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Bible Commentary
Proverbs

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Proverbs 6

Pro 6:1

Pro 6: This chapter advises release from foolish indebtedness (vv 1–5), admonishes avoiding laziness (vv 6–11), warns of the danger of poverty (vv 9–11) and deviousness (vv 12–15), lists conduct that the LORD hates (vv 16–19), and -- once again -- warns about immorality (vv 20–35).

Vv 1-5: These verses "give warning against committing and obligating ourselves. No one can foresee the future. The useful soldier of God is the one who is unencumbered (2Ti 2:4) -- 'No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life: that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier': It is so easy to thoughtlessly put burdens on our backs and ropes around our necks that will hinder us in the way of life. Here is a first principle of wisdom. Here again is the dividing line between fools and wise" (GVG).

"It is every man's wisdom to keep out of debt as much as may be, for it is an incumbrance upon him, entangles him in the world, puts him in danger of doing wrong or suffering wrong. The borrower is servant to the lender [Pro 22:7], and makes himself very much a slave to this world. Christians therefore, who are bought with a price, should not thus, without need, make themselves the servants of men (1Co 7:23)" (Henry).

"The advice in this section provides a good example of what prudence is. A prudent person is one who is capable of exercising sound judgment in practical matters. He or she is cautious and discreet in conduct, is circumspect, and is sensible. We often describe a prudent person by saying he or she has common sense. A prudent person can foresee the consequences of possible actions. A godly person can and should be prudent because God's revelation helps us to see the consequences of our actions" (Const).

As to the general background of lending and interest, etc, in Israel, Ellicott writes: "When the Mosaic law was instituted, commerce had not been taken up by the Israelites, and the lending of money on interest for its employment in trade was a thing unknown. The only occasion for loans would be to supply the immediate necessities of the borrower, and the exaction of interest under such circumstances would be productive of great hardship, involving the loss of land, and even of personal freedom, as the insolvent debtor and his family became the slaves of the creditor (Neh 5:1-5). To prevent these evils, the lending of money on interest to any poor Israelite was strictly forbidden (Lev 25); the people were enjoined to be liberal, and to lend for nothing in such cases. But at the time of Solomon, when the commerce of the Israelites was enormously developed, and communications were opened with Spain and Egypt, and possibly with India and Ceylon, while caravans penetrated beyond the Euphrates, then the lending of money on interest for employment in trade most probably became frequent, and suretyship also -- the pledging of a man's own credit to enable his friend to procure a loan."

MY SON, IF YOU HAVE PUT UP SECURITY FOR YOUR NEIGHBOR: Today we call this cosigning a loan. The wisdom of God is against rashly guaranteeing debts of others without careful review of their character (Pro 11:15; 20:16), the extent of the obligation (Pro 22:3; 14:15), and your ability to pay it off (Pro 22:27). More generally, both David and the Preacher warned about keeping vows, which is helped by vowing reluctantly (Psa 15:4; 24:4; Ecc 5:1-7).

"In this matter adults often reveal less capacity for learning than children. They have the advantage of books containing all the accumulated wisdom of mankind, and beyond all this and permeating a great deal of it, there is the instruction that has come direct from God, yet the knowledge is very little used. Life is full of avoidable evils through men ignoring principles or rules of conduct which are perfectly well known, and which have had their wisdom demonstrated in every generation.

"Sometimes the individual failure is so obvious that almost all observers smile at it. I recall two instances of this kind in which the facts were related by the victim when sufficient time had passed for him to join in the amusement. The first was of a capable business man who lightheartedly put his name to paper and became surety for another without even knowing the full extent of his commitment. As is usual in such cases, the one thus assisted failed to pay his way, and the guarantor was for some weeks on the verge of ruin, not knowing when the crushing blow would fall. While in this worried condition he one day opened the Bible to find a little consolation, and almost the very first passage he read was one in Proverbs warning men against the very folly he had committed. 'What a foolish man I am', he thought. 'I have carelessly brought myself into this trouble, when all the while the whole matter is explained in the Bible in the most up-to-date manner. If I had read it before I might have been warned' " (PrPr).

IF YOU HAVE STRUCK HANDS IN PLEDGE: The guarantee of a pledge was signaled by a handshake, or even more simply, by a striking of hands (cf Pro 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 22:26; 27:13). To strike, or join, hands was an ancient form of entering into contracts in all countries and in all ages (cf Job 17:3, AV; Psa 144:8,11). "It is interesting to note the expression 'strike hands' in this connection. It suggests that without any signature, the offering and acceptance of the hand would constitute a bond which no one would repudiate. We may sometimes see in English cattle markets a custom which is probably a survival of that to which the wise man refers. Two men will be haggling over the price of a beast. Finally the vendor, having made a concession, declares that he will take nothing less. He holds out his right hand, stating the price, and perhaps with quite a dramatic indication of finality. The buyer, with no show of enthusiasm, and without saying a word, strikes the outstretched hand with his own palm and the sale is effected. Surely a survival from three thousand years or more" (PrPr).

FOR ANOTHER: A key mitigating factor may be found in this last phrase: it is unclear why the NIV translated, simply, "another", when the Hebrew is "zuwr" -- a foreigner, a stranger (AV, RSV). "It was fairly common for people to put up some kind of financial security for someone else, that is, to underwrite another's debts. But the pledge in view here was foolish because the debtor was a neighbor who was not well known, perhaps a misfit in the community. The one who pledged security for this one was simply gullible" (NETn). Such a "stranger" (whether a true foreigner, or just new to the community) would be a bad risk in such a financial arrangement.

This raises the question: do these verses warn against putting up security for those who are poor risks only, or for ANYONE -- close friend and family member as well? Some commentators takes these verses (Pro 6:1-5) as warning against security for the "stranger" or "foreigner" only, but others see "neighbor... stranger" as inclusive -- identifying the whole spectrum of individuals for whom security should NOT be put up! A comparison of the other more-or-less parallel passages in Proverbs seems to confirm this second view: (a) Pro 11:15 has "zuwr" again -- "stranger" or "foreigner"; (b) Pro 17:18 has "neighbor" again; and (c) Pro 22:26 does not specify for whom the pledge should not be taken -- suggesting any and all.

Does this mean there is absolutely no situation in which one should put up security for another? Perhaps the only time this should be done is for a very close friend or family member, and only in circumstances where one can -- in the worst scenario -- withstand the loss altogether. In such a case, putting up security is more on the order of simply giving to those who have need, with no (real) expectation of being repaid.

Another OT example of putting up security for another: Judah guaranteeing the safety of Benjamin, with his own life for the "security" (Gen 43:8-10).

Are there any NT examples of putting up security for another? Constable mentions one, of a sort, when he writes: "Paul offered to pay Onesimus' past debts, but not his future ones (Phm 1:18,19)." And then -- on a higher level -- there is the good Samaritan, who, leaving the badly-wounded man in the care of the innkeeper, says, "Look after him... and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have" (Luk 10:35) -- in other words, his word is his "security" for all future debts of the wounded man. Is it a stretch to see the good Samaritan as a type of Christ? He finds us hurt and bleeding along the road, binds up our wounds, carries us to a place of safety, and undertakes to pay all our debts -- this is the essence of the atonement, or redemption in Christ. Our God -- through His Son -- has undertaken what we should not: unmitigated security for those who believe in Him, and call upon Him when in trouble! (It is in the nature of an Almighty God to do this, but it is not remotely within our capacity!) But -- bearing in mind the exceptions noted above -- we do not suppose that God or His Son Jesus Christ will be surety for "strangers", but only for those who are his close family members!

Pro 6:2

IF YOU HAVE BEEN TRAPPED BY WHAT YOU SAID, ENSNARED BY THE WORDS OF YOUR MOUTH: "He would be under no obligation to do this -- it was merely an impulsive act of generosity. A gullible young man might lack judgment and be easily swept in, only to realize too late that he was 'trapped' ('yaqash') and 'ensnared' ('lakad'). Such a rash act of generosity might take a lifetime to pay" (EBC).

"To be a man of integrity, only make commitments you can easily keep. If you promise to be somewhere at a certain time, be there early. Don't promise hastily, because once you have spoken, you are bound to keep your word. Performance may be based on diligence; punctuality may be based on time management; but both can be helped by only making commitments and promises with great care... Fools and wicked men blast off and make promises they cannot keep (Pro 12:13; 18:7). Their lips trap them in trouble. Consider Herod and his oath to Herodias's daughter (Mat 14:3-11)" (LGBT).

Pro 6:3

THEN DO THIS, MY SON: What began pleasantly with glory and pride -- thinking oneself so magnanimous in acting the part of gracious benefactor to a poorer friend! -- must now be reversed painfully with humility and shame. Sinful choices bring negative consequences; you should not be surprised.

TO FREE YOURSELF: The image is one of being snatched or plucked quickly out of some danger or trouble, in the sense of a rescue, as in a "brand snatched from the fire" (Zec 3:2).

SINCE YOU HAVE FALLEN INTO YOUR NEIGHBOR'S HANDS: In other words, your financial wellbeing is entirely in the creditor's power and control.

GO AND HUMBLE YOURSELF: The verb "raphac" means "to stamp oneself down" or "to humble oneself". BDB suggests "become a suppliant". Gesenius translated it "prostrate yourself" 'Go down on your knees and beg, if necessary!'

PRESS YOUR PLEA WITH YOUR NEIGHBOR!: That is, in this place, the "creditor" of course, not the person for whom you pledged yourself; HE can't release you. "Rahav" = to be bold, or boisterous. It almost seems contradictory: "humble yourself BOLDLY!" The idea is: no matter what it takes, don't take "No" for an answer. (This reminds us of the parable of the importunate widow: Luk 18:1-8.)

Alternatively, as the KJV puts it: "Make sure thy friend." This takes the first "neighbor" in this verse to be the creditor (see above: "free yourself" from the creditor's clutches), and the second "neighbor" to be your "friend" for whom you pledged in the first place. This would then mean: 'Stir him up, encourage him, urge him to pay off the debt quickly, and discharge the bond, or give you relief from it.'

Pro 6:4

ALLOW NO SLEEP TO YOUR EYES, NO SLUMBER TO YOUR EYELIDS: Undertake with great diligence, and without delay, to put right anything that can be put right! "How important is this warning? If you are involved in suretyship or other exposure to loss, do everything you can to protect yourself this very day! Do not delay! How do you know that adversity will not strike today? Get out of the trap quickly! Immediately! Have you promised to keep others' obligations, if they don't? Have you co-signed any loans? Is your personal insurance up to date? Auto liability? Medical? Homeowner's liability? Is your business insurance current? Especially liability? Get covered today! In all matters of wisdom and righteousness, it is our urgent duty to correct them immediately. David said, 'I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments' (Psa 119:60). This is the holy ambition and action of every true child of God! Is it yours? You do not know what will happen tomorrow, so do not plan on it (Pro 27:1). Felix was convicted by Paul's preaching, but postponed it to a more 'convenient season', which never came (Acts 24:24-27). Agrippa said he was almost persuaded (Acts 26:27-29)" (LGBT) -- but what good did it do him?

See List, Double negative, Hebrew.

Pro 6:5

FREE YOURSELF, LIKE A GAZELLE FROM THE HAND OF THE HUNTER, LIKE A BIRD FROM THE SNARE OF THE FOWLER: Free yourself by flight, not by fight! "The exhortation is then repeated and enhanced by two similes that retrieve the motif of the person's being entrapped by the pledge" (EBC).

Are you frantic to obey God? Abraham rose early in the morning to obey a hard request (Gen 22:1-3). The kingdom of God is entered by violent force -- frantic zeal to conform your life to Jesus Christ (Mat 11:12). You must strive to press through a strait gate (Luk 13:24; 16:16). We work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phi 2:12)! What should you do today? Right now?

Pro 6:6

Vv 6-11: "The example of the small, yet mighty, ant is remarkable. It is proverbial for industry in every country. It is fondly attached to its young; works quietly, unweariedly, without interfering with others; works for the good of the community with astonishing organisation (v 7). The ants are ingenious carpenters and masons, building their own systems of homes and underground tunnels. They keep their homes scrupulously clean. Each has a definite job in life for the good of the community. They will fight to the death to protect their own homes or young. They will not shirk heavy loads, and will co-operate to bear them. They are set forth as an example for Wisdom. We need to ponder their example, and apply those wise qualities in our lives" (GEM). And so we have here "an exhortation to diligence and labor -- [and] against indolence and slumber. Slumber is more than just lying in bed. It is mental drifting and inactivity -- spiritual laziness -- natural self-indulgence and self-pleasing: 'It is high time to awake out of sleep... cast off the works of darkness... put on the armor of light' (Rom 13:11,12). 'Many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep' (1Co 11:30)" (GVG). "Solomon, in these verses, addresses himself to the sluggard who loves his ease, lives in idleness, minds no business, sticks to nothing, brings nothing to pass, and in a particular manner is careless in the business of religion. Slothfulness is as sure a way to poverty, though not so short a way, as rash suretiship" (Henry). Cf the parallel section in Pro 24:30-34 -- where the emphasis is on the neglected field of the sluggard -- as well as Pro 26:13-16.

GO TO THE ANT, YOU SLUGGARD: Heb "atsel" is a lazy or sluggish person. Such a person does not like to exert himself. He is a pain to those trusting him (Pro 10:26). Diligent men will be successful (Pro 10:4; 12:24; 14:23; 22:29; 28:19); but lazy men are losers (Pro 6:10,11; 12:24; 19:15; 20:4,13; 24:30-34). They are too arrogant to be taught (Pro 26:16).

CONSIDER ITS WAYS, AND BE WISE: The ant is the ultimate "gleaner" in the fields (Lev 19:9,10; 23:22; Deu 24:19), often taking -- like the poor of the land -- only what is left behind, or has fallen to the ground, and making wonderful use of it. As the old proverb says, "Waste not, want not!" "Consider... what diligence and industry it uses in providing its food; which, though a small, weak, feeble creature, yet will travel over flints and stones, climb trees, enter into towers, barns, cellars, places high and low, in search of food; never hinder, but help one another in carrying their burdens; prepare little cells to put their provisions in, and are so built as to secure them from rain; and if at any time their corn is wet, they bring out and dry it, and bite off the ends of it, that it may not grow" (Gill). The ant is also mentioned in Pro 30:25: it is "wise" in providing stores of food for the winter.

"Ants are the amazing little creatures that swarm in their millions under the earth and on our paths and gardens, and sometimes in our kitchens. Unless they run around where we don't want them I wonder if we even notice them.

"One wonders how we can not notice them for there are some 3,500 species of ants, some living under the soil and some that build their homes in trees. There can be colonies of a few hundred and others with 100,000 members, all running smoothly and well organised.

"When rain is coming we often see clouds of winged ants stream out of their holes and fly sky-wards; these are the reproductive ants and this is their nuptial flight, or their wedding night.

"After this flight the male ant dies and the female drops to the ground and prepares to set up a colony. She bites off her wings and finds an indentation in the ground where she proceeds to excavate a larger hole where she can lay her first eggs.

"She will produce a few female ants, which are infertile, and they will be the foragers for food. They will be nest-builders and nurses for further hatchings. If by chance these infertile ants do lay eggs, the eggs will be used as food for the baby ants.

"The queen ant will also produce worker ants that are small, and soldier ants, which grow larger and have large mandibles to be used to great advantage in their many battles while protecting the colony. They also use their mandibles to help the foragers break up large pieces of food to enable it to be pulled down into the entrance of the nesting chambers.

"Like the bee, the queen ant is solitary, and is larger than other ants. As she lays an egg she picks it up in her nippers and tries to place it away from the squirming larvae about her which love nothing better than a freshly laid ant egg to eat.

"From the result of the nuptial flight the female ant can continue to lay millions of eggs for many years, which is something for us to wonder at, as in God's wisdom He made her so.

"The colony is a wonder of organisation, no fumble, no arguments, each group of ants, workers, foragers, and soldiers knowing their jobs and going about them with precision and care.

"The workers are the ones we must try to emulate. They tend the eggs by licking them to rid them of any infectious fungi, and feed them. They also have to keep the little clusters of eggs sorted into their various sizes so that when they hatch the babies will all get their proper ration of food and equal attention. If they are of uneven sizes the larger larvae get more food and attention than the little ones who then die of neglect. So the worker has to do his job particularly well for the good of the colony.

"The worker ants are fed by the foragers with pre-digested food, some of which is passed on to the larvae. In due course the larvae spin a cocoon about themselves and stay in there while their bodies change from a grub to an ant. Then the workers come along to help bite the web-like cocoon cover away, and so let the little ant out; and another generation is born to take up the work.

"The caste of an ant is determined by the food it has been given while it was a grub. A high protein diet is fed to the prospective reproducers while the workers were given a high carbohydrate menu.

"The leaf-cutter ants grow their gardens by stripping leaves from nearby trees and laying them in the base of their nests. Fungi grow on these leaves and develop a small body or bromatia, and this is fed to the larvae -- nothing so good as fresh food from your very own garden!

"These little creatures, like all God's creation, do not need a highly-educated professor to teach them what to do. They just know about it for the Almighty Creator has built into their brains the knowledge of survival.

"One could write books on these wonderful, industrious insects that breathe and eat as we do, but are such regular, assiduous workers that laziness is unknown to them. They can put us to shame, for we need our days off and holiday time to recuperate our strength, yet we don't work nearly as hard or regularly in our ecclesias or jobs as they do.

"Next time you are in your garden watch how busy the ants are, and, although they sometimes appear to go aimlessly around, be assured that every little creature knows where he is going, and why. You will sometimes see several ants meet head-on and have a conference, passing messages down the line to the colony.

"Bees and ants are much alike in their methods of running their affairs, but Solomon chose the ant as an example to follow. Can't you see Solomon in your mind's eye kneeling in his garden and watching the ants in those early Biblical days?

"He arose, and thinking of the people about him lazing their days away, and the people, who generations away were doing the same, what could he say to his people to encourage them? He had in mind Ecc 9:10 -- 'Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest.'

"He came up with the saying that has come down through the halls of fame to us, the workers in the colony of Jesus Christ: 'Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise' (Pro 6:6)" (Marjorie Spiers, Sh 92:8:8).

The phenomenon, of ants biting off the ends of kernels of grain, so as to keep it from germinating in the "storehouse", is commented on by a Dr. MacMillan, cited in BI: he "has found the food stored up in the nests of the ants, and he adds this interesting information: 'Examining the seeds collected in the nests of the ants on the top of the hill at Nice more particularly with my magnifying glass, I found to my astonishment that each seed had its end carefully bitten off. And the reason of this was perfectly plain. You know each seed contains two parts -- the young plant or germ lying in its cradle, as it were, and the supply of food for its nourishment, when it begins to grow, wrapped round it. Now the ants had bitten off the young plant germ, and they left only the part which was full of nourishment. And they did this to prevent the seeds from growing and exhausting all the nourishment contained in them. If they did not do this the seed stored under the ground, when the rains came, would shoot, and so they would lose all their trouble and be left to starve. I could not find in the heap a single seed that had not been treated in this way."

Pro 6:7

IT HAS NO COMMANDER, NO OVERSEER OR RULER: The ant -- like the locust (Pro 30:27) -- appears to have no leader -- even though it actually does have organization and cooperation. Unlike the ants, many men must be forced to work, reminded to work, told how to work, reproved for jobs poorly done, reminded how to do the job right, and constantly followed to keep them working (Pro 20:13). They will take a day off for a cold or headache. If the boss is away, they will play. Without the "lash", or the threat of it, ever present, they will accomplish nothing!

Pro 6:8

YET IT STORES ITS PROVISIONS IN SUMMER AND GATHERS ITS FOOD AT HARVEST: Even without apparent leadership or organization (which actually is untrue), the ant provides for the future with great industry: "Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer" (Pro 30:25). The classic example of such foresight and industry is Joseph, when elevated to a leading position in Egypt (Gen 41). But even at harvest-time, human sluggards do not work (Pro 10:5; cp Pro 20:4)!

We are placed on this earth for worthwhile activity and work (Gen 1:28; 3:19). The purpose of our life is to serve God in joy and enthusiasm to the fullest limit of our mortal powers, and as a training for future eternal service in the tireless powers of the divine nature. This alone is true living. Indulgent self-pleasing is death -- 'she (or he) who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives' (1Ti 5:6). But the joyful and satisfying ideal of true living is to be "always abounding in the work of the Lord" (1Co 15:58).

It is wise to put aside for a "rainy day"; saving money is smart! Ants put aside provisions for themselves and those in their care, by the instinct or wisdom God gave them. So people should save a portion of their income. If they spend it all, or spend more than they earn, as many Americans do, they will create for themselves financial difficulty, pain, stress, and trouble.

The ant stays underground during the whole winter season, and it consumes the food it stored up during the prosperity of summer and harvest. Without any rulers, guides, or overseers, the ant knows to be conscious of the future and prepare for it (Pro 6:7). Saving is not something you should be forced to do; you should want to do it for its great value. If a man is a diligent self-starter -- following the ant's first two lessons (Pro 6:6) -- he will earn considerable income during his lifetime, even if he is uneducated and/or underemployed. But what a man earns does not measure the man; it is rather what he keeps! For only what he keep shows character, and protects against future trouble.

Fools live check to check. Wise men save some of all income, at least ten percent, and put it aside, to be used only for a dire emergency or solid investment. They think about the future, not just spending whatever comes to hand (Pro 21:20). They cut silly spending so as to save.

There are spiritual lessons here too. While saving for your financial future, you must also lay up treasures in heaven for your spiritual future (1Ti 6:17-19). That was the wisdom Jesus taught from the unjust steward (Luk 16:1-9). Are you making your calling and election sure (2Pe 1:10,11)?

The LXX adds a lengthy section at the end of the verse on the lesson from the bee: "Or, go to the bee and learn how diligent she is and how seriously she does her work -- her products kings and private persons use for health -- she is desired and respected by all -- though feeble in body, by honoring wisdom she obtains distinction." This was probably added in the first place as an uninspired commentary, a parallel note, and then later was erroneously incorporated into the main text itself.

Pro 6:9

HOW LONG WILL YOU LIE THERE, YOU SLUGGARD? WHEN WILL YOU GET UP FROM YOUR SLEEP?: Sluggards stay in bed, for they love sleep (Pro 6:9-11; 20:13; 24:30-34). They want things like other men, but they don't want to work for them (Pro 13:4). Staying in bed is simply too pleasant! One pictures an employer, or a father, admonishing the lazy worker, or son, to be up and doing!

Cp Luk 12:39,40 -- the parable of the thief and the unready householder: "But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."

"Sluggards should be roused with a 'How long?' 'How long wilt thou waste thy time, and when wilt thou be a better husband of it? How long wilt thou love thy ease, and when wilt thou learn to deny thyself, and to take pains? How long wilt thou bury thy talents, and when wilt thou begin to trade with them? How long wilt thou delay, and put off, and trifle away thy opportunities, as one regardless of hereafter; and when wilt thou stir up thyself to do what thou hast to do, which, if it be not done, will leave thee for ever undone?' " (Henry).

"On the day of judgement it will probably become apparent that, while positive sin has slain its thousands, sheer neglect has slain its ten thousands. This aspect of our relations with God was clearly before the Lord Jesus when he spoke the three great parables recorded in Mat 25. The criticism brought against those of whom the parables are spoken is not that they did not know, but that they did know and, in various ways, did not act. The foolish virgins knew they must have lamps, and had them, but they were too lazy 'in the summer' of their lives to store up oil. The man with one talent knew something was expected of him, but he was afraid of the magnitude of his task and neglected to rise to it. Those on the left-hand side in the judgement knew it was their duty to entertain their brethren, to clothe the naked and to minister to those who were sick or in prison. They waited too long. The condemnation of Jesus is applicable; 'Thou wicked and SLOTHFUL servant' " (CPro 124).

"We naturally conceive some abhorrence of a man that is in bed when he should be at his labour or in his shop. We cannot tell how to think anything good of him, who is such a slave to drowsiness as to neglect his business for it.

"Let this therefore teach us to conceive how odious we must appear in the sight of Heaven, if we are in bed, shut up in sleep and darkness, when we should be praising God; and are such slaves to drowsiness, as to neglect our devotions for it.

"For if he is to be blamed as a slothful drone, that rather chooses the lazy indulgence of sleep, than to perform his proper share of worldly business; how much more is he to be reproached, that would rather lie folded up in a bed, than be raising up his heart to God in acts of praise and adoration!" (SCDHL).

Yet another old proverb is apt here: "Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise!"

Pro 6:10

Vv 10,11 are repeated at Pro 24:33,34. "The worst of sluggards only ask for a little slumber; they would be indignant if they were accused of thorough idleness. A little folding of the hands to sleep is all they crave, and they have a crowd of reasons to show that this indulgence is a very proper one. Yet by these littles the day ebbs out, and the time for labour is all gone, and the field is grown over with thorns.

"It is by little procrastinations that men ruin their souls. They have no intention to delay for years -- a few months will bring the more convenient season -- tomorrow if you will, they will attend to serious things; but the present hour is so occupied and altogether so unsuitable, that they beg to be excused. Like sands from an hour-glass, time passes, life is wasted by driblets, and seasons of grace lost by little slumbers.

"Oh, to be wise, to catch the flying hour, to use the moments on the wing! May the Lord teach us this sacred wisdom, for otherwise a poverty of the worst sort awaits us, eternal poverty. Like a traveller steadily pursuing his journey, poverty overtakes the slothful, and ruin overthrows the undecided: each hour brings the dreaded pursuer nearer; he pauses not by the way, for he is on his master's business and must not tarry. As an armed man enters with authority and power, so shall want come to the idle, and death to the impenitent, and there will be no escape. O that men were wise betimes, and would seek diligently unto the Lord Jesus, or ere the solemn day shall dawn when it will be too late to plough and to sow, too late to repent and believe. In harvest, it is vain to lament that the seed time was neglected" (CHS).

A LITTLE SLEEP, A LITTLE SLUMBER: The sluggard himself appears to reply to the taunt of v 9: 'I don't need much more sleep -- just a few more minutes!' It feels so good, he mumbles; surely there is nothing wrong with something that feels this good! But "real men get up; they don't hit the snooze button!" (LGBT). And young women, as much as young men, need the rule: virtuous women do not sleep in either (Pro 31:15)!

A LITTLE FOLDING OF THE HANDS TO REST: That is, in preparation for sleep.

"This little speech [v 10] means, 'I am comfortable; don’t disturb me; let me alone to enjoy myself.' This is the wish of many a sinful man. 'Woe to them that are at ease in Zion' [Amo 6:1], living purely selfish lives; for self-indulgence may, and generally does, mean selfishness. Self-indulgence is easy. ‘Tis easier to give the reins to our appetites than to curb them; to slide than to climb; to please ourselves than to deny ourselves. If we would be men of mark for holiness, usefulness, of eminence either in things temporal or spiritual, we must know something of self-denial. Men who 'take it easy' rarely make much headway. Look round amongst Christian workers, business men, great philanthropists, successful inventors, men illustrious or famous in any walk of life; read the biographies of men who have been renowned for any good thing -- you will find that they were men of self-denial, not self-indulgent. Moses was a self-denying man; 'he esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt' [Heb 11:26]; and Moses prospered; he became very great; he was appointed leader and commander of the people of Israel. The apostles were self-denying men; hear them: 'We have left all, and have followed thee' [Mar 10:28; Luk 18:28]" (Foster, BI).

"Yet a little only!" "Habits, as Aristotle in his 'Ethics' has shown, are the resultant of repeated acts, and habits entail consequences. So here the inspired teacher would have it learnt, from the example of the sluggard, that the self-indulgence which he craves leads on to a confirmed indolence, which in the end leaves him powerless. 'Yet a little' is the phrase on the lips of every one who makes but a feeble resistance, and yields supinely to his darling vice" (Pulpit).

"Here the literal meaning is obvious enough and there is no difficulty in applying the description just as it stands. The main danger of wrong application would be from those who have had little experience of gardens. They might judge a man as slothful when he had only been away for a short holiday or a few days of illness. The garden, however, is only an illustration, and there are lessons in this rapid growth of weeds. Wherever the surface of the soil presents itself seeds will fall and weeds will grow. Wherever there is unoccupied surface of mind, impressions will be made and thoughts will develop. Wrong thoughts seem as hardy as weeds while right thoughts are like rare and tender plants. Just as weeds, unless they are eradicated in the early stages will quickly run to seed and increase the evil, so it is with wrong thoughts in the mind" (PrPr).

Pro 6:11

AND POVERTY WILL COME ON YOU LIKE A BANDIT: Heb "like a wayfarer" or "like a traveler" (thus the AV). The LXX has "swiftness like a traveler". And so "Poverty" is personified here, as a traveler: thus, "[Poverty] has started a long time, it has traversed many a road, crossed many a valley, surmounted many a hill; but, though travelling long, it is only in sight during the last ten minutes of its journey. So ruin begins its course as soon as a man neglects his duties; it travels far and long, its form is hidden behind the hills, it is only just toward the last that its countenance is seen and recognized; then, before he expected it, Poverty stares him in the face, and grasps his hand with cruel clutch" (Pulpit).

The same word has also been interpreted as a "highwayman" or a "dangerous assailant". McKane suggests "vagrant". Policemen, as a general rule, assume that someone moving swiftly is up to no good, and is quite possibly a robber; the loose parallelism of the second phrase supports this idea. (This proverb is practically identical to Pro 24:34; cp also Psa 104:3.)

AND SCARCITY LIKE AN ARMED MAN: The term "ish magen" -- a man with a shield -- suggest a soldier, part of a swift-moving invasion force. An armed man does not fear resistance, for he is armed. He will go where he pleases, and he will enter any building he chooses. You will not stop him, for he is armed. So it is with poverty. You cannot stop its arrival. Your defenses will crumble before its irresistible approach. Your efforts to avoid it will be in vain.

Spiritual poverty is also real, but far more costly than financial poverty (Rev 3:16-18). If you are lax and lazy about spiritual duties, your poverty with God and lack of wisdom will soon be exposed. The hypocrisy of your feigned wealth will disappear before God's fiery trials. Get to work! "Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2Pe 1:10,11).

Pro 6:12

Vv 12-15: "Unworthy as slothfulness is, bad and unwise for one to be
idle [vv 6-11], it is far worse to be active in evil, for this works mischief
to others without end" (Kelly).

How to "grow" wickedness: (a) sower = man of Belial; (b) seed = lies and misrepresentations (vv 17,19); (c) soil = brethren (v 19); and (d) harvest = strife, dissensikon, and discord (vv 14,19).

A SCOUNDREL: "Adam belial". The phrase is translated in various ways, but generally is "son of Belial" in the AV. Gesenius, followed by BDB, suggests that "belial" is a compound of the negative "beli" and a noun "ya'al" meaning "profit; worth" -- hence, "worthless". Others suggest that the root is from "ba'al" -- the lord, or false god, ie, "Beelzebub" or other Baalim. There is also a possible connection with "Babel" -- the place of confusion and ruin. Whatever the etymology, usage shows that the word describes people who violate the law (Deu 13:13; 15:9; Jdg 19:22; 1Ki 21:10,13; Pro 16:27; etc), or act in an otherwise contemptuous and foolish manner (1Sa 1:16; 10:27; 25:17; 30:22). In Deu 13:13, where it first occurs, it refers to one who has fallen away into idolatry. The word is transliterated into the NT, in 2Co 6:15 -- where it is parallel to "unbelievers" and to the "idols" they worship (2Co 6:16), and so plainly refers to an idol, or a false god, and to its devotee.

AND VILLAIN: Hebrew "aven" -- a non-entity, a "nothing" man! More or less literally, one who is "good for nothing".

WHO GOES ABOUT WITH A CORRUPT MOUTH: Idlers (vv 6-10) easily become busybodies (1Ti 6:13). The word "corrupt" is from a Hebrew word "iqqeshuwth", meaning "twisted" or "crooked", and can refer to something that is physically twisted or crooked, or something morally perverse (sw only in Pro 4:24). One of the marks of the Beast in Revelation -- and indeed of most "beasts" (Psa 49:12,20) -- is "a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies" against God, "to slander his name" (Rev 13:5,6).

How can we hope to identify a worthless good-for-nothing? The answer is simple: by the worthless, good-for-nothing words that flow like sewage from his mouth. Christ teaches plainly that a wicked mouth proves a wicked heart (Luk 6:45). A pure heart is known by gracious speech (Pro 22:11). Good speech does not come from an evil heart, and neither can evil speech come from a good heart. When we spot such a worthless person, or HEAR him, then the course of wisdom is to depart from his presence (Pro 14:7; 22:10).

Pro 6:13

WHO WINKS WITH HIS EYE, SIGNALS WITH HIS FEET AND MOTIONS WITH HIS FINGERS: He is not only false, irreverent, impure, and audacious (v 12), but he is artful into the bargain! That is, with a serpent-like subtlety, he uses every bit of sign language or gesture at his disposal to accomplish his purpose -- which is to deceive or insinuate, without actually speaking. He uses such gestures (a) to poke fun, cleverly but contemptuously, at the weak or those who are "different", (b) to show hatred which he can scarcely express in words (Psa 35:19; Pro 10:10; cp Job 15:12), and/or (c) to trick or swindle those who are honest, or trusting and naive (cp Pro 16:30) -- all these purposes being quite contemptible. (One well-known example of this is gamblers, or card-sharks, developing signals by which information is passed back and forth to the hurt of others in the game.)

Even Shakespeare wrote of such men: "The shrug, the 'hum!' the 'ha!'... those petty brands that calumny doth use." Are all these the sorts of things -- among others! -- that Paul proscribes when he warns against "offer[ing] the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness" (Rom 6:19)?

AND MOTIONS WITH HIS FINGERS: Some of the vilest and most obscene thoughts, threats, and insults are commonly expressed with the fingers.

Pro 6:14

WHO PLOTS EVIL WITH DECEIT IN HIS HEART: "This man makes his heart a workship, where he fabricates and prepares his villainy (cp Psa 36:4). He is so degraded that the only way he can obtain pleasure is in doing evil" (Crawford).

HE ALWAYS STIRS UP DISSENSION: This anticipates the fuller description in vv 16-19, especially v 19 -- the worst of the seven detestable things: "a man who stirs up dissension among brothers".

"This is the culminating point in the character of the wicked man. He takes delight in breaking up friendship and in destroying concord among brethren (see v 19), and thus destroys one of the most essential elements for promoting individual happiness and the welfare of the community at large. This idea of the community is introduced into the LXX, which reads, 'Such an one brings disturbance to the city'. The motive cause may be either malice or self-interest" (Pulpit). All this is in direct contravention of Psa 133:1 and Mat 5:9 -- for it destroys the unity of the brethren, and undermines the work of the peacemakers.

Pro 6:15

THEREFORE DISASTER WILL OVERTAKE HIM IN AN INSTANT; HE WILL SUDDENLY BE DESTROYED: "Destroyed" is "shabar", used of breaking branches to be burned (Isa 27:11), ships which are wrecked (Isa 14:29; Eze 27:34; Jon 1:4), an army defeated (Dan 11:22; 2Ch 14:12), a city destroyed (Isa 8:15; Jer 48:4), and the complete prostration of the spirit of man by affliction (Psa 34:19). This last example conveys the idea of the total ruin of this man. Likewise, this last phrase of Pro 6:15 is found exactly in Pro 29:1: "A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed -- without remedy."

WITHOUT REMEDY: For this type of person, the end will be sudden and definitive, like the destruction of the wicked portrayed in Pro 3:25, or Dan 11:45 ("he will come to his end, and no one will help him").

Pro 6:16

Vv 16-19: The "man of belial" is first identified and described in vv 12-15; now his sins are enumerated under the headings of the various body parts (some of which were first mentioned in v 13). The detail is first presented in an impersonal manner, until the last -- and worst -- trait is reached. Then (v 19) it is the WHOLE man who stirs up dissension (as was originally alluded to in v 14). In all, there are seven abominations listed here (in contrast to the seven pillars of wisdom mentioned in Pro 9:1). [See Lesson, Honesty (GG).]

"So much is said with the secret (though never admitted, even to ourself) purpose of causing one person to be estranged from, or offended by, or think less of, another. This is such an ingrained characteristic of the flesh that we are all guilty. It is so satisfying to the pride of the flesh to criticize and think evil. And this is the crowning abomination in the sight of God, but -- 'Love covers a multitude of sins' [Pro 10:12; Jam 5:20; 1Pe 4:8]" (GVG).

THERE ARE SIX THINGS THE LORD HATES, SEVEN THAT ARE DETESTABLE TO HIM: The LORD's great and abiding hatred of sin is one of His most glorifyious attributes -- it separates Him from the pagan deities men have imagined. Holiness -- the absolute freedom from sin, and the absolute and loathing of sin -- is what makes God beautiful (Psa 29:2; 96:9)! The more pure the character, the more glorious the Being! He is like the sun in its radiance -- He is beyond the sun in His radiance! There is none holy as the LORD (1Sa 2:2; Exo 15:11; Deu 32:4; Psa 99:5,9; 111:9; Isa 6:3; 57:15; 1Pe 1:16). Even the heavens are not clean in His sight (Job 15:14-16).

How much does the LORD hate sin? He destroyed seven nations of Canaan for abominations such as immorality and idolatry. A man was stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath (Num 15:32-36). And God killed a man and his wife for lying about their giving (Acts 5:1-11).

How bad is sin? God required capital punishment for disrespectful children (Pro 30:17; Deu 27:16). He required the death penalty for adultery (Lev 20:10), and He considers even the desire for another woman as adultery (Mat 5:28). He considers unjust anger and cruel words as bad as murder (Mat 5:21-26). And He counts the violation of one precept as breaking the entire law (Jam 2:10,11).

Sometimes God lets men get away with sin for a while to deceive them, but He warns about His judgment and wrath for such presumption (Psa 50:21,22). One of the greatest character traits of the Lord Jesus Christ was his love of righteousness and hatred of sin (Psa 45:7; Heb 1:8,9). For this glorious attribute, the blessed God honored him far above all other men. From his example, we can see that nobility of spirit and approval before God is in direct proportion to love of virtue and hatred of sin.

DETESTABLE: Or "an abomination". The Hebrew means: that which is hated, or abhorred; that which is impure or unclean.

SIX THINGS... SEVEN: "This saying involves a numerical ladder, paralleling six things with seven things (eg, also Pro 30:15,18,21,24,29). The point of such a numerical arrangement is that the number does not exhaust the list" (Roth, cited NETn). Examples of this phenomenon, using other numbers, are found in Hos 6:2 ("after two days... on the third"), Amo 1:3,6,9,11,13; 2:1,4,6 ("for three sins... even for four"), Job 5:19 ("for six calamities... in seven), Mic 5:5 ("seven shepherds... eight leaders"), and Ecc 11:2 ("Give portions to seven, yes to eight..."). This is also called "the climactic use of numbers" -- and is common in other, non-Biblical Middle Eastern literature. Seemingly, its use emphasized the intensive or progressive effect of the list, and implied that there were, quite possibly, more to come (JJ David, GTJ 5:3:31).

Pro 6:17

HAUGHTY EYES: "A proud look" (AV). Literally, "high or lofty ('ramot') eyes". The expression refers to a proud look suggesting arrogant ambition; and is contrasted with the modestly downcast eyes of the servant or slave. Pride and presumption were the source of the very first sin, for Eve, and Adam, desired to become like the "Elohim", or like God Himself (Gen 3:5,6). This term "high" -- in v 17 -- is used in Num 15:30 for the sin of the "high hand", that is, willful rebellion or presumptuous, defiant sin. The usage of "haughty eyes" may be illustrated by its use with the pompous Assyrian invader (Isa 10:12–14) and the proud king (Dan 11:12). God does not tolerate anyone who thinks so highly of himself and who has such ambition.

"God, I thank you that I am not like other men" (Luke 18:11). "But after Uzziah became powerful, his PRIDE led to his downfall" (2Ch 26:16-19). Cp Psa 101:5; Pro 8:13; 11:2; 13:10; 14:3; 15:25; 16:5,18,19; 21:4,24; 28:25; 29:23; 1Ti 3:6; 1Jo 2:16.

"It is not difficult to see the evils in other people. Haughty eyes are detested by all who are scorned by them. They are hated by those who -- possibly on a lower plane -- are just as haughty themselves. The haughty manner is detestable when viewed from below and ridiculous when viewed from above. It is always indicative of a failure to remember God. It is a hateful assumption of superiority on the part of a weak and foolish animal. Herod was a good example of a haughty man, and his fate was an appropriate rebuke" (PrPr).

A LYING TONGUE: The term is used of false prophets who deceive (Jer 14:14), and of a deceiver who betrays (Psa 109:2; Acts 1:20). The LORD hates deceptive speech because it is destructive (Pro 26:28). And He hates all lies and all liars (Pro 10:18; 12:22; 19:5; 20:23; 26:18,19,28; Exo 23:1).

"A lying tongue is condemned even by liars. Everyone hates to have dealings with an untruthful man, and even the most untruthful of men will usually retain sufficient perception of values to resent being called a liar.

"It has been well said that the essence of a lie is in deception. If we put forth a parable, saying that a certain man did thus and so, there is no falsehood even though the story is entirely fictitious. We tell it as a parable and there is no deception. If on the other hand we remain silent while false statements are made, our silence may be taken to "give consent" and we may in effect be guilty of falsehood even though we did not speak.

"There are many harmful lies told by men who would greatly resent the suggestion that they were liars. A slight exaggeration may have all the effect of a lie. In this matter a little may be worse than much. Extreme exaggeration does not cause much harm. It is a foolish form of speech but it does not deceive. A slight exaggeration, on the other hand, may be believed, the statement may be passed forward and again exaggerated, until by the contributions of several faulty tongues a destructive lie is produced" (PrPr).

HANDS THAT SHED INNOCENT BLOOD: The hands may be the instruments of murder, and God hates bloodshed. Gen 9:6 prohibited shedding blood because people are the image of God. Even David being a man of blood (in war mostly) was not permitted to build the Temple (1Ch 22:8). But shedding innocent blood was a greater crime: it usually went with positions of power, such as King Manasseh filling the streets with blood (2Ki 21:16), or princes doing it for gain (Eze 22:27). Cp the words of Judas and Pilate in Mat 27:4,24.

"Hands that shed innocent blood come third in this list of evils. Again there will be a readiness on all sides to condemn such violence, but it only needs a little national excitement or national greed for the majority of people to be anxious to transgress. Men who have no personal quarrel and who are entirely innocent of offence against each other will make haste to shed innocent blood regardless of sex or age" (PrPr).

Pro 6:18

A HEART THAT DEVISES WICKED SCHEMES: The heart (metonymy of subject) represents the will; here it plots evil schemes. The heart is capable of evil schemes (Gen 6:5); the heart that does this is deceitful (Pro 12:20; 14:22). Examples of plotting of evil: Saul (1Sa 24:13), Ahithophel (2Sa 16:20-23; 17:23), Israel (Mic 2:1).

"A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations might be regarded as being covered by the expression a lying tongue. It is not quite the same, however. Wicked imaginations may often find expression in lies, but they can be very evil even if they never reach the tongue. Even the most active of men are sometimes still, and the most talkative are sometimes silent, but thought and imagination are with us always even when we are asleep. Envy, anger, bitterness, pride and many other evil things may build up wicked imaginations which destroy the character even if they never find expression in word and deed. It is perfectly true that love leads to the fulfilling of the law, but it does not follow that a formal observance of the law leads to love. Herein lies one of the dangers of negatives. A man may refrain from many things because of his respect for law. He may even deny himself many legitimate blessings in a zeal for separateness. At times he may refrain from speech lest he should transgress the law in dealing with his brother, and yet all the while he may be building up wrong thoughts in his heart and God who looks upon the heart may be displeased" (PrPr).

FEET THAT ARE QUICK TO RUSH INTO EVIL: The first phrase decries those who plot evil; now this phrase condemns those who run, eagerly, to carry out that evil. "The MT has literally 'make haste to run,' the idea being to make haste to begin to run, ie, eager to seize the opportunity... This captures the enthusiastic and complete involvement in activities that bring pain to all concerned" (EBCn). Cp Pro 1:16: "For their feet rush into sin, they are swift to shed blood."

"The expression... probably covers a wider ground than is usually recognized. Men do not regard the word mischief as applicable to any of the enterprises in which they desire to engage. We all know the type of man to whom the words obviously apply, but we are all loathe to recognize the possibility that we ourselves might be at fault. In ecclesial life we may be quite certain that dissensions and disputes will sometimes arise. Some members will do their utmost to minimize the evil, trying to correct error but carefully avoiding anything which might aggravate ill feeling. They will try to restore calm judgment and to prevent the stormy strife which tends to accentuate differences and bring out the worst that is in human nature. In short they are peacemakers. It is of course possible that love of peace might lead them into a harmful tolerance of evil. The Lord is their judge. There are other men who give a very different impression and from whom we expect anything rather than the motions of peace. It is possible that they are moved by a commendable zeal for righteousness, and again we say, the Lord is their judge. It is possible, on the other hand, that peacemakers may be accounted faithful, either because of or in spite of their gentleness; and it is possible that some men who in all their uncompromising pugnacity have claimed to be zealous, may be condemned in the final judgment as men whose feet were swift to run into mischief" (PrPr).

Pro 6:19

A FALSE WITNESS WHO POURS OUT LIES: In contrast to the general, casual lies (v 17), these are premeditated, formal lies of witnesses -- with express intention to do harm to another in a public setting. The matter of "false witness" figured into the very foundations of Israel in the OT: the eighth commandment (Exo 20:16 and Deu 5:20). Israel's judicial system was built on the premise of a need for multiple witnesses (as in Deu 17:6; 19:15). Conversely, the prohibitions in the OT against false witness are innumerable (eg, Exo 23:1; Pro 12:17; 19:5,9; 25:18; etc) and carry a threat of punishment (Deu 19:16). Cp also 1Ki 21:10-15; Psa 27:12; 35:11; 40:4; Amo 2:4; Mic 1:14; Mat 15:19; 26:59; Act 6:13.

"The sixth hateful thing is a false witness. This is not quite the same as the lying tongue which came earlier in the list. A false witness may be less definitely false than the ordinary liar of the world and yet be more evil. In ordinary life a man may tell a lie to save his skin or his reputation, and hateful as the lie always is, there may be some measure of excuse for him. A witness, however, stands in a position of peculiar responsibility whether in the Law Courts or the Church. He stands before God to tell the truth and to suppress nothing. In the Law Courts this fact is impressed upon him, in the Church he should need no reminder. 'I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God', said the apostle Paul. A heavy responsibility rests upon those who claim to be witnesses for Christ. We must neither hold back vital truth nor put forward anything that is false or doubtful. We must be faithful witnesses always remembering the living power of the One for whom we testify" (PrPr).

AND A MAN WHO STIRS UP DISSENSION AMONG BROTHERS: "He that SOWETH discord among brethren" (AV): cp parable of wheat and tares in Mat 13. The sin that is done secretly, out of public view, and only later (much later, perhaps) is it realized what great damage has been done. "Dissension" is attributed in Proverbs to contentious, quarreling people (Pro 21:9; 26:21; 25:24) who have a short fuse (Pro 15:18). Paul, on the other hand, warns against envy, malice, and strife (1Ti 6:4).

God loves unity, especially among His people (Psa 133:1-3; 1Co 1:10; Eph 4:3,4). He hates those who openly or subtly disturb fellowship and peace (Pro 6:12-15; 16:28; 26:20; Rom 16:17,18). He condemns hatred, malice, strife, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, gossip, deceit, factions, murder, and envy (Rom 1:29; Gal 5:20,21). Instead He commands and commends peace (Mat 5:9; 2Co 13:11; Phi 3:16; Col 3:15; Jam 3:17,18). "If a heavenly dew descends upon the brethren who dwell together in unity... a withering blast will fall on those who, mistaking prejudice for principle, cause divisions for their own selfish ends" (Bridges). "Those that by tale-bearing and slandering, by carrying ill-natured stories, aggravating every thing that is said and done, and suggesting jealousies and evil surmises, blow the coals of contention, are but preparing for themselves a fire of the same nature" (Henry).

"The seventh abomination is one who sows discord among brethren. In this form of speech we may reasonably assume that the seventh added evil is the one that is most abominable of all in the sight of God.

" 'Behold how good a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity' (Psa 133). It is like the melting snow of Mount Hermon which feeds the river Jordan and gives life to the promised land. The final blessing of eternal life will come to brethren who dwell together in unity. What a hateful thing to sow seeds of bitterness in a united family and so cause unnecessary strife! Yet with human nature unredeemed such evil is inevitable. "It is impossible but that offences shall come", said the Lord Jesus, 'but woe unto that man by whom they come.' The Lord knew what was in man and needed not that any should tell him.

"But would any man deliberately try to cause division and strife among those who had been at peace, with no object in view beyond the accomplishment of such evil? It would be contemptible work even from the world's standard, and no man likes to excite contempt. But why go naked to such work when there are so many garments ready to hand? A man who feels bitter can so easily find a covering by which even he himself can be deceived. Even the best of human beings are faulty both in knowledge and conduct, and so it follows that an enemy can easily find a pretext for his attack. He can effectually cover almost any kind of diabolism under a cloak of righteous zeal.

"Even the immediate disciples of Christ were not faultless, and we need not expect those who came later to be any better. In a healthy Christian brotherhood those who are strong help to bear the infirmities of the weak, and those who are well taught in the Word communicate to those who need instruction, with all patience and humility. Christian discussion leads to better understanding, fuller agreement and a higher standard of conduct. Men and women who have been called by a belief in the Gospel and a genuine love of Christ can compose their differences and work together in harmony even though they are of very different temperament.

"Often, however, the flesh rises up in discussion and the spirit of Christ is forgotten. Fleshly controversy nearly always accentuates the differences which called it forth. The most evil time is when a man of strong personality becomes disaffected and bitter just at the critical moment when a genuine difference of opinion has arisen. The difference supplies him at once with cloak and weapon. He can easily deceive both himself and others. He hardens some in their original error and provokes others to increased opposition. He would claim and perhaps come to believe that his motives were pure and his actions commendable when all the time he is industriously sowing the seventh abomination.

"A great temptation comes in time of strife when there is an opportunity to set our opponents against each other. It may be legitimate diplomacy when the strife we cause is directly related to the matter under discussion. The apostle Paul set the Pharisees and Sadducees against each other over the subject of the resurrection. It is possible sometimes to end a wrangle by showing that the logical result of the agitation is to destroy the agitators. Often, however, such subtlety is used in a manner not at all legitimate. An attempt is made to besmirch the characters of opponents and to prejudice them against each other in matters far removed from the original dispute. In such action there is no attempt to end the strife or to teach any lesson. The effort is merely to relieve embittered feelings and perhaps to justify harsh action previously taken. It is the instinct of a fleshly man to malign those whom he has already wronged.

"The sower of discord often does far more harm than appears on the surface. Every student of human nature knows how the opinions and feelings of the average man may be moulded by suggestion either for good or for evil. A good word in season may not only turn away wrath, but may change the entire trend of thought. A sower of discord on the other hand may so exacerbate feeling and through feeling so poison judgment that foolish ideas may be pushed to the point of conflict and division, though in the calm of twenty years later no one on earth would tolerate them.

"In ecclesial life there have been many differences of judgment which have called for calm and sober thought. Often the result of brotherly discussion has been agreement, perhaps with better understanding on all sides. It needs no unusual power of observation to perceive that at least some members have been wise, fully conscious of danger and trying by forethought to guide the ecclesia aright. It needs no prophet to realize that at such a time, a sower of discord might have produced a heavy crop of poison, if evil work had synchronized with evil moment.

"If we desire to be in the Kingdom of God we must be on guard against the abominations in all their disguises. If we develop the positive side of Christian character they will give us little trouble. The seven seem to make a formidable gang, but they are easily put to flight by love" (PrPr).

These seven things the LORD hates (vv 16-19). To discover what the LORD loves, one need only list the opposites: humility, truthful speech, preservation of life, pure thoughts, eagerness to do good, honest witnesses, and peaceful harmony. In the NT the Beatitudes present the positive opposites (Mat 5). It has seven blessed things to match these seven hated things; moreover, the first contrasts with the first here (“poor in spirit” of Mat 5:5 with "proud eyes"), and the seventh ("peacemakers" of Mat 5:7) contrasts with the seventh here ("sowing discord or dissension").

Pro 6:20

MY SON, KEEP YOUR FATHER'S COMMANDS AND DO NOT FORSAKE YOUR MOTHER'S TEACHING: Vv 20,21 are similar to Pro 3:1-3 and also to Pro 7:1-3. The youth is exhorted to cling fast to the teachings of his parents. Implicit in these verses is the basic understanding that a good home life -- that is, father and mother sharing the rearing of the children together -- will go a long way to prevent the youth from falling into immorality.

Waddoup writes: "Although Pro 6:20 may look like a repeat of Pro 1:8, there is a difference. It is the father's commandment here. It is not the general term of discipline (instruction) used before; one specific teaching is meant, namely concerning sexual misconduct, and joined with it is the mother's law... His father's precept is a PARTICULAR lamp, which is going to be used to illuminate a very dark corner, found in v 24: 'To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman'."

Pro 6:21

BIND THEM UPON YOUR HEART FOREVER; FASTEN THEM AROUND YOUR NECK: An exhortation based upon the provisions of the LM in Deu 6:8; 11:18 ("bind these words... on your hands... and on your foreheads"). Sadly, the Jews missed the point of this and -- instead of making the commandment something in their heart -- they made an open show of it by wearing phylacteries. Is our religion just for "show"?

FASTEN THEM AROUND YOUR NECK: Again, cp Pro 1:9; 3:3,22; 7:3.

Pro 6:22

WHEN YOU WALK, THEY WILL GUIDE YOU: In keeping with the previous verse, the "walking" alludes also to Deu 6:7: "when you walk along the road" (cp Pro 3:23).

WHEN YOU SLEEP, THEY WILL WATCH OVER YOU: "When you lie down..." (Deu 6:7; cp Pro 3:24). As to the spiritual significance, there is Christ lying down in the tomb!

WHEN YOU AWAKE, THEY WILL SPEAK TO YOU: "And when you get up..." (Deu 6:7). The resurrected Christ!

THEY WILL SPEAK TO YOU: Today there are such things as "talking books" -- audio tapes, to be played in cars and elsewhere. And it is a good use of time spent walking or driving to play tapes of Bible readings or Bible talks. But more than that, and beyond that, we ought to read the Bible so well and so thoroughly, and so frequently, that its thoughts, promises, and precepts are a part of our own minds. Then, wherever we are, and in whatever circumstances, the words of God may speak to us and in our minds -- the still small voice that came to Elijah, or the words whispered in our ear: "This is the way; walk in it!" By whatever means works for you, get the word of God inside you, and you may count on it to "speak" to you when you most need it!

Surely the point of this verse is that the word of God has something to say to us -- IF we would listen! -- on all occasions, and in all circumstances, of our lives! Religion is not a Sunday-only affair; it is for Saturday night as well... and for all the nights, and all the mornings, of our lives. At home, at school, in the workplace, in our times of entertainment and diversion (maybe especially in those times!), it is still the word of God, and a light and a lamp pointing to the way of life (v 23).

Pro 6:23

FOR THESE COMMANDS ARE A LAMP, THIS TEACHING IS A LIGHT, AND THE CORRECTIONS OF DISCIPLINE ARE THE WAY TO LIFE: With this cp Psa 119:105: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (also cp Psa 19:8 and Pro 13:9).

THE WAY OF LIFE: This is also frequently alluded to in Proverbs, in its own right: see Pro 2:19; 5:6; 10:17; 15:24.

"Proverbs is about knowing and doing, about learning, and putting into practice what we have learned. We have called Pro 1–9 a textbook for the Christian life, having a lot to say about choosing the right way. Here it is again in Pro 6:23: 'Reproofs of instruction are the way of life'. There are two ways, one leading to eternal life and the other to eternal death.

"The two ways are also represented by two women. One is called 'Wisdom' with 'length of days' in her right hand, 'and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her' (Pro 3:16–18). She calls to all, 'Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you...' The other is a 'strange woman, even the stranger which flattereth with her words; which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God. For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead' (Pro 2:16–18). So far we have read more of the bad woman than we have of the good, and perhaps we feel the subject of adultery has had sufficient airing.

"If so, we are in for a shock, for warnings against adultery are still the burden of the exhortations from father to son in Pro 6; 7. How terribly real are the immoralities which the strange woman practises with the men she tempts. We should not forget that, even while we see in them figures of everything which takes us away from God. 'Flee fornication!' [1Co 6:18] has a literal as well as a deep spiritual application. When we set these dreadful warnings against the earnest appeal of Wisdom in Pro 8 we shall humbly thank God for them both. When we hear the chaste woman call, 'Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of men', we shall all feel ashamed that we did not always hear, or pay attention when we did, but went after our own ways. We shall gratefully acknowledge the divine wisdom which caused the words to be written, not only for the Israel of Solomon, but for all men, 'that men may learn wisdom and instruction'. Hear! That was the first step, 'Get wisdom, and with all thy getting get understanding'. Get it at the cost of all you possess, for nothing you could wish for is to be compared with Wisdom for value" (Waddoup).

Pro 6:24

KEEPING YOU FROM THE IMMORAL WOMAN: "Ra" signfies, simply, "evil", in the sense of violating the codes of the community and inflicting harm on others. (With a slight vowel change, the LXX reads "wife of another" -- "rea", instead of "ra" -- which is also appropriate.)

FROM THE SMOOTH TONGUE: "Smooth" reminds us of Pro 5:3: "Her speech is smoother than oil" (see notes there, cp also Pro 2:16).

OF THE WAYWARD WIFE: "Nokriy" signifies "strange", and is sometimes used to denote "foreign". But in this case "foreign" is within the context of the people of Israel. She is a "foreigner" in the sense that she is a nonconformist, wayward, and loose. It does not necessarily mean that she is not ethnically Israelite.

Parents must teach and warn their children (Pro 22:6; 29:15; Deu 6:4-9; 29:29; Eph 6:4). And their reproofs and instruction must include regular advice and warning about sexual sins, which are mentioned often in Scripture (Pro 7:6-27; Gen 2:24,25; 39:7-12; Lev 18:6-30; 20:10-24; 2Sa 11:1-27; Mal 2:10-16; Mat 5:27-32; 1Th 4:3-8; etc).

Pro 6:25

DO NOT LUST IN YOUR HEART AFTER HER BEAUTY: "Lust" means to "desire, or covet" (sw Exo 20:17, the tenth commandment). Jesus seems to have this in mind, when he says: "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mat 5:28). Lusting after someone in the heart, according to Jesus, is a sin of the same kind as the act, not just the first step toward it.

OR LET HER CAPTIVATE YOU WITH HER EYES: Referring to the painted eyes and the alluring glances that are the symptoms of seduction (eg, those of Jezebel in 2Ki 9:30).

"A man's eyes see a woman's beauty in seconds. Thus far there is no sin. But three sinful stages follow that lead to adultery. The eyes linger and move to fascination with the details of her beauty, the heart moves from nobly admiring to hungrily desiring her, and the soul becomes willing to the invitation of her eyes... The depraved heart of man is polygamous. It is never content. The other woman is always more desirable, just as the forbidden fruit in Eden exceeded all others in appeal. The unknown is always presumed superior to the familiar. Fallen man is vulnerable to a beautiful woman, as the pleasure she embodies exceeds any other in this life. Therefore, wise men must rule their eyes and heart to resist her dangerous beauty and wiles...

"Sin follows a simple course. Every man has lusts. When those lusts are given an object and allowed to consider it, they will powerfully entice the man. The lusts plan the sin, and the man executes it. Then the sin brings painful consequences and eventual death. These are the real facts of life that every young man should be taught (Jam 1:13-16)!

What are the cures for her beauty and eyelids?... (1) First, avoid seeing a beautiful woman and moving to fascination with her by reducing your exposure to only the necessary. Take precautions against encountering beautiful women, especially acquaintances. This cure includes colleagues, neighbors, or church members. Jesus said you should be willing to cut off your right hand to avoid her (Mat 5:27-30; Rom 13:14). When you feel the rising heat due to a desirable woman, get away quickly while your visual impression is still noble admiration and virtuous appreciation. (2) Second, keep your heart with all diligence, so it will not recall the images of her beauty and cause you to play with them by fantasy (Pro 4:23). Fill your heart with wisdom, righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come (Acts 14:25). Think about Jesus Christ, Scripture, and prayer (Phi 3:20; Col 3:2). Daily activities must include self-examination, repentance, and confession (Psa 139:23,24). Remind yourself of the terrible consequences of sexual sins (Pro 5:1-14). Renew the covenant with your eyes (Job 31:1). (3) Finally, to avoid her invitations, reject casual social interaction and eye-to-eye contact. The price is too high, the danger too great. Every man knows which women tempt him; and they cannot be his social companions or correspondents. And this warning includes both looks and conversations. Remember that phones and email can also carry seduction" (LGBT).

"The appeal of an attractive woman is incredibly powerful... it took David down in seconds (2Sa 11:2). No woman can fully understand the instantaneous draw a beautiful woman has on the soul of a man through his eyes. It is an overpowering object of desire, unless he is walking in the Spirit and ruling his spirit. So Christian women must dress modestly (1Ti 2:9,10). The eyes are windows of the soul; they can express more sometimes than words can tell. Solomon knew of their power (Song 4:9). Immodest women paint their faces to accent their eyes, as did Jezebel (2Ki 9:30). Wanton eyes are the tools of whores (Isa 3:16). When a woman uses her eyes to flatter a man and offer herself intimately to him, the most discreet and powerful enticement a man will ever face, the trap is complete! So Christian women must maintain a look of shamefacedness and sobriety (1Ti 2:9,10)" (LGBT).

Pro 6:26

"From this verse onwards to the end of the chapter the discourse consists of a series of arguments, each calculated to deter youth from the sins of fornication and adultery, by exhibiting the evil consequences of such indulgence. The first is the poverty and extreme beggary to which a man is brought" (Pulpit).

FOR THE PROSTITUTE REDUCES YOU TO A LOAF OF BREAD, AND THE ADULTERESS PREYS UPON YOUR VERY LIFE: The NIV, as well as the AV, seem to be speaking of the poverty to which a man may be brought by prostitutes. On the other hand, the RSV seems to contrast the relatively cheap price of a prostitute with the terribly expensive cost of an adulterous affair: "For a harlot may be hired for a loaf of bread, BUT an adulteress stalks a man's very life" (RSV). Either way, the point is the same: sexual immorality, whether expensive or otherwise financially, are infinitely expensive spiritually.

The "but" in the RSV can be misleading: there is no contrast between good and bad in this verse. "The parallelism in this verse is difficult. It is not meant to say that whoring is better than adultery because it only impoverishes whereas adultery preys on the very life. Both are costly sins to be avoided" (EBC).

FOR THE PROSTITUTE REDUCES YOU TO A LOAF OF BREAD: "Human beings are made in the image of God, and are to be valued and protected. Prostitution is an offense against both the seller and the buyer, reducing the human being to a commodity. People are not things to be used. Each individual man and woman is special, made in God's image, and is to be loved and protected. The believer can hardly become involved in any 'user relationship', in which the value of the other person is reduced by treating her or him as a thing" (MMc).

AND THE ADULTERESS PREYS UPON YOUR VERY LIFE: A prostitute is looking for her next meal, but a married woman is out for bigger game! "Preys" is surely the right word here; she is a predator, and the man IS the "prey"! While a prostitute offers sex as a mere commercial transaction, selling herself for "bread", a married woman (an "adulteress") -- whether she will say so or not -- is looking to buy a man's soul, or his very life! And the man who gets caught in her net -- or pierced by her arrows -- is jeopardizing his life in so many ways! (Samson, with Delilah, come to mind again and again in these verses.) "Many a man has... purchased the ruin of his body and soul at the expense of his wealth" (Henry) -- and thus lost them all in the bargain!

In the eyes of many people this part of Proverbs is very much overdrawn; stealing is considered a far worse sin than adultery, and the idea of a jealous husband wild with rage is strangely Victorian. That in itself should be a warning. Jeremiah's words about Judah can be applied now to the whole world: "Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush" (Jer 6:15). So it behoves us to remember his next words as well: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls" (Jer 6:16). When the standards, and the frame of reference, of this modern world are so far removed from those of God, then keeping always in mind the "old paths" is the only safe defense -- no matter how "Victorian" or "puritanical" we may seem to others!

Pro 6:27

Vv 27-29: A physical analogy of spiritual cause and effect (cp Amo 3:3-8).

CAN A MAN SCOOP FIRE INTO HIS LAP WITHOUT HIS CLOTHES BEING BURNED?: "Lap", or "bosom" (AV), means the folds of the garment, used then as we might use a pocket today (cp Pro 21:14). The picture here is perhaps not so far-fetched as we might first suppose. Let us imagine one borrowing hot coals from the fire of his neighbor, so as to restart his own fire (this is the beginning point of such passages as Pro 25:22 and Isa 30:14). But let us further imagine that, having no pot or other suitable container, he decides to wrap them in the folds of his garment and hurry home with them. (Actually, a small child might attempt just such a foolhardy thing.) The consequences of such a rash act would almost certainly be the burning of his garment, and possibly himself along with it.

He who plays with fire will be burned! Fire provides the analogy for the teacher's warning: it represents the sinful woman drawn close to him, and the burning of his clothes the inevitable consequences of the liaison. In short, the punishment of such a man is unavoidable. "You may be sure that your sin will find you out" (Num 32:23).

Fire is a wonderful analogy for sin: (1) Fire mimics life; it is full of noise and movement and energy. Yet it is ultimately lifeless: it is only destructive, of all things and of life itself. Finally, it destroys the very thing through which it works. (2) Fire tends to spread, leaping from object to object, rushing over a wide prairie, enveloping a whole city. "Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark" (Jam 3:5). (3) Fire converts into fire everything that it lays hold of. So sin turns all that comes under its power into its own nature. (4) Fire rages furiously. Nothing is so like madness as a great fire. It is infinitely more horrible than the wildest tempest of wind and water. Likewise, sin is a fury of passion. (5) When it is done, fire leaves behind smoldering embers and dismal heaps of ashes. When the fire of passion is burnt out, the soul is left charred, empty, dismal, as but dust and ashes.

There is an elaborate three-part pun in this verse, one part being implied: the Hebrew for man here is "iysh", for "fire" is "esh", and (here is the implied part, for this word does not occur in this verse) the Hebrew for woman is "iyshah". Incidentally, this pun provides the opportunity for an interesting example of clever rabbinical teaching by word-play. The NETn reads: "A passage like this probably inspired Rabbi Gamaliel's little explanation that what binds a man and a woman together in a holy marriage is y (yod) and h (he), the two main letters of the holy name Yah. But if the LORD is removed from the relationship, that is, if these two letters are removed, all that is left is the 'esh' -- the fire of passion. Since Gamaliel was the teacher of Paul, this may have influenced Paul's advice that it was better to marry than to burn [1Co 7:9]." (A further bit of explanation may be helpful here, for those who are not totally familiar with the Hebrew: "man" in this case, the Hebrew "iysh", would become -- if the "yod" were removed -- the Hebrew word "esh", or "fire". And "woman" in this case, the Hebrew "iyshah", would become -- if the "he" were removed -- the same Hebrew "esh", or "fire".)

"A wise saying is often purposely made too extreme to be literally applicable to any man. It is intended for all readers and therefore is not designed to make a perfect fit for any. No sane man would purposely 'walk on hot coals' [v 28], or 'take fire in his bosom', but there are many who in a metaphorical sense play with fire and are scorched. There are some who are wise enough to hear the words of wisdom and intelligent enough to apply them to their own experience. They see the evil possibilities in careless action and deliver themselves while the heedless 'pass on and are punished'... Men may be warned against a thousand follies by the admonition, 'Do not play with fire' " (PrPr).

Pro 6:28

CAN A MAN WALK ON HOT COALS WITHOUT HIS FEET BEING SCORCHED?: Another analogy very similar to that of v 27. "He is in imminent danger of adultery, as he that takes fire in his bosom, or goes upon hot coals, is in danger of being burnt. The way of this sin is down-hill, and those that venture upon the temptations to it hardly escape the sin itself. The fly fools away her life by playing the wanton with the flames. It is a deep pit, which it is madness to venture upon the brink of. He that keeps company with those of ill fame, that goes in with them, and touches them, cannot long preserve his innocency; he thrusts himself into temptation and so throws himself out of God's protection" (Henry).

Again, as in v 27, there is an allusion -- even if rather outlandish -- to real-world events. In Fiji, a form of "fire-walking" is practiced by both Fijians and Indians. Similar customs are to be found, even today, in Bulgaria, Trinidad, Tahiti, India, and Mauritius. In some cases, it seems that a hypnotic trance keeps the participants from being burned, or from showing the effects of the burns immediately (such a force is the mind!); in other cases, special ointments are applied to the soles of the feet; and in other cases yet, the real explanation may be trickery or illusion (the tourists must be entertained!). But such exceptional practices of walking on hot coals, weird as they are, merely emphasize the ordinary rule and principle.

Pro 6:29

SO IS HE WHO SLEEPS WITH ANOTHER MAN'S WIFE: Heb "who goes in to" (cp AV, ASV, RSV). "Who has sex with" (NET). The Hebrew verb "bo" (“to go in; to enter") is used throughout scripture as a euphemism for the act of sexual intercourse.

NO ONE WHO TOUCHES HER: And likewise, "touch" is another euphemism for illegal or unwarranted sexual contact, short of sexual intercourse (sw Gen 20:6; cp the idea in 1Co 7:1).

WILL GO UNPUNISHED: The verb is "yinnaqeh", derived from "naqah": "to be empty; to be clean". From it we get the adjectives "clean", "free from guilt", and "innocent". In this case the man who offends will NOT "be free, or exempt" (ie, from punishment).

Pro 6:30

MEN DO NOT DESPISE A THIEF IF HE STEALS TO SATISFY HIS HUNGER WHEN HE IS STARVING: Here and in v 31 the writer is established a contrast between hunger and lust. It is true they are similar, in that internal urges may lead to action: the hungry man may steal, and the lustful man may commit adultery. But there is a great contrast between the two: hunger is different because a man must eat to live, and sooner or later hunger unsatisfied will literally starve a man to death. The desire for sex, though very real in itself, will never kill a man!

The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians, seems to be quoting a common statement of justification for sexual immorality in 1Co 6:13: in the NIV this reads: " 'Food for the stomach and the stomach for food' [this first part being in quotation marks: in other words, 'Sex is as natural as eating!'] -- but [Paul nows adds his rejoinder...] God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body." On this Wiersbe comments: " 'But sex is a normal desire, given to us by God,' some people argue. 'Therefore, we have every right to use it, even if we're not married. It's like eating: If you're hungry, God gave you food to eat; if you're lonely, God gave you sex to enjoy.' Some of the people in the Corinthian church used this argument to defend their sinful ways: 'Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods' (1Co 6:13, NKJV). But Paul made it clear that the believer's body belonged to God and that the presence of a desire wasn't the same as the privilege to satisfy that desire (vv 12-20)."

Pro 6:31

YET IF HE IS CAUGHT, HE MUST PAY SEVENFOLD, THOUGH IT COSTS HIM ALL THE WEALTH OF HIS HOUSE: Following on from v 30: EVEN the thief who steals only to satisfy his hunger (an urge that can be ignored only at peril of one's very life) may expect to be punished for his crime. Therefore (v 32) HOW MUCH MORE will an adulterer expect to pay for his crime. And, while the man who steals a loaf of bread may be pitied, and may have his punishment mitigated, the adulterer -- the man who steals another man's wife, or who violates the divine sanctity of his own marriage -- can expect no mercy, and no lessening of his punishment whatsoever (vv 33-35).

The punishment of "sevenfold" restitution seems too severe: cf Exo 22:1-3,8 -- where fourfold or fivefold is the rule (cp Luk 19:8). Perhaps "seven" is used metaphorically to designate everything.

Interesting, though, that David cites the fourfold restitution for stealing in 2Sa 12:6, when -- as he was shortly brought face to face with -- he was guilty of "stealing" another man's wife: the far greater sin (just as in Pro 6:27-35)! For him there was no proper restitution, and he knew it: "I have sinned against the LORD" (v 13). For him the only hope was the absolute forgiveness of God -- and this he received. Yet, interesting again, he also lost four sons -- so the fourfold restitution came into play as well -- despite the LORD taking away his sin.

Pro 6:32

BUT A MAN WHO COMMITS ADULTERY LACKS JUDGMENT; WHOEVER DOES SO DESTROYS HIMSELF: He could in fact receive the death penalty (Deu 22:22; Lev 20:10; cp also Pro 5:14), though how commonly this was followed we cannot know. But there are other ways of destroying one's life (v 33) as well.

HIMSELF: "His soul (nephesh)" -- his very life!

"Lovely as maiden purity is, and crowned with benedictions though it is by Christ, we have here to learn its excellence and fear its loss, by the sad, stern picture of impurity and shameless sin. In these sad proverbs of purity the wise man pictures to us in fearful personification wisdom's rival standing in the same great thoroughfares of earth and bidding to her shameful pleasures the simple youth who throng the broad and crowded way. This is no fancy picture allegorising the dangers of youth. It is drawn from reality, from every-day life. There is no mistake in the outline, no exaggeration in the colouring. The power of sin lies in its pleasure. They are mistaken who assert that there are no gratifications in the enjoyments of sense. Were there none, they would not be so diligently sought.

"Sin, which brings death to the soul, is yet sweet to the taste. The more we sin the more perverted becomes our taste, the more clamorous for further indulgence. But these stolen waters of sinful pleasure are not always sweet. Pleasant though they may be at the first, they will yet become bitter indeed. Much of the sinner's peril grows out of his simple ignorance.

"Sin naturally brings with it temporal and physical suffering. But the pleasures of the sensualist are the preludes to a misery words refuse to paint. The sentence that to the 'defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure' [Tit 1:15] is fulfilled to the letter. Even the innocent pleasures of conversation become to the sensualist defiling, for he turns them into the foul channel of his own base thought. The mind and conscience of the impure are defiled. The mental faculties of the depraved and sensual lose at once and for ever the power of discerning and appreciating that which is excellent, lovely, and true. The deep things of God are no subjects for the lover of sensual sin to dwell upon. Sensuality not only prevents us from exercising our mental powers with freedom and profit, but it also wastes and enfeebles those powers themselves.

"Long since has this enfeebling of the intellectual man been noticed as the result of impurity of life. The sensualist must make his choice between intellect and mental imbecility. 'If any man defile the temple of God, which is our body, him will God destroy' [1Co 3:17]. This avenging work of destruction is well-nigh accomplished here [in this life]. Body, spirit, and soul -- all is impure. But to the pure all things are pure. Unheeding the solicitations of the wanton, they go straight on their way. And this purity may be ours. Not indeed gained by our own strength, nor by any strength save that which is found at the foot of the Cross. Why may we not thus purify ourselves? To the life of purity we are called throughout the Book of Proverbs" (WS Perry, BI).

Pro 6:33

BLOWS AND DISGRACE ARE HIS LOT, AND HIS SHAME WILL NEVER BE WIPED AWAY: Even though the previous verse has said that the man caught in adultery destroys his life, it does not necessarily mean that he was put to death, although that COULD have happened. It does mean that, at the very least, he will live on in shame, destroyed socially and spiritually. He might receive blows or wounds from the husband and shame and disgrace from the spiritual community. Kidner observes, "The picture of the adulterer as social outcast may seem greatly overdrawn. If so, the adjustment that must be made is to say that in any healthy society such an act is social suicide. Condonation, as distinct from forgiveness, only proves the adulterer to be part of a general decadence (cf Jer 5:7-9; 6:15)."

HIS SHAME WILL NEVER BE WIPED AWAY: The infamy of his sin is indelible. It will be a wound to his good name, a dishonor to his family, and, though the guilt of it may be done away by repentance, the reproach of it never will, but will stick to his memory when he is gone. David's sin in the matter of Uriah was not only a perpetual blemish upon his own character, but gave occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme His name too (2Sa 12:10-14).

Pro 6:34

FOR JEALOUSY AROUSES A HUSBAND'S FURY, AND HE WILL SHOW NO MERCY WHEN HE TAKES REVENGE: Cp Pro 27:4: "Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?" A thief may find mercy from men, but not the adulterer (vv 30-33). To steal to satisfy hunger is understandable, but to touch another man's wife is inexcusable. The law of God provided for jealous husbands (Num 5:11-31). If a man had any jealous worries about his wife, he could take her to the priests for the test of jealousy. If she were guilty, the prescribed potion would cause her to rot on the spot, beginning at her genitals. If she were innocent, she would be cleared by divine revelation and conceive.

The LORD, espousing Israel to be His bride, declared His name was Jealous, and He was a jealous God (Exo 34:14). The first commandment is for us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and might (Deu 6:4,5). Any infatuation with other things caused His jealousy to burn, for He will not share our affections with another (Deu 32:16; Psa 78:58). The Lord Jesus Christ is our bridegroom, and he likewise demands our total affection (Luk 14:26). All other relationships must be sacrificed, if they conflict with our love for him. He considers any friendship with the world as spiritual adultery against him (Jam 4:4).

Pro 6:35

HE WILL NOT ACCEPT ANY COMPENSATION: The word rendered "compensation" is "kopher": a ransom price, a sum to be paid to deliver another from debt, bondage, or crime (cf the Day of Atonement, or "kopher"/covering of sin: Lev 16). The husband cannot accept payment as a ransom for a life, since what has happened cannot be undone so easily

HE WILL REFUSE THE BRIBE, HOWEVER GREAT IT IS: "Many gifts" (AV). "BDB 1005 suggest that 'shokhad' means 'hush money' or 'a bribe.' CH Toy takes it as legal compensation [ICC]" (NETn).

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