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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Proverbs 6

Verses 1-5

Introduction

The Proverbs 6:1-Psalms : of this chapter form an interruption in the speech of the father to his son about the strange woman. Still, the subjects that he deals with in these verses are related to what he has said about her: it is about sins that, like adultery, lead to deep poverty (Proverbs 5:9-1 Kings :).

Do Not Ever Become Surety

A good father also looks after the financial situation of his son. He speaks about that in Proverbs 6:1-Deuteronomy :, where he particularly warns about becoming surety for his neighbor (Proverbs 6:1). The son is naive when he becomes surety and “gives a pledge”. The father is not so naive for thinking that his son is not capable of doing that. He assumes that his son can let himself to be tempted to become surety.

Nobody is obligated to become surety. To become surety for one’s neighbor is totally different from the usual and permitted manner of helping someone by lending money to someone who is in financial trouble (Matthew 5:42). To become surety means that a person signs a declaration – which happens here symbolically by giving a “pledge” – for taking the responsibility to pay the debt of another person when this person defaults on payment. He serves as a guarantor.

It is wisdom not to take such a responsibility. This is something that is more often warned about in Proverbs (Proverbs 11:15; Proverbs 17:18Proverbs 22:26). It is the misuse of money that God has given to be used on His behalf.

Whoever persuades somebody to become surety for him, has snared the other person with the words of his mouth and has made him a captive of those words (Proverbs 6:2). It is foolish to become surety, for it makes you become a slave of another person due to your own fault. The person for whom you have become surety, will abuse your surety. The gullibility and misplaced generosity may possibly have the effect that the son becomes a lifetime slave of the one he has become surety for.

He who becomes surety, has come “into the hand” of his neighbor (Proverbs 6:3). Therefore the urgent advice of the father sounds that the son will free himself from it against all price. How urgent it is, resonates in addressing his son once more explicitly as “my son”. He has to make sure that he immediately comes out of the snare of the person for whom he became surety. He has to deliver himself, for otherwise he will die. That’s how deadly the danger is.

That implies that he does everything about it so that the other person fulfills his obligations. He has to go to his neighbor for whom he became surety. It may imply that he has to humble himself for him. But everything is better than to die. He must swallow his pride and, if necessary, let the other person trample him, as long as he liberates himself from the grip of his neighbor. He has to sacrifice his sleep for it (Proverbs 6:4; cf. Psalms 132:4-Deuteronomy :), for postponement is fatal. Therefore he should do it with the pace of a gazelle that flees from the hunter and of a bird that wants to escape the hand of the fowler (Proverbs 6:5). They see the danger and waste no time, in order to escape from the danger zone.

There is one good surety, which is God Himself (Psalms 119:122; Job 17:3). The Lord Jesus is Surety of the new covenant (Hebrews 7:22). He is the fulfillment of it. The Lord was able to; He took up the conditions and fulfilled them. He took up our obligations, which made us to become partakers of the blessings of the new covenant.

Verses 6-11

The Sluggard

Laziness (Proverbs 6:6-1 Kings :) is, like becoming surety, (Proverbs 6:1-Deuteronomy :) a path to poverty (Proverbs 24:30-Nahum :). Becoming surety results in unnecessary financial loss; laziness does not deliver any money at all. The father warns the son about that incisively. It looks like he, at a certain moment, saw that his son was lazy. Therefore he appeals to him to go to “the ant”, which means that his son should take a good look at that little creature (Proverbs 6:6). Just like he could learn from the gazelle and the bird in Proverbs 6:5, he can learn from the ant (Job 12:7). Just to let him see how the ways of the ant are, how busy he is, what his customs are. That will make him to be wise.

The ants do not need an encouragement, an incentive, to get to work. They have no “chief” who leads them in their work and whom they can follow to see how he does it (Proverbs 6:7). Nor do they have an “officer” who watches them and corrects them. Neither a “ruler” to whom they should obey, is present. People, on the contrary need ‘the eye of the master’, for otherwise they cut corners. But ants work diligently without any exhortation and work well together; they can do a lot of work without somebody stimulating them. There is no ant that doesn’t do anything.

In the example of the ant it is especially about the diligence with which she works. Additionally she also works for the future. She prepares her food in the suitable time, which is “in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:8), in summer, when it is still warm and “gathers” her provision when there is much to be gathered. In that way she has food in stock for the time when it is cold and she therefore cannot find food anywhere. Joseph is an example of somebody who has acted like that (Genesis 41:33-Zephaniah :; Genesis 41:46-Ephesians :).

After the lesson of the ant, the application comes in Proverbs 6:9. The father calls his son to order by confronting him punitively with his laziness. That boy did nothing else than lying on his bed. He is forsaking his obligation, for he ought to do his work. The only thing he was occupied with, is his rest. That’s what only counts. He doesn’t think about the future, he did not care about that.

How long will he stay inactive like that? You never know when a real sluggard wakes up from his sleep. When you think that he is awake, he can still turn over and continue to sleep. How wonderful is it, we hear the sluggard mutters, to sleep and slumber “a little” and to rest with a little folding of the hands (Proverbs 6:10).

There is an increase of unwillingness to arise and go to work. If “a little sleep” does not succeed anymore, then “a little slumber” is so wonderful. And when that doesn’t succeed and you are totally awake, then “a rest of a little folding of the hands” behind the head or on the chest is also very nice. Who knows, that you ultimately can have ‘a little slumber’ again, when they leave you alone, and you may even succeed to get ‘a little more sleep’.

All these ‘littles’ deliver indeed a lot, namely a lot of poverty. His hands are not folded to pray, but they make clear that he is not intended to roll up his sleeves and use them (Ecclesiastes 4:5). He does not want to work with his hands.

We often apologize or condone a wrong deed or a wrong life style by saying that it is about just “a little”. Do you have to get angry about such a minor issue? What difference do those few minutes make of being late; those few cents which were counted too much; that little lie? But to God there is no such thing as ‘a small’ deviation of the path of obedience. Disobedience is disobedience.

The son should realize that “poverty” will come “like a vagabond” (Proverbs 6:11). A vagabond has no course or direction but steadily continues his way. Such a poverty causes “lack” which comes “like an armed man”. An armed man is a bandit who is looking for a way to overpower him.

Each generation needs to hear these words about the sluggard anew. That goes certainly for the present generation. More and more young people slide deeper into purposelessness, hang around and do nothing. Laziness becomes a habit. We see that in society, but we also see that in the kingdom of God. There are lazy Christians. Every free evening is for themselves. They think that they are entitled to spend some time being relaxed and lazy and doing nothing. The Lord Jesus says to a slave whom He had also ordered to do something, but who did not go to work for Him, that he is a “wicked and lazy” slave (Matthew 25:26). There is enough work in the kingdom of God. We will see that when we live with God.

Verses 12-15

A Worthless Person

The third danger (after being surety and laziness) the father warns his son about, is “a worthless person, a wicked man” (Proverbs 6:12). It is a man of Belial, as it also can be translated, which is a wicked and at the same time useless, futile man. Belial is a proper name for satan (2 Corinthians 6:15). A man of Belial is a son of the devil. He is connected to laziness and wickedness and he is in the power of the devil. He is a man of injustice, which is his lifestyle. Out of the mouth of such a person can come only perverse things. He is a professional swindler.

Besides the perverse things that come out of his mouth, he also speaks an obscure body language (Proverbs 6:13). That appears from what he does with his eyes, his feet and his fingers. When you secretly wink with your eyes, you do that towards somebody with whom you have a conspiracy to deceive someone else. However, it is not about an innocent joke here, but about harming and hurting someone (Proverbs 10:10; Psalms 35:19). The same goes for “signal with the feet”. He may give his evil companion a push with his feet under the table whether to say or not to say something. He can also signal by “pointing with his fingers”. His look and gestures are insinuating and intended to deceive someone.

It is the secret language of darkness that is only understood by insiders. It is the language of the man of sin, the antichrist, who is the prototype of “a worthless person, a wicked man”. The antichrist is “the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction”, who uses “all the deception of wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:10). This man is through and through corrupt.

The heart of the worthless man, the center of his being, is a forge of evil (Proverbs 6:14; Matthew 15:19). He is continually occupied with conspiracy and devising means to sow fear and misery among people. He is “full of deceit and fraud”, a “son of the devil” and an “enemy of all righteousness” (Acts 13:10). What comes out of his heart, “spreads strife” (cf. Proverbs 6:19) in the most intimate relationships. “Strife” is the message that he sends out. Where strife is to be found, he is present and at work. Strife, quarrel, is the opposite of the harmony and the unity which are to be found amongst believers.

This troublemaker and quarrel starter, who seeks the downfall of others, will suddenly, without prior warning, be overwhelmed by calamity (Proverbs 6:15). In this way the antichrist will suddenly be knocked down by the judgment of Christ, even like all of those who follow him (1 Thessalonians 5:3). He will be totally ruined and will have in no way any chance for a recovery (cf. 2 Chronicles 36:16; Proverbs 29:1; Jeremiah 19:11).

Verses 16-19

Things Which the LORD Hates

These verses are connected with the previous verses concerning the worthless person and especially with Proverbs 6:14. To present some vices of that person, the father uses a form of number proverb in his teaching: “six …yes, seven” (Proverbs 6:16; Proverbs 30:15; Proverbs 30:18Proverbs 30:21; Proverbs 30:24Proverbs 30:29; Job 5:19; Ecclesiastes 11:2; Amos 1:6; Amos 1:9Amos 1:13; Amos 2:1Amos 2:4; Amos 2:6, Micah 5:5). That means that the vices which he mentions, are not an exhaustive list of it. Sexual sins and robbery for example are not mentioned. The things which the LORD “hates”, which “are an abomination to Him”, are things that are totally unfamiliar to Whom He is.

The seven things which the LORD hates, and which we therefore also ought to hate, are specifically personal conducts and attitudes:
1. “Haughty eyes” (Proverbs 6:17) are eyes with a proud look, which exposes arrogant ambition. It is a “pomp of haughtiness” (Isaiah 10:12-2 Chronicles :).
2. “A lying tongue” is a deceitful tongue, a tongue that speaks words that creates a wrong impression to the listener, which causes him to be misled. We see this with the false prophets, who are misleading God’s people (Jeremiah 14:14). It is also said of Judas, the wicked betrayer (Psalms 109:2; Acts 1:20). A lying tongue causes injuries (Proverbs 26:28), but he will once be silenced (Proverbs 12:19).
3. “Hands that shed innocent blood”, are hands of a murderer, which have killed an innocent one. King Manasseh “shed very much innocent blood until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another” (2 Kings 21:16; 2 Kings 24:3-Numbers :).
In the characters 1-3 – pride, lie and murder – we see the capital sins of satan who fell into pride, due to which he is “a murderer of men from the beginning” and “a liar” (John 8:44).
4 “A heart that devises wicked plans” (Proverbs 6:18), is another abomination to God. In the heart the thoughts take place. Other people do not see it, but God does. He hates it when people devise sins in their heart.
5. “Feet that run rapidly to evil” (Isaiah 59:7; Romans 3:15), testify of an obscure enthusiasm and diabolical speed, in order to carry out the devised evil and cause sorrow to others.
6. We can relate “a false witness who utters lies” (Proverbs 6:19), with the lying tongue, which is mentioned earlier (see point 2.). Parts of the body are not used now to indicate persons, but it regards the whole person. Here it is about the violation of the ninth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16).
7. “One who spreads strife among brothers”, is a general description of a person who causes and rouses division and quarrels (cf. Romans 16:17-Job :). This is possibly the lowest point of the things which the LORD hates. The seventh point is specially emphasized (“yes, seven”). It is the result of the forgoing. The six previous abominations end up here.

The counterparts of these seven hateful abominations are (1) humbleness, (2) speaking the truth, (3) keeping life, (4) pure thoughts, (5) being diligent to do good things, (6) righteous witness and (7) peaceful harmony.

Verses 20-24

What Keeps From the Evil Woman

After the teachings on different subjects in Proverbs 6:1-Psalms : the father continues from Proverbs 6:20 with the teaching about the sin of fornication which he started with in Proverbs 5. This teaching continues up to and includes Proverbs 7. He describes two new aspects of that sin. In Proverbs 2 he speaks about the relation between the harlot and her husband and in Proverbs 5 he highlights the relation between the adulterous husband and his own wife. In the following verses he exposes the relationship between the husband of the adulterous wife and his son when he commits adultery with the adulterous wife. His son will, in case of adultery, have to deal with the husband.

The father is very practical. Adultery is not only a matter over which the church has to exercise discipline. That is indeed an important aspect, but there are more aspects related to this sin. As we have seen earlier, the father speaks about the financial consequences of adultery. Another practical aspect is that the son will have to do with the husband of that woman. That’s what he speaks about in the following.

Before he does that, he firstly presents the importance and the beauty of the commandment of the father and the teaching of his mother (Proverbs 6:20). This underlines again the significance of the teaching that is given at home by the father and the mother. Father and mother raise their children together. When the children listen to their teaching, it will keep them from an immoral life.

For this reason the father recommends his son to bind the commandment and teaching in his “heart” “continually” (Proverbs 6:21). If the heart is the storing place of the teaching of the parents, it will exert the effect of protection on the actions and ways of the young man. He must also tie them around his neck (cf. Proverbs 3:3; Proverbs 7:3). That will keep him from turning his head to a beautiful, evil woman and paying attention to her.

The total life of the young man will be directed by it (Proverbs 6:22). It will guide him when “he walks about”; it will watch over him when he “sleeps” and it will talk to him when he “is awake”. It is a summary of everything he does (Deuteronomy 6:7; Deuteronomy 11:19). ‘To walk about’ is a daily activity. He ‘sleeps’ after his daily activities. After he has slept, he ‘awakens’ in order to again ‘walk about’. But before he walks about, it is important to ask for advice for the new day and to let the commandment speak to his heart. We can apply this to the keeping of ‘quiet time’ for the reading of God’s Word.

The “commandment” of the father (Proverbs 6:20) and the “teaching” of the mother (Proverbs 6:20) have the effect of “a lamp” and “a light” (Proverbs 6:23; Psalms 19:8; Psalms 119:130). It makes things clear and open; it shows what is right and what is wrong, so that we may know what we should do. The “reproofs for discipline” that go together with the education, are a path that leads to “life”. He who follows reprimands, will reach life.

Light and life belong together. They are deepened in the New Testament (John 1:4-Deuteronomy :). The Word of God is a lamp and a light (Psalms 119:105). A lamp lights up the following step, the light shines far ahead, over the whole path. The lamp and the light correct what is wrong and educate in what is right. If we follow the Lord Jesus, we will not walk in darkness, but we will have the light of life (John 8:12).

The Word guides and guards. Here it is mainly about the fact that the Word will keep the son and guard him against the evil, adulterous woman, when he obeys the commandment and the teaching (Proverbs 6:24). Therefore the young man will not let himself be deceived and tempted by the smooth and flattering tongue of this evil woman (Proverbs 2:16). She is “a foreign woman” (literal translation), someone who is not his and for him, but who belongs to another person.

Verses 25-29

Do Not Take Fire in Your Bosom

The first warning about the evil, foreign woman, regards the heart of the young man (Proverbs 6:25), “for from it [flow] the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). In the heart the temptation is given birth (James 1:14-Ezra :). He should not allow himself to consider in his heart any desire because of the beauty of that woman. Immoral actions start with a lustful look (2 Samuel 11:2; 2 Samuel 13:1-2 Chronicles :).

As soon as such a lust appears, it should be judged immediately. Whoever treasures the lust, sins and commits the deed of adultery (Matthew 5:28). Therefore he should not look at her eyes, for they work like strings with which he can be bound. For the commitment of adultery a high price has to be paid (Proverbs 6:26). It leads to the deepest poverty, “a loaf of bread”, and even to deadly danger: there is a hunt for his “precious life”.

There is mention of two kinds of evil women. There is “a harlot”, which is a person who offers her corrupt ‘services’ for money. He who gets involved with her, becomes poor. There is also “the adulteress” (lit “a man’s wife”). She has gotten bored with her husband and is looking for someone else for her sexual satisfaction. To get involved with the latter is even more dangerous than getting involved with a harlot, for whoever gets involved with her, is not sure about his life. He is completely in her power. Additionally the envious husband will hunt for his “precious life” in order to kill him. The wife will deliver him to her envious husband with a straight face (cf. Genesis 39:16-Proverbs :).

The strange woman must be avoided like fire (Proverbs 6:27-Hosea :). The clothes of the one who still gets involved with her, will be burned (Proverbs 6:27). Practically it means that the behavior of the fornicator and the adulterer, his appearance and dignity, of which the clothes speak, becomes despicable (Genesis 38:13-Job :). It is not only that it has a ‘burning smell’, which sometimes looks like that, but his whole behavior and dignity have disappeared. He is despised.

Nobody will be so foolish to think that he can walk on hot coals without scorching his feet (Proverbs 6:28). ‘Walking’ refers to a repetitive event; it is not an accidental happening. It refers to a continual sexual contact, to a person who is a whore-hopper. It is impossible to do such a thing without getting harmed himself. The father applies this to what happens if his son gets involved with the wife of another man. He then will have to bear the consequences. One cannot escape from that. Those are the ‘natural laws’ of fornication. Destruction is waiting at the end.

The father concludes in Proverbs 6:29. Going in to the wife of his neighbor has the meaning of having sexual contact with her. The same goes for touching her. Whoever gets intimate in such a way, whoever commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, will not go unpunished. The punishment for the adulterer is inevitable.

Verses 30-35

There Is No Ransom for Adultery

In Proverbs 6:30-Obadiah : the sin of adultery is compared with the sin of stealing. When a thief steals to satisfy his hunger, it is understandable, although it is wrong what he does (Proverbs 6:30). When they catch him, he will have to pay severely for his crime (Proverbs 6:31; Exodus 22:1; Luke 19:8). It can cost him everything that he owns. But when he has finished paying his debt, he will be a free man again.

With a man who commits adultery, it is totally different (Proverbs 6:32). For somebody who steals because he is hungry, there will be some understanding, but for somebody who ‘steals’ the wife of another person, there never will be any understanding. The young man could have gone to his own wife when he was ‘hungry’. He is not without bread, but he is “without sense”, or as it is literally said, he is missing heart, he lacks heart. What he does, looks like pleasure, but it is suicide. He “destroys himself”.

Adultery provides him ‘pleasure’ for a brief moment, but what he finds, is “wounds and disgrace” and a “reproach” which will not be blotted out (Proverbs 6:33). It is impossible to go unpunished. There is only revenge left. There is nothing that can take away that reproach. It is a hateful sin to God and there are also horrible consequences for the people involved. The Scripture is as practical as the father is.

The word which is translated with “touches” in Proverbs 6:29, is translated in this verse with “wounds”. We see here that the relation between the sin and the punishment is shown by a Hebrew play on words. Whoever touches an adulteress affectionately, will be touched severely by wounds which will strike him.

He will have to do with a husband who is enraged by jealousy, who is furious with him (Proverbs 6:34). The pity that people can have with a thief who steals out of hunger, is totally missing with the husband for an adulterer who has committed adultery with his wife. In the day of vengeance, which is the day that he discovers the adultery, vengeance is the only way for him to find satisfaction. The man who commits adultery with his wife, must be judged.

In contrast to the thief there is no way for the adulterer or fornicator to compensate his sin (Proverbs 6:35; Proverbs 6:30-Obadiah :). The jealous husband will in no way accept any compensation. How great the amount would be, this case is not to be ransomed with money. The adulterer cannot do anything to make up what he had done. He cannot turn back his sin. He has to live with that sin for the rest of his life, if he stays alive, at least, and is not killed by the jealous husband.

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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Proverbs 6". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/proverbs-6.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.