A Breach of Trust
Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.
1. In this verse, the neighbor is dwelling securely by you.
a. Securely = assurance; sense of safety; confidence;
b. This speaks a neighbor who feels safe by you… he trusts you… he is at ease around you. He has confidence in you. He is totally unsuspecting of any evil being plotted.
c. Neighbors should feel safe around us. We should have a testimony that says we are able to be trusted.
2. These proverbs were written to Jews living in a Jewish community.
a. In that setting there should be a sense of safety.
b. If they were dwelling in a foreign land, surrounded by enemies, they would not be dwelling securely.
c. But Solomon is describing a scene at home… where they should feel at home.
3. The command is that we not devise EVIL against a neighbor.
a. Devise: to plough; to plot evil; usually an evil devise
b. Evil = anything bad; unpleasant; injurious; etc.
c. Prov. 6:14 – he devises mischief and sows discord
d. Prov. 16:29 – evil men lead others in the wrong direction – on purpose!
e. These terms are vague enough to include any number of applications.
• It would include devising evil against a neighbor by speaking evil of him… sowing discord among the brethren.
• It might include giving a person misleading information to make someone else look bad… giving only half the story… leaving out key details…
• It might include prejudicing people against your neighbor…
• It would include stealing from him; cheating him; moving the landmarks; taking advantage of him; borrowing and not returning; coveting your neighbor’s goods; his wife; slandering him;
• Evil, hurt, and injury take many forms.
4. But the proverb seems to be getting at something even deeper than the evil devise itself. Solomon is speaking about a breach of trust.
a. The picture here is of a neighbor who is dwelling safely with someone he assumes is a friend.
• He is at ease in his presence. He is comfortable around him.
• But, that man devises evil against his neighbor.
b. Perhaps this man feels at ease with his neighbor and begins to speak candidly, openly, and freely around him. He trusts that the conversation is confidential. BUT—the other man breaks that trust, and tells others what was said.
c. Perhaps a man trusts his neighbor, and shares with him some of his shortcomings. James tells us to confess our faults one to another. His trust is breached when that so-called friend begins blabbing to others the shortcomings of his neighbor.
d. It might not be with words only. One brother might be in the same business as another brother. When he discovers that you are planning to open up a new office in the next city, he tells your competition, and works behind the scene to harm you.
e. Deut. 27:24 – “Cursed be he that smiteth his neighbor secretly.”
• This is causing harm to someone behind their back. That hurts.
• They might have a sweet smile to your face, but a knife in your back.
• One might imagine an evil person offering a neighbor a refreshing drink, but it has been spiked with poison!
• We may not actually poison a person’s drink, but we could be guilty of poisoning the minds of people against someone… secretly.
5. Plotting to harm your neighbor is a double crime. Not only is the plot evil, but the breach of trust is worse!
a. It’s bad enough to plot harm against an enemy. But when it is done against an unsuspecting friend or neighbor, it is much more painful.
b. Psalm 41:4-9 – that’s what really hurts.
• Vs. 4 – What makes this experience so painful for David is the fact that he is agony inwardly, apart from the trouble his enemies are stirring up. He realizes that his troubles are in part because of his sins.
• Vs. 5 – David’s enemies spoke evil of him—waiting for him to die!
• Vs. 6 – the so-called friends who do speak to him come in vanity (empty words) and they then go spread rumors about him!
• Vs. 7-8 – others hate him and whisper evil about him, plotting evil against him!
• Somehow, David knew what they were saying about him. From his sickbed, this must have been like a knife in his heart! These are the things they were saying about him, behind his back.
• It’s understandable when our enemies speak evil of us and plot to harm us.
• Vs.9 – But when a friend or neighbor or a brother does—that digs in much deeper!
• This psalm no doubt, speaks of the time of Absalom’s rebellion,
• The friend who turned against David was no doubt Ahithophel, who was a trusted friend of David (he thought).
• However, when the opportunity came, he betrayed him and sided with Absalom.
• Regardless of the exact circumstances, this was the icing on the cake!
• David was sick… in body and soul….
• Some of his enemies pretended to be friends, visited him on his sickbed, but did so with evil in their heart.
• The rest of his enemies were secretly meeting, pooling all the dirt they had against the king…
• And now to top it all off, one of his trusted friends even joins the conspiracy! This is the ultimate betrayal. (The Lord quotes this in reference to Judas!)
• What hurts so, is not the actual deed. Enemies do the same thing, and it doesn’t hurt as much. It is expected. What hurts is the breach of trust—from a friend! A neighbor—someone we trusted!
c. Psalm 55:12-15 – again, the psalmist speaks of the pain that arises from a breach of trust.
• We expect such behavior from enemies.
• But the closer the friendship, the deeper the pain when that trust is breached.
• That is why discord in the local church hurts so much—because it is among brethren… friends who have shared so much together over the years…
d. I have had brethren stab me in the back—believers with whom I have had sweet fellowship! It does hurt more. Have you?
• If so, then you know what kind of pain it can cause. You know how hurtful it can be.
• Our deepest wounds as Christians will not come from the world, but from right here—in the local church!
• Thus, the command—Don’t YOU be guilty of devising evil against someone who trusts you!
• A breach of one’s trust is a painful experience.
6. This principle is especially applicable in a family setting.
a. Husbands and wives are “neighbors” in the closest sense.
• There MUST be trust in that relationship. The relationship must be built on trust.
• That which erodes relationships is not so much this or that particular deed—but rather the erosion of trust.
• When that goes, the relationship is in need of a complete overhaul.
b. So too with parents and children.
• Lots of topics are discussed around the dinner table.
• Many of those topics should not leave the dinner table—they certainly should not be spread around.
• There ought to be a sense of trust in a family setting. We should feel free to speak openly at home…
• We see and hear of the shortcomings of our family members. That is not to be spread around!
• Family members feel betrayed when things shared in confidence in the home are blabbed at school or at church… or in the neighborhood.
• The home should be a place where each member can dwell securely… and have a sense of assurance.
• Kids—if your brother is 10 years old and he still wets the bed, the kids at school don’t need to know that. If your sister lied to her father, the Sunday school class doesn’t need to know about that. If Dad got a speeding ticket, no one else needs to know that.
• We can embarrass, humiliate, and break the trust of those who should be able to trust us.
• Solomon says, “Don’t you be like that!” Don’t double cross someone that should be able to trust you.
• Trust is too precious a thing to ruin.
c. In the local church setting this trust can be breached too.
• James 5:16 – confess your faults one to another and pray for each other.
• Sometimes at testimony services or at prayer meeting a brother may open up and confess a fault. He does so because he senses safety and security in the Body. He trusts his brethren. It is an awful thing to breach that trust, and use his words against him… to put him down, or slander him.
7. Perhaps the reason this proverb is given is because neighbors and family members… and yes, even church members, have a lot of squabbles.
a. That is because we are so close!
b. And with neighbors and family members (as opposed to total strangers), we usually have a lot of “dirt” on them! We KNOW more about them… we know more of their failures…
c. Thus, when people who are close get in a squabble, there might be a tendency to use some of that knowledge to seek revenge!
8. Prov. 14:22 – Those who devise evil err. How much better is it that we seek to devise GOOD for our neighbor!
a. If we are going to do anything behind our neighbor’s back, let it be a NICE surprise, not evil!