Proverbs 6:12

A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.

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What is the easiest way to spot a wicked man or woman? Check their police record? Smell for drugs? Look for tattoos? No, no, no. Listen for a froward mouth. A man’s words say more about him than most other indicators. Evil speech proves an evil man. The description of naughty persons should silence those that love to wag their tongues.

This proverb identifies naughty and wicked people (Pr 6:12-15). Wisdom includes discerning character. You must avoid fools and scorners; you must seek wise and good men (Pr 9:7-9; 13:20; 14:7). The world is full of bad people, and wise men will mark and avoid them. The lesson here is that a person’s speech indicates character very well.

Of course, they will say, “You do not know my heart, so you cannot judge me.” They say this to justify and excuse their wicked actions. But you can see their hearts clearly, for the froward words of their mouths leak like sewer from their froward hearts (Pr 6:14).

Jesus Christ taught plainly that a wicked mouth proves a wicked heart (Luke 6:45). A pure heart is known by gracious speech (Pr 22:11). Good speech does not come from an evil heart, and neither can evil speech come from a good heart. This is wisdom. Learn it.

Two words in this proverb are not often used, so review their English definitions.

Naughty. Characterized by moral badness or wickedness; bad, wrong, blameworthy, improper.

Froward. Disposed to go counter to what is demanded or what is reasonable; perverse, difficult to deal with, hard to please; refractory, ungovernable; bad, evilly-disposed, ‘naughty’.

Naughty and wicked people have bad, evil, wrong, or dangerous hearts. They are fools, scorners, or worse. Because you must avoid them, you need to learn to spot them. Their speech will be contrary, unreasonable, negative, critical, ornery, disrespectful, haughty, harsh, rebellious, or profane. They cannot always hide it, for their hearts are evil.

Parents, hear and correct such speech in your children. Foolishness and wickedness can be driven out, if you use the rod and reproof early enough (Pr 22:6,15; 23:13-14; 29:15). Permissive or pampering parenting does not work and will produce naughty and wicked persons. Teach children godliness and humility instead and gracious speech at all times.

When you spot a naughty person, go from him (Pr 9:7-9; 14:7; 22:10). He will snare your soul, waste your time, or bring contention and trouble. Do not fear him, for calamities are soon coming to his life. God will destroy him suddenly without remedy (Pr 6:15).

Paul prayed for deliverance from unreasonable and wicked men, for he knew that only men with good hearts and faith were his object (II Thess 3:1-2). Regeneration makes this difference. Let the lesson teach you to be such a person today (Phil 2:12-13; Eph 4:24).