (Mr 5:40; Lu 16:14; 18:32) The Jewish priests and rulers were especially hateful in their derision. (Mt 27:41; Mr 15:29-31; Lu 23:11, 35) The Roman soldiers joined in the mockery when he was delivered up to them.—Mt 27:27-31; Mr 15:20; Lu 22:63; 23:36.
The disciples of Jesus Christ were likewise mocked by the uninformed and by unbelievers. (Ac 2:13; 17:32) The apostle Paul, speaking of the derision suffered by his fellow disciples at the hands of the Jews, points back to the prophetic picture of ancient times, in which Isaac, at the age of about five years, was derided by his 19-year-old half brother Ishmael, who, in jealousy, was “poking fun” at (“mocking,” KJ, Yg) Isaac. (Ge 21:9) Paul gives the prophetic application, saying: “Now we, brothers, are children belonging to the promise the same as Isaac was. But just as then the one born in the manner of flesh began persecuting the one born in the manner of spirit [God having intervened to bring about Isaac’s birth], so also now.” (Ga 4:28, 29) Later Paul writes: “In fact, all those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.”—2Ti 3:12.
Enduring ridicule with the proper viewpoint. Jesus Christ knew all along that he would face ridicule and that it would culminate in his being put to death. But he recognized that the reproaches were actually against Jehovah, whom he represented, and this was all the more painful to him, for he ‘always did the things pleasing to his Father’ (Joh 8:29), and he was more concerned with the sanctification of his Father’s name than with anything else. (Mt 6:9) Accordingly, “when he was being reviled, he did not go reviling in return. When he was suffering, he did not go threatening, but kept on committing himself to the one who judges righteously.” The apostle Peter expresses this point when writing to Christians, particularly to slaves, exhorting them not to let such treatment incite them to retaliate; for Christ is their example, “a model,” Peter says, “for [them] to follow his steps closely.”—1Pe 2:18-23; Ro 12:17-21.
At one point in his career, Jeremiah the prophet of God said, “I became an object of laughter all day long; everyone is holding me in derision.” Momentarily he weakened and considered stopping his prophetic work because of the unceasing reproach and jeering. But he recognized that it was “for the word of Jehovah” that the derision came, and God’s word in his heart proved to be like a burning fire that he could not endure to hold in. For his faithfulness Jehovah was with him “like a terrible mighty one,” and Jeremiah was strengthened to keep on loyally.—Jer 20:7-11.
Job was a man righteously maintaining his integrity through great ridicule. But he developed the wrong viewpoint and made a mistake, for which he was corrected. Elihu said of him: “What able-bodied man is like Job, who drinks up derision like water?” (Job 34:7) Job became too concerned with his own justification rather than God’s, and he tended to magnify his own righteousness more than God’s. (Job 35:2; 36:24) In receiving the severe ridicule of his three “companions,” Job tended to count it directed toward himself rather than toward God. In this he was like a person who gives himself up to derision and ridicule and delights in it, taking it in as though he were drinking water with enjoyment. God later explained to Job that these ridiculers were actually (in the final analysis) speaking untruth against God. (Job 42:7) Similarly, Jehovah told the prophet Samuel when Israel demanded a king: “It is not you whom they have rejected, but it is I whom they have rejected from being king over them.” (1Sa 8:7) And Jesus said to his disciples: “You will be objects of hatred by all the nations [not on your own account, but] on account of my name.” (Mt 24:9) Keeping these things in mind will enable the Christian to endure ridicule in the right spirit and will qualify him to receive a reward for his endurance.—Lu 6:22, 23.
Justifiable Ridicule. Ridicule may be deserved and well justified. A person who does not exercise foresight or who neglects good counsel may take a foolish course that makes him the object of ridicule. Jesus gave an example of such a man, who started to build a tower without first counting the cost. (Lu 14:28-30) Jehovah set Israel “as a reproach to [her] neighbors, a derision and jeering to those all around” her, justly so, because of her own waywardness and disobedience to God, even to the point of bringing reproach upon God’s name among the nations. (Ps 44:13; 79:4; 80:6; Eze 22:4, 5; 23:32; 36:4, 21, 22) The prophet Elijah appropriately mocked the priests of Baal for their defiance of Jehovah. (1Ki 18:26, 27) After Sennacherib had taunted and spoken of Jehovah abusively before King Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem, the tables were turned; ridicule, derision, reproach, and ignominious defeat fell upon this haughty Assyrian king and his army. (2Ki 19:20, 21; Isa 37:21, 22) In a similar manner Moab became an object of ridicule. (Jer 48:25-27, 39) The nations of earth have gone to the extreme in ridiculing God, but Jehovah laughs at them and holds them in derision for their impudent resistance to his universal sovereignty, as they reap the bad fruitage of their course.—Ps 2:2-4; 59:8; Pr 1:26; 3:34.
Ridiculers in “the Last Days.” One feature of the sign marking “the last days” would be “ridiculers [literally, players in sport (of mocking)] with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires [“own desires for ungodly things”; Jude 17, 18] and saying: ‘Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.’” (2Pe 3:3, 4) Obviously, such ones do not heed the advice of Isaiah 28:21, 22, warning of the grave danger of scoffing at Jehovah.
“God Is Not One to Be Mocked.” The apostle Paul warns of the serious danger that attends an attempt to mock God, that is, the danger that comes to one who thinks that the principles of God’s administration can be treated with contempt or can successfully be evaded. He writes to the Galatian Christians: “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deceiving his own mind. . . . Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap; because he who is sowing with a view to his flesh will reap corruption from his flesh, but he who is sowing with a view to the spirit will reap everlasting life from the spirit.”—Ga 6:3-8.
Here the apostle shows that a person should not deceive himself with a false estimate of his own worth, thereby ignoring God and his Word. He should clean up his life to walk by the spirit as the Word directs. If a person does not do this, but instead goes on sowing with a view to fleshly desires, he is ‘accepting the undeserved kindness of God and missing its purpose’ and is treating God’s instruction as contemptible. (2Co 6:1) He may deceive himself into thinking that he is safe. Nevertheless, God knows his heart and will judge him accordingly.