Proverbs 17:20

A Froward Heart and a Perverse Tongue


He that hath a froward heart findeth no good:

A. A Froward Heart

1. Froward Defined:

a. Strong’s: twisted; distorted; crooked; perverse; perverted.

b. Dict. of Bib. Lang.: morally crooked or warped, i.e., pertaining to what is distorted or perverted from a just, right condition.

c. Zodhiates: It is used to describe a deceitful, perverse heart, the source of evil.

2. Usage of the term

a. Prov. 8:8 – True wisdom has no frowardness… no perversity… nothing crooked. That’s one way to recognize the wisdom that is from above: it is PURE.

b. Prov. 11:20 – Those who are froward in heart are an abomination to the Lord.

c. Prov. 28:6 – in spite of God’s estimate of this kind of perversity, evil men use this frowardness to their own advantage.
• Here the contrast is between the rich and the poor.
• The contrast is also between the characters of these two men: one who walks in uprightness but is poor and one who walks in perversity but is rich (same word and froward). It is BETTER to be poor and upright.
• But note that sometimes perversity seems to prosper!
• Sometimes men make great gain by lying and deceiving… through dishonest business practices…
• Through a froward heart they seem to prosper.

B. Findeth No Good

1. Findeth Defined:

a. Strong’s: find; attain; acquire; land upon; encounter; discover.

b. Used in: Gen. 26:19 – discover = Isaac’s servants dug in a valley and discovered water,

c. Used in Ruth 1:9 – experience = The Lord grant that ye may find rest.

2. No Good Defined:

a. Good = good; pleasant; agreeable; happy; beneficial; prosperous; well pleasing; fruitful.

3. Thus, Solomon warns us that those with a froward heart will find NO good… nothing good or pleasant; no happiness; nothing beneficial; no fruit; nothing prosperous.

a. However, this seems to be a contradiction to what Solomon said in Prov. 28:6… where he implies clearly that those with a froward heart DO prosper!

b. Now he says they will not prosper… no good will come their way. So, which is it?

c. There are quite a few proverbs which present to us this same kind of dilemma… an apparent contradiction to the obvious… things which seem to fly in the face of reality.

d. Solomon says that men with froward hearts will see no good… no prosperity. Yet we all know evil men who are quite well off!

e. This is like the dilemma faced by Asaph when he was puzzled by this same thing: Why do the ungodly prosper in the world?

f. Asaph had his dilemma answered by coming to realize that while they prospered in the WORLD… one day they will face judgment before God. They will NOT prosper in the world to come.

g. This and many other proverbs seem to present a similar apparent contradiction… but the APPARENT contradiction is easily cleared up when we view the principle from eternity’s perspective.

4. From eternity’s perspective, those with froward hearts will ULTIMATELY see no good… even if they see it briefly in this life.

a. II Sam. 22:27 – With the froward God will shew Himself unsavoury! (unsavoury: shrewd; cunning; to wrestle.)

b. Psalm 18:26 – with the froward God will shew Himself froward!

c. The froward may boast presently that they are “getting away with murder”… but they are on notice here: God is against you and one day—in this life or in the next—one day God WILL show Himself froward to you!

d. It may be in THIS life:
• Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them. (Prov. 22:5)
• If not, it will sure be in the life to come.

And he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief.

A. The Perverse Tongue

1. Perverse: overthrown; turned down; turned over; upside down; (a cake not turned)…

2. A person with a froward or perverse heart will eventually manifest that perverse heart through a perverse tongue.

B. Results of a Perverse Tongue

1. That perverse tongue will result in him falling into mischief.

2. Falleth:

a. Strong’s: Fall; to be cast down; knocked over…

b. Dict. of Bib. Lang.: have an object go from a higher position to a lower position, often with the implication of being out of control in relation to the situation.

c. To drop; to bring down; to fail; to fall.

d. The term speaks of the fact that a perverse tongue leads a person downward… to a fall… perhaps out of control…

3. He falls into MISCHIEF.

a. Defined: evil; misery; calamity; distress, adversity, disagreeable, unwholesome, or harmful.

b. Instead of finding good (pleasant; agreeable; fruitful), he finds NO GOOD… and falls into MISCHIEF… that which is harmful and disagreeable… full of harm and adversity.

c. The man with an unbridled, perverse tongue will fall into one mischief after another… until he deals with the source of his trouble: his own tongue!

d. This proverb is a powerful warning to us all.
• What goes on in our hearts and what slips off our tongues determine to a great degree where we end up… the course of our lives… what happens to us in life… whether life turns out good or not so good… agreeable or disagreeable… happiness or distress…
• Much of that is determined by what we allow in our hearts and on our tongues.
• Froward hearts and perverse tongues will reap what they sow… trouble and hardship.

4. It implies that MUCH of what we suffer as human beings, we bring on ourselves…

a. Much of it is the result of following our froward hearts… and the result of our tongues… saying things we should not say.

b. Many of the calamities we face could be avoided…

c. If we are not finding GOOD in our lives, it could be a heart problem!

d. If we find ourselves in constant calamity—it could be the result of an undisciplined tongue.

C. What to Do

1. Solomon gives a word to the wise here… a word to be HEEDED.

2. We are given valuable information… valuable truth and wisdom and we are expected to DO something about it.

3. Prov. 4:23 – Give all diligence to our HEART.

a. We are so prone to give all diligence to the various troubles and circumstances of life… and choose to get to the heart when things settle down and we have time…

b. That is sort of like mopping up a floor when the water faucet is wide open and flowing from the sink to the floor. Rather than mopping up the mess… go to the source of it FIRST and turn off the faucet!

c. Too often as believers we spend way to much time mopping up the messes in our lives and don’t spend nearly enough time dealing with the SOURCE of the mess: our hearts!

d. Keep your heart with ALL diligence.
• ALL implies that we should put ALL of our diligence into first dealing with the heart.
• Out of the heart flow all the issues of life.
• If we concentrate on trying to fix all the “issues of life” first, we will never get around to the source of it all.
• If we keep our hearts, then our tongues will be in line too… and the source of so many of our troubles and distresses will be “shut off.”

4. A few small adjustments in the heart could change the whole course of our lives…

a. From finding “no good” to finding spiritual prosperity, joy, contentment, and satisfaction in Christ…

b. From “falling into mischief” to standing firm on solid ground.

c. A few small twists on the faucet can prevent a huge mess on the floor… and save us from a big mess to mop up.

d. A few small adjustments in the heart can prevent us from having to deal with a long list of calamities…

e. Solomon warns us where a froward heart will lead: to no good! He warns us where a perverse tongue will lead: to mischief and trouble.

f. We can spare ourselves a lot of trouble… and often by some minor fine-tuning of the heart:
• A simple “I’m sorry.”
• Confession of sin…
• A tongue yielded to the Holy Spirit
• A heart that has been saturated in God’s Word each morning…
• Little changes can produce huge results.
• Failure to deal with the heart (and thus the tongue) can result in finding no good… nothing but trouble.

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