“I will mock.” This sounds so harsh, but it is actually just a statement of fact. People mock God and Wisdom, and then get themselves into trouble and receive the consequences of their actions. Those consequences often cannot be undone, and sometimes cannot even be mitigated. A person who ignores Wisdom and drives drunk, wrecks his car and cripples himself and kills his passengers cannot undo that damage, and will pay for it for years to come—perhaps his whole life. A man or woman who is sexually promiscuous and gets an incurable venereal disease may live with that consequence the rest of his or her life. The point of the Bible personifying Wisdom and saying she “mocks” is making the point that she cannot undo the damage you did to yourself. Wisdom is not bringing the punishment, the punishment is a consequence of one’s own actions.
“what you dread.” The literal Hebrew is “when your dread comes.” The main emphasis is a metonymy, where “dread” is put for “what you dread.” However, there is also a very literal sense to the verse, because when “what you dread” comes, your dread comes too. Although sometimes what people dread comes upon them in this life, often those who mock God and Wisdom die rich and in peaceful circumstances. Nevertheless, no one can escape God’s judgment. Judgment Day will come upon them, and because they had no fear of God, they will fear the flames of Gehenna, and die in them.
This verse, like hundreds of others like it, puts the responsibility for disaster upon the person—no one has to mock God, no one has to reject Wisdom. God begs people to turn from wickedness and be saved, but if they refuse, God respects their decision and they will eat the fruit of their ways.