What does Proverbs 6:12 mean?
ESV: A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech,
NIV: A troublemaker and a villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth,
NASB: A worthless person, a wicked man, Is one who walks with a perverse mouth,
CSB: A worthless person, a wicked man goes around speaking dishonestly,
NLT: What are worthless and wicked people like? They are constant liars,
KJV: A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.
Verse Commentary:
This passage describes a single type of person, starting with terms like "wicked" and "worthless." The emphasis here is on how their sins earn them those descriptions. Solomon writes that a worthless, wicked person uses deceptive speech. In other, more modern terms, we might call such a person a scoundrel or a rascal. Others might choose to call this person crooked, a con-artist, or a scammer. He purposely tries to lead people astray by lying to them.

The Devil is the ultimate deceiver. Jesus said the Devil "does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44). When the Devil tempted Eve in the garden of Eden, he lied. Although God had told Adam, "Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:17), the Devil told Eve, "You will not surely die" (Genesis 3:4).

First Timothy 4:1–2 predicts a time when some will wander from true faith by listening to deceitful false teachers. Furthermore, Satan will be cast into the bottomless pit at the beginning of Jesus' reign on earth "so that he might not deceive the nations any longer," until Jesus' thousand-year reign ends (Revelation 20:1–3).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 6:12–19 focuses on those who create unnecessary strife. These people are described as "worthless," "crooked," and associated with a list of actions and attitudes which God hates. Just as those who are lazy are at risk of sudden financial ruin (Proverbs 6:6–11), those who are corrupt are subject to sudden judgment. This passage uses a pattern common to books like Proverbs, giving a number for a list and then adding one more (Job 5:19; Proverbs 30:21). This is mostly a poetic flair, but sometimes highlights the last item as especially important. In this case, the last point is about those who create division, which is the common theme of the previous six ideas. In contrast, Matthew 5:1–12 describes God's blessings on those who are righteous.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter provides teaching on two aspects of wealth management. The first is avoiding putting one's property in debt for the sake of some other person's risky investment. The other warns against laziness, indicating that it puts a person at risk for sudden ruin. Solomon then poetically explains attitudes and actions which God finds especially repulsive. Next, Solomon returns to the subject of adultery. He reiterates the inherent risks of sexual immorality, including the catastrophic consequences which it brings. That lesson continues into the following chapter.
Chapter Context:
This chapter of Proverbs continues the wise sayings Solomon addresses to his son. In chapter 5 he addresses adultery and marriage. In this chapter he addresses financial matters, work ethics, characteristics and conduct the Lord despises, and sexual immorality. A common theme of these lessons is to avoid the natural consequences of foolish choices. The next chapter describes the adulteress's ways and the pitfalls involved in committing adultery with her.
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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