Summary: The emphasis of the passage is on the dangers of perversity and the disastrous fate of its perpetrator. We here have a description of a person who deceives and stirs up strife & how to spot the scoundrel.

PROVERBS 6: 12-15


[Genesis 37:29-35]

What and how we communicate is important to God. There are those who are skilled in the methods of communication but deceitfully use their skills to spread slander and strife. This description is not a picture of a real friend or a good neighbor. To a stable community such a person spells disruption. The young leaders to whom Proverbs is addressed had to be put on guard against him. For they would meet his kind and would needed to recognize him quickly and deal with him or steer clear of him, as the situation warranted.

The emphasis of our text is on the dangers of perversity and the disastrous fate of its perpetrator (CIT). First we have a description of a person who deceives and stirs up strife (vv.12-15) and then the activities such a person engages in (vv. 16-19) which we will look at next time. Solomon urged his son to avoid disaster (v.15) and God's hatred (v. 16). So let's look at this teaching on how to spot a scoundrel.




If the slothful are to be condemned, who do nothing, much more those who do evil. Observe how such a man is described. He says and does his thing artfully, and with design. In verse 12 we learn his motives are despicable for he's out to deceive people with his words. "A worthless person, a wicked man, is the one who walks with a perverse mouth,"

The "scoundrel and villain" refer to the same person, as evidenced by the use of singular verbs in verses 12-15. "Scoundrel" (16:27; 2 Sam.16:7; 1 Kings 21:10) is literally, "man of belial," [Hebrew belyaal] someone who is worthless and wicked. Later the word belial came to be used of the devil, the most worthless, wicked person of all (2 Cor. 6:15). His life brings no true profit, for sin is not only destructive, it is also unproductive.

A scoundrel is known by his corrupt (lit. "twisted"; Prov. 2:15) or perverse mouth (4:24), or, by his false and deceptive words. Because of his ambitious corruption his life is a zero, void of God's truth, goodness, righteousness, and justice (inferred by the Hebrew word used here for wicked, wen; see 6:18; 10:29; 11:7; 12:21; 17:4; 19:28; 21:15; 22:8; 30:20; Hos. 6:8; Amos 5:5; Mic. 2:1). His speech ("mouth") betrays his crookedness. Because he works with deception or with crafty hidden motives, he cannot be trusted.


In verse 13 we learn that the scoundrel's manners are malicious also. "Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet, who points with his fingers;"

In order to engage others in his plot he ensnares them with signals. The idea of winking with your eyes, speaking with your feet, and teaching with your fingers infer doubletalk—saying one thing but meaning another. By body language the scoundrel's actions contradict what he says. By winking (insinuating, 10:10; 16:30; Ps. 35:19) or gesturing in some way with his eyes, feet and fingers he signals or "texts" his fellow conspirators.

The body language many imply more than shiftiness or subterfuge, though both are involved. The signs may suggest magic or witchcraft. Hexes, spells, evil eyes, harmful omens—these are part of his bag of tricks. They are also evidences of the insidious yet explosive danger of such devices. Biblical faith is dead-set against these practices not only because they give evil persons the power of fear and anxiety over their fellow citizens but especially because they want to seize control of situations from God and seek to replace Him as the director of what should be happening (Deut. 18:9–14).

Watch out for schemers. [There is no honorable way to get rich without applying ourselves because God's purpose is to develop us.]

The book of Proverbs describes people in the ancient world who used body language in an attempt to destroy others. They winked, motioned, or gave a shrug to work their slander and they felt safe in their attacks. After all, it is difficult to refute a gesture or to prove evil in a wink. Their actions were subtle, yet as deadly as bullets piercing the heart.

Slanderers are scoundrels and villains with hidden hatred in their hearts and deceit in their mouths. Some people have turned slander into a fine art. They would never use a meat cleaver to cut down another person. They are more subtle than that. They have learned to slander not only with words but with a gesture, a wink, or an evil smile.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, "The cruelest lies are often told in silence." When someone is attack in conversation, the listeners can join the mugging with a nod.

What are your gestures saying about others, to others? Ask the Lord of love and truth to help you guard your speech and actions. For His sake, for your own sake, and for the sake of others. Do it now!

When such non-verbal gestures are on the outside much worse is in the inside. Verse 14 teaches us that the scoundrel's exterior actions betray his evil inner make-up. "Who with perversity in his heart continually devises evil, who spreads strife."

The methods used by the wicked are expressions of the "perversity" (topsy-turviness; see 2:12, 14 for the use of this word found nine times in Proverbs and elsewhere only in Deut. 32:20) of the wicked and evil plots that boil in them "continually." He plans (Prov. 3:29) evil actions (1:11-14) from a deceitful heart so that people are not aware of his intentions (until it is too late). The cause of this plotting is the perversity of the inner person, for it is out of the heart that evil comes (Mk. 7:14-23; Jer. 17:9). Note that it is a perverse man sows discord. [Warren Wiersbe, Be Skillful. Proverbs. Victor Books. 1995, 67.]

Though he feigns sincerity, underneath he is perverted and causes dissension, drawing others into discord or strife. Dissension is caused by half-truths (6:19), hatred (10:12), uncontrolled temper (15:18), perversity (16:28), greed (28:25), and anger (29:22). [Also see these verses on strife: 17:1; 18:6; 20:3; 22:10; 23:29; 26:21; 30:33.]

The skill of his evil plotting is revealed in the dissension he creates. Their malicious plans cause discord among the people, the disruption of community consensus and family unity. [Such discord may even carry them into court to try to give legal expression to his contentiousness (ten times the Hebrew word for discord, midyn, is found in Proverbs and nowhere else in the Old Testament; its root suggests public dispute or judicial strife].

A family living in a small town in North Dakota was destroyed by AN UNTRUE STORY. The mother had not been well since the birth of her second baby but people knew she did all she could to create an atmosphere of love in that home. The neighbors would see the father being met at the door each night with hugs and kisses from his wife and two small children.

A village gossip wanted their home so she whispered that the man was being unfaithful to his wife. The story was entirely without foundation but it began to spread. Eventually it came to the wife's ears. Because of her weakened condition it was more than she could bear, and a few weeks later she suffered a mental collapse.

One evening, when her husband came home- coldness and quietness sent a chill of fear- over his heart. Soon the awful truth, became apparent. His wife, sick and in despair, had taken her own life and those of her two children! The man was beside himself with grief but the perverse words had already done their deadly work. The woman who began the rumor was pleased with her self and what she had caused to occur. She eventually got the house, but I'll be it never became a home again.

There are wicked people in this world who allow their hearts to become the devil's workshop. They start or spread lies of deception to get their way. As Christians, we must be doubly, careful never to be guilty of the devastating sin of gossip.

Ask your self how you could recognized deceptive words? Then think what you could do to stop them.


Besides causing discord among people by his deceptive words and his sinister gestures, verse 15 teaches us that a scoundrel brings disaster on himself. "Therefore his calamity will come suddenly. Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing" (2 Chr 36:16).

The fate awaiting the scoundrel that spread strife will be sudden and disastrous. His ruin shall come without warning, and without relief. It comes unexpectedly and quickly (in an instant and suddenly) with no way to offset it (without remedy). Whether natural consequences or more direct divine intervention is in view is not clear. But his downfall is quick, complete, and certain. [Walvoord, John & Zuck, Roy: The Bible Knowledge Commentary. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983, S. 916]

What ultimately crushes ("be broken") such a wretch is not described. It may be a righteous uprising of the community; it may be a negative decision by the town's elders in the litigation that takes place in the city gate. In any case, the defeat is so devastating that all temptation to copy the perverse person is quelled.

These words certainly apply to our modern society where both wicked manipulation by magic and mean contention are daily realities. The first is an insult to divine power; the second, an outrage to divine love. Perverse people are dangerous, then and now. [Hubbard, David. The Preacher's Commentary Series, Vol.15 : Proverbs. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1989, S. 102]


Ever try to tell someone about a house which you visited that had a spiral staircase? Did you use your hands as you made movements in the air to describe it?

This nonverbal communication may be as important as verbal. Some researchers have concluded that in conversation, the total message communicated is estimated at 55 percent facial, 38 percent vocal, and only 7 percent verbal.

Another expert claims that the average person only verbalizes a minuscule 11 to 25 minutes a day. All this means people are pouring out a torrent of information with eyes, eyebrows, facial expressions, hands, and bodily movement.

There is a tacit recognition of this in the figures of speech we use to describe our reactions. Some of these include, "lost your head," "two-faced," "hair-raising," "nosey," "get off my back." All of these expressions are indications as to how readily we use bodily functions as a means of demonstrating our emotional reactions.

Be careful of your nonverbal language. Remember, "Actions speak louder than words." and therefore God holds us more accountable for them.

[The scoundrel uses various parts of his body in violation of God's commands in 4:23-26.]

How much better it is to yield the members of our body to the Holy Spirit and be controlled by His Word! [Romans 6-8]