Proverbs chapter 14 is similar to most of the rest of Proverbs. It consists of short, pithy statements that stand alone. Chapter 14 continues the long contrast between wisdom and folly. In verse 22, God asks a rhetorical question that contains the obvious and expected answer within the question itself. It goes like this, “Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.” (NIV) Few of the proverbs are presented in the form of a question; most which are presented as a question, are like this one, done so for emphasis.
God does not want us to miss the point. He is in effect saying, “Make no mistake about it, this is no gamble, it is a sure thing”.
The two verbs “plot” and “plan” in verse 22 are exactly the same word in the original Hebrew. We know many people who seem to simply wind up doing evil, without a plan to do it. They are simply weak or ignorant or foolish. Others we know seem to spend much time and energy plotting evil. Verse 22 indicates that those who plot evil will certainly go astray. The idea of going astray brings Isaiah 53 to mind: we have all like sheep gone astray, turning to our own way. Jesus tells us in John 14 that He is “The Way” and that it is impossible to get to heaven without coming through Him. Plotting evil will cause you to go astray and miss “The Way”. My advice is to heed the warning.
I come into regular contact with people who are plotting evil; if personal experience is not enough evidence, all I have to do is take a quick glance at the newspaper and I have more than enough examples. Please do not imagine that this is limited to the heinous crimes that we see in others. It is most certainly also our plotting to: cheat our employer out of a full day’s work; hide assets of loved one’s so that the government will pay their bills; draw unemployment checks when we could work; apply for disability when we could do some kind of work; gossip (which is often designed to hurt someone); making others appear in an unfavorable light to make ourselves look better; etc. and etc. Maybe I did not list your problem, but that’s not necessary; you can add that one to the list yourself. It would be a great benefit to our own selves if we would take a long, close look at our plots and plans. The consequences are significant whether we do or don’t.
The second half of verse 22 presents an emphatic contrast. Those who plot and plan what is good will surely find love and faithfulness. An alternate and legitimate translation could say that those who plot and plan what is good will display love and faithfulness. Mercy, kindness, and truth have also been used to describe the result of planning what is good. Just as we know people who seem to commit evil without trying, we also know those who seem to do good without really planning it, if it sneaks up on them, if the opportunity just appears before them. Have you ever stopped to consider what would happen in the world around you if you actually spent time planning and plotting good? I can barely imagine how the world would change if a majority of people tried that. We would both give and receive love, faithfulness, mercy, truth, and kindness. What a blessed and glorious thought!