Proverbs 16:27

Digging Up Evil



1. This is a new section in Proverbs in which Solomon speaks about various kinds of troublemakers to watch out for.

a. Vs. 27 – one who digs up evil

b. Vs. 28 – one who sows strife and gossips

c. Vs. 29 – a violent man

d. Vs. 30 – one who facilitates evil

An ungodly man diggeth up evil:

A. An Ungodly Man

1. Ungodly Defined:

a. Strong’s: worthless; good for nothing; unprofitable; base fellow.

b. Translated “naughty” person in Prov. 6:12… but that sounds a little too weak in modern English.

c. Dict. of Bib. Lang.: evil person; troublemaker; i.e., a person who does evil, so is of little worth.

d. Zodhiates: Good for nothing and therefore expresses the concept of wickedness.

e. The Hebrew word is Belial… a man of Belial or a son of Belial.

f. A Greek form of this term appears in the New Testament as an actual name for Satan. (Belial – II Cor. 6:15)

2. Solomon states that MEN can behave like a worthless, good for nothing, wicked one…

a. As such, they are following the example of their father the devil!

b. Ungodly men ARE sons of Belial, the devil and do his work, though they would never acknowledge it.

c. Ungodly men are SERVANTS of the devil… and thus servants of iniquity. (Rom. 6:19 – UNTO even more iniquity!)

d. Solomon describes the work of this ungodly man… some of his activities in his service to iniquity… unto iniquity.

B. Diggeth Up Evil

1. Diggeth Defined:

a. Dict. of Bib. Lang.: Pierce, i.e., a cutting action to incise or stab the flesh, with a possible focus on the piercing with a dull instrument.

b. Zodhiates: It refers to digging; cleaning out sufficient dirt and debris for various purposes: a grave, a well, or a pit.

2. Usage of the term:

a. Gen. 26:25 – Isaac’s servants digging a well.

3. Evil Defined: evil, distress, misery, injury, calamity, distress, adversity. (broad term)

4. What did Solomon mean by “digging up evil”?

a. He plans or plots calamity.
• This view comes from the way the term used elsewhere in Proverbs.
• Ungodly men dig deep pits and then they fall into their own pit (Prov. 26:27).
• Here he seems to dig a pit for others to fall into.
• Prov. 6:14 – he devises mischief (different word) but some see the same meaning here.
• The idea is that he plans, plots, devises, and digs up trouble!
• He deviseth mischief continually…
• This naughty person is on a mission—to stir up trouble & mischief!
• What a contrast between the sluggard in vs.6-11 and the relentless diligence of the naughty person in performing evil!
• It is continual… it is the nature of this kind of person… and thus his/her wheels are always in motion…
• Prov.2:14-16 – forwardness is the PATH… the course of life for this person. He rejoices in his evil! He loves stirring up trouble! That’s how he gets his kicks.

b. He searches for trouble
• Where things are going smoothly and peaceably, he goes on a witch-hunt for trouble…
• He keeps on digging until he finds something that will stir up controversy… like a miner digging for gold.
• His gold is trouble, calamity… controversy.
• Digging isn’t easy. It is hard work. This demonstrates to what length some folks will go to find trouble… He works diligently to unearth trouble.
• And, if there isn’t any obvious trouble to be found on the surface, he will go digging beneath the surface to find something.
• He works hard at it… and as an ungodly man… a son of Belial… he is actually working FOR Belial… the devil. He is doing the work of the devil who was a liar and a slanderer from the beginning.
• It seems that those who are bent on doing evil seem to have no end to their evil energy… and we seem to grow weary so easily in doing well!
• He seems to delight in this evil endeavor… he perseveres in his work… he keeps on digging until he finds some dirt!
• O that we might keep on diligently digging in God’s Word until we find the wisdom we need!

c. He digs up dirt to gossip about.
• This view of the “digging” comes from connecting this thought with the second part of the proverb, which speaks about the lips… evil speech.
• In other words, he digs up the past and keeps old controversies raging… through his gossip and speech… he won’t let an old issue die.
• He is looking for dirt to throw at someone. He is digging for something slanderous to report.
• If you keep on digging into someone’s past, you can always find something to throw in their face and make them look bad!
• Perhaps he can repeat something you said in jest and make it sound like you were serious and you really meant it…
• And if he can’t find anything outright slanderous, he can always find some words to take out of context… or something to embellish… or to pass on some information about an individual and leave out some key details to make him look bad… or come up with a few misleading innuendos…

And in his lips there is as a burning fire

A. His Lips

1. Solomon connects the thought of speech (lips) to the thought of digging up trouble.

a. Reason: the tongue, mouth, lips, speech is usually the main instrument used in stirring up trouble: a BIG mouth!

b. Solomon speaks about a man whose lips are like a weapon used to harm others.

c. Speech is here likened to fire… but elsewhere to other instruments that cause damage: swords and arrows (Ps. 64:3-4; Ps. 140:3 – snake poison)

B. A Burning Fire

1. Fire in the lips is a figure of speech, which links speech to fire…

a. This is so especially in a negative way.

b. It is a figure that speaks of a man’s words like a blow torch… shooting out flames of fire…

c. And the obvious implication is all the damage those words can cause… as if someone indiscriminately started waving a blow torch wherever he went.

d. He ignites strife and controversy wherever he goes.

e. He is like an arsonist who drops lit matches… and then scurries away… leaving destruction in his path.

2. Speech can be DAMAGING like fire.

a. Fire burns – it hurts
• A burn is one of the most painful injuries.
• And it takes a long time for the pain to subside.
• The trouble maker who uses his speech to slander, gossip, or spread dirt can cause a lot of hurt… a lot of pain.
• And the pain of a gossiper can take a long time to subside… it hurts… and for a long time.

b. Fire can burn a body and leave permanent marks.
• It can leave its mark on a landscape for years (a forest; a house; on the body).
• It can severely disfigure a human being.
• The fire that spews out of the mouth of a gossiper and a troublemaker can also leave its mark…
• It is painful… and it leaves scars…

c. Fire creates soot and soils and sullies up
• Even a small fire that doesn’t burn the house down can do a lot of damage…
• We had a small chimney fire that filled the house with soot. Everything got dirty…
• The fire that comes out of the lips of a gossiper may not completely destroy a man… but it can tarnish his reputation… leave him soiled and sullied by it…
• When the air is abuzz with gossip, it may not bring the place down… but it leaves a dirty film everywhere!
• So too does the slanderous mouth.

d. Fire starts as something tiny but becomes enormous (Jas. 3:5)
• A little fire can become great in no time.
• One tiny match can burn down a whole forest… and destroy thousands of acres!
• Consider the wildfires that occur every year out West… They all started in one small point.
• Some of them grow to the size of the state of RI!
• A few words of slander and spreading some dirt can easily become a HUGE problem… in a church… in a family… among friends…
• Spreading a little bit of dirt can bring a man down… cause him to lose his job… destroy his marriage… bring about a church split… alienate friends…
• A little gossip can become an enormous problem.

e. Fire can easily get out of control…
• Sometimes the parks department starts controlled fires on purpose… but then the wind changes, and the controlled fire goes out of control and RUINS the park!
• Fires can be unpredictable.
• So too can the fires caused by our speech.
• You may only mean to spread the dirt to ONE of your friends who promises not to spread it around… then she decides to tell “just one close friend”… who emails it to another friend… who emails it to everyone in her email address book!
• Once we repeat a matter, we lose control of where it goes from there.
• Fire is hard to impossible to extinguish once it does get out of control.
• Fire spreads easily and can travel quite a distance…

f. Fire destroys – it can destroy the one who lit it and others.
• The safest way is to not repeat the matter in the first place.

3. Exodus 22:6 – God required the one who set a fire make restitution.

a. Here the Jew who was responsible for burning down his brother’s field was required to pay restitution to cover the cost of the damage.

b. That would prevent a lot of folks from gossiping about others!

c. Even if they never INTENDED for their fire to destroy his whole field… he pays for what he did!

d. Even if he tried to put the fire out once it got out of hand!

e. These things were written for our learning and admonition.

f. Imagine if we could put a monetary figure on the damage done to others through gossip… and CHARGE the gossiper once discovered!

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