Proverbs 24:2

For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.
– Proverbs 24:2

The warning of verse 1 is explained is this verse, which completes the saying. The warning against the company of evil men is not considered here in terms of the consequences of their behavior, but rather the deficiencies of their character. The word for studieth means to ponder, or meditate. The word for destruction means violence. Their heart, or mind, is fixed on violence and doing evil. Their speech comes from their heart, which is obsessed with mischief, or trouble. The energies of evil men are devoted to violence and trouble (Proverbs 6:14). They are not thinking, speaking, and doing wisdom. Wisdom is neither prized nor sought with them. If we are to seek wisdom (Proverbs 2:4), then we will not seek the company of evil men for they are bent away from it (Proverbs 2:12-15; 16:28-30).

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Proverbs 24:1

Chapter 24 continues the “words of the wise” in verses 1-22 and adds an appendix of wise sayings in verses 23-34. The sayings cover various topics such as, envy, wisdom, fools, perseverance, futility, enemies, good citizenry, judgment, false witness, and learning wisdom. There is no apparent structure beyond the usual verse pairs that form a saying.

Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.
– Proverbs 24:1

Verses 1-2 form a saying warning against envying evil men. The word for envious means to be jealous. The word for desire means to wish for. Wisdom instructs not to envy the prosperity of evil men, nor want to be with them. Wisdom has elsewhere warned of the folly of making bad companions (Proverbs 1:11-15; 13:20; 23:20). The warning starts with envy, which is an inner desire or jealousy that sees something desirable in the lives of the wicked. To one without wisdom, the life of evil men looks free, exciting, and prosperous. Wisdom knows better, because wisdom takes the long view (Proverbs 23:18; 24:20).

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Proverbs 17:13

Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.
– Proverbs 17:13

This proverb also relies on the principle of sowing and reaping. Rewarding evil for good is to be ungrateful and churlish (1 Samuel 25:21). The reaping is given in the second phrase. The word for evil can be moral or natural. Either way, the evil done comes home to roost (Proverbs 13:21). Wisdom and faith teach the opposite behavior (Proverbs 3:30; 20:22; 1 Peter 3:9). Jesus taught to repay good for evil (Matthew 5:43-48).

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Proverbs 17:11

An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.
– Proverbs 17:11

This proverb emphasizes the principle of sowing and reaping, so seeking rebellion will find a cruel messenger. The word for messenger can include the idea of a deputy. In this sense, the messenger is sent from the king with avenging authority (Proverbs 16:14). In the broader theme of sowing and reaping in the Proverbs, it is clear that those who pursue evil will find it upon themselves (Proverbs 1:18; 5:22-23).

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Proverbs 6:15

Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.
– Proverbs 6:15

The word for calamity refers to coming under a weight or burden and so refers to destruction or ruin. Being broken refers to being crushed liked a clay pot is smashed to pieces when struck. Both are said to be sudden. Suddenly refers to a moment in time and indicates a surprise. The wicked man progresses along and does not think his destruction is around the corner. Both are pictures of irreparable damage. The verse means they shall come to their end without remedy or healing.

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Proverbs 6:14

Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord.
– Proverbs 6:14

Frowardness is perversity and occupies the mind of the wicked man. All his thoughts are affected by it. To devise is to plan or design. Mischief is evil or adversity to others. So he continually plots and contrives evil to other, whether to gain advantage or simply to work destruction. Discord is strife and contention. This he sows as a man liberally scatters seed in a field. In the perversity of his mind, he would rather people be at odds than in harmony. The implication also is that he sows discord to his own advantage in some way.

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Proverbs 6:13

He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers;
– Proverbs 6:13

This verse refers to different physical gestures employed by the wicked man. The precise meaning or description of each gesture is not important, but rather that they are used to deceive. Such gestures are a part of his salesmanship, whether he is extorting or coercing. The previous verse referenced his forward mouth and the next his devised mischief. The whole picture of the wicked man is one who continually seeks to lead others astray and take advantage of them one or another.

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Proverbs 6:12

A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a forward mouth.
– Proverbs 6:12

Verses 12-15 warn against the third folly, the worthless and wicked man. A naughty person is literally a man of Belial. Such a term always involved wickedness, worthlessness, and destructiveness. Belial came to be a term for Satan and a man or son of Belial was any who had such qualities. Wicked has the thought of trouble or a trouble-maker. Froward means perverse or crooked. Such a man’s talk is bent away from wisdom and God’s law. He is not doing or proposing anything of value or good, but rather trouble and vanity.

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Proverbs 4:14

Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.
– Proverbs 4:14

Verses 14-19 warn of the way of folly, or the way of the wicked. The warning in these verses is strong and insistent. Path and way contrasts with the way of wisdom. The wicked and evil men have a way as well. Wicked refers to morally corrupt and evil refers to calamitous men. This highlights that there are really only two ways and we will go in one or the other. The warning here is consistent with the warning throughout Scripture concerning avoiding sin. Sin is best kept from when we keep from the very start of it (Psalm 1:1; Proverbs 1:10; 1 Corinthians 6:18; 2 Timothy 2:22).

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