What does Proverbs 12:20 mean?
ESV: Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.
NIV: Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.
NASB: Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, But counselors of peace have joy.
CSB: Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.
NLT: Deceit fills hearts that are plotting evil; joy fills hearts that are planning peace!
KJV: Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellers of peace is joy.
NKJV: Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, But counselors of peace have joy.
Verse Commentary:
The prophet Jeremiah correctly observed: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick" (Jeremiah 17:9). The need to lie, and the habit of lying, are pronounced in those who seek their own selfish interests instead of godliness (Proverbs 3:32).

Jacob's heart was full of deceit when he plotted to steal Esau's birthright. He took advantage of Esau's hunger by offering him bread and lentil stew in exchange for the birthright (Genesis 25:29–34). Later, he deceived his father Isaac. His mother put the skins of young goats on Jacob's hands and neck so visually-challenged Isaac would mistake him for Esau and bless him accordingly (Genesis 27:1–26). However, years later, the Lord changed Jacob's heart (Genesis 32—33), and Jacob came to properly honor God. God can still change the human heart!

This proverb affirms that there is great benefit in having good intentions for others. The peacemaker (Matthew 5:9) finds joy by helping others find peace with God and with others (Romans 12:18). Paul encouraged two feuding women in the church to end their differences by finding agreement in the Lord. He referred to faithfuil fellow believers as his joy and crown (Philippians 4:1–¬3).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 12:12–23 continues Solomon's contrast of a wise righteous person and a wicked fool. In this segment, he focuses mainly on their different speech patterns. He points out that the words of a liar are an abomination to the Lord, whereas the Lord delights in the words of a wise person.
Chapter Summary:
Proverbs 12 contains a series of contrasts between lifestyles, comparing those who honor God to those who reject His wisdom. The results of those decisions are also compared. This repeats several common themes from the book of Proverbs, such as the self-destructive nature of sin and God's distaste for those who lie.
Chapter Context:
Proverbs 12 continues Solomon's wise sayings. A large portion of the book of Proverbs includes these short, common sense pieces of advice. After a series of introductions and lessons in chapters 1—9, chapter 10 began a long list of individual statements. In this chapter he continues to contrast the righteous and the wicked, showing that the life of the righteous is far better than the life of the wicked. This pattern will continue, covering the same basic theme, through chapter 15.
Book Summary:
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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