23 Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart.
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.
Three verses all about evil hearts in one way or another. Seldom do we see such a grouping and the verse that follows seems to fit just as well although the heart is not mentioned. Instead it speaks to the exposure of evil or wickedness.
26 Their malice may be concealed by deception, but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
Looking first at verse twenty-three we have the example of fervent lips with an evil heart being directly compared to a coating of silver dross on earthenware. Frankly, I had no idea what a coating of silver dross does when placed on earthenware. So I found this about those seemingly
burning with profession of love to God, and affection to good men; with great pretensions of kindness, and promises of good things, when their hearts are wicked, and they design noticing less; say one thing with their lips, with the greatest show of affection and sincerity, and mean another in their hearts. These are like a potsherd covered with silver dross: which at a distance, or to less discerning persons, looks like silver, and is taken for it; when the covering is only dross, and what is within is only a potsherd, or a piece of an earthen vessel, good for nothing: such are the specious professions and deceitful words, which flow from a wicked heart.
In my years in the military we had something equivalent, but it was never about the heart. Ours was you could take something despicable and make it shiny, but looking closely it was still something despicable. This verse tells us much more as it address the heart directly.
Then there is verse twenty-four Enemies disguise themselves with their lips, but in their hearts they harbor deceit. I have known men such as these. Eventually they reveal themselves as their disguise slips and what they really want
is exposed bit by bit. Matthew Henry says Always distrust when a man speaks fair unless you know him well. I would not go that far, instead I would follow an old Boy Scout adage, “Trust everyone, but always cut the cards.”
Finally we have verse twenty-five, the strongest or worst of the three, Though their speech is charming, do not believe them, for seven abominations fill their hearts. A single abomination would be a great indictment, but seven abominations is to describe evil without limit at least for our ability to experience and catalogue such. Barnes’ Notes on the Bible goes even further saying
Here “seven” retains, perhaps, its significance as the symbol of completeness. Evil has, as it were, gone through all its work, and holds its accursed Sabbath in the heart in which all things are “very evil.”
I read recently about a Jewish woman in Paris who survived the holocaust and at 85 years of age was stabbed eleven times and then set on fire. I don’t know what kind of person does this except that their heart is ‘very evil’ as Barnes stated.
Knowing all this about evil, it is good to be able to look forward to Sunday as Resurrection Sunday, aka Easter, where we celebrate Jesus, the Risen Christ or Messiah. As on opposite of evil, He gave His life so we might be forgiven. Incredible love.