INTRODUCTION TO PROVERBS 6
In this chapter the wise man dissuades from rash suretyship; exposes the sin of idleness; describes a wicked man; makes mention of seven things hateful to God; exhorts to attend to parental instructions and precepts, and cautions against adultery. Suretyship is described, Proverbs 6:1; and represented as a snare and a net, in which men are taken, Proverbs 6:2; and advice is given what to do in such a case, for safety in it, and deliverance from it, Proverbs 6:3; The sin of slothfulness is exposed, by observing the industry of the ant, Proverbs 6:6; by expostulating with the sluggard for his continuance in sloth, and by mimicking him, Proverbs 6:9; and by the poverty it brings upon him, Proverbs 6:11. Then a naughty wicked man is described, by his mouth, eyes, feet, fingers, and heart, whose ruin is sudden and inevitable, Proverbs 6:11. The seven things hateful to God are particularly named, Proverbs 6:16. And next the exhortation in some preceding chapters is reassumed, to attend to the instructions of parents; which will be found ornamental, pleasant, and useful, Proverbs 6:20. Especially to preserve from the lewd woman cautioned against, Proverbs 6:24; whose company is dissuaded from; on account of the extreme poverty and distress she brings persons to, and even danger of life, Proverbs 6:26; from the unavoidable ruin such come into, Proverbs 6:27; from the sin of uncleanness being greater than that of theft, Proverbs 6:30; from the folly the adulterer betrays; from the destruction of his soul, and the disgrace he brings on himself, Proverbs 6:32; and from the rage and irreconcilable offence of the husband of the adulteress, Proverbs 6:34.
My son, if thou be surety for thy friend,.... To another; hast engaged thyself by promise or bond, or both, to pay a debt for him, if he is not able, or if required; or hast laid thyself under obligation to any, to see the debt of another paid;
if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger; or "to" him
Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth,.... Got into a snare out of which an escape is not easy; art no longer free, and thine own man, but under obligation to pay the debt if required; by the verbal agreement made and confirmed by striking hands, and this before witnesses;
thou art taken with the words of thy mouth; as in a net, and held fast therein and thereby, and cannot get loose without paying the debt, if the debtor does not, or without the leave of the creditor.
Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself,.... Take the following advice, as the best that can be given in such circumstances, in order to be freed from such an obligation, or to be safe and easy under it;
when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; or,
"because or seeing thou art fallen into the hand of thy friend,'
as the Targum; or
"though thou art,' &c.
as Aben Ezra; which may be understood either of the creditor to whom a man is bound, or of the debtor for whom he is bound, or of both; for a surety is in the hands or power of both: he is in the hands of the creditor, who may demand payment of the debt of him; and he is in the hands of the debtor, who, if a careless or crafty and deceitful man, may leave him to the payment of it. The Septuagint and Arabic versions are,
"for thou art come into the hands of evil men for thy friend;'
and the Syriac version,
"seeing for thy friend thou art fallen into the hands of thine enemy;'
and therefore must make the best of it thou canst, and in the following way:
go, humble thyself; that is, to the creditor, prostrate thyself before him; lie down upon the ground to be trodden on, as the word
and make sure thy friend; for whom thou art become a surety, as the Syriac and Arabic versions add; solicit him, as the former of these versions render it; stimulate him, as the Septuagint; stir him up, urge him to pay off the debt quickly, and discharge the bond, or give thee security and indemnity from it. Or, "magnify thy friend"
Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. Until the above things are done; which denotes of what consequence and importance they are; and that persons in such circumstances should not be careless, dilatory, and unconcerned; but should use great diligence, and leave no stone unturned, or method untried, to extricate themselves; see Psalm 132:4.
Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter,.... As such a creature, which is very swift, when it is got into the hand of the hunter, will strive and struggle to get out; so should a man try all ways and means to get out of his suretyship engagements, especially when he finds himself liable to danger by it; this he should do "immediately" and "out of hand"
and as a bird from the hand of the fowler; another metaphor, signifying the same thing.
Go to the ant, thou sluggard,.... That art become surety for another, and got into a snare and net, and yet takest no pains to get out. Or this may be directed, not to the surety, but the debtor; who, through his slothfulness, has contracted debts, and uses no industry to be in a capacity to pay them. Or, it may be, this has no connection with the former; but the wise man proceeds to a new subject, and to dissuade from idleness, which brings ruin on families, and leads to all sin; and, for the instruction of idle and slothful men, proposes the example of the ant, and sends them to it to learn industry of it
consider her ways; 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. These, with others, are taken notice of by Frantzius
and be wise; learn wisdom of it, and be wiser than that, as the Septuagint and Arabic versions: this is a mortification of proud men, that would be reckoned wise, to be sent to so despicable a creature to get wisdom from.
Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler. None to guide and direct her what to do; nor any to overlook her, to see that she does aright, or to oblige her to work, and keep her to it; nor any to call her to an account, and correct her for doing amiss; and nevertheless diligent and industrious, doing everything of herself, by the instinct of nature, readily and willingly: and yet how slothful are men; who, besides the dictates of nature, reason, and conscience, have parents, masters, ministers, and magistrates, to guide, direct, exhort, instruct, and enforce! so Aristotle
Provideth her meat in the summer,.... Against the winter, of which it is mindful, when it never comes out of its place, having in the summer time got a sufficiency laid up in cells for its use: she toils in the heat of summer to get in her provision for the winter, being sensible that nothing is to be gotten then; she works at it night and day while the season lasts; so diligent is it in laying up its stores at the proper opportunity
and gathereth her food in the harvest; the time when corn is ripe, and is shed on the earth; this it gathereth, and lays up in its repositories against a time of need. The seeds it gathers and lays up; it bites off the chit or bud end of them, that they may not grow, as Pliny
"or go to the bee, and learn what a worker she is, and what an admirable work she performs; whose labours kings and private persons use for health: she is desirable to all, and famous; and though weak in strength, honouring wisdom is advanced.'
But this is not in the Hebrew text; but perhaps being written in the margin of some copy of the Septuagint as a parallel instance, was by some unskilful copier put into the text of the Greek version, from whence the Arabic version has taken it; it crept in very early, for Clemens of Alexandria makes mention of it
How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard?.... Or "lie"
when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? and be about thy lawful calling? doing the duties of religion, and the business of life; providing things honest in the sight of all men; things necessary for thyself and family, and wherewith to do good to others; exercising a conscience void of offence both to God and men. Time should not be slept away, to the neglect of the affairs of life, nor of the concerns of the immortal soul and a future state; men should not be slothful in things temporal or spiritual: whatever may be the proper time to awake and arise out of sleep in a morning, which seems to be according to a man's circumstances, health and business; it is always high time for the sinner to awake out of the sleep of sin, and arise from the dead; and for the drowsy saint to arise out of his lethargy and carnal security.
Yet a little sleep, a little slumber,.... Or, "little sleeps, little slumbers"
a little folding of the hands to sleep; or, "to lie down"
So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth,.... Either swiftly and suddenly, as a traveller makes haste to get to his journey's end, and comes upon his family or friends at an unawares; or though he moves gradually, by slow paces and silent steps, yet surely: and so it signifies that poverty should come upon the sluggard very quickly, and before he was aware: and though it might come by degrees, yet it would certainly come;
and thy want as an armed man; or, "thy wants as a man of shield"
"but if thou art not slothful, thy harvest shall come as a fountain (as the inundation of a fountain, Arabic); but want shall flee as an evil racer (as an evil man, Arabic; far from thee, Vulgate Latin):'
but this is not in the Hebrew text.
A naughty person, a wicked man,.... Or, "a man of Belial, a man of iniquity"
walketh with a froward mouth; speaking perverse things, things contrary to the light of nature and reason, to law and Gospel; uttering lies, and deceit, and blasphemies against God and man; to which he has used himself, and in which he continues, as the word "walketh" signifies: so antichrist has a mouth opened in blasphemies against God and his saints, Revelation 13:5.
He winketh with his eyes,.... Not through natural infirmity, but purposely and with design; with one of his eyes, as Aben Ezra, as is usual with such persons: it is the air and gesture of a sneering and deceitful man, who gives the wink to some of his friends, sneering at the weakness of another in company; or as signifying to them some secret design of his against another, which he chooses not to declare in any other way;
he speaketh with his feet; the motions of the feet have a language; the stamping of the feet expresses rage; here it seems to intend the giving of a him to another, by privately pressing his foot with his, when he should be silent or should speak, or do this or the other thing he would have him do;
he teacheth with his fingers; by stretching them out or compressing them; and so showing either scorn and contempt
Frowardness is in his heart,.... Or perverse things; evil habits and principles of sin; all manner of wickedness, errors and heresies; things contrary to right reason, repugnant to the will and law of God, and the reverse of sound doctrine; all evil thoughts and evil things; see Matthew 15:19;
he deviseth mischief continually; against his neighbours, and especially against good men; he is continually planning schemes, contriving methods, ways, and means, how to disturb, distress, and ruin men; being a true child of Belial, or of the devil, his heart is the forge where he is continually framing wickedness in one shape or another; and the ground which he is always ploughing up and labouring at to bring forth sin and wickedness, and with which it is fruitful;
he soweth discord; or "strifes"
Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly,.... Unthought of and unexpected: he that deviseth mischief to others secretly shall have no warning of his own ruin, nor time and means of preventing it; the destruction of antichrist will be sudden, and of all wicked men at the coming of Christ, 1 Thessalonians 5:3;
suddenly shall he be broken without remedy; or, "and there shall be no healing"
These six things doth the Lord hate,.... That is, the six following, which are all to be found in a man of Belial, a wicked man before described. There are other things besides these that God hates, and indeed more so; as sins against the first table, which more immediately strike at his being, horror, and glory; these being such as are against the second table, but are mentioned, as more especially appearing in the character of the above person; and must be hateful to God, as contrary to his nature, will, and law;
yea, seven are an abomination unto him; or, "the abomination of his soul"
A proud look,.... Or, "eyes elated"
a lying tongue; that is the second of the hateful things; a tongue speaking falsehood, knowingly and willingly, with an intention to deceive others; to hurt the character of a neighbour, or to flatter a friend, is a most detestable evil; it ought to be so to men, it must be so to God, who is a God of truth: nor is there anything in which a man more resembles the devil, who is the father of lies;
and hands that shed innocent blood; human blood; and that of persons who have not been guilty of any capital sin, for which they ought to die by the laws of God or men, and yet shed or poured out as common water; such hands must be defiled, and such men must be hateful to God, they destroying his image, and being like to the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning. These "three" sins are plainly to be seen in the son of Belial, antichrist, who exalts himself above all that is called God, the kings and princes of the earth; he and his followers speak lies in hypocrisy; and is the whore that is drunk with the blood of the saints, 2 Thessalonians 2:4.
An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations,.... Or, "thoughts of wickedness"
feet that be swift in running to mischief; to commit all manner of sin with greediness, especially murder; see Proverbs 1:16.
A false witness that speaketh lies,.... Or, "that speaketh lies, even a false witness"
and him that soweth discord among brethren; whether in a natural relation, or in a civil society, or in a religious community.
My son, keep thy father's commandment,.... These are not the words of David to Solomon continued from Proverbs 4:4; but the words of Solomon to his son; and not to his son only, in a strict natural relation, but to everyone that came to him for and put himself under his instruction; and to everyone that stood in such a relation to a religious father; for not the divine Being, the Father of all, is here meant, according to some Jewish writers; though the commandment no doubt is the commandment of God taught by godly parents; or such a system of precepts that is founded upon and agrees unto the revealed will of God, and which being so should be laid up and kept in the heart, and not forgotten; and should be observed and attended to and obeyed throughout the whole course of life, as if it was the commandment of God himself; and indeed it is no other than that which pious parents train up their children in the knowledge of, instil into them, and urge upon them the observance of;
and forsake not the law of thy mother; the same as before, and which is mentioned to show that the same respect is to be had to a mother as to a father, the commandment and law of them being the same, and they standing in the same relation; which yet children are apt to make a difference in, and while they stand in awe of their father and his precepts, slight their mother and her directions, which ought not to be. Some understand this of the congregation of Israel, as some Jewish writers; and others of the church of God, the mother of us all.
Bind them continually upon thine heart,.... Not upon the head or arm, as the words of the law were to be bound, Deuteronomy 6:3; to which there seems to be an allusion; and which may confirm the sense of the words given, that this respects the law of God itself, and the precepts of it, instructed in by parents; but they should be bound upon the heart, and have an abiding place in the understanding, affections, memory, and will;
and tie them about thy neck; as an ornament, instead of a necklace of pearl, or chains of gold; they should be so far from being thought burdensome and troublesome, that they should be reckoned comely and graceful; see Proverbs 1:9.
When thou goest, it shall lead thee,.... The law of God taught by parents; this directs man in the path of duty and business of life; teaches him what way to shun, and which to walk in; it leads out of the paths of sin, and into the way in which he should go, which is most conducive to his good, and to the glory of God; it will lead him safely, so that he shall not stumble, Proverbs 3:3;
when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; from terrifying dreams, evil spirits, dangers by fire or thieves; one that observes it conscientiously may lie down and sleep, secure of the guardianship of divine Providence, and not fear any evil; or "shall watch over thee"
and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee; familiarly; and instruct what to do, and how to behave the day following; or "it shall go out with thee"
For the commandment is a lamp,.... The law of God is a lamp or candle to see to work by and to walk by; it enlightens the eyes and directs the feet, and makes working more pleasant, and walking more comfortable; and indeed wit, bout it a man knows not rightly what to do or where he should walk, or where he is walking; see Psalm 119:105;
and the law is light; it makes things clear and manifest, what is right and what is wrong; it enlightens the eyes of the understanding, whereby persons come to see both their sin and their duty; and it directs them to avoid the one and do the other; see Psalm 19:8;
and reproofs of instruction are the way life; kind reproofs given by parents agreeable to the word of God, which instruct what should be shunned and what should be performed, when attended to, put men in the way of an honourable and useful life; and are the means of preserving them from a scandalous and useless one.
To keep thee from the evil woman,.... This is one use of the profit arising from attending to the instructions of parents, and to the law of God, as taught by them; to preserve from fornication and adultery, one of its precepts expressly forbidding adultery and all corporeal uncleanness; and the whole of it directing to an observance of all duties respecting God and our neighbour, which requires diligence and industry, and prevents idleness, that inlet to all sin, and especially to uncleanness
from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman; the same with the evil woman, the lewd and adulterous one; see Proverbs 2:16. Jarchi interprets this of idolatry; the character well agrees with the idolatrous church of Rome, or antichrist, represented by a whore, Revelation 17:1; as this woman is called "the woman of evil"
Lust not after her beauty in thine heart,.... Do not look upon it with the eye, nor dwell upon it in the thought; the one will lead on to and kindle last in the heart, and the other will cherish it and blow it up into a flame; and lust thus conceived and nourished in the heart is no other than committing adultery, Matthew 5:28;
neither let her take thee with her eyelids; let her not take thee from instruction with them, so Aben Ezra, from attending to that; or let her not take thy wisdom from thee, so Jarchi; or rather let her not take thee as in a net, with the sparkling of her eyes, with the wanton and amorous glances of them; so the Syriac version, "let her not captivate thee", &c. which applied to the antichristian church, may signify the outward pomp and grandeur of it, its pretensions to antiquity, to the apostolic see, to infallibility, miracles, great devotion, &c. which are taking to men, and are the Circean cup with which she bewitches and allures, Revelation 17:4. The Targum is,
"let her not seduce thee,' &c.
For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread,.... To be glad of one, and to beg for one, for the least morsel; it is expressive of the extreme poverty and want which harlots bring men to, who strip them of all their substance, and then send them going to get their bread as they can; thus the prodigal, having spent his substance with harlots, was so reduced as to desire the husks which swine ate, Luke 15:13; so spiritual fornication or idolatry leaves men without bread for their souls, brings them into spiritual poverty, and even to desperation and death;
and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life; or "soul"
Can a man take fire in his bosom,.... A whore is compared to fire, and is so called by the poets
"it is a like thing to fall into fire and into a woman
the Hebrew words אש, "esh", "fire", and אישה, "ishah", "a woman", have some affinity in sound; and the phrase of taking it "into the bosom" fitly expresses the impure embraces of a harlot;
and his clothes not be burned? he cannot, it is impossible; and equally vain is it to think that a man can commit whoredom and it not be known, or he not hurt by it in his name and substance, or in his body, soul, and life.
Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? He cannot; if he sets his feet upon them, and continues them ever so little on them, they will be burnt, and much more if he walks upon them; and so if a man gives way to the burning lusts of his heart after a whorish woman, and commits adultery with her, though not with frequency, he will not escape punishment in one shape or another; and much more if he continues such a lewd course of life; such practices are extremely dangerous
So he that goeth into his neighbour's wife,.... To converse with her, or lie with her, as the Targum; for it means not barely going into her house or chamber, or into her company, though without any ill design at first, which yet may be dangerous; but committing adultery with her, as this phrase is often used, Genesis 19:31;
whosoever toucheth her; by impure dalliances, and especially by carnal copulation with her, in which sense it is used; see Gill on 1 Corinthians 7:1;
shall not be innocent; or free
Men do not despise a thief, if he steal,.... They do not discommend or reproach him for it, or fix a mark of infamy upon him, or expose him to public shame by whipping him; but rather excuse him and pity him when it appears what his case is, what put him upon it, and that he had no other intention in it than to do as follows;
to satisfy his soul; his craving appetite for food, having nothing to eat, nor no other way of getting any: the words should be supplied thus, "for he does this to satisfy his soul"; or, as the Syriac version, "for he steals to satisfy his soul": and so they are a reason why men do not despise him, nor use him ill, because it is done with no other view; not with a wicked design to hurt his neighbour, nor with a covetous intent to increase his own substance in an unlawful way, but only to satisfy nature in distress; and another reason follows, or the former confirmed;
when he is hungry; or for "he is hungry"
"it is not to be wondered at in a thief that he should steal to satisfy his soul when it is hungry.'
The Vulgate Latin version is,
"it is not a great fault when anyone steals, for he steals to fill a hungry soul;'
it is a fault, but it is not a very heinous one, at least it is not so heinous as adultery, for the sake of which it is mentioned, and with which it is compared: the design of the instance is to show the adultery is far greater than that; and yet in our age we see that the one is severely punished even with death for trifling things, when the other goes unpunished.
But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold,.... According to the law in Exodus 22:1; in case of theft double was to be restored, if the theft was found alive in his hand; and in some cases fourfold and fivefold. Aben Ezra observing that double and fivefold being near together in the law, joins them, and so makes sevenfold. Some think Solomon has reference to a law in other nations, which obliged to a sevenfold restoration; or that the penalty was increased in his time, but neither appears; rather the meaning is, that a thief should make restoration according to law as often as he is found guilty, be it seven times, or seventy times seven, Matthew 18:21; or the sense is, that be should make perfect restoration, full restitution as the law requires: but then this finding: him is not to be understood of finding him in the fact, stealing to satisfy hunger, for then to insist upon a legal restitution, as it is incompatible with such a man's circumstances, so would contradict what is before said, that such an one is not usually reproached and found fault with; but the sense is, if it should be found otherwise, or it should be found that he has food to satisfy his soul, as Gersom observes, and has no need to steal; or if he is found in a man's house, then he shall make restitution as the law directs, even a full one, Exodus 22:2;
he shall give all the substance of his house: to pay the sevenfold, or to make full restitution; nay, if necessary, he himself may be sold, as the above law requires.
But whoso committeth adultery with a woman,.... Which is a greater degree of theft than the former, it being the stealing of another man's wife;
lacketh understanding; or "an heart"
he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul; is liable to have his life taken away by the husband of the adulteress; so according to Solon's law
A wound and dishonour shall he get,.... A wound, stroke, or blow, either from the husband of the strumpet, as was often the case
and his reproach shall not be wiped away; as long as he lives, though his life may be spared; yea, it shall even continue after death; and though he may repent of his sin and reform, as in the case of David.
For jealousy is the rage of a man,.... Fills a man with rage against him of whom he is jealous; which keeps boiling within him, till he has an opportunity of venting it: and very severe it is; it is strong as death, and cruel as the grave;
therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance; when he has an opportunity of avenging himself; whenever he finds the adulterer in his house, or catches him and his wife in bed together, he spares not to take away his life, and sometimes the life of both of them; instances of this nature history furnishes us with: or he will spare no cost and pains to prosecute him before a civil magistrate, and bring him to public justice; prayers and entreaties, bribes and gifts, wilt be of no avail, as follows.
He will not regard any ransom,.... So that his case is much worse than, a thief's; if he is taken, he makes restitution according to law, and he is freed, and no more is said and done to him; and, at most, it is but parting with all the goods in his house; but in this case it will not do. In the Hebrew text it is, "he will not accept the face of any ransom"
"he will not accept the face of anyone that gives a gift:'
he will have no respect unto him for the sake of the gift; whatever gift is offered, be it what it will, for the ransom of his life from death, it will be disregarded;
neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts; increase them, and keep continually giving; nothing but the life of the adulterer will satisfy him, which he will either take away himself, or obtain it in a way of legal prosecution. How foolish therefore is the man that will expose his name and credit, his health and substance, his life in this world, and his soul in another, to utter ruin, for the sake of gratifying a sordid lust! This may be interpreted of God, who is a jealous God in matters of worship, and will not suffer idolatry to go unpunished, which is spiritual adultery.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 6". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Easter