“Judgments.” The word “judgments” is put by metonymy for the punishments that are the just consequences that mockers receive for their evil actions. The Bible could simply say, “Punishments have been prepared,” and while that would be true, it would not reveal to the reader that we have a righteous and just God who does not punish anyone without due cause and due process. God prepared “judgments” for people who defy Him, and punishment will come as a result of a just judgment for evil and ungodly behavior.
“prepared.” The Hebrew verb is kun (#03559 כּוּן), and it means “to be established, to be steadfast, to be sure, to be completed, to be arranged, to be permanent, to be ready, to be made ready, to be prepared, to be stable.” The verb occurs 20 times in Proverbs, and the dominant meaning is “to be established.” “Prepared” or “established” is the meaning here. Wise people “prepare” and establish punishments for mockers, and a society should have a set of equitable laws with punishments that fit certain crimes. More serious is that God has prepared and established punishments for people who mock and defy Him, and evil people will not escape God’s justice. Waltke notes that “punishments are part of God’s fixed, immutable, eternal order,”a and that fits with the scope of Scripture.
Jesus made it clear that people who did not take their life and godliness seriously were wicked (Matt. 25:26). God did not create us so we could disobey Him or choose our own lifestyle without consequence. People have a moral obligation to obey God, and to mature in the Lord (Heb. 5:12; the Greek word often translated “ought” refers to a moral obligation). An important part of God’s “established” justice is that some of it is remedial, designed to train, correct, and instruct; and some of it is retributive, a just punishment for a given crime. The ultimate example of God’s retributive justice is Gehenna. No one “learns” in Gehenna. It is retributive justice in its purest form; an equitable punishment for a life of sin. The death penalty is mankind’s purest form of retributive justice. Some people are so hardened in their foolishness that they will not reform their thinking. They are punished for their crimes in a just manner and also so that others will learn.
The death penalty was established by God and is important if we are to have a godly society.
[See, John Schoenheit, The Death Penalty: Godly or Ungodly.]