Scoffers are not only naturally defensive, they are also naturally contentious creators of conflict.
Through insolence[i] comes nothing but strife, but wisdom is with those who receive counsel. Proverbs 13:10
When pride [insolence[ii]] comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2
This makes sense, since narcissists are typically “fighting” or “contending” for supremacy and to get what they want. They’re routinely irritated and angry at everyone and everything when things do not go their way. They take actions that run people over rather than “wasting their time and energy” on having peaceful relationships. So, if you see considerable drama or conflict, look around to see if a narcissist is involved.
We also know that scoffers are sources of contention, strife, and dishonor by what happens when they leave a scene – conflicts and crisis die down.
Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go out. Even strife and dishonor will cease. Proverbs 22:10
Why? In their drive for dominance they employ the tactics necessary to win – whether overt domination or covert undermining. This results in playing one against another, fighting, belligerence, manipulation, pouting, backbiting, slander, spreading rumors – whatever it takes. The “dishonor” this Proverb refers to includes putting others down, either aggressively or subtly. From Narcissists and Conflict[iii]
“One simple but easy-to-forget thing about narcissists is that, unlike normal people, they don’t mind conflict. They enjoy it.
Conflict makes normal people uncomfortable. We try to minimize it in our dealings with others. Oddly, we love it in fiction (Conflict is the gunpowder of fiction, and it’s near relative – controversy – is the gunpowder of journalism. Maintaining constant conflict is the secret to storytelling success). But note that this is “safe” conflict. In real life we hate what we love to see characters go through in fiction.
Narcissists have a whole different attitude toward conflict. They use it strategically to manipulate. They seek conflict. They become impossible people, flying into conflict with you over anything you think, say, do, feel, or wear. As if THEY have the right to determine what you say, think, do, feel, or wear.”
It is important to mention that “drive out the scoffer” is not an absolute, universal command, but the first half of a cause-and-effect sequence. If your 13-year-old son shows narcissistic tendencies, Proverbs 22:10 is not a Biblical mandate to kick him out of the house! There are, however, situations where “drive them out” is an appropriate course of action. This discussed in other blog posts.
In addition to creating strife in their pursuit of dominance, winning, or getting what they want, narcissists sometimes express their contentiousness by throwing fuel on fires that are already burning.
Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife. Proverbs 26:21
The Hebrew term in this verse is translated “kindling” – throwing a lit match onto fuel – but in Jeremiah, it’s translated with an image of a bellows – blowing air on a lit fire to make it hotter[i]. So, a contentious person will either take the “seeds” of conflict and turn it into a real conflict or take an existing small conflict and turn it into a full-blown conflict. Narcissists can be agents of chaos.
How does this play out? One example may be when someone is criticizing someone else, the narcissist “piles on” and tries to top the story already being told – with a statement like “that’s nothing, you should’ve seen what he did to me last week.” But sometimes the narcissist will whisper a criticism that stirs up a negative spark deep in someone else’s heart.
For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down. Proverbs 26:20
The reason the tactic of whispering gossip works to stir up contention and strife is that most people love to hear dirt on someone else.
The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the body. Proverbs 18:8 (& 26:22)
The narcissist takes advantage of people’s natural desire to hear dirt on others (“dainty morsels”) to create the doubts/controversy that in the end puts them in the lead or controlling position. It is a common move on the narcissist’s part to stir up strife in a way that is not readily visible to others.
This process can expand to infect an entire group or organization. Proverbs describes this metaphorically when it says:
Scorners(v) set a city aflame, but wise men turn away anger. Proverbs 29:8
This is what James meant when he said:
So also, the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell…….
….. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing…..
……What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.
James 3:5-6, 13-16, 4:1-2
[i]Same word as the root for insolence in Prov 21:24 – biblehub.com/hebrew/2087.htm
[ii]Same word as the root for insolence in Prov 21:24 – biblehub.com/hebrew/2087.htm
[iv] See http://biblehub.com/hebrew/2787.htm for a more complete discussion.
[v] Same root word as scoffer, see https://biblehub.com/hebrew/strongs_3944.htm
Please see Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective for an overview of what this blog is about.