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Are You Being Deceived?

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Deceit is altogether too common in today’s world. As defined, it involves “the action or practice of deceiving someone by concealing or misrepresenting the truth”.1 Deceit is often seen in the Scriptures. In what follows we shall note many occurrences of deceit in the Poetic books of the Bible, particularly in the Davidic Psalms and in the book of Proverbs.

In Psalm 5 the psalmist David points out that the Lord has sent destruction for those who tell lies. God “abhors” blood-thirsty deceitful men” (v. 6). No doubt this includes all people, male or female. David gives further reasons in verse 9:

Not a word from their mouth can be trusted;
their heart is filled with destruction.

Their throat is an open grave;
with their tongue they speak deceit.2

This should certainly be the case with all who are deceitful (cf. 4-6).

The work of deceitful lips is condemned in the Psalms. For example, Psalm 17 begins with the psalmist’s plea to God:

Hear, O LORD, my righteous plea;
listen to my cry.

Give ear to my prayer –
it does not rise from deceitful lips. (v.1)

Having expressed his devotion to God, the psalmist in Psalm 26 says:

I do not sit with deceitful men,
nor do I consort with hypocrites. (v. 4)

He then declares his innocence and faithfulness to the Lord (vv. 5-8).

In Psalm 32 David begins his psalm with the blessedness of the man “whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered” (v. 1). By truly resting in God’s forgiveness, he lives a more blameless life in the service and presence of the Lord. In a subsequent psalm, David points to the deceitful words of those who live wicked, sinful lives. So much is this the case that a bit later David expresses his need for God’s protection and direction in the face of “deceitful and wicked men” (Ps. 43:1).

Deceitfulness among many people is so prominent that the psalmists often speak of it, especially in connection with the tongue (e.g., Psalm 50:19; 52:1-4). Such people deserve and can expect God’s condemnation and punishment (cf. Ps. 55:23; 119:118; 120:1-4).

Later, David speaks of his desire to lead a blameless life, for God will look with great favor upon “the faithful of the land” (Ps. 101:6). He then proceeds to condemn the deceitful person who not only practices deceit, but fails to speak honestly:

No one who practices deceit
will dwell in my house;

no one who speaks falsely
will stand in my presence. (Ps. 101:7)

In a still later psalm, David appeals to the Lord for his help (Ps. 109:1-2):

O God, whom I praise,
do not remain silent,

for wicked and deceitful men
have opened their mouths against me;
they have spoken against me with lying tongues.

Such being the case, David completes his thoughts by assuring the Lord that he will praise Him (cf. vv. 20-21). In yet another psalm, David again appeals to God for his protection and preservation:

Reach down your hand from on high;
deliver me and rescue me

from the mighty waters,
from the hands of foreigners

whose mouths are full of lies,
whose right hands are deceitful. (Ps. 144:7-8, cf. v. 11)

He then assures the Lord that he will praise the Lord in song (vv. 9-10), before pleading with the Lord for deliverance from wicked foreigners (v. 11). Looking at the above Psalms, we see that they often record David’s dependence upon the Lord and his appeal for God’s deliverance.

When one looks carefully through the book of Proverbs, he sees that they also often point to the danger of deceit. For example, Proverbs 6:12-15 speaks of the fate of a deceitful person who plots evil:

Disaster will over take him in an instant,
he will suddenly be destroyed – without remedy. (v. 15)

In a later Proverb, we read that:

A malicious man disguises himself with his lips,
but in his heart, he harbors deceit. (Pr. 26:24)

Other proverbs warn of “the advice of the wicked” being “deceitful” (Pr. 12:5) and the dangers of a “false witness”, for such a person’s testimony is “deceitful” (Pr. 14:25). Moreover,” a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit” (Pr. 15:4b). Yet one can see that ultimately, “A man of perverse heart does not prosper; he whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble” (Pr. 17:20). Accordingly, it can be said that it is far, far better to live a righteous life;

Truthful lips endure forever,
but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.

There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil,
but joy for those who promote peace (Pr. 12:19-20).

May we, then, be those who follow the advice of the psalmists and these proverbs, so that we may live a quiet and spiritually profitable life, fully dependent on the Lord.

Take time to be holy; Let Him be your guide,
And run not before him, Whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, Still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, Still trust in His Word.3

1 This definition is posted on the internet: Accessed 5/15/2019.

2 All Scripture references are from the NIV.

3 William D. Longstaff, “Take Time to Be Holy”, v. 3.

Related Topics: Devotionals, Terms & Definitions

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