Proverbs 17:20

He that hath a froward heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief.


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A bad heart or bad speech brings trouble. Either one is enough. Both will curse you twice! If you allow evil in your heart, you will not find good coming your way in life. If you allow your tongue to say evil things, you will fall into mischief because of it. Here is a sober warning of certain consequences for not ruling your spirit and speech. Beware!

A froward heart is bad, contrary, difficult, hard to please, perverse, proud, rebellious, unreasonable, and wicked. To consider its opposite, a good heart is agreeable, easy to please, cooperative, gracious, humble, polite, proper, submissive, reasonable, and righteous. Froward persons are evil, rebellious, troublesome, and wicked. They are fools.

A man with a froward heart is rebellious – he despises obeying his father, pastors, employers, or the government. He is arrogant and will excuse his sins every time. He can hurt those around him without any remorse. He is seldom happy or content, no matter the efforts taken to please him. He despises the poor and envies the rich. He is perverse.

A man with a froward heart does not find good. He is not blessed. He will not know the favor of God or men in his life. He is doomed to trouble, no matter how hard he seeks good, because his heart is evil to God and men (Pr 11:20). Though men say, “You do not know my heart,” it is easily visible by conduct (Pr 20:11; Mark 7:21-23; Luke 6:43-45).

A perverse tongue is corrupt, froward, obstinate, unreasonable, wicked, and wrong. To consider its opposite, a wholesome tongue is pure, gentle, gracious, correct, reasonable, kind, righteous, and right. A perverse tongue says the wrong things at the wrong time in the wrong way. Such speech is hurtful, irritating, disruptive, and destructive.

A man with a perverse tongue cuts those near him, especially family. He criticizes anyone he wishes, whenever he pleases. He ridicules authority. He prays in church and curses on the way home. He flatters his enemies and yet rips his tender wife within the hour. He can sing, “Oh, how I love Jesus,” and then scream at a motorist. He slanders, backbites, and whispers about others without thought. He is negative and complaining. His tongue is perverse. He cannot say holy and kind things except in hypocrisy.

God hates this bitter fountain, which sprays venom from a poisoned well. Such a man will fall into mischief. He will be troubled, for God and men will oppose him (Pr 18:6-7). Any friends he has are not true friends, for they are only there for what they can get. They are certainly not there for the pleasure and peace of his corrupt and cutting tongue. He wonders why bad things happen to him, but he cannot admit his speech is corrupt.

Aaron and Miriam criticized Moses for his Ethiopian wife, so God made Miriam white with leprosy (Num 12:1-15). Korah and princes of Israel disrespectfully said to Moses, “Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy.” Meek Moses was furious, and God swallowed them and their families alive by the earth (Num 16:1-34)!

The truth of the matter is that a froward heart produces a perverse tongue. It is nigh impossible to have one without the other, because out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matt 12:33-37). Therefore, an evil heart will bring corrupt speech, which brings the double curse of this proverb. Keep thy heart with all diligence (Pr 4:23).

Are you not finding much good in life? Are you experiencing mischief? There is a good reason. You are not guarding the thoughts of your heart or the words of your tongue as you should. Your sins of the heart and evil speech have brought God’s judgment and man’s disapproval upon your life. Repent! Turn your heart and lips to righteousness.