Proverbs 24:1-2

Don’t Envy Evil Men

Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.
For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.


1. We just finished verses Proverbs 23:29-35 which dealt with the subject of alcohol.

a. That was a lengthy section containing 7 verses.

b. This section constitutes the 18th of 30 wise sayings.

c. The author made his mind known clearly in that section for all who have ears to hear.

2. Chapter 24:1-2 is the 19th of 30 wise sayings in this section of the book.

a. This section is not as long as the last (only 2 verses), but is more consistent with the rest of the section – which contains mostly two verse sections.

b. 24:1-2 introduces a new theme: envy.

c. Actually, it is not entirely new. This subject has been visited several times in Proverbs… and appears again after this section.

d. It is a sin that is common to man—and one that we would all be wise to consider.

Two Commands

A. Don’t Envy Evil Men

1. Envy: To envy, to be jealous of, to have a feeling of ill will ranging even to anger, based on a perceived advantage.

a. Envy (in general) is sin and is an expression of the flesh.

b. Gal. 5:19, 21 – “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these… envying…”

c. I Cor. 3:3 – For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”

2. Evil: (used over 600 times; many shades of meaning) bad, evil, wicked, malignant, injurious, immoral; etc.

a. This makes the envy even worse.

b. Envying what good, honest men have is wrong and sinful.

c. But envying EVIL men is worse. Why would a believer ever want to trade places with an evil man?

d. Don’t ever wish you were in their shoes.

3. Examples of envying evil men:

a. Proverbs 3:31-35 – Don’t envy the oppressor
• FOR: Reasons NOT to envy them
» They are an abomination to the Lord
» A curse in is in their house
» God scorns them
» And shame shall be the promotion of such fools
• Reasons to be content
» God’s secret is with the righteous
» He blesses their habitation
» He gives them grace
» And they shall inherit glory

b. Ps. 73:3 – Envying the wicked who prosper in the world.

4. The cure for envy:

a. Ps. 73:3, 17 – In some situations, getting an eternal perspective will turn jealousy of them into pity for them.

b. Ps. 37:1-3 – We should not fret or be jealous, but rather, we should TRUST.
• Trusting in, delighting in, and resting in the Lord are God’s antidote to envying evildoers.
• Instead of wishing you had all the things that the Joneses have, TRUST that God will supply all your needs.
• Instead of being jealous and feeling bad because you don’t have all the toys your neighbors have, delight and rejoice in the Lord!
• Instead of being anxious because you don’t have what others have… REST in the Lord and experience all the blessings that we have in Him by faith!

c. Prov. 23:17 – the cure for envying sinners is walking in the FEAR of God.
• If we focus on the sinner (what he has and who he is), that will lead to envy of him—his position, his prestige, his possessions, etc.
• If we focus on the Lord, that will lead to godly fear.

d. Proverbs 23:17-18 – The author’s point seems to be that the antidote for envying the wicked is to keep in mind that there is a future to be considered.
• There is coming a “last day”… a future event that which (if contemplated) will mitigate AGAINST envy today.
• The “end” evidently refers to the Day of Judgment—either if they get “caught” in this life—and surely in the life to come.

B. Don’t Desire to Be With Them

1. Desire:

a. Desire; long for; lust after; wish for; wait longingly for; covet to be greedy for; to have a strong yearning for; to crave after.

b. Deut. 5:21 – This term is used in the 10th commandment: “Neither shalt thou … covet thy neighbour’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour’s…”

2. This command is different than the first in this verse.

a. The first command was: don’t be envious OF the man.

b. The second command was: don’t desire to be WITH him.

3. The danger of associating WITH evil men

a. Prov. 1:15 – “My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.”

b. Prov. 13:20 – “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”

c. I Cor. 15:33 – Be not deceived: evil communications (associations) corrupt good manners.

4. God’s cure for a desire to be WITH evil men

a. Prov. 2:10-15 – Wisdom and knowledge

b. Prov. 2:20 – Walk with GOOD men (Solomon states that wisdom will keep you away from evil men and it will lead you TO walk with good men.)

Two Reasons

A. Their Heart Studies Destruction

1. The terms:

a. Heart: Inner man; mind; will; seat of understanding and passions; appetites; etc.

b. Studies: Muse; mutter; meditate; devise; plot; ponder; give serious thought and consideration to (sometimes means to mutter under one’s breath… quietly to oneself.)

c. Destruction: Havoc; violence; destruction; devastation; ruin; trouble.

d. Ps. 64:17: Here the psalmist describes what goes on in the heart of an evil man:
• Vs. 3 – Their words were like swords (aimed to hurt).
• Vs. 4 – They “shoot at” the perfect or the innocent.
• Vs. 5 – They encourage themselves in evil matters… thinking they can plan the perfect crime without being caught.
• Vs. 6 – They diligently search out new ways to do iniquity and carry out their evil plans.
• Vs. 6b – The heart is DEEP. (Meaning either the depth of their depravity or it can mean “cunning”—which fits well with the context.)
• Vs. 7 – While they shoot at the perfect, God will shoot back at them!

2. This is a description of the evil man mentioned in verse one.

a. Nothing is said of his outward appearance.

b. Often, evil men look like nice guys on the outside. You cannot judge a book by its cover.

c. That’s why we are commanded NOT to judge on the basis of outward appearance. We cannot see the heart.

d. But here, God gives us a glimpse into the heart of an evil man. What goes on in his heart?
• He is constantly plotting mischief.
• He is secretly planning destructive things… how to harm and ruin…
• Perhaps he is inwardly seeking a way to ruin someone else’s life… or reputation…
• Perhaps he is inwardly seeking a way to do physical harm to someone…
• This man, though he may have a pleasant smile on the outside, is inwardly up to no good.

e. Hence, this is a good reason NOT to envy him OR to desire to be with him. Stay away! He’s up to no good!

B. Their Lips Talk of Mischief

1. INSIDE – their heart is muttering and musing on ways to inflict harm and ruin on others.

2. OUTSIDE – what is in the heart eventually comes out. What comes out of his mouth or lips? Mischief!

a. Mischief: Trouble; that which is difficult or hard; anguish; unpleasant; distressing…

b. There’s nothing good on the inside—so nothing good comes out of that heart.

3. This is the kind of person a believer should AVOID.

a. These are good reasons not to be jealous of the person… not to be envious of what he has… and not to desire to be WITH him (choose NOT to associate with him.)

b. Note the words of wisdom here:
• We CANNOT know what is in a man’s heart and therefore, we should not judge a man for what goes on in his heart.
• But we CAN know what comes out of his mouth. And we SHOULD judge him on that basis.
• If he talks mischief and trouble, then this is the kind of person we should NOT desire to be around.
• Seek friendship and fellowship elsewhere. You have been warned!

4. The reasons given for NOT envying evil men:

a. In other passages was more “long term” (because in the END, things do not go well for them).

b. In this passage, the reasons are more for the “here and now.” (Because they are up to no good—nothing but trouble NOW.)

c. We should not envy them, but DREAD their pitiful character and lifestyle. They are in reality miserable people.

5. Col. 3:1-4 – The BEST way not to envy evil men or to be jealous of what they possess is to set your affections on things above. We are dead to this world.