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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
Proverbs 6

 

 

Verses 1-19

10. Other dangerous temptations6:1-19

Solomon singled out a few more serious errors to avoid in addition to marital unfaithfulness. These include assuming liability for the debts of others ( Proverbs 6:1-5), being lazy ( Proverbs 6:6-11), being untruthful ( Proverbs 6:12-15), and seven other practices that need no clarification ( Proverbs 6:16-19).

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 that he or she has common sense. A prudent person can foresee the consequences of possible actions and behaves accordingly. A godly (wise) person can be prudent because God"s revelation helps us see the usual consequences of our actions before we commit them. This is largely what the Book of Proverbs helps us do.

"Surety" ( Proverbs 6:1) means "security" in the sense of taking on another person"s obligations as one"s own, as when a person co-signs a note to pay another person"s loan, for example. Paul offered to pay Onesimus" past debts, but not his future ones ( Philemon 1:18-19). "Neighbor" and "stranger" ( Proverbs 6:1) together mean anyone; these two kinds of people are not the only ones in view. This is a figure of speech called a merism in which two extremes represent the whole. Solomon strongly counseled avoidance of this obligation. If one finds himself in it already he should do everything he can to get himself out of it before he discovers that he is in even worse trouble ( Proverbs 6:3). The writer did not command his son never to become surety for his neighbor; he told him what to do if he had already done this so he could escape the consequences that typically follow such an act. The reader is not disobeying God if he or she becomes surety for a stranger, but this proverb warns of the possible consequences and gives advice about how to avoid them.

Proverbs 6:6-11 warn against laziness. [Note: See Kidner"s subject study on the sluggard, pp42-43.] A "vagabond" ( Proverbs 6:11) is a "highwayman," namely, a robber. [Note: Toy, p125.]

"In that society there were no technological controls or government social programs to serve as a safety net against poverty." [Note: R. Whybray, Wealth and Poverty in the Book of Proverbs , p31.]

The person in view in Proverbs 6:12-15 is one who, for the amusement it gives him or her, causes other people to experience inconvenience or suffering. A simple joke is different from joking at someone else"s expense, joking that hurts someone else. The latter practice is what Solomon urged his son to avoid. He called such a mischievous prankster "worthless" and "wicked" ( Proverbs 6:12). "Worthless" is literally "of Beliel," a word that became a name for Satan ( 2 Corinthians 6:15).

The list in Proverbs 6:16-19 repeats some of what Solomon mentioned earlier. It may have been one whole proverb he added because it carried on the idea of other temptations to avoid. The phrase "six ... yes, seven" ( Proverbs 6:16) implies that this list is not exhaustive of what God hates, though it is explicit. [Note: Toy, p127.] These seven practices deal with attitude ( Proverbs 6:17 a), thought ( Proverbs 6:18 a), speech ( Proverbs 6:17 b, Proverbs 6:19 a), action ( Proverbs 6:17 c, Proverbs 6:18 b), and influence ( Proverbs 6:19 b).


Verses 20-35

11. The guilt of adultery6:20-35

This extended warning against one of life"s most destructive practices is classic. We can profit from reading it frequently. Proverbs 6:20-23 indicate the start of a new section and stress again the importance of the precepts that follow. Solomon regarded the instruction he was giving as an expression of God"s law (cf. Proverbs 6:23; Psalm 119:105). Commenting on Proverbs 6:20-23, Paul Larsen wrote the following.

"Get hung up in your relationships with your parents and you"ll never get in a right relationship with yourself." [Note: Larsen, p67.]

The immoral act begins with the lustful look ( Proverbs 6:25; cf. 2 Samuel 11:2). That is the place to weed out the temptation, when it is still small.

"Playing with temptation is only the heart reaching out after sin." [Note: Ross, p937.]

". . . the ordinary harlot is after subsistence, will deprive a man of his money, but not ruin him; the unchaste married woman brings on him destructive social (and possibly legal) punishment." [Note: Toy, p137.]

In Proverbs 6:27-29 we have a series of physical analogies designed to illustrate spiritual cause and effect. Adultery brings inescapable punishment. One may contain the fire ( Proverbs 6:27) at first, but others will discover it if it continues to burn. "His clothes" ( Proverbs 6:27) may imply outward reputation, namely, what others see, as often in Scripture. "Touches her" is probably a euphemism for sexual intimacy (cf. Genesis 20:6; 1 Corinthians 7:1).

""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" ( 1 Corinthians 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 ( Proverbs 6:12-20)." [Note: Wiersbe, p54.]

Proverbs 6:30-35 draw another kind of comparison. Adultery is a practice good people look down on because it is never necessary. It is always the product of lack of self-control. It is this lack of self-restraint that seems to be the reason an unfaithful husband should not be a church elder ( 1 Timothy 5:6).

"The picture of the adulterer as social outcast may seem greatly overdrawn. If Song of Solomon , the adjustment that must be made is to say that in any healthy society such an act is social suicide." [Note: Kidner, pp74-75.]

Also, Hebrew poetry sometimes employs hyperbole.

12. The lure of adultery ch7

This chapter dramatizes the arguments Solomon advanced in the previous section ( Proverbs 6:20-35). He told a story that illustrates his point.

The prologue ( Proverbs 6:1-5) again urges the adoption of this advice, not just the reception of it. The apple (pupil) of the eye ( Proverbs 6:2) is its most sensitive part (cf. Deuteronomy 32:10).

Proverbs 6:6-9 describe the victim of temptation as one who has not adopted Solomon"s counsel. In Israelite culture, the person viewing what was going on in the street would often have done so from a second story window, since the lower story would typically have lacked windows as a precaution against theft. [Note: Waltke, The Book . . ., p371.] The youth is "naive" ( Proverbs 6:7), foolish innocently or deliberately.

Proverbs 6:10-12 picture the huntress on the prowl for sensual gratification, preying on anyone foolish enough to encourage her.

"The first step in coming to maturity is to develop a concept of deferred satisfaction." [Note: Larsen, p50.]

"Woe to the marriage whose partners cannot find values in their home and must constantly seek outside stimulation!" [Note: Plaut, p102.]

Proverbs 6:13-21 show her tactics: sensual assault ( Proverbs 6:13), justification of her intent ( Proverbs 6:14), flattery ( Proverbs 6:15), visualization of delight ( Proverbs 6:16-17), proposition ( Proverbs 6:18), and reassurance of safety ( Proverbs 6:19-20). We should probably favor the marginal reading of Proverbs 6:14 : "Sacrifices of peace offerings are with me." The idea is that she had made a peace offering and had some of the food that was her portion of the offering at her house where she needed to eat it.

"Her refrigerator is full, as we would say." [Note: R. Laird Harris, " Proverbs ," in The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p563.]

Some peace offerings followed the end of a vow (votive offerings). This seems to have been the case here. This woman appears to be indulging herself after a period of self-sacrifice, as some people who fast during Lent do at the end of that season. It is quite clear that this woman knew exactly what she wanted.

Proverbs 6:22-23 portray the "kill." Evidently the youth hesitated, but then "suddenly" ( Proverbs 6:22) yielded. Sin leads to death (cf. Romans 6:23; James 1:15)-along the same line, Solomon looked at the end result of the youth"s action, not its immediate effect.

"Stupid animals see no connection between traps and death, and morally stupid people see no connection between their sin and death (cf. Proverbs 1:17-18; Hosea 7:11)." [Note: Waltke, The Book . . ., p384.]

In the epilogue to this story ( Proverbs 6:24-27), Solomon advised a three-fold defense against this temptation. First, guard your heart ( Proverbs 6:25 a). We are in danger when we begin to desire and long for an adulterous affair. Fantasizing such an affair is one symptom that we are in this danger zone. Second, guard your body ( Proverbs 6:25 b). Do not go near or stay near someone who may want an adulterous affair. Third, guard your future ( Proverbs 6:26-27). Think seriously about the consequences of having an adulterous affair before you get involved.

"A man"s life is not destroyed in one instant; it is taken from him gradually as he enters into a course of life that will leave him as another victim of the wages of sin." [Note: Ross, p942.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Proverbs 6:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/proverbs-6.html. 2012.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, July 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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