Ecclesiastes 8:11 says, "Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil." Punishment is not just for the one who does the evil deed. Society at large also receives instruction when punishment is handed out for crimes and evil deeds that are done. Today's proverb helps us understand this.
The scoffer is the first person we see in this proverb. We see him being punished for something he has done. It is important to see that while others are instructed and given wisdom from this punishment, the scoffer is not one of them. A scoffer is incorrigible in his evil. He mocks God and does not care or concern himself with wisdom. He himself is the beginning and end of what little wisdom he desires. When this scoffer eventually breaks laws in his quest to poison society against God, he receives the punishment due for his crime. It is sad to see though that by the end of this proverb - and even the following verse - the scoffer learns nothing. He will continue in his scoffing behind bars - living to curse God and in so doing - have a curse upon his own life as he continues in his patterns of self-destruction.
But there is help for others in seeing this fool's punishment. The naive or simpleton watches and learns wisdom. This is not the typical word for wisdom here, but is the Hebrew "sakal," which means to be prudent, show discernment, and to be instructed in a way to go. The naive watch the actions of the scoffer receive their due punishment and consider his end. As a result they learn not to walk in those ways - if only to avoid the punishment. The truly wise man though watches and receives real instruction - and as a result receives knowledge as well. Knowledge is "daath" which means a knowing that gives him practical wisdom and knowledge as to how to walk each day.
The righteous is the last type of person who watches the punishment of the wicked. He looks and considers not just this one action that is receiving punishment, but he looks at the entire life of the scoffer. He considers his entire house (family, business, children, etc.). The Hebrew here is a little difficult to translate - and here is it rendered "turning the wicked to ruin." That gives the idea that the righteous man is out to destroy the wicked here. The Amplified Bible though, gives the best sense of the Hebrew here when it translates this passage, "The [uncompromisingly] righteous man considers well the house of the wicked—how the wicked are cast down to ruin."
The righteous man can and should work to make sure that the laws of the land reflect the laws of God. In that way he does work to see the house of the wicked turned to ruin. That is what is ultimately best for a society. But what is being communicated here is that what the righteous man does is note that the entire household of the wicked comes to ruin because of his ungodly behavior and his attitude of scoffing at God.
When we watch the demise of the wicked on television and in the news we need to receive instruction from it. Our hearts should not be drawn to such stories for the juicy gossip content. That is the attitude of the world, who learns very little from such things. We should watch and grieve the destruction from the standpoint of seeing that a lifestyle of arrogant scoffing and derision of God leads to destruction. We should also receive the instruction that God means for us to receive. Honoring and glorifying God is the wise man's lifestyle. As the house of the wicked crashes to the ground we should remember that Jesus Himself taught us that the foundation of a man's house - whether it is founded on obedience to God's Word or not - will be the deciding factor on whether it stands or falls.