Proverbs 10:23

Evil as a Sport


1.) This passage stands as a single nugget—not part of any greater context.

2.) Like vs. 15, Solomon is not endorsing or promoting in any way the topic at hand, but rather is stating it as it is. This is a fact—this is what is often true in life.

3.) This is an observable part of fallen human nature: there are many folks out there, for whom mischief is a game… evil is their sport.

4.) Human nature hasn’t changed a bit.

It is as sport…

1.) Sport – laughter, laughing stock, mocking, derision

a.) The term does not mean sport in the sense we use it today.

b.) It means that which is laughed at… in derision… mocked…

c.) Job 12:4—used twice here—Job lamented that he had become the laughingstock in town… a JOKE…

d.) The term means something to laugh at… a joke… but usually with an evil connotation.

e.) Laughter is not always found in an evil connotation however. Job 8:21 speaks of laughter as a gift from God. HE put laughter in his mouth!

f.) But just as is the case in laughter and humor today, in Solomon’s day, there was good clean humor (a gift from God) or an evil or even sick kind of humor.

g.) It is the latter sense that Solomon uses the term in Prov. 10:23.

2.) Mischief: plan, device, (used of God’s plan to judge men)… and when used of men it speaks of wickedness, evil plans

a.) We often use the term to describe innocent, childish behavior… sometimes even cute.

b.) That is the not the connotation the term has in the Bible. It is a much more sinister term.

c.) It refers not to little boys playing their cute little pranks, but evil plans or devices concocted by evil men.

d.) Used in Gen. 6:11 – of the men who devised the plan to build a tower unto God… and form a one world empire without God! (which they “imagined to do”)

3.) Solomon is stating here that some twisted and perverted men (or women) somehow derive a morbid pleasure from making and carrying out evil plans… a sick sense of humor.

4.) Prov.15:21 – folly is his joy… his delight…

a.) Folly is his joy in life… (folly also has a sinister connotation in Proverbs)

b.) This person derives his JOY (fun; pleasure; satisfaction) from what the Bible calls “folly.” Evil things…

c.) Serial killers often derive a sick pleasure from killing and torturing people. It has become their greatest thrill in life…

d.) That is perhaps the bottom of the barrel… but this principle operates much more often than just in serial killers.

e.) Young gangs of teenagers go out on Friday night for some fun—which to them means getting into trouble…
• Perhaps they get their thrill from shoplifting… beating up a smaller kid in the neighborhood… shooting out the street lights…going through parking lots and scratching their keys against cars… slashing tires… writing graffiti on old buildings…
• Seeing how much they can get away with becomes a game… trying to outsmart the police becomes a game…

f.) And it is not just young teenagers who operate this way either.
• What about the man who has made a game of stealing electronic equipment from his company… piece by piece… just to be able to say he did it?
• What about the housewife who is leading a double life… one with her family and having an affair on the side… for the thrill of getting away with it…
• What about the modern day snake oil salesmen… peddling products they know don’t work… and laughing at all the suckers who bought it?
• What about the extreme sports of our day… trying some foolish stunts for the thrill of it?
• What about the sick people who set up hidden cameras to watch people undress?
• What about the guy in the office who gets a big laugh out of passing smutty jokes around?
• What about the thousands who get drunk or take drugs just for the FUN of it… and put your life at risk on the highway?
• What about the computer hacks who delight in getting into company or government files and creating as much havoc as they can?
• What about the arsonist who takes pleasure in burning buildings down… without any concern about the cost or pain to others.
• What about the twisted geniuses who invent these bizarre Internet diseases… just for the fun of it! It is their JOY in life.
• Human nature certainly has not changed since Solomon’s day.

5.) Prov. 26:18-19 – a sport at deceiving his neighbor.

a.) Here Solomon describes such a person as a “mad man.”

b.) And not just any old mad man. Some mad men are harmless… this one is not.

c.) This mad man is casting about flaming arrows… resulting in death! He is dangerous!

d.) He runs about like a violent terrorist, inflicts harm on his neighbors and excuses it as a “game”… a sport…

e.) Here is a man who has made harming and hurting others a sport!

f.) However, this twisted sport is fun only to him.
• What about those who get some sort of twisted pleasure by standing on the overpasses and throwing rocks at cars?
• No doubt when those kids are caught their excuse is that they thought it was a game… they didn’t really want to hurt anyone.

g.) Solomon warns us often about this kind of person.

6.) Why do you suppose that Solomon wrote about the twisted thinking of the fool who delights in creating mischief?

7.) I would suggest three reasons:

a.) So we won’t behave like a fool… but rather like the wise man.

b.) As a warning… these proverbs are to give subtlety to the simple (1:4-5 & 2:11-14)
• Young people—be aware that there are evil men out there with evil intentions… who love nothing better than to prey on the unsuspecting and the naive…
• Be careful in choosing your friends… there are many young people out there who are in the process of developing this evil character themselves… learning to get pleasure or make sport out of mischief and wickedness… (Prov. 1:10-15)
• Be careful about the kinds of GAMES you choose… be careful about the kinds of amusements that you choose…
• Delight yourself in GOOD things and avoid anything that might be evil or lead to evil… Prove all things… hold fast and abstain…

c.) As an aid to parents…
• Solomon describes an evil element in human nature that parents should look out for—a child who seems to gain pleasure out of mischief…
• This is a character flaw (sin) that may develop quite innocently… even unnoticed at first.
• Video games and Hollywood capitalize on this twisted part of human nature. (How many video games are popular because the kids get to blow up bridges or cut people’s heads off?)
• Yes it is just a game… make believe, but isn’t it also possible that it is nurturing this twisted kind of thinking that Solomon warns us against?
• Some kids might begin to make a game out of hurting animals… cutting the tails off cats…
• Be careful about a child who goes overboard on reading horror stories…
• Don’t let practical jokes get out of hand…
• Things that might seem so innocent at first may be quietly and inwardly feeding an inner lust for mischief… it may be nurturing a sick pleasure derived from evil…
• If you think you see that developing, cut it off… and redirect your child’s heart to GOOD things… get them involved in another kind of “sport” or activity that they can delight in… with no mischief involved.
• Vines will often grow in the wrong direction. Don’t freak out over it… gently but firmly redirect the vine… redirect your child’s interests to that which is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report; virtuous…

• Pay attention to your child’s heart… what they love… what excites them… where their interests lie… what they delight in… for out of the heart are all the issues of life.

But a man of understanding hath wisdom…

1.) In stark contrast to the fool who loves mischief is the man of understanding who loves wisdom.

2.) What a person delights in determines his character.

a.) Foolish men delight in folly. Evil men delight in evil. Sick, perverted men derive their happiness from twisted plans.

b.) Wise men delight in wisdom and understanding.

3.) Be careful what you delight in.

a.) Keep your heart with all diligence…

b.) Delight in the Word of God.

c.) Delight in God Himself.
• “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Ps. 37:4)
• People usually seek out that which they have grown accustomed to delighting in…
• “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” (Ps. 40:7) What’s in your child’s heart? (TV shows and rock stars?)
d.) Be careful what you delight in!