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  • Dr. Stieglitz

Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 12:20

"Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace have joy"


This is the Hebrew word mirmah, which means deceit, treachery, deception. There is a clear sense of hiddenness. The person who is involved in deceit is hiding some huge piece of information that would change everything if it were revealed.

In this case Solomon exposes that in order to plan to go beyond the Ten Commandments. One has to spend time hiding something that is destructive, harmful, and would change everything if it were to come out. Notice that Solomon says that it resides in the heart of the person who plans evil.

A critical component of planning and executing evil is hiddenness. If you are planning to steal, you need to hide it; if you are planning adultery, you have to hide it; if you are going to blaspheme, you have to hide the fact that you talk that way to some people; if you are going to use anger or violence to intimidate, you have to hide that anger at times. There is hiddenness in order to plan evil. Evil plans cannot be exposed to the proper moral authority.

Ask yourself the question: Can I let people know what I am doing or what I am planning? If I cannot, is it because there is something about it that is unethical, immoral, or illegal?


This is the Hebrew word yaats and it means to advise or counsel. This is a most interesting contrast to the phrase that precedes it. It is not what we would expect. We might expect the phrase but the one who does right is open. But instead Solomon sees a connection to peace and joy as the opposite of deceit and evil.

The word counselors here means that Solomon is talking about those who advise themselves or others in the proper way will move them to peace rather than hiddenness or immorality.


This is the Hebrew word shalom, which means peace. It means the absence of war; it means a harmony between people that is positive, not just the absence of fighting; it means a place of blessing.

Peace, in a biblical context, is a positive. It means that people are getting along in a good way to accomplish something that they could not do apart. It means to harmonize, to produce something – two or more people who were playing separate tunes decide to play a tune together in which both can equally participate. Something more than the absence of hostility is involved in real biblical peace – a reuniting of relationship and a new teamwork to create a new thing.


This is the Hebrew word simchah, which means joy, gladness, mirth. It carries with it the idea of internal happiness and fulfillment. Joy always is about lining up in a deeper way with some relationship. The joy comes from the deeper connection with the person in the relationship. It could be God who gives you this new joy as you pursue and secure a new relationship with Him. It could be with your spouse, your children, your job, your friends, or with folks at church; but deeper relationships are so satisfying that it bubbles up a level of pleasure that can only be described as joy.

One of the things that Solomon is pointing out in this proverb is that in order to do evil, someone has to be harmed. That harm will be exposed at some later date. But if instead of doing harm to others you were a counselor of peace, you would have more joy when the relationship lined up with positive results. Don't be selfish. Don't be selfish to the level that it is beyond the Ten Commandments because it will require that you set about hiding some truth. Also, you will miss out on the deep joy of harmonizing with the people in your life in a new way.

Until tomorrow,

Gil Stieglitz

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