Proverbs 24:20

For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.
– Proverbs 24:20

This verse gives the explanation for the warning in the previous verse and takes a deathly serious turn. Commentators vary as to how much the afterlife is in view in Proverbs. Wisdom in Proverbs is concerned with the long view and the end of ways, so it is expected that the end of life, and what’s after, is in view. The word for reward means after part, or end. It is most often translated “end” in this book (Proverbs 5:4; 14:12-13; 16:25; 19:20; 20:21; 23:18; 25:8). Those verses reflect the meaning of outcome, and in many instances it is the outcome of life. When taken with the last phrase, it is plain this verse is talking about death and the loss of expectation or hope for the wicked. The imagery of the candle being put out for the wicked is used consistently to indicate the forfeiture of any good expectation at the death of the wicked (Proverbs 13:9; 20:20).

The saying is a sober warning to realize the end of the wicked and therefore not to envy or begrudge their successes. The prosperity of evil men is temporary, though it may seem to last their entire earthly lives. This warning is echoed throughout Proverbs (Proverbs 5:23; 8:36; 9:18; 11:7; 23:13-14).

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Proverbs 24:19

Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked;
– Proverbs 24:19

Verses 19-20 form the next saying concerning envying the wicked. This saying focuses on the inner attitude. The word for fret means become angry, and the word for envious means to be jealous. Wisdom teaches neither to be angry with the success of the wicked, nor to be jealous of their prosperity. The saying echoes previous sayings (Proverbs 23:17; 24:1).

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Proverbs 24:8

He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person.
– Proverbs 24:8

Verses 8-9 form a saying on the general disapproval of scheming men. The word for deviseth means to plait, or weave, like a basket or rug. The word is used of Joseph’s brother for the evil they “thought” against him (Genesis 50:20). It literally refers to weaving strands together but is used more figuratively to speak of a plan or contrivance. The word for mischievous means a plan, or a scheme, and usually an evil one. The word for called is to call out by name, and so an evil planner comes to be known as a schemer. The wicked in Proverbs are characterized as always thinking about and planning evil things (Proverbs 6:14, 18; 14:22; 24:2).

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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

Introduction
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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