Froward: 1. Disposed to go counter to what is demanded or what is reasonable; perverse, difficult to deal with, hard to please; refractory, ungovernable; †also, in a wider sense, bad, evilly-disposed, ‘naughty’. (The opposite of toward.) Oxford English Dictionary
One of the great delights to the King James Bible is its exquisite use of words. The new versions are so often like a man walking with cold muddy galoshes across the soul of God. Look at Proverbs 11:20 in the King James Bible; They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight. What is the Lord saying here? He is saying that a person whose heart is disposed to go counter to what is demanded or is reasonable, a person whose heart makes them difficult to deal with and hard to please is an abomination to God.
Now look at that same verse in the NIV; The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse, but he delights in those whose ways are blameless. Perverse is part of the definition of froward, but it only goes so far. The very disposition of the heart is called to attention when "froward" is used. We are led to think of that person we know who will never concede a point in an argument and is delighted to always take the contrary part. We think of that person as being a horse that will wear no man's bridle. He cannot be governed by God, by man, or all too often, himself. He is an abomination to God.
The ESV guts the verse with an all too narrow word that misleads. Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the Lord, but those of blameless ways are his delight. In their zeal to get rid of words that might make a person actually use a dictionary, they use the wrong word because its easier. I used to try that with my math homework.
There is no substitute for a word fitly spoken. Dr. Michael Cesar in his talk to my church about how he has profited in Christ Jesus, (Click here to listen) talked about how his eyes were opened to the King James Bible. Being a medical doctor when he was saved, he took extraordinary care when preparing Sunday School lessons. He would carefully comb many versions to follow points that he was making. He noticed that words and phrases in a King James Bible kept their meanings throughout the entire bible and were easy to track down. The other versions were so willy nilly in word and phrase choice that coherent study was almost impossible.
If we use "froward" as an example we can see that. King David used the word in two interesting places, Psalms 18:26 and 2nd Samuel 22:27. He recites Psalm 18 two different ways and in doing so we get more insight into the word "froward". With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward, Psalms 18:26. With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury, 2nd Samuel 22:27.
Imagine that, King David quoted himself differently in the bible when comparing those two verses. People have trouble with the perfect liberty that the Holy Ghost takes when quoting verses from one place in the bible to the other. In doing so he teaches. This is one great reason to shun the Septuagint and translations thereof. It tried to reconcile Old and New Testament quotations by going back and making the Old Testament conform to the New Testament. In doing so and erasing the the differences in how the Holy Ghost chose to quote the verses it erased the lessons therein.
There is a lesson in how these two verses diverge. Think about your life experiences with prayer and with froward people. With the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward. How many times in your life did God resist your prayers because you were of a froward heart? You were disposed to go counter to what God demanded and likewise, he was disposed to go counter to what you demanded. He could not govern you and therefore he will not let you govern him (and concerning the work of my hands command ye me, Isaiah 45:11). If God finds you difficult to deal with and hard to please, you will find God to be the same way.
Look at 2nd Samuel 22:27 where David quotes himself differently. With the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury. From time to time we see someone on the internet or in a book who seeks to picture the God of Israel as a monster. They go back and show the deaths, the wars, the punishments and places wherein they hate his laws. It has been my experience that when I get to know who these people are, they are "disposed to go counter to what is demanded or what is reasonable; perverse, difficult to deal with, hard to please; refractory, ungovernable; also, in a wider sense, bad, evilly-disposed, ‘naughty’. (The opposite of toward.)" They are self willed haughty individuals who are proud of their own intellects and absolutely unwilling to accept the judgments of God. Therefore God has shown himself unsavoury to them. Their very writings give proof of the truth of scripture.