“Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy. No ill befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble. Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.”
The first word in this passage is the Hebrew mirmah, and it means “fraud” or “treachery” or “deceit.” Those who devise evil do not care for the truth; indeed, their plan is to deceive people and commit treachery. They are happy to deceive others and even themselves.
On the other hand, joy comes to people who plan and work for peace. “Peace” here is the familiar Hebrew shalom, a word rich in meaning. It refers to more than simply the absence of conflict. Shalom derives from a Hebrew word that means “whole or complete.” The idea is that a person experiences fulfillment because they are whole and complete… the essential elements of their life are in place.
God’s definition of peace is very different from the world’s definition of peace. Jesus addressed this in John 14.27 when he said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” The peace Jesus gives is not the absence of conflict. It is not about "peaceful circumstances." Rather, it is about a Spirit-empowered inner peace—a condition of heart and mind—that gives us deep calm and exceptional clarity of vision, thus allowing us to see and respond effectively to people and situations. It is about God giving us courage and calm in the midst of whatever circumstances we face.
The world simply cannot give this kind of peace. It is only available in relationship to the Creator God. This is the core message of the Proverbs passage above: “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy. No ill befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble.”
Something that gets my attention in this passage is the notion of “planning peace.” There is an aspect of peace that God gives to us as a gift of grace, and there is another aspect of peace that we must actively plan for, pursue, and build into our lives.
This is very important: Peace is not something that you just passively receive; it is also something you must actively take hold of and implement into your life. The Lord calls us to operate from the foundation of peace he has given us, and then do the work to plan and build peace/wholeness into our lives, our relationships, and our communities.
Many Christians are not experiencing God’s peace because they don’t “plan” for it. In other words, they don’t experience peace because they aren’t trusting God and doing the work. They have God’s peace, but they aren’t operating from that peace.
Devising evil leads to personal failure and social disintegration, whereas planning peace leads to personal success and social cohesion. Those who plan peace will experience joy, but those who devise evil are filled with trouble.
Again, this is because those who plan evil are directed by mirmah… they are treacherous and deceitful. They are frauds. Be careful not to fall into the gravitational pull of these deceitful people!