1. Unlike many earlier chapters, this section of Proverbs has some context to it.
2. We have clusters of proverbs on a single theme.
a. Vs. 1-12 dealt with the fool
b. Vs. 13-16 dealt with the sluggard
c. Vs. 17-22 dealt with the one who stirs up controversy
d. Vs. 23-26 deal with hypocrisy
The Illustration of Hypocrisy (vs. 23)
1. Solomon begins this section by likening the lips and heart of a man (woman, or child) to a piece of glazed pottery.
a. In the illustration, the lips and heart are like a potsherd.
b. A potsherd is an old clay pot… clay pottery. It was clay (earthenware) baked in the sun.
c. They were exceedingly common, not very attractive, and not very valuable.
d. But the illustration continues: The lips and heart of this man are like a cheap potsherd that is covered in silver dross… a beautiful glaze that is put over the pottery to make it look attractive… to make it look valuable…
e. In other words, this cheap, ugly piece of earthenware is covered up by a glaze that hides what the vessel really is.
f. It looks good on the outside—but is cheap clay on the inside.
2. The illustration is nearly identical in meaning to the illustration the Lord Jesus gave of the Scribes and Pharisees.
a. Matt. 23:25-26 – They were hypocrites, like a filthy cup and platter that were washed on the outside, dirty on the inside.
b. Matt. 23:27-28 – They were hypocrites, like a whitewashed tomb – that appeared fresh and clean on the outside, but on the inside was a rotting corpse.
c. Jesus speaks of hypocrisy of religious men in terms of that which puts on a good front externally, but only to hide the filth on the inside.
d. Solomon uses yet another illustration to make the same point about hypocrisy: like a piece of clay (dirt) that is covered with a thin veneer – a shiny glaze.
3. Solomon says that this hypocrite has “burning lips”
a. Burning: Flaming; zealous; on fire; fervent. It is also used of flattering speech or smooth talk.
b. When he talks he appears to be “on fire” and zealous.
c. Some have interpreted this to mean lips that were burning with gossip or slander. (A legitimate view.)
d. However, in light of the illustration of hypocrisy, it is probably best to view this term as a reference to the man’s great zeal in talking about God and spiritual things. Or perhaps of lips burning with words of affection, love, and friendship.
e. Outwardly, he says all the right things. He sounds holy and religious.
4. However, Solomon also states that this man has a “wicked heart.”
a. The heart speaks of the INNER man.
b. On the OUTSIDE are words of reverence and holiness… he sounds religious and godly.
c. But on the inside it is a different story. On the inside is an evil heart.
d. Thus, his words are nothing more than hypocrisy.
e. He is like a cup that has been cleaned on the outside, but is filthy on the inside… or a tomb that has been whitewashed on the outside, but contains a rotting corpse on the inside…
f. Or to use the illustration in our proverb, like a cheap pot made of dirt, glazed over with a thin veneer – a thin glaze designed to cover up what’s really underneath.
The Lips of a Hypocrite (vs. 24)
1. Solomon is really continuing the same proverbial thought (the same theme) in vs. 24-25.
2. The hypocrite dissembles with his lips.
a. Dissemble: To disguise; to make strange or act as a stranger or a foreigner; to pretend; (sometimes translated “feign”).
b. This is in essence the definition of a hypocrite: someone who pretends to be what he is not.
c. This man uses his lips (his speech) to pretend to be what he is not: good; kind; godly; holy; innocent; etc.
3. But he “lays up deceit within him”
a. He uses his lips to sound good and holy and pure, but it is only a deception. He is a phony.
b. On the outside are great sounding words.
c. On the inside is deceit.
d. Deceit: Deceit; dishonesty; treachery; deliberate misleading so as to give someone a false view.
e. The lips of a hypocrite are deceptive. What he says does not line up with what is on the inside… like the pretty glaze which covers up a clay pot… and all of its imperfections.
4. The deceit is that he actually HATES.
a. His heart is full of hate; but his mouth is full of deceit.
b. He pretends to be a great friend—but he really hates you.
c. He pretends to be a godly person—but he really hates God and the Bible.
d. He has purposely laid up deception in his heart in order to deceive outwardly.
• This implies an ulterior motive in his pretense.
• It may be to sell you a product; it may be woo an innocent girl into immorality; it may be to work his way up the corporate ladder;
• Perhaps he is just trying to avoid getting caught or exposed for what he really is.
The Heart of a Hypocrite (vs. 25)
1. Having described the deceptive lips of a hypocrite, now Solomon describes the evil heart of a hypocrite.
2. Continuing the same contrast between what he says and what is going on on the inside, Solomon now TELLS us what is really in his heart: seven abominations!
a. Seven: As in other proverbs, seven may be used in a symbolic sense here – the number of fullness or completion.
b. Abomination: Something disgusting; detestable; repulsive; abhorrent; that which is offensive.
c. The fact that he has seven abominations in his heart reveals that his heart is FULL of evil and repulsive thoughts, intentions, designs, and motives.
3. Yet, as disgusting as his heart is on the inside, he speaks fair.
a. His outward speech is “fair”: Merciful; gracious; favorable; charming.
b. The hypocrite has mastered the art of sounding like a kind, gracious, compassionate, and merciful person.
4. Solomon’s warning: Don’t believe him!
a. This man is a hypocrite; a liar; a deceiver.
b. Don’t fall for his hypocrisy.
c. The term translated believe here means: To support; to make firm; to establish; to trust; to count someone reliable; trustworthy or true.
d. Don’t consider this man to be worthy of support; don’t consider this person to be firm, solid, or well established. Don’t consider this person to be reliable or truthful.
e. He is a bold faced liar… so don’t fall for his deception.
5. Of course this proverb is valuable true and the warning is exceedingly helpful; however, it poses somewhat of a problem for us as Christians.
a. We are NOT to judge the hearts of men.
b. No one knows a man’s heart besides the Lord.
c. All we can judge is the outward appearance: his demeanor; his words; his works.
d. We cannot know the hidden things of his heart, like his motives.
e. I Sam. 16:7 – “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”
6. Solomon’s proverb is not calling us to judge a man’s heart.
a. That is beyond our ability.
b. But he is warning us that such people exist.
c. Sometimes people over time prove themselves to be hypocrites.
d. Be aware; be careful; don’t put your trust in such a person.