"Will they not go astray who devise evil? But kindness and truth will be to those who devise good."
Solomon wants to point out a basic tenet of ethical living: Those who spend time scheming and planning to be selfish enough to harm others will go much farther than just one act or one plan. They will be setting the course of their life.
The huge comparison in this proverb is between devising evil and devising good. Do you see this drastic contrast? Solomon wants his students of wisdom to notice that people can spend their time devising one or the other: evil or good. Evil is selfishness pursued to the point of harming others to get it. It is violating the boundaries of God. Good is benefiting others and God. It is like wisdom doing the triple-win action.
We can spend our time devising evil or devising good. Which will it be? Solomon wants to tip us toward the good with his insight that a pleasant helpfulness will be with those who benefit others and clarity of information and understanding will also be with those who seek to benefit others.
This is the Hebrew word taah, which means to err, to be deceived, to be led astray. Notice that the contrast is almost exactly parallel. The one who spends time to benefit society through the goods they produce, the family they raise, or the good works they perform will get the real truth of what is happening and people offering to help. The person, however, who selfishly runs over people to get what he wants will himself be deceived and not understand what has happened to him.
The question is: Do you want to be in a position to understand what is happening to you or do you want to be kept in the dark by your own selfish goals and deception?
This is a part of the Old Testament that says that God will appear to the righteous as righteous but to the crooked as crooked. They will not understand what God is doing in their lives because of their selfish starting place.
kindness and truth
These were the two treasured commodities in the ancient biblical community. The Hebrew words are hesedand emetwhich are lovingkindness and truth. The presence of God always comes with hesedand emet. This was the difference between an enjoyable life and a sorrowful life.
I believe that it is unfortunate that the word kindness is used instead of love or lovingkindness. In our culture love is the stronger word. This is a strong word in the Hebrew culture. When you reach maturity of life, you want to have relationships full of love and truth. You do not want to be hated or ignored or deceived.
I was speaking with one of my girls about life, and I explained that we have ten relationships in life and it is all of those ten that allow us to have a full life. We want to be loved in each relationship. We want to have our needs met in each relationship, and we want to be treated faithfully and straightforward. I explained the wonder of a full life lived before the Lord is that He shows us how to enjoy rich relationships in each area of life that are full of hesedand emet. We do not want to be deceived; we do not want to be hated or ignored.
How does this wonder of a full life take place? The answer is the same from God whether it is from Solomon or Moses or Paul or our Lord Jesus. Love God and others; do good to God and other; bring real benefit to God and others. We cannot expect that people will automatically love us. The secret of great relationships is to love others first. God modeled this to us in that He loved us when we were still enemies.