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Under the similitude of a surety Solomon opens this chapter, with shewing the consequence of such engagements. He follows up the chapter with divers cautions, which are founded in much wisdom.
Proverbs 6:1-5 My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with 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, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend. 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.
I cannot possibly read these verses, expressive as they are of the tender concern of a watchful Father over his Son, how he enters into suretyship engagements, with the consequences of them, without having my soul immediately directed to him, who, at the call of his and our Father, stood up the willing, voluntary surety, of his people from everlasting. Surely, thou blessed Jesus, it was thou that was the first surety the world ever heard of, and which when first made known in heaven excited the everlasting wonder of all the angels of light. And of thee it may truly be said, when thou didst strike hands with thy Father in confirmation of the treaty, it was both for thy friend, and yet far a stranger. Friends thou hast called us through thy gracious condescension, (John 15:13-15 ) and yet we were strangers and enemies to God by wicked works, when thou camest to seek and save us by thy blood. Romans 5:8 ; Ephesians 2:12-13 . And though not snared, as this scripture terms it, with the words of thy month; yet thou wast taken into engagements by thy promises of love, which thou couldest not afterwards break, neither didst thou wish to break; for the baptism thou hadst in consequence thereof to be baptised with, thou didst say, thou wert straitened until that it was accomplished. Oh! the love of God which passeth knowledge. Luke 12:50 .
Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat 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 one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.
These are beautiful scriptures in which the Lord sends his people to gather instruction from the inferior creatures of his creation. For in point of divine knowledge by reason of the fall, man is sunk lower than the instinct of the brute, in providing for his own eternal safety. We have another beautiful passage to the same effect. Jeremiah 8:7
A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth. He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord. Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.
One might be prompted to suppose that the sacred Writer had in view, when he thus expressed himself, the seed of the serpent. A naughty person, in scripture language, is a man of Belial; and so it might have been rendered. And of such characters it is not sufficiently expressive to say, that they may commit error, but in fact frowardness is in the heart of all such; it forms their very nature. The Apostle, under the inspiration of the Spirit, called one of these men of Belial, child of the devil. Acts 13:10 . See another instance. John 8:44 . And the beloved apostle draws the line of distinction between the children of the kingdom, and the children of the evil one. 1 John 3:10 .
These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
Here are the fruits of such a man's conduct as Solomon described, and the Holy Ghost hath given a fuller catalogue, Galatians 5:19-21 And as a beautiful contrast, in the fruit of the Holy Ghost upon the souls of his people, he adds the 22d and 23d verses in the same chapter. (Galatians 5:22-23 )
My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent. Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house. But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore 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.
I make no interruption through the whole of this paragraph, because the whole forms but one and the same sermon. The binding those graces upon the heart, and wearing them about the neck, is similar to what Moses commanded the Israelites concerning the law. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 . And Reader! doth it not suggest to the recollection Aaron, in his typifying the Lord Jesus, going in before the mercy-seat with the names of the twelve tribes on his breast? And doth not Jesus bind his people to him now in all his priestly office. Exodus 28:29 ; Revelation 8:3 . What a relief would the recollection of this be to a poor believer in every trying hour, could he but steadily by faith look within the veil, whither our forerunner is for us entered, and behold him thus engaged? And what a blessed work would it be of God the Spirit upon the heart, if the believer could also by faith take to him, and bind to him, everything that concerns the enjoyment of Jesus and his great salvation, to lead him when he went forth; to keep him when he slept, and to talk with him when he was awake.
PRECIOUS Lord Jesus! I feel constrained while reading what is here said of a surety, and the sad state in which such an one involves himself, to call to mind what thy love must have been, which prompted thine infinite breast to enter into suretyship engagements for thy people, and what a state of unequalled sorrows the gracious act induced. In the contemplation of it, I cannot but pass over every other subject which this chapter might otherwise awaken to profit, to consider the greatness of thy love, and the greatness of the calamities which it brought to thy holy soul. Never surely was there an act so truly blessed, gracious, and beneficent as this. In this one act thou didst put thyself in the law-place, and room of all thy chosen. And by that act thou didst undertake both for our debt and for our duty; both to cancel sin and to fulfil all righteousness. And now, Lord, in such views of thee and thine unparalleled mercy, where shall I look but to thee? To whom shall I come but to Jesus? Hast thou struck out my name from the dreadful bond debt where it stood, and where it must forever have stood but for thee, hast thou paid it all, cancelled it all; and when I lay forever insolvent, hast thou redeemed me from all? And shall I, can I reject thine infinite love, and go about to establish mine own righteousness, and forget the wormwood and the gall, the prison and the pit from which thou hast freed me? Oh! infinite love, passing all knowledge. Let me, blessed Redeemer, since thou hast brought me off, and brought me out, let me live to thy glory and to thy praise; and among all thy ransomed, bless forever the almighty surety whose hand was striken for such a stranger, and whose soul travail became so exquisite to redeem me from death. May the life thus saved by grace be spent to thy service, and since by purchase and redemption I am thine, may my soul bless thee, love thee, and delight in thee forever.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Proverbs 6". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany