“person of Belial.” What do we know about “men of Belial” [beliya`al] from the OT itself? From Proverbs 6:12-14 we learn that these men have perverse mouths and hearts, are generally dishonest, and sow discord. These people lead others away from God. In cultures with many pagan gods, they may lead people to worship other gods or idols (Deut. 13:13), or in atheistic societies simply try to turn people away from God. They plot evil against Yahweh (Nah. 1:11); they defy the righteous worship of God (1 Sam. 2:12-17, 22); they mock at justice (Prov. 19:28); they cause division (1 Sam. 10:27; 30:22; 2 Sam 20:1); they are selfish (Deut. 15:9); they may be drunkards (1 Sam. 1:13-16); they are unreasonable and committed to foolishness (1 Sam. 25:17, 25); they will give false testimony even if it means the death of the one they are lying about (1 Kings 21:10, 13); they will engage in illicit sex (1 Sam 2:12, 22), even rape, including homosexual rape (Judg. 19:22); they will gather around powerful people to destroy godly society (2 Chron. 13:7. Cp. the way Bar-jesus, a “child of the Devil,” attached himself to Sergius Paulus, the proconsul of Cypus in Acts 13:6-10); they plot evil (Prov. 16:27); they will burn others with their words (Prov. 16:27); and they need to be handled with spiritual power, not fleshly power (2 Sam. 23:6). Although there are people who engage in some of these activities who are not children of the Devil but are simply caught up in sin, the above activities are the kinds of things that children of the Devil are consistently involved in.
Both Jesus and Paul referred to certain evil people as children of the Devil (John 8:44; Acts 13:10), and given the information in the Bible about these people of Belial, it seems to miss the point to simply call them “worthless,” or “scoundrels.” It seems clear that the Bible is giving us information about the behavior of those people who have a connection to the Adversary such that they take on the character and desires of the Adversary. Jesus made this clear when he said to certain religious leaders, “You are of your father the Devil, and you want to do the desires of your father” (John 8:44). Given the information the Bible provides, it will be most informative if we refer to these people as people “of Belial.”
[For more on sons of Belial, see commentary on 1 Samuel 2:12. For more on the names of the Devil, see Appendix 8: “Names of the Devil.”]