PROVERBS CHAPTER 6.
Of Various Sins against the Second Table.
WARNING AGAINST FOOLISH SURETYSHIP, IDLENESS, AND MALICE. — V. 1. My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, pledging himself or giving security for the debts of another, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, giving his hand to any neighbor in need, to any debtor as a sign of binding oneself for his debts, Job 17, 3, v. 2. thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, or, “if thou art entangled with the sayings of thy mouth,” thou art taken, held captive, with the words of thy mouth, held to his promise, this referring to the situation arising when the debtor finds himself unable to meet his obligations. V. 3. Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, tearing himself loose from the entanglement, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend, or, “since thou hast come into the hand of thy neighbor,” this being the unfortunate consequence of the pledge lightly given. Go, humble thyself, rather, “stamp with thy foot,” in an emphatic demand, and make sure thy friend, importuning him with great earnestness to fulfill his obligations, to tend to the payment of the debt before it is too late. V. 4. Give not sleep to thine eyes nor slumber to thine eyelids, the most strenuous, ceaseless endeavors being demanded by the situation. V. 5. Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, literally, “from his,” the debtor’s, “hand,” bending every effort, with anxiety and exertion, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler. Prompt and energetic action will be necessary to avoid serious trouble. The author now sets forth the kind of person who is most apt to require surety, the connection of thought probably being this, that the man who went security might be considered as speaking to the lazy debtor in this manner: v. 6. Go to the ant, the proverbial emblem of industry, thou sluggard; consider her ways, carefully observing how she makes provision for herself, and be wise, learning wisdom from the irrational insect; v. 7. which, having no guide, overseer, or ruler, none of the officials who were and are required in Oriental countries to oversee the average workman, v. 8. provideth her meat, her winter’s supply of food, in the summer and gathereth her food in the harvest, in the heat of late summer, storing it away carefully for the time of need. V. 9. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? lying abed in laziness. When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? And now the conduct of the lazy is graphically described, v. 10. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, an ironical imitation of the sigh of the sluggard, a little folding of the hands to sleep! But what is the result? V. 11. So shall thy poverty come as one that traveleth, not merely a vagrant, but a footpad, and thy want as an armed man, one armed with a shield, prepared for both offense and defense, so that the sluggard is overwhelmed before he has seriously thought of warding off danger. - The mention of the footpad, or robber, now results in the description of violent and malicious men. V. 12. A naughty person, morally worthless, a wicked man, the heedless man being a vile deceiver, walketh with a froward mouth, exercising himself in perverseness of speech, so addicted to malicious falsehood that he is a stranger to truth. V. 13. He winketh with his eyes, as a signal to his companions to join him in some act of malice, he speaketh with his feet, giving signs with a similar intention, he teacheth with his fingers, hinting with them in a form of sign language understood by his fellows; v. 14. frowardness is in his heart, malicious plans of every description, he deviseth mischief continually, in agreement with his wicked nature; he soweth discord, throwing out matters of dispute, stirring up strife, fomenting quarrels. V. 15. Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly, a crushing weight of destruction overtaking him before he is aware of it; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy, without a chance to escape, when the measure of his sins is full. In this connection the author enumerates some of the things which challenge the punishment of the Lord. V. 16. These six things doth the Lord hate, yea, seven are an abomination unto Him, He regards them all with loathing and abhorrence: v. 17. a proud look, a haughty and supercilious behavior, a lying tongue, the organ of speech being named here for the false person, and hands that shed innocent blood, cp. Is. 59, 7, v. 18. an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, always planning mischief, feet that be swift in running to mischief, unable to restrain their eagerness for every form of wickedness, v. 19. a false witness that speaketh lies, literally, “breatheth out lies,” since he is addicted to that habit, and he that soweth discord among brethren, turning friends and relatives against one another. Against all these sins the inspired writer warns the believers of all times, since Satan, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.
WARNING DEPICTING THE CONSEQUENCES OF UNCHASTITY. — V. 20. My son, keep thy father’s commandment, the function of parents consisting also in this, that they guide and guard their growing children with reference to the dangers here described, and forsake not the law, the instruction and the precepts, of thy mother. V. 21. Bind them continually upon thine heart, keeping them in loving remembrance, and tie them about thy neck, like a string of precious jewels. The fundamental idea is this, that the entrance of evil thoughts should be prevented by supplying good material for contemplation always, since an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. V. 22. When thou goest, it shall lead thee, that is, the instruction of the parents would be the guide of the growing children; when thou sleepest, even in dreams, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee, the instruction of true wisdom filling the thoughts with proper material and directing all the conduct of a person. V. 23. For the commandment is a lamp, and the Law is light, its instruction serving not only to enlighten the heart and mind of man, but also to guide him on his way, Ps. 119, 105; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life, because they serve for discipline and correction, bidding a person do the right and forsake the wrong, thereby urging him onward on the way of sanctification; v. 24. to keep thee from the evil woman, the woman of vileness and wantonness, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman, the speech of the harlot being smooth and oily in its allurement. V. 25. Lust not after her beauty in thine heart, for the inward unchastity is also sinful and has evil consequences; neither let her take thee with her eyelids, with the wanton and captivating glances with which she tries to ensnare her victims. V. 26. For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread, brought to utter poverty as a result of satisfying her demands, and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life, lying in wait to destroy a man’s soul, since her victim loses liberty, purity, honor, and dignity by submitting to her advances. It is a most serious matter which is here broached, and therefore the prophet tries to bring home his lesson with proper emphasis. V. 27. Can a man take fire in his bosom, attempt to carry it in that manner, and his clothes not be burned? V. 28. Can one go upon hot coals, upon fiery, glowing coals or cinders, and his feet not be burned? The answer, of course, will be a most emphatic no. V. 29. So he that goeth in to his neighbor’s wife, in adulterous intimacy; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent, that is, he shall most assuredly be guilty. V. 30. Men do not despise a thief, literally, “heap contempt and shame upon him,” although they do insist upon his punishment, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry, that is, when only the greatest extremity of hunger causes him to steal in order to get something to eat; v. 31. but if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house, be held responsible for his theft with all that he possesses, even beyond the ordinary four- and fivefold restoration, Ex. 21, 37; 22, 1; Luke 19, 8. V. 32. But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding, he is deficient both in moral principle and prudence, he risks more than any reasonable man would chance; he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul, it is only the self-destroyer, closely related to the suicide, who would be so foolish, since men judge the adulterer much more harshly. V. 33. A wound and dishonor shall he get, namely, from the enraged husband and his relatives; and his reproach shall not be wiped away, it is an extreme case of self-defamation. V. 34. For jealousy is the rage of a man, in this way the wrath of the injured husband burns, with fierce raging; therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance, when the facts of the crime become known and have been proved. V. 35. He will not regard any ransom, with which the guilty man might seek to placate him and keep him from demanding the limit of punishment; neither will he rest content though thou givest many gifts, he will not be found willing to forego his strict right of revenge. Such is the warning held before the adulterer, the force of which is by no means spent in our days.