Mercy and Truth Prov. 14:22 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In Prov 14:22, the Lord said, “Do they not err that devise evil? but mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good.” To devise is to conceive or imagine a thing, to plan to bring about something.
So, a man that devises evil is a man who is “cooking up” something bad. He could be thinking about a way to steal a young woman’s virginity, like Amnon did to Tamar in 2 Sam 13. He could be plotting a man’s death like Saul plotted against David or like the Pharisees devised against Jesus. He could be devising a way to steal [Prov 1:10-16] or planning a way to deceive someone [Gen 27:6-12].
Men who devise evil err. To err is to mess up, to violate an accepted standard of conduct, or to sin. Amnon messed up. Amnon’s evil was the cause of his own death. Two years after forcing Tamar, Absalom, Tamar’s brother, killed him. Saul’s evil in trying to kill David led to the loss of his throne and eventually his life. The Pharisees’ evil in condemning Jesus led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the damnation of their souls. The thieves in Prov 1 don’t realize that they are laying wait for their own blood [Prov 1:18]. Rebekah didn’t realize that after her deception, Esau would want to kill Jacob and she would never get to see her son again. She died before he returned from serving Laban 20 years.
When you devise evil you err. So, don’t plan evil things and don’t follow through on evil thoughts that “pop” into your head. You will mess up big time.
A man that devises good is a man that’s planning to do something good, who’s thinking about a way to do something good. These are usually ways to be a blessing to others or ways to please the Lord. You should fill your mind and thoughts with these kinds of things rather than the other.
When you devise good, God gives you mercy and truth. We need as much mercy and truth as God will give us; you can never have enough of these.
Several times in the Old Testament you find the expression “mercy and truth.” In Proverbs, Solomon says, “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart,” [Prov 3:3]. “Mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good,” [Prov 14:22]. “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged,” [Prov 16:6]. “Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy,” [Prov 20:28]. It’s the combination of mercy and truth that’s such a blessing.
Truth is the word of God. Jesus said, “… thy word is truth,” [Jn 17:17]. In his word, God has given us covenants, promises, prophecies, admonitions and judgments. We can count on what God said, when we’re doing good. And we can count on God’s mercy, as well. “The merciful man doth good to his own soul,” [Prov 11:17].
Take Cornelius, for instance. In Acts 10, he was devising good. He was devout, he feared God, he gave alms, he prayed to God [Acts 10:2], and he was just and of good report [Acts 10:22]. Peter said he “worketh righteousness,” [Acts 10:35]. Therefore, God extended him truth, when Peter came to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to him [Acts 10:36-43] and he extended him mercy when he saved him [Acts 10:44]. When you walk in God’s truth and abide in his words, his mercy is there for you. A man who comes to God for salvation on his own terms is devising evil and will not receive mercy, because he errs. Jesus told the Sadducees, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God,” [Matt 22:29]. See Rom 2:4-11.
According to our text, when a woman, who is “well reported of for good works,” [1 Tim 5:9-10] becomes a widow, she has the truth of God and the mercy of God. The Bible says that she can count on the support of the church and the help of God. That’s the truth. She can count on that truth and she can count on the mercy of God. They are both there for her. You can be sure that the Lord took care of the widow who gave the two mites.
In Titus 3:8, we are to “be careful to maintain good works.” Paul goes on to say, “These things are good and profitable unto men.” That is, good works are good for the person who is the recipient of them AND good works are also good for the person who does them. He can count on the truth and mercy of God to help him in his time of need. See 1 Tim 6:17-19.
Conclusion: so when you are thinking about things, run from thoughts of evil. Don’t devise anything evil. Your plans will blow up in your face in due time. Rather, devise things that are good. Find ways to be a blessing to others and a pleasure to God. These will yield mercy and truth.