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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 12:20

 

 

Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, But counselors of peace have joy.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The “deceit” of “those who imagine evil” can work nothing but evil to those whom they advise. The “counselors of peace” have joy in themselves, and impart it to others also.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:20". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/proverbs-12.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Proverbs 12:20

Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil.

A denunciation of wicked men

I. A description of their persons.

1. They are evil-doers, but more especially, the practiser, the artificer in evil; one wholly bent upon sin; the body and mind occupied in executing and acting corrupt desires.

2. Nor is every evil aimed at, but evil in a high degree, evil against others--mischief.

3. This man is subtle in his evil. He is a cunning workman, sly, subtle, and close devising and effecting his mischief. Like a witty handicraftsman, he is most silent when he is most upon his inventions. It is a sign of an extreme wicked man, to be an inventor of evil, a plotter and deviser of mischief. As a coney-catcher lives by his wits, so sin and sinners by their wiles. But whence this?

II. The condition of these persons. Their deceit returns into the heart that first hatched it, i.e., brings certain woe and unavoidable mischief on themselves, to the breaking of their own hearts. Whence note, that the greatest workers of sin and mischief are greatest workers of their own woe.

1. There is no small heaviness and unquietness in the heart while it is plotting and hammering evil.

2. Whomsoever they deceive, they cannot deceive God, who will make them the greatest deceivers of themselves.

3. How just it is, that what pleasure they conceive in inventing mischief, they should lose it by the fruit of their mischievous inventions.

4. Sin is a sure paymaster, and her wages are death.

5. The sorrow of their sin comes with much and daily addition, and pierces the man’s heart as a sword. Beware of devising mischief against the Church of God, His servants and holy religion. Consider hereunto--

Self-deceit

The word rendered “deceit” may be understood as including deceit practised on a man’s self as well as on others, and here it may have the sense of self-deceit. Eminent translators have rendered the word, in its present connection, disappointment; frustrated hope. Those who “imagine evil” dare not avow their designs. Dissimulation and craft are productive of incessant apprehension and anxiety. They necessarily engender self-dissatisfaction and tremor, and that from the very dread of detection, frustration, and consequent evil to themselves, instead of to those against whom they were plotting. (R. Wardlaw.)


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Proverbs 12:20". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/proverbs-12.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

"Deceit is in the heart of them that are evil; But to the counselors of peace is joy."

"Injustice is the purpose of those who devise evil, but they whose plans promote well-being are just."[29] It is evident that some of the renditions cited here have been achieved, either by emending the text, or by adjusting the clauses to form an antithesis. Others simply make a paraphrase, or even invent their own proverb. "Evil people always want to cause trouble, but people who work for peace will be happy."[30]


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:20". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/proverbs-12.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil,.... That secretly devise mischief in their hearts against their neighbours; that plough evil, as the wordF7חרשי. signifies, and sow discord among men; and by many artful and deceitful methods promote contention and division, in order to answer some base designs of theirs; but sooner or later they are deceived themselves, are disappointed of their views, the consequence of which is vexation and sorrow;

but to the counsellors of peace is joy: such who consult the good of others, who advise to peace, concord, and unity; who seek to cultivate it in their families and neighbourhoods, and in the church of God, in which, if they succeed, they have joy and pleasure; if not, they have a satisfaction, in their own minds and consciences that they have done what is right and good; such have a conscience peace now, and an eternal one hereafter; or, as Aben Ezra calls it, the joy of salvation; see Matthew 5:9.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:20". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-12.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

that imagine — or, “plan” (Proverbs 3:29). They design a deceitful course, to which, with all its evils and dangers to others and themselves, the happiness of peace-makers is opposed (compare Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18).


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/proverbs-12.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

20 Deceit is in the heart of him who deviseth evil,

But those who devise peace cause joy.

Regarding the figure of forging, fabricating (lxx, Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, τεκταίνειν ), or of ploughing, which underlies the phrase חרשׁ רע , moliri malum , vid ., at Proverbs 3:29. That deceit is in the heart of him who deviseth evil ( בּלב־חרשׁי רע , as is correctly punctuated e.g. , by Norzi) appears to be a platitude, for the חרשׁ רע is as such directed against a neighbour. But in the first place, 20a in itself says that the evil which a man hatches against another always issues in a fraudulent, malicious deception of the same; and in the second place, it says, when taken in connection with 20b, where שׂמחה is the parallel word to מרמה , that with the deception he always at the same time prepares for him sorrow. The contrast to חרשׁי רע is יועצי שׁלום si ח , and thus denotes not those who give counsel to contending parties to conclude peace, but such as devise peace, viz., in reference to the neighbour, for יעץ means not merely to impart counsel, but also mentally to devise, to resolve upon, to decree, 2 Chronicles 25:16; Isaiah 32:7.; cf. יעץ על , Jeremiah 49:30. Hitzig and Zöckler give to שׁלום the general idea of welfare (that which is salutary), and interpret the שׂמחה as the inner joy of the good conscience. Certainly שלום (R. של , extrahere , in the sense of deliverance from trouble) means not only peace as to the external relationship of men with each other, but also both internal and external welfare. Thus it is here meant of external welfare; Hitzig rightly compares Jeremiah 29:11 with Nahum 1:11 to the contrast between שׁלום and רע . But as מרמה is not self-deception, but the deception of another, so also שׂמחה is not the joy of those who devise the device in their hearts for the deception of others, but the joy they procure for others. Thoughts of peace for one's neighbour are always thoughts of procuring joy for him, as thoughts of evil are thoughts of deceit, and thus of procuring sorrow for him. Thus וליועצי is an abbreviated expression for ובלב יועצי .


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The Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.

Bibliography
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:20". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/proverbs-12.html. 1854-1889.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Note, 1. Those that devise mischief contrive, for the accomplishing of it, how to impose upon others; but it will prove, in the end, that they deceive themselves. Those that imagine evil, under colour of friendship, have their hearts full of this and the other advantage and satisfaction which they shall gain by it, but it is all a cheat. Let them imagine it ever so artfully, deceivers will be deceived. 2. Those that consult the good of their neighbours, that study the things which make for peace and give peaceable advice, promote healing attempts and contrive healing methods, and, according as their sphere is, further the public welfare, will have not only the credit, but the comfort of it. They will have joy and success, perhaps beyond their expectation. Blessed are the peace-makers.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Proverbs 12:20". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/proverbs-12.html. 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Deceit and falsehood bring terrors and perplexities. But those who consult the peace and happiness of others have joy in their own minds.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Proverbs 12:20". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/proverbs-12.html. 1706.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy.

Deceit — They whose hearts devise mischief shall be deceived in their hopes, and bring trouble upon themselves: but they who by good counsels labour to promote peace, shall reap the comfort of it themselves.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:20". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/proverbs-12.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Proverbs 12:20 Deceit [is] in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace [is] joy.

Ver. 20. Deceit is in the heart of them, &c.] Incendiaries and make-baits, counsellors of contention, have twenty devices to make trouble, and to put all into a combustion; but they shall either be defeated of their purposes, or have small joy of their achievements; - witness our late English boutifeaus, with the whole nation of Ignatius, whose practice is to machinate mischief, and breed hate; being herein no less dangerous than once those Jews were, who, before they were banished hence, threw bags of poison into the wells and fountains that the people were to drink from, and so endeavoured to poison them all. The just judgment of God upon Nicholas Saunders, priest, the firebrand of Ireland, 1580 AD, spent with famine and forsaken of all help, is most worthy to be kept in perpetual remembrance. He being impatiently grieved at the evil success of his rebellion with Earl Desmond, and seeing that neither the Pope’s blessing, nor the consecrated banner, nor the plume of phoenix feathers, so said to be at least, sent from Rome, could do him any help, lost himself, and ran stark mad, wandering up and down in the mountains and woods, and, finding no comfort, died miserably. (a) Thus God met with a restless and wretched man, and that foul mouth was stopped with famine that was ever open to sow sedition and stir up rebellions against the state.

But to the counsellors of peace there is joy.] They shall have peace for peace: peace of conscience for peace of country, pax pectoris peace of the heart for pax temporis; peace of time, they shall be called and counted the children of peace, yea, "the children of God," have the comfort and credit of it, [Matthew 5:9] {See Trapp on "Matthew 5:9"} as Augustus Caesar and our Henry VII had; who as he went into banishment together with the public peace, so he brought it back with him at his return, and was afterwards wont to say, If we princes should take every occasion that is offered, the world should never be quiet, but wearied with continual wars.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:20". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-12.html. 1865-1868.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

v. 20. Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil, for they can rarely carry out their evil intentions without malignity and deceit; but to the counselors of peace is joy, those who give wholesome counsel, and the peacemakers, cause rejoicing.


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Bibliography
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:20". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/proverbs-12.html. 1921-23.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Deceit; either,

1. Towards others, whom they design to deceive, and then to destroy, whilst good counsellors bring safety and joy to others. Or rather,

2. To themselves. So the sense of the verse is, They whose hearts devise mischief against others shall be deceived in their hopes, and bring that trouble upon themselves which they design against others; but they who by good counsels labour to promote the peace and happiness of others, shall reap the comfort and benefit of it to themselves.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 12:20". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/proverbs-12.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

20. Deceit — “Delusion.” — Miller.

Imagine evil — Fabricators or advisers of evil.

Counsellors of peace — Those who give wholesome advice.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:20". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/proverbs-12.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Deceit. Or uneasiness. (Calmet) --- Honi soit qui mal y pense: "let him be covered with shame who thinks evil in it," seems nearly the same import. (Haydock)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:20". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/proverbs-12.html. 1859.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy.

Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil. "Deceit," producing sorrow, is in the heart of them that devise "evil," and therefore strife (the opposite of "peace"). The opposite follows:

But to the counselors of peace is joy. But to the counselors of good (the opposite of "evil") and "peace," is candour (the opposite of "deceit"), and therefore "joy."


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-12.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(20) Deceit is in the heart . . .—Those who plot and devise evil against others begin by deceiving them, and end by deceiving themselves also; whereas the “counsellors of peace,” who seek the good of their neighbours, bring joy to them and to themselves also through the satisfaction derived from a good conscience.


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:20". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/proverbs-12.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy.
Deceit
12; 26:24-26; Jeremiah 17:16; Mark 7:21,22; 12:14-17; Romans 1:29
but
Isaiah 9:6,7; Zechariah 6:13; Matthew 5:9; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 3:8-13

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:20". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/proverbs-12.html.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Pro . Delitzsch reads, "cause joy."

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

JOY FROM PEACE

I. There must be counsel if there is to be peace. There can be no peace either in a soul, a family, or a nation, where there is no counsel given and taken. There must be some centre of authority and rule whence counsel issues, if there is to be any order, and where there is no order there can be no peace. The peace of the text must be peace based upon righteousness, indeed all that bears the name that is not built upon this foundation, is false and transitory. It is like that house built upon the sand, which, when the winds come, is swept away, although it may look like a solid structure on a summer day. It is "the work of righteousness," that "shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever." "The mountains shall bring peace … by righteousness (Psa ; Isa 32:17).

II. Where there is true peace by righteousness there will be joy. Joy is the overflow of peace. Peace is like a river flowing tranquilly between its banks, and joy is like the same river when there is such a volume of water that it overflows the banks. When there is "an abundance of peace" in a soul, or a family, or a nation, it must overflow into joy—it must take a more active form. (The subject of the first clause of this verse has been treated before. See on Pro ).

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

That deceit is in the heart of him who deviseth evil appears to be a platitude, for the devising is directed against a neighbour. But, in the first place, it says that the evil which a man hatches against another always issues in a fraudulent malicious deception of the same; and, secondly, it says, when taken into connection with the second clause, that with the deception he always at the same time prepares for him sorrow. The contrast denotes not those who give counsel to contending parties to conclude peace, but such as devise peace—viz., in reference to the neighbour, for the word means not merely to impart counsel, but also mentally to devise, to resolve upon, to decree. Hitzig and Zöckler give to peace the general idea of welfare, and interpret joy as the inner joy of a good conscience. But as the deception in the first clause is not self-deception, but the deception of another, so the joy is not that which men procure for others. Thoughts of peace for one's neighbour are always thoughts of procuring joy for him, as thoughts of evil are thoughts of deceit; and thus of procuring sorrow for him.—Delitzsch.

Evil counsel most hurteth those that give it. By deceit is here meant a deceitful reward; or an issue of a matter deceiving a man's expectation.—Muffet.

They shall have peace for peace; peace of conscience for peace of country; pax pectoris for pax temporis. They shall be called and counted the children of peace; yea, the children of God.—Trapp.

First, no man can soundly seek to reconcile man to God, or one man to another, or give direction for his neighbour's welfare, unless he himself be reconciled to God, and peaceable towards men, and have Christian love in his heart, and these graces are never separated from holy comfort and gladness. For the same sap that sendeth forth the one, doth in like manner also yield the other, as the apostle testifieth (Gal ; Rom 14:17). Secondly, if their counsel be embraced and followed, the good effect thereof, with God's blessing, besides thanks and kindness which the parties holpen by their counsel, will yield to them; as David to Abigail, and Naaman to Elisha, etc. Thirdly, though their advice be rejected, yet, as Isaiah saith, their reward is with the Lord, and they shall be glorious in His eyes (Isa 49:4-5).—Dod.

Deceit is in the heart (or cometh back to the heart) of them that imagine evil (or practise mischief).

I. The persons are described. They are evil-doers, but not every evil-doer, but the practiser, the trader, the artificer in evil, one wholly bent upon sin, not every bungler or beginner, but an expert workman, that can despatch more business of sin in one day than some other in a month or a year. Nor is every evil here aimed at, but evil against others—mischief. Many evil men are only greatest enemies to themselves, intent to serve and satisfy their own lusts; but these with whom we have now to do, always have evil in their hearts or hands, in their consultations and executions, whereby to hurt others. Again, this man in our text is subtle in evil; as he is a cunning workman and active in high designs of evil, so he carrieth his business as subtilely, for which the whole work carries in the original the name of deceit, pretending all fair weather, as still water is deepest and most dangerous, or like a waterman that looks one way and rows another.

II. The condition of these persons. Their deceit returns to them that first hatched it; that is, brings unavoidable mischief on themselves.

1. There is no small unquietness in the heart, while it is plotting evil.

2. Whomsoever they deceive, they cannot deceive God, who will make them deceivers of themselves (See Job ).

3. Whereas sin is a sure paymaster, and the wages death, the sin of these men must needs slay them and play the part both of an officer to apprehend them, of a gaoler to hold them, and of an executioner to bring them to shameful death.—Thos. Taylor, 1650.


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:20". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/proverbs-12.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

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