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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 6

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-5

Pro 6:1-5

Proverbs 6:1-5

This chapter has a number of independent warnings against:

(1) being surety for the obligations of others (Proverbs 6:1-5),

(2) against laziness (Proverbs 6:6-11),

(3) against wicked men (Proverbs 6:12-15),

(4) against seven things which God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19), and

(5) against both harlots and adulteresses (Proverbs 6:20-35).

Keil, combining warnings (3) and (4) here labeled warnings 1,2, 3, and 5 as "The ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth discourses in this first section of Proverbs (Proverbs 1-9).

Some scholars, noting that the first four of these warnings are sandwiched in between two longer sections on sexual misconduct, have regarded them as an interpolation; but Keil observed that, "There are many marks of identity of authorship" that are common to both passages, concluding that the present arrangement, "Does not therefore warrant critical suspicion.” Also, "This arrangement occurs in all of the Ancient Versions.”

WARNING AGAINST BECOMING SECURITY FOR OTHERS (THE NINTH DISCOURSE)

Proverbs 6:1-5

"My son, if thou art become security for thy neighbor,

If thou hast stricken thy hands for a stranger;

Thou art snared with the words thy mouth,

Thou art taken by the words of thy mouth.

Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself,

Seeing thou art come into the hand of thy neighbor:

Go humble thyself, and importune thy neighbor;

Give not sleep to thine eyes,

Nor slumber to thine eyelids:

Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter,

And as a bird from the hand of the fowler."

"If thou hast stricken thy hands for a stranger" (Proverbs 6:1). "This is the equivalent (in modern terms) of co-signing your neighbor’s note." "This was the procedure for concluding a bargain. It is like our expression, `to shake hands on it.’” "The warning here is against lightly risking irreparable harm. If through careless words, or vanity, one has done so, no time is to be lost in obtaining a release from the agreement, which (from the context here) has been apparently agreed to but not yet carried into effect.”

In ancient times, the careless assumption of another’s financial obligations could bring vast damages upon those thoughtless enough to do it; and, even today, there are examples of very extensive harm that can result from it. This writer knew a great Christian brother in Sherman, Texas, who co-signed a note for a kinsman; and when the kinsman defaulted, the brother sold his home and his farm to pay the bank.

"The earnest eager tone here suggests that the writer has observed the very predicament that he describes -- it is a business man’s advice to his friend.” No better advice was ever given.

"With the words of thy mouth" (Proverbs 6:2). "The repetition of this phrase is intentional to give greater force to the fact that such entanglements are the result of one’s own indiscretion.”

"Do this now ... deliver thyself ... importune thy neighbor" (Proverbs 6:3). The message here is, "By all means, get out of that arrangement at once!" "In Hebrew, the word importune means `rage against,’” "The word importune is hardly a strong enough word here.” "The refusal to be surety for a neighbor’s debt does not mean heartless indifference to his needs." If one is able to help his distressed neighbor, let him do so willingly and generously; but to guarantee the payment of his debts is not only unnecessary, but exceedingly foolish. It was so when Proverbs was written, and it is true now.

"Guaranteeing to pay someone else’s debt may even be an unintended disservice to the recipient by exposing him to temptation, perhaps causing him to continue to live beyond his means." But even apart from that, being surety for another’s obligation is contrary to the Word of God. It can, and often does, bring great sorrow and damage upon them that do it; and every Christian should heed this admonition.

"It should be remembered in this connection that the risks involved in the assumption of such liabilities in ancient times were very great. Terrible poverty and even slavery could result." Although today we have such things as bankruptcy laws to protect certain debtors, there are still grave and totally unnecessary risks involved in one’s obligating himself to pay others’ obligations.

Proverbs 6:1. “Pulpit Commentary”: “The sixth chapter embraces four distinct discourses, each of which is a warning. The subjects treated of are: (1) suretyship—Proverbs 6:1-5; (2) sloth—Proverbs 6:6-11; (3) malice—Proverbs 6:12-19; and (4) adultery— Proverbs 6:20 to the end.” Our judgment would make “perverseness” the subject of Proverbs 6:12-19 instead of “malice”. At first it would appear that the subject being treated in Chapter 5 and to which the author returns to in the last part of this chapter has been abruptly interrupted by these three non-related subjects. But “Pulpit Commentary” says, “The subject treated of in the preceding chapter is the happiness of the married life, and this is imperiled by incautious undertaking of suretyship, and suretyship, it is maintained induces sloth, while sloth leads to maliciousness. After treating of suretyship, sloth, and malice in succession, the teacher recurs to the former subject of his discourse, viz. impurity of life.” “Clarke”: “If thou pledge thyself in behalf of another, thou takest the burden off him, and placest it on thine own shoulders; and when he knows he has got one to stand between him and the demands of law and justice, he will feel little responsibility; his spirit of exertion will become crippled, and listlessness as to the event will be the consequences. His own character will suffer little; his property nothing, for his friend bears all the burden.” Other passages on suretyship: Proverbs 11:15; Proverbs 17:18; Proverbs 20:16; Proverbs 22:26; Proverbs 27:13. From studying all of these verses “Clarke” comes to this conclusion on “suretyship”: “Give what thou canst; but, except in extreme cases, be surety for no man.”

Proverbs 6:2. “Striking hands” then was like signing a contract now. Sometimes one later sees his mistake of going surety for a party.

Proverbs 6:3. “My son” here shows the earnestness of the father’s entreaty. He was to go to the creditor and agree to some kind of settlement that would release him from any further or future obligation. “Do it now!” says the father, and Proverbs 6:4 continues the urgency of doing it immediately—do it before you have to stand good for your friend’s debt.

Proverbs 6:4. Don’t spend any time sleeping—not even one night—until you have cleared yourself in the matter. This expression for doing something immediately is also used in Psalms 132:4-5 : “I will not give sleep to mine eyes, Or slumber to mine eyelids; Until I find out a place for Jehovah.”

Proverbs 6:5. Continuing the figure of a “snare” raised in Proverbs 6:2, he urges the son to take a lesson from the hunted roe or bird: they sense danger, they seek safety; they lose no time in doing so.

STUDY QUESTIONS - Proverbs 6:1-5

1. What does it mean to “strike thy hands” (Proverbs 6:1)?

2. What is the figure of being “snared” (Proverbs 6:2)?

3. How does one “deliver” himself in this setting (Proverbs 6:3)?

4. What does “importune” mean (Proverbs 6:3)?

5. Give “no sleep” or give “not excessive sleep” to thy eyelids (Proverbs 6:4)?

6. Who is a “fowler” (Proverbs 6:5)?

Verses 1-19

Pro 6:1-19

Let neighbors take care of their own issues,

consider the ant, the man with a filthy

Mouth, and Seven things that God Hates

(Proverbs 6:1-19):

"My son, if thou art become surety for thy neighbor, If thou hast stricken thy hands for a stranger; Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, Thou art taken with the words of thy mouth. Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, Seeing thou art come into the hand of thy neighbor: Go, humble thyself, and importune thy neighbor; Give not sleep to thine eyes, Nor slumber to thine eyelids; Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, And as a bird from the hand of the fowler" (Proverbs 6:1-5). Solomon gives bits of wise instruction to his readers. It is not wise to guarantee anything for your neighbor or a stranger. It may very well be that the neighbor or stranger will not do as he should. Let each man speak for himself and take care of his own business. If you have given a guarantee for a neighbor or stranger do all within your power to get out of such a situation. You cannot be responsible for other people’s actions... you can only be responsible for your actions.

"Go to the ant, thou sluggard; Consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no chief, Overseer, or ruler, Provideth her bread in the summer, And gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as a robber, And thy want as an armed man" (Proverbs 6:6-11). Solomon speaks very low of the simple man who wants something for nothing. The one who would cheat on a test to pass a class, the one who would gamble away any money he has in hopes of hitting it big, the man who is unwilling to work for anything in life, and opposed to hard labor. God has no respect for such people and neither do the people of God. Solomon’s advise for the sluggard is to go to the ant. Watch the hard working ant who has no lack because she works hard. The sluggard; however, likes to sleep and thereby they experience poverty in life.

"A worthless person, a man of iniquity, Is he that walketh with a perverse mouth; That winketh with his eyes, that speaketh with his feet, That maketh signs with his fingers; In whose heart is perverseness, Who deviseth evil continually, Who soweth discord. Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; On a sudden shall he be broken, and that without remedy" (6:12-15). There are many "worthless persons" in the world who curse with their mouths, wink with their eyes, and make motions with their fingers (see Ephesians 4:29). Such a person is not subject to the laws of God (Romans 8:7).

"There are six things which Jehovah hateth; Yea, seven which are an abomination unto him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood; A heart that deviseth wicked purposes, Feet that are swift in running to mischief, A false witness that uttereth lies, And he that soweth discord among brethren" (Proverbs 6:16-19). The word "abomination" (hatred - something disgraceful) is found throughout the word of God in relation to the Lord’s attitude toward sinful things. Moses said that idolatry (Deuteronomy 7:24-26; Deuteronomy 12:28-32; Deuteronomy 17:2-5; Deuteronomy 27:15), false prophets (Deut.l 13:12-13), blemished sacrifices (Deuteronomy 17:1), Wizards, sorcerers, and magicians (Deuteronomy 18:9-12), women who wear men’s clothing (Deuteronomy 22:5), prostitution (Deuteronomy 23:17-18), cheating people out of money with false balances (Deuteronomy 25:13-16), and sexual immorality such as adultery, fornication, and bestiality (Deuteronomy 27:15 ff) are acts that are repulsive to God. Solomon lists seven more things that Jehovah views as an "abomination:" Haughty eyes: Those filled with pride are headed toward eternal destruction. Solomon wrote, "Pride goeth before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18).

A Lying tongue: Those who do not tell truth... those who speak lies to make themselves appear better than what they are... those who get themselves in trouble and then lie to get out...these actions are an abomination unto Jehovah.

Murderers: The act of taking another person’s life is an abomination to Jehovah.

A wicked heart: People who make wicked plans within their hearts to do some evil deed.

Those feet that are quick to involve themselves in wicked and mischievous activities.

A false witness: one who tells a lie about another person.

Lastly, he that sows discord among brethren: The man or woman who would, by means of a factious movement, sow seeds of discord among brethren (causing people to argue).

Verses 6-11

Pro 6:6-11

Proverbs 6:6-11

THE WARNING AGAINST LAZINESS (THE TENTH DISCOURSE)

"Go to the ant, thou sluggard;

Consider her ways, and be wise:

Which having no chief,

Overseer, or ruler,

Provideth her bread in the summer,

And gathereth her food in the harvest.

How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard?

When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?

Yet a little sleep, a little slumber,

A little folding of the hands to sleep:

So shall thy poverty come as a robber,

And thy want as an armed man."

"The ant figures in most of the ancient and proverbial literature as the type of provident thrift and industry.” Aesop’s fable regarding the ant and the grasshopper is an example of this. We reject the conceited inference in the comment that, "Modern investigations shows that ants do have an intricate organization," the inference being that "Modern man is so smart that he is above such an erroneous notion as that which we have here."

There are many varieties of ants; and, "Some of these lay up provisions ... The agricultural ant of Texas, which resembles the ant of Palestine, not only stores up food, but even prepares the soil, kills the weeds, and finally reaps the harvest.” And, as for the proposition that ants indeed do have overseers, governors, etc., "All objections on this subject are based upon insufficient data, and have been completely answered by recent observations." Any careful observation of ants certainly reveals that countless numbers of them carry on their activities without any "bosses" or supervisors of any kind!

"No chief, overseer or ruler" (Proverbs 6:7). "Although three words are used here, they are used as synonyms.” The meaning is that the ants work without any boss to oversee and command their labors.

"So shall come thy poverty ... and ... thy want ... as an armed man" (Proverbs 6:11). Laziness is destructive, and the failure by men to engage diligently in work is a violation of the Word of God. The same Bible which says, "Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy, also says, "Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work." God’s plan has no promises and no benefits in store for the idler. The New Testament admonition still stands that, "If a man will not work, don’t let him eat." It appears to this writer that our current society may believe that they have graduated from this injunction; but God’s Word has a habit of always winning at last.

Proverbs 6:6. Ants are well distributed and are everywhere known for ambitious activity. To speak of his sleep-loving son as a “sluggard” was not complementary (it means “lazy one”), but it was fitting. Solomon’s use of animals (“roe” and “bird” in y. 5 and “ant” in this verse) is in keeping with Job 12:7 : “Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; And the birds of the heavens, and they shall tell thee.”

Proverbs 6:7. The ant is a fitting representative of true ambition, for an ant does not have to have a boss to make her work. And when did you ever see one that wasn’t working? Remember Aesop’s fable about the ant and the grasshopper?

Proverbs 6:8. While some who live in cold climates where ants become dormant during winter have argued that Proverbs is in error here in its representation of the habit of the ant, “Tristrum” in “Pulpit Commentary” says, “Contrary to its habits in colder climates, the ant is not there dormant through the winter; and among the tamarisks of the Dead Sea it may be seen in January actively engaged in collecting the aphides and saccharine exudations...Two of the most common species of the Holy Land...are strictly seed-feeders and in summer lay up large stores of grain for winter use.”

Proverbs 6:9. The same words as Proverbs 6:9-10 are found in Proverbs 24:33-34. Again he refers to his son as a sleeping “sluggard”. He is such a contrast to the industrious ant. “Early to bed, early to rise Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” is an old saying not too well practiced by many modern youth who neither want to go to bed at night nor get up in the morning! Our verse is not arguing against a proper amount of sleep but against that over-sleeping that youth is sometimes guilty of (sleeping all morning if not called and made to get up). This is a good way to waste one’s life and have little to show by way of accomplishment.

Proverbs 6:10. The emphasis is on “little”. Have you ever known an ambitionless young person to say, “Let me sleep a little longer;” or, “I’ll get up in a little while”? But if left to him/her, the “little” becomes a “lot”.

Proverbs 6:11. A sluggard’s poverty is also referred to in other passages: “He becometh poor that worketh with a slack hand” (Proverbs 10:4); “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing” (Proverbs 13:4); “The sluggard will not plow by reason of the winter; Therefore he shall beg in harvest, and have nothing” (Proverbs 20:4). A “robber” was always in need, and an armed man was a poorly-paid man (compare Luke 3:14). In other words, a little sleep, a little slumber, and a little folding of the hands lead to a lot of poverty! “The expression, ‘thy poverty’ and ‘thy want’, represent the destitution of the sluggard as flowing directly from his own habit of self-indulgence” (“Pulpit Commentary”).

STUDY QUESTIONS - Proverbs 6:6-11

1. For what is ant especially known (Proverbs 6:6)?

2. Do ants have no leader (Proverbs 6:7)?

3. Comment on the strange habits of ants (Proverbs 6:8).

4. Is late-sleeping for healthy people encouraged in the Bible (Proverbs 6:9)?

5. What word in Proverbs 6:10 is emphatic?

6. Comment on the possessions of an armed man and robber in the Bible days (Proverbs 6:11).

Verses 12-19

Pro 6:12-19

Proverbs 6:12-19

WARNING AGAINST DECEITFUL MEN; THINGS GOD HATES (THE ELEVENTH DISCOURSE)

"A worthless person, a man of iniquity,

Is he that walketh with a perverse mouth;

That winketh with his eyes, that speaketh with his feet,

That maketh signs with his fingers;

In whose heart is perverseness,

Who deviseth evil continually,

Who soweth discord.

Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly;

On a sudden shall he be broken, and that without remedy.

There are six things which Jehovah hateth;

Yea, seven which are an abomination unto him:

Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,

And hands that shed innocent blood;

A heart that deviseth wicked purposes,

Feet that are swift in running to mischief,

A false witness that uttereth lies,

And he that soweth discord among brethren."

"A worthless person, a man of iniquity" (Proverbs 6:12). Beginning here and through Proverbs 6:15 we have a description of a wicked and deceitful man; but it is not revealed just what was meant by the various winks, signs, gestures and other bodily movements by which he made evil signals, communicated with confederates, or in other ways hoodwinked, deceived and conspired against his victims. The picture of this evil person that emerges here is that of an underhanded deceiver who concealed his true intentions by these `signs’ and `signals.’ "There is a similar description of a corrupt person, with a prediction of his coming to a bad end in Proverbs 26:23-26.”

THE SEVEN THINGS THAT THE LORD HATES

Here again we encounter a popular memory verse. Both Harris and Delitzsch consider these seven sins as climactic, the seventh, "sowing discord among brethren" being considered as the most serious of the seven. It appears to this writer, as Driver expressed it that, "All these things belong together," giving a number of characteristics of the same person, a person revealed here as totally evil. Note that his eyes have a proud look; his tongue tells lies; his hands murder the innocent; his heart is full of wicked purposes; his feet run quickly on evil errands - all of these are parts of one man! The last two abominable things are the composite product of all this, namely, that person who by lying speeches sows discord among brethren. In that sense, of course, we may view these as presenting a climax in the seventh. However, "It is the heart that underlies the seven vices which are an abomination to God; and it occupies the central position here," because it is the fountain from which all evil flows.

Another significant thing here is the fact that, "This passage reflects an acquaintance with the Old Testament," especially the Pentateuch. The Law of Moses gave specific prohibitions against all of the things mentioned here.

It has been noted that there is an amazing resemblance in the thought of these verses as compared with the Beatitudes of Matthew 5, particularly in the first and last of the two lists. "`The Lord hates a proud look,’ is practically the equivalent of, `Blessed are the poor in spirit’; and, `He that soweth discord among brethren,’ is the exact converse of, `Blessed are the peacemakers.’”

Proverbs 6:12. One with a perverse mouth is doubly described as a “man of iniquity” and a “worthless person”. He is the former in that perverse speech is sinful; he is the latter in that he does neither God nor man good with his speech.

Proverbs 6:13. One who gives you signals with his eyes, feet, and fingers to “speak” to some but to conceal what he is saying from others is a character to be on guard against. He too is described as being a “man of iniquity” and a “worthless person”. Other references to this type of “winking”: Psalms 35:19; Proverbs 10:10.

Proverbs 6:14. Such a “worthless”, “iniquitous” man is further described as having a perverse heart, a heart that is continually devising some kind of evil (in this verse, “discord”). On Pentecost the apostles were all together with “one accord” (Acts 2:1)—unity, harmony. “Discord” is just the opposite. It can be “sown” among very dear friends by subtle-hearted person. Such takes time to grow, but in time it will produce such a crop. Proverbs 6:19 also refers to sowing discord among brethren.

Proverbs 6:15. He has plotted the downfall of others; he himself will meet his own destruction. The destruction is described in two ways: “suddenly” and “without remedy”. Other passages on being ruined without any hope of remedy: 2 Chronicles 36:16; Proverbs 29:1; Jeremiah 19:11.

Proverbs 6:16. God may love the world—the people (John 3:16), but there are things that He “hates”. In fact, His hatred can run to holding things in “abomination” (detestable). Why the unusual construction here? Evidently not only to give emphatic position to sowing discord among brethren but to call particular attention to it.

Proverbs 6:17. This verse shows that eyes, tongue, and hands can and do sin, and that God hates and holds in abomination sinful things done by them. “Haughty eyes” are also condemned in Psalms 18:27 and Psalms 101:5. A “lying tongue” is called a “deceitful tongue” in Psalms 120:2-3. “Pulpit Commentary” aptly observes, “Lying is the wilful perversion of truth, not only by speech but by any means whatever whereby a false impression is conveyed to the mind.”

Proverbs 6:18. Two more ways that one can displease God to the fullest: to have a heart that thinks up evil (evil intentions, evil plots against people, etc. ) and to have feet that are quick to carry the above out. With so much evil in the world (1 John 5:19)—all stemming, of course, from the devil—there are many such wicked hearts through which the devil works to cause it. Jeremiah 17:9 speaks of the heart being “corrupt”. Prior to the Flood (and bringing it on) was the fact that “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). The implication of John 2:23-25 is that what is “in man” is not good. On the last part of our verse Isaiah 59:7 and Romans 3:15 say the same: “Their feet run to evil” and “Their feet are swift to shed blood”.

Proverbs 6:19. These two are “twins”: bearing false witness and sowing discord among brethren. What an act (to utter lies about a person)! What an achievement (to divide good friends)! Jesus pronounces a blessing upon the “peacemaker” (Matthew 5:9), and this section shows the utter contempt that God has for the opposite of the peacemaker—the discord-sower. The 9th Commandment (Exodus 20:16) forbade bearing false witness against one’s neighbor, and yet is has often been done.

STUDY QUESTIONS - Proverbs 6:12-19

1. “Worthless” is what sense (Proverbs 6:12)?

2. Does Proverbs 6:13 make winking a sin?

3. What is “discord” (Proverbs 6:14)?

4. Where is the emphasis in Proverbs 6:15?

5. Why not say “seven things” to begin with instead of the way Proverbs 6:16 words it?

6. Comment on each item in Proverbs 6:17.

7. Comment on each item in Proverbs 6:18.

8. Comment on each item on Proverbs 6:19.

Verses 20-35

Pro 6:20-35

Proverbs 6:20-35

WARNING AGAINST THE HARLOT AND THE ADULTERESS (THE TWELFTH DISCOURSE)

"My son, keep the commandment of thy father,

And forsake not the law of thy mother:

Bind them continually upon thy heart;

Tie them about thy neck.

When thou walkest, it shall lead thee;

When thou sleepest, it shall watch over thee;

And when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.

For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light;

And the reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

To keep thee from the evil woman,

From the flattery of the foreigner’s tongue.

Lust not after her beauty in thy heart;

Neither let her take thee with her eyelids.

For on account of a harlot a man is brought to a piece of bread;

And the adulteress hunteth for the precious life.

Can a man take fire in his bosom,

And his clothes be not burned?

Or can one walk upon hot coals,

And his feet be not scorched?

So he that goeth in to his neighbors wife;

Whosoever toucheth her shall not be unpunished.

Men do not despise a thief, if he steal

To satisfy himself when he is hungry:

But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold;

He shall give all the substance of his house.

He that committeth adultery with a woman is void of understanding:

He doeth it who would destroy his own soul.

Wounds and dishonor shall he get;

And his reproach shall not be wiped away.

For jealousy is the rage of a man;

And he will not spare in the day of vengeance.

He will not regard any ransom;

Neither will he rest content, though thou givest many girls."

There is a translation problem with these verses as a glance at the Revised Standard Version (RSV) will indicate. We shall follow the RSV in portions of this section. In previous references in Proverbs to the vice mentioned here, we have already made many comments that are also applicable in this section.

We appreciate Fritsch’s statement regarding the purpose of these long sections on unlawful sex indulgence in Proverbs, "It is not to titillate the passions of the reader, as so much modern literature does, but to portray the disillusionment of illicit love and its certain end in unquenchable remorse and bitter death." We find it difficult to think of Solomon as an instructor of his son Rehoboam as we study these lines. As Wordsworth stated it, "The unhappy example of Solomon in his old age was more potent for evil in the life of Rehoboam than the sacred precepts of Proverbs were for righteousness. At the age of forty-one Rehoboam was a feeble libertine. The warnings of Proverbs fell flat on the ears of the royal son of the author, and Rehoboam derived little benefit from the Book of Proverbs.”

"Lust not after her beauty in thy heart" (Proverbs 6:25). "These words push the sin of adultery back to the heart of the sinner, even as does the New Testament (Matthew 5:28; Mark 7:21; James 1:14-15).”

There are two fundamentally different interpretations of this section; and the difficult text may be so translated as to support either one of them. This writer accepts the view that there are two different kinds of sexual misbehavior spoken of in this passage, namely cohabiting with a professional prostitute and committing adultery with a neighbor’s wife.

This is supported by the fact that "the strange woman" (Proverbs 6:24 KJV) cannot be applied to a neighbor’s wife; and "one emendation reads for a harlot’s sake," a translation that Kidner rejected on the grounds that, "The RSV shrugs off the first (harlotry) in a manner that is hardly true.”

We call special attention to the fact that adultery with a neighbor’s wife in the latter part of this long paragraph is definitely contrasted with thievery; and it is logical to understand the first half of the paragraph as a contrast between committing sexual sin with a prostitute and doing so with a neighbor’s wife.

Furthermore, the RSV does not "shrug off" intercourse with a prostitute. Proverbs has already warned against this evil in the most vigorous language; and what is said here is merely that adultery with a neighbor’s wife is even a whole lot worse!

Also note the following verse as rendered in the RSV: For a harlot may be hired for a loaf of bread, But an adulteress stalks a man’s very life (Proverbs 6:26). The contrast stated here is profoundly true. Terrible and deadly as the prostitute most certainly is, cohabitation with the neighbor’s wife is even a greater and more foolish sin.

Driver wrote that, "All of the Ancient Versions support the view that in this passage the harlot is contrasted with the neighbor’s wife." We might add that the same is true of the Modern Versions: The Anchor Bible, the NIV, the new RSV, the Good News Bible, and Moffatt.

"Thus the RSV makes sexual intercourse with an adulteress far more dangerous and expensive than with a harlot." This is by no means hard to understand. The adulteress has a far greater advantage than the harlot, because the wrath and vengeance of the adulteress’ husband is a key weapon under her control. Also, if a man steals his neighbor’s pig, he can restore the animal, but he cannot do that if he steals his wife!

"He that committeth adultery ... would destroy his own soul" (Proverbs 6:22). "The adulterer pays a far greater price than the robber, viz, his own soul"!

Proverbs 6:20. The important instructions in Proverbs 6:24-35 are introduced by Proverbs 6:20-23. Our verse is reminiscent of Proverbs 1:8 (“My son, hear the instruction of thy father, And forsake not the law of thy mother”) and parallel in instruction with Ephesians 6:1 (“Children, obey your parents”).

Proverbs 6:21. “Bind” them and “tie” them would be to secure them in your heart and mind; don’t let them get away. The “continually” would assure him of always having them to bless his life. Similarly does Proverbs 3:3 say, “Bind them about thy neck; Write them upon the tablet of thy heart,” and Proverbs 7:3 says, “Bind them upon thy fingers; Write them upon the tablet of thy heart.”

Proverbs 6:22. Such binding and tying would cause the understanding imparted to him to do three things for him: (1) lead him when he walked; (2) watch over him when he slept; and (3) talk with him when he awoke. In other words one’s childhood teachings should accompany him at all times to instruct him constantly as to what to do (compare Proverbs 3:23-24; Proverbs 2:11). Even when one is older in life, memory and conscience will combine to say to him, “Dad always told me such-and-such;” and, “I can still hear Mother say such-and-such.”

Proverbs 6:23. The three statements of the verse are progressive: the commandment is a “lamp”; the law is “light”; and reproofs of instruction are the “way of life”. The truth is always enlightening and shows the way to go: “The commandment of Jehovah is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalms 19:8); “The opening of thy words giveth light” (Psalms 119:130); “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, And light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105); Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Proverbs 6:24. Oh, the importance of the young man growing up and not being taken in by the “evil woman” and her flattering tongue! Her “flattery” is warned against several times: “To deliver thee from the strange woman, Even from the foreigner that flattereth with her words” (Proverbs 2:16); “The lips of a strange woman drop honey, And her mouth is smoother than oil” (Proverbs 5:3); “That they may keep thee from the strange woman, From the foreigner that flattereth with her words” (Proverbs 7:5).

Proverbs 6:25. “Lust” in this passage is that burning desire for intimacies with her. It is that which gets into the “heart”, and it reminds us of James 1:14-15, which says that “a man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin.” It was “lust” in Amnon’s heart for his half-sister Tamar that caused him to do what he did (2 Samuel 13:1-14). Because of this Job made a covenant with his “eyes” so that he would not think on a maid (Job 31:1). “Pulpit Commentary” says, “The admonition is a warning to repress the very first inclination to unchaste desires.” To harbor such lustful, unchaste thoughts and feelings in one’s heart is to be guilty of adultery-in-the-heart before God (Matthew 5:28). To create this lust in men’s hearts there are women who both subtly and openly go out of their way to attract the attention of men. The wicked Jezebel “painted her eyes” in an attempt to buy Jehu off from his military designs about her and her family (2 Kings 9:30).

Proverbs 6:26. “From this verse onward to the end of the chapter the discourse consists of a series of arguments...exhibiting the evil consequences of such indulgence” (“Pulpit Commentary”). Many sinful habits have cost men a lot of money over the years (prostitution, gambling, drunkenness, smoking, etc.). Bible passages showing the financial outlay of immoral living: Proverbs 29:3; Luke 15:13; Luke 15:30; Genesis 38:13-17. The evil consequences brought to mankind by a money-making harlot are of no concern to her (she “hunteth for the precious life”).

Proverbs 6:27. The answer is “no”. Just as getting too close to a fire is inviting destruction by blaze, so getting involved with an immoral woman is a sure way to absolute ruin! This is a sin that no person can get away with. See Proverbs 6:29 where the word “so” leads to the application of this question’s answer.

Proverbs 6:28. The answer again is “no”, and Proverbs 6:29 applies to this verse just as it does to Proverbs 6:27.

Proverbs 6:29. One can no more commit adultery with his neighbor’s wife and get away with it unpunished than one can take fire into his bosom and his clothes not be burned or walk upon hot coals and his feet not be scorched. Who will punish him? (1) her husband: “Jealousy is the rage of a man; and he will not spare in the day of vengeance. He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts” (Proverbs 6:34-35); (2) society: “Wounds and dishonor shall he get; And his reproach shall not be wiped away” (Proverbs 6:33); and (3) God: “They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

Proverbs 6:30. Even though a thief will be punished upon being caught (Proverbs 6:31), yet men are somewhat understanding if he stole out of extreme hunger.

Proverbs 6:31. But even then he will still be punished. The law of Moses required a fourfold restitution of stolen sheep and a fivefold restitution for stolen oxen (Exodus 22:1). Zacchaeus spoke of restoring fourfold (Luke 19:8). Possibly in Solomon’s day they had increased the penalty to a sevenfold restitution. Actually one might lose everything he had making the restitution (“he shall give all the substance of his house”). Proverbs 6:35 shows that the injured husband of the woman will not take any form of restitution for a man having taken her.

Proverbs 6:32. Adultery is “an unwarrantable invasion of his neighbor’s rights” (“Pulpit Commentary”). Other passages connect such action with a lack of understanding: Proverbs 7:7; Proverbs 9:4; Proverbs 9:16. “Lust has displaced right reason” (“Pulpit Commentary”). God’s displeasure with adultery is seen in His commanding the guilty parties to be put to death under the Old Testament (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22) and in His condemning the same to everlasting destruction today (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Revelation 22:15).

Proverbs 6:33. “Wounds” may be those inflicted by the enraged husband as mentioned in Proverbs 6:34; they may be referring to the wounds received by being stoned to death according to the law of Moses; or they may be associated with “dishonor” with which it is joined by “and”. People will “talk” about such a person, and the guilty may deplore that fact, but it is right here in the Bible that those guilty of adultery get themselves a reproach, and that reproach will not cease. Even after a person is dead or has settled down to a proper behavior, people will still remember him as “the man who stole So-and-so’s wife”. God Himself was still talking about David’s sin with Bathsheba in Matthew 1:6.

Proverbs 6:34. The worst feelings of anger are kindled in the man whose wife has been taken by someone else. Because of this there have been vicious fist fights, knife-stabbings, and shootings.

Proverbs 6:35. Nothing that the guilty man can do to try to make amends or to appease the man whose wife he took will work. We must face the fact that there is something about adultery that is different from any other sin that man can commit, and it’s that way whether people like it or not!

STUDY QUESTIONS - Proverbs 6:20-35

1. What does “keep” mean in Proverbs 6:20?

2. Comment on “bind” and “tie” as used in Proverbs 6:21.

3. What within a person will do the 3 things mentioned in Proverbs 6:22?

4. What is there about parental teachings that are like a lamp or light (Proverbs 6:23)?

5. How many times (different sections) in Proverbs does the author warn of wicked women (Proverbs 6:24)?

6. What is “lust” (Proverbs 6:25)?

7. What does “precious life” in Proverbs 6:26 mean?

8. What does Proverbs 6:27 mean?

9. Does Proverbs 6:28 teach the same as Proverbs 6:27?

10. Has society been right in thinking that adultery is a terrible sin (Proverbs 6:28)?

11. Does Proverbs 6:30 condone stealing?

12. What did the law of Moses teach about restitution (Proverbs 6:31)?

13. What reflects such a man’s lack of understanding (Proverbs 6:32)?

14. What about an adulterer’s reputation (Proverbs 6:33)?

15. Who is the angry man of Proverbs 6:34?

16. Whose gifts will such a man refuse (Proverbs 6:35)?

Warnings against Folly and Adultery - Proverbs 6:1-35

Open It

1. When was the last time you committed yourself to doing something without really thinking about it?

2. What do you think makes it hard to live a chaste life-style in our society?

3. What do you think makes it hard to live a disciplined life-style in our society?

Explore It

4. What title would you give to this chapter? (Proverbs 6:1-35)

5. What sort of commitment does this chapter warn us about? (Proverbs 6:1-3)

6. What should the person do who has put up security for his or her neighbor? (Proverbs 6:3-5)

7. What should we observe, and why? (Proverbs 6:6-8)

8. What happens to sluggards? (Proverbs 6:9-11)

9. What happens to scoundrels and villains? (Proverbs 6:12-15)

10. What is detestable to the Lord? (Proverbs 6:17-19)

11. What should we do with our parents’ commands and teachings? (Proverbs 6:20-22)

12. What results when we listen to our parents’ instruction? (Proverbs 6:20-22)

13. How did Solomon describe these commands and teachings? (Proverbs 6:23)

14. Who needs to watch out for the immoral woman? (Proverbs 6:24-29)

15. What is dangerous about lust? (Proverbs 6:24-29)

16. How did Solomon distinguish stealing and adultery? (Proverbs 6:30-35)

Get It

17. Why is putting up security for your neighbor a harmful thing to do?

18. When and why are you tempted to make unwise commitments?

19. How can we avoid making unwise commitments?

20. What does it mean to be lazy?

21. What can we learn from the ant?

22. What is the problem with being lazy?

23. What is the difference between laziness and leisure?

24. How can the teachings of parents guard and protect their children?

25. Why do people think that they can "play with fire" (sin) and "not be burned" (get away with it)?

26. Why is adultery worse than stealing?

Apply It

27. In what one area of your life will you make an effort to be more disciplined this week?

28. What is one step you can take to deal with the inevitable temptation to lust?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Proverbs 6". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/proverbs-6.html.
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