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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 6

Bridges' Commentary on ProverbsBridges' on Proverbs

Verses 1-5

THE son has just been warned against the deadly wound of a stranger. He is now cautioned against a hurt from an imprudent friend. So graciously has our God made his book, not only our guide to heaven, but the directory of our common life . We must, however, often take its wise rules with some restriction. We are here earnestly warned against suretyship. Yet in some cases it is plainly allowed and approved.†1 "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly." (Proverbs 18:24 .) And the passing of our word, or giving a bond, may be an act of prudent friendship, and of solid and permanent advantage. The caution is evidently directed against rash engagements (Compare also Proverbs 11:15 ; Proverbs 17:18 ; Proverbs 20:16 ; Proverbs 22:26-27 ), to which the young and inexperienced are especially exposed; striking with hands (the usual mode of plighting faith) (Proverbs 17:18 ; Proverbs 22:26 ; Job 17:3 ), in an unguarded moment. Often may they be snared and taken by the words of their mouth, by entering into virtual promises, without knowing how far they were pledged, or what might be the issue. Christian prudence will keep us clear from such engagements, which bring distress upon our families, dishonour upon our name, and reproach upon our religion. (Compare Sirach 8:13 .) While the "good man showeth favour, and lendeth, he must guide his affairs with discretion;"†2 however grating it may be to incur the suspicion of unkindness. If, however, by any inconsiderate bond, thou hast come into the hand of thy friend; the instant duty is, to humble thyself for thy imprudence, and make sure thy friend, if thou canst prevail with him to answer for himself; and give thyself no rest, till, like as the roe and the bird, thou be disentangled from the snare.

Our God, while he warns us against suretyship, has taken it upon himself. Praise be his name! He has given his word, his bond, yea — his blood — for sinners — a security, that no powers of hell can shake.

Footnotes:

†1 Rueben and Judah for Benjamin. Genesis 42:27 ; Genesis 43:9 ; Genesis 44:32-33 . Paul for Onesimus. Philemon 1:18-19 .

†2 Psalms 112:5. P. Henry always cautioned sureties not to be bound for any more than they knew themselves able to pay, nor for more than they would be willing to pay, if the principal failed. — Life, chapter v.

Verses 6-11

’It is a shame’ — said the heathen philosopher — ’not to learn morals from the small animals.’†1 Yet what a proof is it of the degradation of the fall, that "man, created in the image of God," and made wiser than the creation (Genesis 1:26 . Job 35:11 ), should be sent, as here, to this insignificant school for instruction! The ant, having no guide to direct her work, no overseer to inspect her, or ruler to call her to account (Compare Proverbs 30:27, and contrast Exodus 5:13-14 ; 1 Kings 5:16 ); yet gathereth with diligent foresight the summer and harvest store for her winter need.†2 Let the sluggard consider her ways, and be wise. He sleeps over his work, and, if for a moment half-startled by some rousing call, still pleads for a little more sleep, and folds his hands to sleep. Present ease is all he calculates on, all he provides for. The future he carefully keeps out of sight, to be provided for, like the present, when it comes. Thus life runs to waste. Poverty comes step by step as one that travelleth, and like an armed man, with irresistible violence. (Proverbs 10:4 ; Proverbs 13:4 ; Proverbs 19:15, Proverbs 19:24 ; Proverbs 20:4 ; Proverbs 21:25 ; Proverbs 24:33-34 .)

Perhaps he perverts his Master’s word to excuse his sloth. But, if we are to "take no anxious thought for tomorrow" (his true meaning),†3 are we to take none at all? Care is a duty, a parental obligation (2 Corinthians 12:14 . Compare Genesis 30:30 ; Genesis 41:33 ), and, therefore, a component part of godliness.†4 Carefulness is a sin (Luke 10:41 . 1 Corinthians 7:32 ), a needless burden to ourselves, an unworthy distrust of God. (Matthew 6:25, Matthew 6:33 .) The diligent use of providential means honours God. (Proverbs 10:5 ; Proverbs 24:27 .)

But much more loudly would we call to the spiritual sluggard. Thou that art sleeping away the opportunities of grace; not "striving to enter in at the strait gate" (Luke 13:24 ); taking thy salvation for granted; hoping that thou shalt "reap that which thou hast not sown, and gather where thou hast not strawed" (Matthew 25:26 ) — Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Improve, after this pattern, the summer and harvest season — the time of youth, the present, perhaps the only moment. The ant hath no guide. How many guides have you — conscience — the Bible — ministers! (Job 32:8 . Psalms 119:105 . Malachi 2:7 .) She has no overseer. You are living before Him, whose "eyes are as a flame of fire." (Proverbs 15:3 . Revelation 1:14 ; Revelation 2:18 .) She has no ruler calling her to account. "Every one of us must give account of himself unto God." (Romans 14:12 .) How long then wilt thou sleep, O Sluggard? — is the solemn remonstrance of thy God. (Compare Proverbs 1:22 ; 1 Kings 18:21 .) Thy sleep is not like that of the body, refreshing at the dawn of day; but it is that of the poisoned draught, heavier and heavier; the slumber of death. "Awake, thou that sleepest, and Christ shall give thee light." (Ephesians 5:14 .) Slight not the call of the present moment. The spell grows stronger, as resistance is delayed. Every day’s slumber makes it more improbable, whether thou wilt ever awaken at all. The intended struggle of tomorrow is a delusion. A thousand such tomorrows there may be; and yet thou mayest be found at last perishing in thy poverty, and the King of terror will come as an armed man to summon thee to judgment.

But how one is made to feel that from this deep slumber no voice but Omnipotence can rouse! Enter the sluggard’s chamber; put aside his curtain; hang over his bed; sound a solemn cry in his ears — How long? endeavour even to open his eyelids to the light of day; and yet the spell is too strong for man. He shifts his posture, murmurs his cry — a little more sleep — and slumbers again. Christians! you feel the helplessness of your work. Then call in the power of God in your brother’s behalf — "Lighten his eyes, lest he sleep the sleep of death." (Psalms 13:3 .)

And then, as for thyself — grow in intense energy in thy high calling. Remember, faith without diligence is slumbering delusion. Faith is the practical energy of a living faith.†5 Always, therefore, look at sloth, not as an infirmity, but as a sin, affecting the whole man: growing upon us with unperceived power. Allow it therefore no rest, no time to root itself. Resist it in all its forms — bodily, mental, spiritual: indulgence of sleep and appetite: self-pleasing in all its subtle and plausible workings. Live by rule. Have your time strictly arranged. Be employed in early work for God. Store the mind with useful knowledge; ever reserving the first place for an industrious and prayerful study of the book of God. "Mortify" this baneful lust "through the Divine Spirit" (Romans 8:13 ); drawing all your motives from the death (Romans 6:6 ), the life (Mark 1:32-35 ), the rules of Christ. (Luke 9:23 . Romans 13:11-14 .) Victory will soon declare for you; and how enriching will be the spoil!

Footnotes:

†1 Pudeat ab exiguis animalibus non trahere mores. — Seneca, De Clementia. Lib. i.

†2 Proverbs 10:5; Proverbs 30:25 . Horace’s miser quotes this example as an excuse for hoarding. But — as the poet replies — it was to use the hoard in the winter — prudent care, not covetousness. Sat i.32. See also Virgil’s exquisite picture, Æn. iv. 402, &c. The hoarding spirit of the ants, though attested by numerous writers and naturalists, does not characterize those known to us; though the habits of the species in a warmer climate would probably widely differ from our own. Some, however, have thought, that Solomon only refers to their wisdom and prudence in preparing suitable food in summer and harvest, when it is most plentiful. — See Kirby and Spence’s Entomology, ii. 46.

†3 Merimnaw (<-- note to e-Sword users: please see the book: this is the word processor’s attempt to transliterate the Greek characters into English). Matthew 6:34 . Solicite et anxie cogito; at plus est solicitum esse, quam cogitare, as Erasmus notices, and that of Tully confirms, — Solicitudo est ægritudo cum cogitatione. ’The root of the word expresses the dividing of the mind into divers thoughts.’ — Leigh’s Critica Sacra. Compare Philippians 4:6 .

†4 1 Timothy 5:8 . Our Lord had a bag for the provision of his family. John 13:29 .

†5 This is exactly how this sentence reads in the book (i.e., "Faith is the practical energy of a living faith."). It is wondered however if this might be an error(?). Perhaps it originally read: "Diligence is the practical energy of a living faith." (?). (See preceding sentence.)

Verses 12-15

What a contrast between the inactivity of the sluggard and the unwearied diligence of the naughty person! This man of Belial (Heb.) — as if his froward mouth — itself "a world of iniquity" (James 3:6 ) — could not give sufficient scope for his malice, makes every member — eyes, feet, and fingers — vocal and significant (Isaiah 3:16 ), an active "instrument of unrighteousness." (Proverbs 10:10 . Romans 6:13-19 .) These, however, are only the external manifestations. Deep within lies the laboratory of evil — "the chambers of imagery," teeming with "greater and yet greater abominations." (Ezekiel 8:8-15 . Matthew 15:19 .) Frowardness†1 is in the heart. Here is the restless devising of mischief,†2 sowing discord, instead of piety and love. (Proverbs 10:12 .) Such a pest to society brings on himself his own ruin, suddenly and without remedy.

The sight of this all-pervading power of sin is truly affecting. How utterly powerless is any remedy save that involved in the solemn declaration — "Ye must be born again!" (John 3:7 . Titus 3:3-5 .)

Footnotes:

†1 ’Frowardness,’ Heb. See Poole’s Synopsis — not one by many; the heart so filled with them, that the vessel cannot hold more. Genesis 6:5 . Acts 13:10 .

†2 Psalms 10:7-9; Psalms 36:2-4 . Compare the striking figure, Hosea 7:6 . Proverbs 16:28 . Psalms 52:2 .

Verses 16-19

Man conceives of God in his heart as "such a one as himself" (Psalms 50:21 ), looking with indifference at sin. Here therefore Solomon names six — yea — seven (Compare Proverbs 30:15-18 ) abominations (most of them mentioned in the preceding list) which the LORD hateth — a proud look,†1 a lying tongue,†2 a blood-stained hand.†3 And, lest we should think, that he "looketh only on the outward appearance;" the heart, active in devising wickedness,†4 is brought out; and its ready organ, the feet swift in running to mischief. (Proverbs 1:16 . Isaiah 59:7 . Romans 3:15 .) How hateful also is the false witness (Zechariah 8:17 ), surely reserved by him for judgment! (Proverbs 19:5 . Zechariah 5:4 . Malachi 3:5 .) Let the self-willed separatist remember the double stamp (Proverbs 6:14, Proverbs 6:19 ) upon him that soweth discord among brethren. If the heavenly "dew descends upon the brethren that dwell together in unity" (Psalms 133:1-3 .), a withering blast will fall on those, who, mistaking prejudice for principle, "cause divisions" for their own selfish ends. (Romans 16:17-18 .) Fearful is the Lord’s mark upon them — "sensual, having not the Spirit."†5 If we cannot attain unity of opinion — "perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment;"†6 at least let us cultivate unity of spirit — "Whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule; let us mind the same thing." (Philippians 3:16 .)

Footnotes:

†1 Proverbs 8:13; Proverbs 30:13 . Psalms 18:27 . Isaiah 2:12 . Jeremiah 1:31 — the examples of Pharoah — Exodus 9:16 . Haman — Esther 7:10 . Nebuchadnezzar — Daniel 4:28-33 . Herod — Acts 12:21-23 .

†2 Proverbs 12:22. Psalms 5:6 . Revelation 21:8 . Gehazi — 2 Kings 5:25-27 . Ananias and Sapphira — Acts 5:1-10 .

†3 Genesis 9:6. Cain — Genesis 4:8-12 . Manasseh — 2 Kings 21:15-16 . Specially the murderers of his dear Son — Matthew 23:31-38 .

†4 Ahithophel — 2 Samuel 16:20-23 ; 2 Samuel 17:23 . Micah 2:1 . 2 Peter 2:14 .

†5 Judges 1:19. 1 Corinthians 3:3-4 . Let the wisdom of experience given by an accurate observer of himself and the Church, be seriously pondered — ’I am much more sensible of the evil of schism, and of the separating humour, and of gathering parties, and making several sects in the Church, than I was heretofore. For the effects have shown us more of the mischiefs. I am much more sensible, how prone many young professors are to spiritual pride and self-conceitedness, and unruliness, and division, and so prove the grief of their teachers, and firebrands in the Church. I am much more sensible than heretofore of the breadth, and length, and depth of the radical, universal, odious sin of selfishness, and the excellency and necessity of self-denial, and of a public mind, and of loving our neighbour as ourselves.’ — Baxter’s Narrative of his Life and Times.

†6 1 Corinthians 1:10 — ’A text’ — says the godly Flavel — ’to be commented upon rather by tears than by words.’ — Sermon on Text.

Verses 20-24

20 ¶ My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: 21 Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. 22 When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. 23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: {lamp: or, candle} 24 To keep thee from the evil woman,†a from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. {of the...: or, of the strange tongue}

The authority of parental instruction is again enforced. (Proverbs 1:8-9 ; Proverbs 4:1 .) God never intended young people to be independent of their parents. Instruction from every quarter is valuable. But from parents — always supposing them to be godly parents — it is the ordinance of God. They will bring you God’s word, not their own. Therefore bind it continually about thine heart (Proverbs 3:3 ; Proverbs 4:21 ; Proverbs 7:3 ), as thy rule; about thy neck (Proverbs 3:3 . Compare Job 31:36 ), as thine adorning. Let the law be thy friend for all times and circumstances — a guide by day (Proverbs 3:22-23 ; Proverbs 4:12 ); a solace by night (Proverbs 3:24 . Psalms 63:5 ), yea — a friend for thy waking moments. (Psalms 139:17-18 .) Take care that nothing hinders thy early converse with this faithful counselor before the world comes in; as the best means of keeping the world out. ’Happy is the mind to which the word is an undivided companion.’†1 A lamp, so full of light, in this dark world†2 is an inestimable gift. Its reproofs of instruction, the discipline of our wayward will, are to us as the way of life. (Psalms 19:11 . 2 Timothy 3:16-17 . Compare Matthew 7:13-14 .

Specially valuable are this lamp and light in sensual temptation. (Proverbs 2:10-11, Proverbs 2:16-19 ; Proverbs 5:1-8 ; Proverbs 7:1-5 .) Those who choose their own light fall into a flattering snare. (Proverbs 2:16 ; Proverbs 7:21 .) The neglect of parental warning will furnish in the end bitter matter for unavailing repentance. (Proverbs 5:11-13 .) Oh! let the Father’s instruction be heard betimes — "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word." (Psalms 19:9 . Compare Proverbs 5:11 ; Proverbs 17:4 .)

Footnotes:

†a. Heb. Woman of wickedness -- the woman full of wickedness — wholly given to it. Compare Zechariah 5:7-8 .

†1 ’Felix mens, cui verbum individuus comes.’ — Bernard, Serm. xxxii. in Cant.

†2 Psalms 119:105. See Bishop Patrick’s note quoted in Scott.

Verses 25-29

Solomon here gives our Lord’s own rule. (Matthew 5:28 . Compare James 1:14-15 ; Job 31:1 ; Psalms 119:37 ; also, Sirach 9:3-5 .) Resist lust in its first rising in the heart. By vain beauty,†1 and wanton eyes,†2 many a deluded victim has been brought to a piece of bread.†3 Like the insatiable huntsman, who never loses sight of his prey, till he has pursued it to death; never does the seducer cease to solicit, till she has hunted for the precious life. (Genesis 39:14 . Judges 16:18-21 . Compare Ezekiel 13:18, Ezekiel 13:20-21 .) Yet neither the present miseries, nor the certain end, of this wretched course, can draw away the foot, that has dared to tread the forbidden path. Self-confidence sees and fears no danger. ’I can look to myself; I need not go too far, and I shall get no harm.’ But the temptation acts upon a congenial nature like fuel, not water, on the fire. As well might we expect to take fire into our bosom, and our clothes not be burned, or to go upon hot coals, and not be burned; as to go willfully into sin, and to escape the punishment.†4 Sin and punishment are linked together by a chain of adamant. ’The fire of lust kindles the fire of hell.’†5 He cannot afterwards plead the strength of the temptation. Why did he not avoid it? Who that knows how much tinder he carries about him, would willfully light up the sparks? Heedlessly to rush into temptation, is to provoke the corruption, which is too ready to stir of itself. The influence of temptation, though not always sensible, is immediate. The man must be in haste, who would effectually resist it. Beware of suspicious familiarities on the borders of sin. (Genesis 39:10 . Romans 13:13 . 1 Thessalonians 5:22 .) The temptation to criminality in this atmosphere is fearful. (2 Samuel 11:2-4 . Compare Sirach 9:8-9 .) Whosoever toucheth shall not be innocent. (Genesis 20:6 ; Genesis 39:9 . 1 Corinthians 7:1 .)

Footnotes:

†1 Proverbs 31:30. Genesis 6:2 ; Genesis 39:6 . 2 Samuel 11:2 . Compare Sirach 25:21 .

†2 Genesis 39:7. 2 Kings 9:30 . Margin Isaiah 3:16 . 2 Peter 2:14 . Compare Paradise Lost, book xi. 1, 620.

†3 Proverbs 5:10; Proverbs 29:3 . 1 Samuel 2:26, 1 Samuel 2:36 . Job 31:9, Job 31:12 . Luke 15:13, Luke 15:30 . Compare the difference between Solomon’s chaste and unholy age. 1 Kings 10:21, 1 Kings 10:27, with 1 Kings 12:4 .

†4 Exodus 20:14, Exodus 20:17 . Leviticus 20:10 . 2 Samuel 12:9 . Malachi 3:5 . Even as a sin of ignorance it was liable to be visited. Genesis 12:15-18 ; Genesis 20:1-6 ; Genesis 26:10 . So strictly has the holy Lord fenced his own ordinance! See Mede’s Sermon on Chap. iv. 23.

†5 Henry in loco. Compare Job 31:12 ; James 1:14-15 .

Verses 30-35

Here is no excuse or impunity for the thief. The full restitution that he is compelled to make†1 — perhaps sweeping away all his little substance — proves that no extremity can excuse "the transgression of the law." (Compare 1 Corinthians 6:10, with 1 John 3:4 .) Let him earn his bread by honest industry. If the fruits of industry fail, let him, trusting in God, seek the help of his fellow-creatures. If he have faith to trust, he will never be forced to steal. (See Matthew 6:25-33 .) Yet his extreme temptation renders him an object rather of pity than of scorn — Men do not despise him.

But the sin of the adulterer claims no sympathy. His plea is not the cry of hunger, but of lust; not want, but wantonness; not the lack of bread, but of understanding. (Compare Ecclesiastes 7:25-26 ; Jeremiah 5:8, Jeremiah 5:21 .) He is willfully given up to his sin. He destroyeth his own soul. (Leviticus 20:10 . Proverbs 2:18-19 ; Proverbs 5:22-23 ; Proverbs 7:22-23 . Ephesians 5:5 .) He gets a wound — not like the soldier or the martyr for Christ — full of honour; but rankling on his conscience (Psalms 32:3-4 ), and bringing dishonour and indelible reproach upon his name.†2 The tremendous passions of jealousy and rage shut out all forgiveness.†3 The face of no one who offered a ransom would be accepted. No compensation (Genesis 39:19-20 . Judges 19:29-30 ), however costly, will content.

Such are the many sins (2 Samuel 11:6-24 ), the awfully destructive miseries,†4 flowing from the breach of God’s holy commandment. ’Oh! how great iniquity’ — exclaimed the godly Augustine — ’is this adultery! How great a perverseness! The soul, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, is thus for the pleasures of an hour given to the devil; a thing much to be lamented and bewailed; when that which delighteth is soon gone, that which tormenteth remaineth without end.’†5

And shall not this fearful picture of sin and its consequences (which Solomon, alas! was too well fitted to draw) teach us to avoid everything that may be temptation; to be sensitive to the first intimations of its becoming so; to close every avenue of sense to the entrance of this seductive poison; to shun all communications that taint the purity of taste, that familiarize the mind with impurity, that give a vivid interest to associations from which a chaste imagination recoils with disgust? Let us learn to seek Divine strength to "watch and pray" continually; and, while we "think we stand, to take heed lest we fall." (1 Corinthians 10:12 .)

Footnotes:

†1 Exodus 22:1-4. Seven-fold — not literally. Four or five-fold was the extent of the Divine requirement. Compare Luke 19:8 . It means full (Exodus 22:3 ) and satisfactory — and indefinite number. Compare Genesis 4:15, Genesis 4:24 ; Psalms 79:12, and alia passim. Compare Job 20:18 .

†2 Proverbs 5:9. Genesis 38:23 ; Genesis 49:4 . 2 Samuel 3:13 ; 2 Samuel 13:13 . 1 Kings 15:5, with Matthew 1:6 . Nehemiah 13:26 . Compare Deuteronomy 23:2 .

†3 Genesis 34:7; Genesis 49:5-7 . Numbers 5:14 . Esther 7:7-10 . Ezekiel 16:38 . Schultens remarks that no version fully expresses the strength of the original. Rage, ’Ignitio.’ In loco

†4 The quaint lines of an old Chronicler give an awful picture —

’Corpus, opes, animum, famam, vim, lumina, scortum

Debilitat, perdit, necat, aufert, eripit, orbat.’

Quoted by Trapp on verse 26.

†5 Lib. de Honest. Mulier quoted by Lavater on Proverbs 6:26 .

Bibliographical Information
Bridges, Charles. "Commentary on #REF". Bridges' Commentary on Proverb. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbp/proverbs-6.html. 1846.
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