Proverbs 11:20

Relationship to God

20a They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD

A.) Abomination in God’s Sight (from Proverbs)

1.) Abomination defined: a disgusting thing; abomination; abominable; in ritual sense (of unclean food; idols; mixed marriages) in ethical sense (of wickedness, etc.)

2.) The term “abomination” is used in Proverbs of the following:

• 3:32 – a froward man is an abomination.
• 11:1 – a false balance
• 11:20 – a froward heart
• 12:22 – lying lips
• 15:8 – the sacrifice of the wicked (false religious systems)
• 15:9 – the way of the wicked
• 15:26 – the thoughts of the wicked
• 16:5 – every one that is of a proud heart
• 17:15 – he that justifies the wicked and condemns the just
• 20:10 – divers weights and measures (stealing)
• 24:9 – the scorner (arrogant mocking)
• 28:9 – the prayer of the disobedient

3.) Other places in the Old Testament indicated that particular sins were considered abominations to God… (used 74 times in Old Testament)
• Leviticus often used the term to describe eating things forbidden by the Levitical dietary laws. Why? Because it was a violation of the principle of separation.
• Lev. 18:22 – homosexuality
• Deut. 7:25 – idolatry
• Deut. 12:31 – burning their sons and daughters to false gods
• Deut. 22:5 – wearing clothing of the opposite sex; cross dressing

4.) God hates all sin. All sin is infinitely wicked in God’s sight, but some sins are referred to as “abominations”… that which is particularly hated by God.

B.) A Froward Heart… an abomination to God

1.) Froward = twisted; distorted; crooked; perverse; perverted

a.) The term is related to an Aramaic word that means to “twist or braid hair.”

b.) The term is used often in the Old Testament describing sin and the effects of sin… as twisted, crooked, human nature.

c.) Just as women twist their hair, so men twist their ways… crooked.

d.) God puts the condition of a man’s heart in the same category of abomination as sexual perversion, idolatry, offering children as a sacrifice, etc…

e.) God is extremely concerned about the spiritual condition of our hearts!

2.) A froward heart

a.) 11:20 – is an abomination to the Lord.
• Heart speaks of his inner life… thoughts… intents…
• A man or woman with a perverse, twisted heart is an abomination to God.
• A froward heart would include sexual perversion… but is much broader.
• It would include troublemakers of all stripes—who seem to get some kind of twisted pleasure from stirring up trouble.
• It would include a heart that perverts justice… bigotry, prejudice, hatred, oppression, inequity, etc…
• It would include a heart that twists the truth… doctrinal deviation comes from a froward or twisted heart and mind.
• It would include a heart with twisted priorities… whether it be an obsession with money, pleasure, power, worldliness, etc.
• It would include so much of our youth culture today—twisted music… twisted goals… twisted pleasures… twisted clothing… a devious attraction to the occult and perverse things of darkness… twisted tastes…
• All of this stems from a froward heart… whether it comes from the MTV crowd—or the Wall Street crowd…
• A heart is froward if it is twisted and perverted… bent out of shape… in a devious sense.

b.) 17:20 – a froward heart—same word as in 11:2—This man will find no good…
• Find: find; obtain; meet up with; light upon; be found in possession of; acquire…
• The man or woman or child with a froward heart will be found in the possession of “nothing good”—nothing pleasant, agreeable, rich, excellent…
• Those things in life will escape the man with a froward heart.
• He may “possess” good things, but not have the capacity to appreciate them… enjoy them… experience the goodness of them.
• His froward heart PREVENTS him from appreciating them. It HINDERS him from acquiring that which is truly good and excellent in life…

c.) Ps.101:4 – the psalmist determined not to associate with those who had a perverse heart.
• Vs.4-5 – David will not tolerate wicked behavior in his court as king! He will tolerate none of it!
» Men with a froward or evil heart “need not apply” for positions in David’s court!
» Men who slander… proud men… David said he would not SUFFER… he would not put up with… would not tolerate in his court!
» Those are not the kind of people David wanted around him… to serve him in the kingdom… as generals, as stewards, as appointed officials… character meant something to him!
» We would do well to seek friends and fellowship from those with upright hearts and refuse to associate with those with a froward heart.

» Wisdom demands that we avoid those who are unscrupulous… those who cheat… those who steal… those who are wicked… twisted in their thinking…
» We have to live in an evil world that has plenty of evil people. We have to work with them… live near them… we are told to “go into the world”.
‣ Yet we are also commanded to remain unspotted from the world!
‣ These men may be acquaintances, but not our close friends! Chose your close friends carefully!
‣ We may have to work with them… but if you are a manager of any type, chose men and women with character…

20b But such as are upright in their way are his delight.

A.) The Upright.

1.) The term upright = complete; entire; sound; wholesome; unimpaired; innocent; having integrity; what is entirely in accord with truth.

2.) In Proverbs it speaks of those who are living lives in accord with truth… it is similar to the term the “righteous.”

3.) Those who are upright in their way walk in the straight and narrow way of righteousness.

a.) Their minds and hearts are not perverted or crooked.

b.) The fact that they walk the straight and narrow is proof.

c.) A twisted, crooked mind and heart will lead the feet OFF the straight and narrow…

d.) But the upright are upright in their heart… their minds… and hence their feet are headed in the right direction.

4.) Those who walk the upright way are those who know God… and God knows them… there is a relationship there… they are walking TOWARD God…

5.) They are seen here as the opposite of those with a froward, twisted, perverted, crooked heart.

6.) The heart of the upright is right… right with God…

7.) Consider what Proverbs says about the upright:
• 10:29 – The way of the LORD is strength to the upright:
• 11:3 – The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.
• 11:6 – The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them:
• 14:11 – the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.
• 15:8 – the prayer of the upright is his delight.
• 16:17 – The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.
• 28:10 – The upright shall have good things in possession.

8.) Doesn’t this sound like the WAY that you would want to travel? Consider the sum of what is found in the way of the upright:
• Strength; integrity; guidance; deliverance; a flourishing tabernacle; prayers that delight God; soul preserved; good things in possession!
• Why would a person ever want to walk in any other way than the way of the upright?

B.) The Upright Are God’s Delight.

1.) God delights in the way of the upright.

a.) Delight = pleasure, delight, favour, goodwill, acceptance

b.) Those who walk in the way of the upright will experience God’s acceptance, goodwill, and favor, and will bring pleasure, and delight to Him!

c.) God is well pleased… delighted with those whose lives are in harmony with His word and ways.

d.) I Chron. 29:17 – David recognizes that God takes great pleasure in the upright…
• First He tests the heart… (is it upright or crooked?)
• Of course, there is no fooling God with respect to being upright in heart. He KNOWS every nook and cranny of our heart!

2.) Note that it is the one who is walking in the WAY of the upright God delights in…

a.) Way = way; road; distance; journey; manner of life; habits; course of life; moral character; direction

b.) Just men do not always walk in the way of the upright… saved men do not always obey… the righteous do not always act in a righteous manner… the upright sometimes wander from the way of the upright.

c.) But when the upright travel down the way of the upright… that brings pure delight to the Lord.

d.) YOU can bring delight to God’s heart. Imagine that!

3.) Note also that the verse does not say that God delights in the WAY of the upright, but rather He delights in the UPRIGHT in the way.

a.) His delight is not in the way but in the person…

b.) God’s delight is in the man, woman, or child who is walking in the way…

c.) God’s delight is found in His people… in YOU… as we walk in the way… abide in Christ…

d.) Prov. 12:22 – they that deal truly are His delight. God delights in people… people who love the truth…

e.) Ps. 84:22 – no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly!


1.) Solomon is contrasting the upright and the froward. (He helps us to better know man…)

2.) Solomon is also teaching us what GOD is like… what He loves and what He hates.

3.) God delights in the upright in the way… and He considers the froward to be abominable.

4.) Thus, by learning Scripture, we are learning about the Lord—who He is—what He likes and dislikes.

5.) By learning this, we come to know Him better… and we are better equipped to live lives that are pleasing in His sight.