As typical Hebrew poetic parallelism, this verse discusses two different characters – “the mocker” and “the discerning.” Both are connected to good things in this wise saying – “wisdom” and “knowledge” – and their own character determines how well that works out for each one.
The “mocker” is one who verbally disrespects others, possibly because he or she sees themselves as smarter. Here, the mocker “seeks wisdom” – a good thing – but “finds none.”
While Proverbs constantly says wisdom is accessible to all, mockers come up empty and I think the reason is simple. To paraphrase “A Few Good Men” – they want the truth (“wisdom”), but they can’t handle the truth (“wisdom”) because of their “mocker” character flaws.
It happens that way here at Helping Up Mission. We want something good for our lives, but our character is such that we’re not actually willing to do what it takes to receive it – at least not yet!
On the other hand, “the discerning” (or “the one with understanding”) finds that “knowledge… “comes easily.” A person of “understanding” is open and ready to receive “knowledge” – in fact, the two qualities frequently go together in Proverbs.
In the end, it’s not really about what I want – but who I am. Mockers can have wisdom, they just need to be willing to change so they can receive it.
When I really want something bad enough – “wisdom” here – that I’ll do what it takes – like change – to get it. That’s when good things begin to happen.