What does Proverbs 11:20 mean?
ESV: Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the LORD, but those of blameless ways are his delight.
NIV: The LORD detests those whose hearts are perverse, but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.
NASB: The perverse in heart are an abomination to the Lord, But the blameless in their walk are His delight.
CSB: Those with twisted minds are detestable to the Lord, but those with blameless conduct are his delight.
NLT: The Lord detests people with crooked hearts, but he delights in those with integrity.
KJV: They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight.
Jesus taught that our own hearts are the source of evil (Matthew 15:19). Jeremiah 17:9 declare, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick." Here, Solomon depicts the human heart as "crooked," meaning "distorted." This is the same term used in Proverbs 2:15 and Proverbs 8:8. Alternate translations use the word "perverse." Such attitudes are out of focus with the Lord's righteousness. Furthermore, those whose hearts are crooked are disgusting to God.
Isaiah 53:6 says we have all gone astray and turned to away from God. We have wandered away from God's truth the way sheep stray from their shepherd. However, when the Lord saves a believer in Christ (John 3:16–18), He brings us back to the paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:3). Whereas those of a twisted, perverse attitude are displeasing to God, He is happy in those who seek to live by His truth. "Blameless," as used here, does not mean sinlessly perfect. However, it does mean someone who diligently seeks to obey God, so that other people have no room to criticize their conduct.
Enoch is a good example of someone whose ways were blameless. While the human race was wandering away from God, Enoch walked with God, and God showed He delighted in Enoch. Enoch did not die, apparently, because God transported him directly from earth (Genesis 5:24).
Proverbs 11:16–22 continues Solomon's series of contrasts. Here he compares the beautiful life of those who pursue God's truth with that of those who live in their own sinful ways. He also contrasts the righteous person's end of life with that of the wicked person. He portrays the wicked person as an abomination in the sight of the Lord, whereas the righteous person is a delight to the Lord.
Many of the proverbs in this section deal with contrasts between those who are righteous and those who are wicked. Righteous people follow God's will, bring honor and blessing on themselves, and have hope. Evil people disobey God, bring trouble on others, are hated, and their lives lead to disaster.
This continues a long passage filled with Solomon's general, common-sense observations. As in chapter 10, Solomon presents a variety of contrasts. We see distinctions such as those between integrity and dishonesty, trust in wealth and trust in the Lord, wise and foolish talk, true riches and false riches, the blessing of the righteous and the harm caused by the wicked, and the respective rewards of the godly and those who are evil.
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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