I am trying to understand what a 'son of Belial' is in light of the example of Nabal. In 1 Sam. 25:17 it says:

Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him.

The term 'sons of Belial' is used elsewhere:

Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him. KJV — Judges 19:22

Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD. KJV — 1Samuel 2:12 But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands:

But the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place. KJV — 2Samuel 23:6 - KJV — 2Samuel 23:7

And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die. KJV — 1Kings 21:10

What range of meaning does this term carry? In 2 Sam 23:7 the unapproachableness of the sons of Belial come out for me as it does in 1 Sam 25:17 but I am trying to get an idea what the term means. In another translation instead of the term son of Belial to describe Nabal, it says he was a 'good for nothing'.

2 Answers 2


The word בְּלִיַּעַל (beliyyaal) means (as per BDB et al, "worthlessness". It occurs 27 times in the OT and always used to describe people except in two instances, once for a disease (Ps 41:8) and once for a non-specific item (Ps 101:3)

It can be approximately classified as follows:

  • expressing the concept of wickedness, Job 38:18, Prov 6:12, Nah 1:11
  • "hard-hearted people, Deut 15:9, 1 Sam 30:22
  • liars/perjurers, 1 Kings 21:13, Prov 19:28
  • people promoting sedition, 2 Sam 20:1, 2, 2 Chron 13:7
  • good-for-nothing base men, 1 Sam 25:17, 25, 2 Sam 16:7, Deut 13:14, Judges 19:22, etc.

The NT uses this word once as a proper name for the devil in 2 Cor 6:15.

Thus, בֶּן־בְּלִיַּ֔עַל (ben-beliyaal = son of belial) is correctly translated as:

  • NIV: wicked man
  • NLT: ill-tempered
  • ESV, NASB, ISV: worthless
  • BSB, NKJV: scoundrel
  • KJV: son of belial
  • Amplified Bible: worthless and wicked
  • CSB, HCSB: worthless fool
  • ASV: worthless fellow
  • Brenton LXX: vile character

Although I am not a pastor, simply passionate about the Word, I did a personal study on the "Sons of Belial." The name comes from a root word בָּלָה bâlâh, baw-law' meaning to "waste away" or "decay" like rotting flesh.

Isaiah 50:9

Behold, the Lord GOD will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old (H1086) as a garment; the moth shall eat them up.

Matthew 23:27-28

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Sons of Belial are "of their father the devil" because they love lies and plot mischief. They are willing to be false witnesses against the innocent husbandmen in the Kingdom such as Naboth, Isaiah, and Jesus...

John 8:44

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Sons of Belial are often in positions of authority within the congregation of the holy such as the sons of Eli, or members of the tribe of Benjamin. They have no "concord with Christ" because they refuse to have "an inheritance with David"

1 Samuel 2:12

Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.

2 Samuel 20:1

And there happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite: and he blew a trumpet, and said, We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel.

2 Chronicles 13:7

And there are gathered unto him vain men, the children of Belial, and have strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tenderhearted, and could not withstand them.

2 Corinthians 6:15

And what concord hath Christ with Belial?

Sons of Belial operate under a Spirit of Anti-Christ, having a form of godliness, but withstanding the righteous men of God at every turn, they try to put them to death they are hypocrites and false witnesses against the righteous. But like the Father of Lies who sought to elevate his position by bringing a False Witness against God in the Garden, they will fall never to rise again.

Isaiah 14:13-15

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Proverbs tells us how to easily recognize a Son of Belial:

Proverbs 6:12-19

A naughty person (H1100 Belial), a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth. He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord. Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy. These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

You have probably run across the Sons of Belial at a church or in a government position. These narcissists love positions of power. Winking with his eyes, speaking with his feet, and teaching with his fingers, means he is mocking the righteousness with hand signs (crazy) or a roll of the eyes in disrespect. You think he's on your side but those who know the "secret" language understand what he's really doing. The Son of Belial is collecting evidence against you to injure your reputation, just like the Pharisees did to Jesus.

Proverbs 16:27

An ungodly man (H1100 Belial) diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire.

Proverbs 19:28

An ungodly witness (H1100 Belial) scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity.

Nahum 1:11

There is one come out of thee, that imagineth evil against the LORD, a wicked (H1100 Belial) counsellor.

Matthew 22:15

Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.

Matthew 26:59-60

Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,

Hmmm... they found two witnesses, (enough to condemn a man to death) like what happened with Naboth... I wonder if there is a connection here.

David tells us we should exercise good judgment and have no concord with the Sons of Belial:

Psalm 101:3-8

I will set no wicked thing (Belial) before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. A forward (twisted) heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person. Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer. Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me. He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight. I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the LORD.

Keep a look out for these types who come into your church. Do not worry about hurting their feelings. Have no fellowship with those who operate in the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them (Ephesians 5:11).

Deuteronomy shows us that the final end for the Sons of Belial will be to burn in fire!

Deuteronomy 13:12-18

If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the LORD thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known; Then shall you enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; You shall surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. And you shall gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shall burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the LORD, thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again. And there shall cleave nothing of the cursed thing to your hand: that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and show you mercy, and have compassion upon you, and multiply you, as he hath sworn unto your fathers; When you shall hearken to the voice of the LORD your God, to keep all his commandments which I command you this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the LORD, your God.

In conclusion, Those who belong to Belial and serve his purposes are called his “children".

  1. Their main goal is to entice the believers of the LORD God to “Go and serve other gods (demons) which they have not known of before.”
  2. They can appear in a trusted position of trust and authority such as a prophet of God, a close friend, or a family member.
  3. They “go out from among you,” meaning they are found in the assembly of the believers of God and may appear to believe the same things as a true believer.
  4. They like to entice people into “secret sin” so that they can still operate within the assembly of believers.
  5. Their corruption can become widespread if not dealt with swiftly.
  6. They stand as false witnesses against God and his people.

The good news of the Gospel, however, is that even if we are falsely accused, we are to stand with the assembly of true believers and resist the wicked Belial and his sons until the Lamb that was slain by their lies returns as King of Israel! Then he will execute the judgment they pronounced on him (and his innocent sheep) back upon their own heads! That is why we are called "witnesses." We will overcome the wicked one by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. (Revelation 12:11)

Deuteronomy 19:18-21

And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

2 Samuel 23:6-7

But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands: But the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place.

Revelation 14:10-11

The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

Psalm 37:1-9

[A Psalm of David] Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.

Don't become frustrated when wicked men of Belial seem to get away with their shenanigans, but wait patiently for the Lord's return. You have been called to be true witnesses against them on Judgment Day. They will be condemned but you will be given an inheritance that can never decay nor be destroyed!

Amen and amen! Even so, come quickly LORD Jesus and redeem your Bride!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.