There are certain things that are repeated in Proverbs - certain aspects of life - certain issues that require reminders. One of those areas is the one addressed in these two verses. We need to beware of envying the wicked. But why would we envy them? One of the best places to grasp why is in Psalm 73 where the Psalmist temporarily lost his footing while envying the wicked.
We envy wicked men because in this world their lives seem to be much easier and better. Often wicked men are successful in this age. Some achieve this because they cheat, steal, and claw their way to the top. Others just set their hearts on this world and what it offers - and don't take no for an answer till they have what they want. The psalmist looked at their lives and wondered why things were like this - how come the wicked seem to be catching all the breaks? The answer he came to only arrived when he went into the sanctuary and remembered God. Remembering God and the end of things brought sanity back to the psalmist. He considered the end of such men. They fell all at once - and their fall was often spectacular. They were consumed in an instant by death - and what awaits them beyone the grave is true, absolute justice. After seeing such horrific sights in God's presence the Psalmist decided it was better to serve God without all the worldly success - than to be evil, successful now - but ultimately impoverished and destroyed.
God forbids jealousy toward evil men. Jealousy is easy when you see the successes here and now of the wicked. Their lives seem to be paved with butter and pastries. They have things we'd like to have - they have pleasures we think we would want. But God forbids this. When we become envious of the wicked - we start to want what they have. We think they have it made. Then we decide to hang around them because we like their stuff - their lifestyle - their buttered steps. Spiritual reality tells a different story though. The things they have that we want - how many of those things are the will of God for us? Men look at the playboy - or more recently the bachelor - and think, "Man, I'd love to have all those women fawning over me!" We look at the rich and famous and think, "If only I could have their wealth, their fame, their stuff - then I'd be happy."
Here's a truth to remember - even they are not happy! They have their emptiness. At the highest point of my life in sin - I would come home from the parties - from the sex - from the pinacle of popularity and turn my face to the wall at night and long for something real. I would call out to God - asking Him to take away the emptiness of my heart. But here is another truth to remember - the more we look at them - and focus our thoughts and desires on what they have - the more we feed our flesh. In time, we will walk away from God, thinking that if we had a little of what they have - we'd be better off - happier. Oh, the devastation that comes from learning otherwise.
I'm sure David thought that a night with the lovely Bathsheba would spice up his life. Samson proabably figured that a new relationship with that fox named Delilah is just what he needed to shake things up a bit. Absalom probably thought that being in charge himself would make his life better. Ahab figured that if he could just get Ahab's great garden spot he'd be content. Finally, Judas probably figured that he had those 30 pieces of silver coming to him after following Jesus 3 years - Jesus didn't seem to be offering a pay raise any time soon! Envying the wicked, their lifestyle and their stuff will get you into a load of trouble - because that's usually where they're headed - for trouble.
Verse 2 here puts it bluntly to us. Their minds are working to devise violence - the word for mind here is the Hebrew "leb" which speaks of the heart. The Jewish concept of the mind is that it flows from the workings of our heart - our innermost desires. What a great picture is painted for us by the words used here.
Devise is "hagah" and it means to growl, sigh, or mutter. It spoke figuratively of the meditation of the mind. In the wicked mind we hear growling. What are they growling about? We learn that their growling has to do with violence. The word here means violence, destruction - and is used to describe violence and havoc as social sins. This makes more sense to us when we put two and two together biblically. The evil man is living out the desires of his heart. His heart is given to himself and to the world and its desires. What he wants - he goes after - and he is absolutely committed to getting. Now take this reality and put it in the context of James chapter 4. "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel." (James 4:1-2, NASB)
The evil man growls violence in his meditations because he cannot have what he wants - what he is lusting after - so he is willing to do violence (does not have to just be physical, could be moral as he does unethical things) to get them. This is the modus operadi for the evil man. Also his lips talk of trouble. Here is another interesting word in the Hebrew that describes the inner working of the evil man. Trouble is the word "amal" and it means something troubling. What is meant is that the evil man is constantly speaking of causing trouble. This guy is headed for trouble - and you hear him speak of it a lot. If you hang "with" him - you may "HANG" with him.
Evil men exist. One of the facts of life is that there are those who are looking for trouble - and who cause it in life. What is fascinating is that we cannot relegate this to a socio-economic status or race. There are poor and rich alike - people of every racial background who just seem to breed trouble with their actions and attitudes. Some of these people can also have a life that may look glamourous and exciting on the outside - but beware - to travel with them or envy their outward status will only lead you into the same trouble and disaster. Better to steer clear of having them as close friends - or of desiring what they have. In the end - what they have is a coming disaster. Ask David - question Samson and Absalom - queerie Judas on this one. They'll all have the same answer - guard your heart!