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Proverbs 14:22 (KJV)

Do they not err that devise evil?
but mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good.

Bible Commentary

Proverbs 14:22 is a Bible verse where King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, shows us the outcome of devising evil versus devising good.

King Solomon was blessed by God with great wisdom so he could rule God’s people well (2 Chronicles 1:11). Because of this great gift, he knew a thing or two about people and what drives their behavior.

Because of his experience ruling God’s people and his great wisdom, he was able to write most of the Book of Proverbs in the Bible. His wisdom is paramount in helping us understand people, even today.


Let’s look at the first group of people Solomon speaks of in Proverbs 14:22, those who “devise evil.” The word “devise” in Hebrew means: scratch, to engrave, plough. In Webster’s dictionary, it means: to work out or create (a plan, device, etc.).

By engraving into a sheet of metal for example, a mark or groove is created, which produces a result we can see. Likewise, before someone commits a crime, for example, they have devised, or planned their steps of action. This devising, or planning is an engraving into the mind--our thought patterns--which produces actions we can see.


The mark or groove created makes it easier for another mark, or deeper groove the next time around. Soon, a pattern begins to emerge, which is evident in a person’s consistent actions or behavior.

The intentions of the heart are what really matter to God (1 Samuel 16:7), so that is how He considers and manages outcomes in our lives. Solomon says in Proverbs 14:22 that those who devise evil err.

This word “err” has some very telling definitions. In Hebrew it means: to vacillate, reel or stray, deceive, dissemble, seduce, stagger, wander.

All of these are behaviors, or outcomes, that God warns us against in the Bible. The word “deceive” is what is used to describe the devil as the father of lies (John 8:44).

It is critically important to ask Jesus Christ into our hearts, so He can mold and shape us into His likeness, so we can be protected from the ways of the devil, who deceives us into thinking what is good is evil, and what is evil is good.

Unlocking the Truth - Good vs. Evil

Let’s look at the last part of Proverbs 14:22, “but mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good.” Some Hebrew meanings of “truth” are: stability, trustworthiness, faithful, right.

What a stark contrast from those who devise evil! Again, it goes back to the intentions and desires of our hearts. We must be warry of our thought patterns in planning the things we want to happen, for they reveal the desires and intentions of our heart.

We can plan for evil, or for good. “Good” in Hebrew means: good man or woman, well, beautiful, best, bountiful, cheerful, kindness, wealth, prosperity.


It’s important to note the distinction between the word “err,” and the word “good.” We might think we are planning to make something good happen (i.e. the definition of good above). But in reality, our actions turn into something from the err definition (to vacillate, reel or stray, deceive, dissemble, seduce, stagger, wander).

If we begin manipulating people or controlling circumstances to achieve a particular “good” outcome, we should be warned. Manipulation carries a component of deception, which is a characteristic of the devil, not Jesus Christ. The devil is the master manipulator. Let's not fall into his ways of deception.


It is great to devise good, but let's remember to invite God into our planning. We must ask what God what to do, and be careful about trying to make it happen.

Devising good brings mercy and truth. Jesus is the truth, and God is love. So then, planning good draws the Kingdom into us. Study the Bible verse of Proverbs 14:22, and reap the rewards of wisdom.



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