Proverbs 12:20 ESV
Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.
This verse sets up an antithesis: deceit and evil versus peace and joy. The contrast, on a very basic level, seems obvious. It’s bad things against good things. That overview is true, but we can get so much more out of this verse. What does it mean that ‘deceit’ is ‘in the heart of those who devise evil’? Where does ‘peace’ and the desire to ‘plan peace’ come from? Why does planning peace correlate to ‘joy’? These questions are only the tip of the iceberg, but they will more than do for today (like many Biblical topics, articles and books by the dozen could be written for each one).
What does it mean that ‘deceit’ is ‘in the heart of those who devise evil’?
This question should remind you of the proverbs from the past weeks. Lying, whether verbal or not, lies at the heart of sinful man. The basic concept of pride, the motivator for the sin of Adam and of Eve, is the lie that ‘I am what I am not’ (Genesis 3 ESV). A prideful man declares that he is higher than God, whether in morality or judgement or power or authority. In saying so, he lies, and that lie is at the heart of his sin. Thus, from deception, from deceit, arises a heart which devises evil.
Where does ‘peace’ and the desire to ‘plan peace’ come from?
The famous blessing which God entrusted to Aaron that he and his sons might pass it on continually to the people of Israel runs so: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-27). That last clause is the point of interest here: the reason Israel can have peace is the countenance of the Lord God being lifted up towards them. God tabernacled (dwelt among) Israel in the wilderness, and as they heeded the commands of God, so they had peace (John 16:33). Men therefore desire for and plan peace when they are imitators of God who brings peace (3 John 1:11).
Why does planning peace correlate to ‘joy’?
If peace is the result of being before the face of God, then joy is the result of that blessing in the life of His people. As Deuteronomy 16:15 states, “… the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.” The blessing of the Lord produces joy, and therefore the superlative form of that blessing, the presence and aid of the Holy Spirit, produces great joy (Galatians 5:22). That joy and peace are both the consequences of a life blessed by God should not surprise us. Joy and peace are both symptoms of a world ordered after the command of God, according to His sovereignty.
The world is not perfect as the Garden of Eden was (Genesis 2-3). Therefore, our joy and our peace are incomplete and imperfect (Isaiah 9:1-7). A heart of deceit will bring evil, and as this proverb implies, evil is antithetical to both joy and peace. Yet God is redeeming the world, particularly His people. He is broken “on [our] behalf”, a truth we commemorate in every communion feast, and because He was broken, we, who were broken by the sin of the first Adam, are made whole by the righteousness of the second (1 Corinthians 11:24; Romans 5:12-21). As we are made whole, we are blessed by God with joy, with peace, and with a heart which ever more eschews deceit, which hates evil.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.