24 Enemies disguise themselves with their lips,
but in their hearts they harbor deceit.
25 Though their speech is charming, do not believe them,
for seven abominations fill their hearts.
26 Their malice may be concealed by deception,
but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
Here again we are reminded that things are often not as they seem. Elsewhere we have been warned that “there is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (14:12, 16:25). The healthy skepticism we ought to have of our own plans, also applies to those we encounter along the way. It may be tempting to simplify these lessons into “always do this” or “never do that,” but what room would that leave for wisdom? These verses highlight the folly of trusting too easily, but isn’t it equally foolish to never trust at all?
This is no prescription for cynicism, as it may seem at first glance – instead it is a call to humility. Who is more easily flattered than the proud? Who less inclined to question their assumptions? Although we like to think we are not easily deceived, it is worth noting that the exposure here happens “in the assembly.” Whether you are inclined to trust or to doubt, it never hurts to seek the opinions of others.