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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 6

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 3004. B.C. 1000.

For the securing of the peace and happiness of a married life, which the wise man had recommended in the foregoing chapter, he here cautions his readers against two evils, which often cause great discontents in a family, by bringing it to poverty.

(1,) Against suretiship, Proverbs 6:1-5 .

(2,) Against slothfulness, Proverbs 6:6-11 . Illuminating both by elegant similitudes: especially the latter, by the example of the ant, which borrows of none, and yet is not in danger of starving; laying up in store, by a remarkable industry, sufficient provision in due season against the time of need.

(3,) He annexes, as a further caution, the description of a deceitful knave, who cares not by what wicked arts he lives, when he is reduced to poverty, Proverbs 6:12-15 .

(4,) We have an account of seven things which God hates, Proverbs 6:16-19 .

(5,) An exhortation to keep the commandments, Proverbs 6:20-23 .

(6,) Further warnings against whoredom, Proverbs 6:24-35 . “The principal points of wisdom,” says Bishop Patrick, “that are to be learned in this chapter are these: The care of our family; caution in engaging for others; diligence in some honest employment; hatred of idleness, as contrary to nature; not to contemn the meanest instructer, but to learn something even of the smallest creature; and to improve the present time; to dread the mischievous effects of poverty, especially that which comes by idleness; (the effect of which is too often the loss of all conscience, Proverbs 6:12 , Proverbs 6:13 , &c.;) to give good heed to the admonitions of our parents and instructers, when they teach the will of God; and above all things to fortify ourselves against the sins of uncleanness.”

Verses 1-2

Proverbs 6:1-2. My son, if thou be surety for, or to, thy friend Namely, rashly and unadvisedly, without considering for whom, or how the thou dost oblige thyself, or how thou shalt discharge the debt if occasion require it: otherwise suretiship, in some cases, may be not only lawful, but an act of justice and charity; if thou hast stricken thy hand Obliged thyself by giving thy hand, or joining thy hand with another man’s, as the custom then was in such cases; (of which, see Job 17:3, chap. 17:18, and 22:26;) with a stranger With the creditor, whom he calls a stranger, because the usurers in Israel, who lent money to others, upon condition of paying use for it, were either heathen, or were reputed as bad as heathen, because this practice was forbidden by God’s law, Deuteronomy 23:19. Or, to, or for, a stranger, for here is the same preposition which is rendered for in the former clause. And so the words may imply, that whether a man be surety to, or for, a friend, or to, or for, a stranger, the course to be taken is much of the same kind. Thou art snared, &c. Thy freedom is lost, and thou art now in bondage to another.

Verses 3-5

Proverbs 6:3-5. Do this now, my son Immediately follow the counsel which I now give thee, and deliver thyself Use thy utmost endeavours to be discharged; when, or since, thou art come into the hand That is, into the power; of thy friend Of the debtor, for whom, as being thy friend, thou didst become surety, whereby thou art in his power, by his neglect or unfaithfulness, to expose thee to the payment of the debt. Go, humble thyself Hebrew, התרפס , throw thyself down at his feet, or offer thyself to be trodden upon. As thou hast put thyself in his power, and made thyself his servant, bear the fruits of thy own folly, and humbly and earnestly implore him as readily to grant thy request as thou wast forward to comply with his, and forthwith to satisfy the debt, or give thee security against the creditor. Make sure of thy friend Cease not to urge and importune him by thyself, and by thy friends, till thou hast prevailed with him. The Seventy translate this verse,” Do, my son, the things which I command thee, and deliver thyself: for thou art come into the hands of evil men upon thy friend’s account: go, therefore, be not careless or remiss, but earnest and importunate with thy friend to get thyself discharged.” Give not sleep to thine eyes, &c. Namely, until thou hast taken care for the discharge of this obligation. Be not secure, nor negligent, nor dilatory in this matter. Deliver thyself as a roe, &c. With all possible expedition, as a roe runs swiftly away.

Verses 6-8

Proverbs 6:6-8. Go to the ant, &c. “Nor are industry and diligence requisite in this alone, but in all thy affairs; to which, therefore, if thou art slothful, I must excite thee by the example of the ants; whose orderly and unanimous diligence, in collecting and preserving food for themselves, if thou wilt observe, thou mayest be ashamed” to be indolent, “and learn hereafter to imitate their provident care.” Which having no guide, &c. “Which is the more remarkable, because they have none to lead and direct them as mankind have; no overseer to exact their labours; no supreme governor to call them to an account for any negligence. And yet they never omit the opportunity they have in harvest to make provision against the winter; but toil perpetually, in gathering and carrying food into the cells they have digged for it in the earth; where they lay it up, and secure it with admirable art; that it may neither be injured by the weather, nor stolen from them by other creatures.” Bishop Patrick.

Verses 9-11

Proverbs 6:9-11. How long, &c. O the strange idleness of mankind! who have so many monitors and governors, that call upon them again and again, to excite them to diligence, but in vain! Wilt thou sleep, O sluggard When the ants are so watchful, and labour not only in the day-time, but even by night, when the moon shines. Yet a little sleep, &c. This he speaks in the person of the sluggard, refusing to arise and requiring more sleep, that so he might express the disposition and common practice of such persons. So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth Swiftly and unexpectedly; and thy wants as an armed man Irresistibly.

Verses 12-15

Proverbs 6:12-15. A naughty person Hebrew, a man of Belial, a wicked man, whose continual practice it is, in one way or other, to work wickedness; walketh with a froward mouth Makes it his business, by lies; or flatteries, or slanders, or perjuries, to maintain himself in his idle courses. And if the slothful are to be condemned that do nothing, much more those that act wickedly, and contrive to do all the ill they can. He winketh with his eyes, &c. He vents his wickedness, as by his speech, so also by his gestures, by which he secretly intimates what he is ashamed or afraid to express openly to his accomplices, his intentions or desires of doing some evil to some one; he teacheth with his fingers Having declared his designs by the motion of his eyes, or feet, he points out the particular person by his fingers. Frowardness is in his heart Perverse or wicked thoughts and desires. He soweth discord Either out of malice against others, or out of a base design of improving it to his own advantage. Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly And prove his utter ruin; suddenly shall he be broken When he fancies he has conducted his matters so craftily that nobody discerns his villany, he shall, on a sudden, be looked upon as the pest of mankind, and, like a vessel broken in small pieces, shall be incurably undone.

Verses 16-19

Proverbs 6:16-19. These six things Generally found in those men of Belial, described in the foregoing verses; doth the Lord hate Namely, above many other sins, which have a worse name in the world; a proud look Pride of heart, which commonly discovers itself by a man’s looks and gestures; a lying tongue Lying and deceit in his common conversation. A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations Whose practice it is to design and contrive wickedness. Feet that be swift in running to mischief Such as greedily and readily execute their wicked designs, without any restraint or delay. A false witness that speaketh lies Namely, in judgment: whereby this differs from the former lying, Proverbs 6:17; and him that soweth discord among brethren That is, dear relations or friends.

Verses 20-23

Proverbs 6:20-23. Keep thy father’s commandment So far as it is not contrary to God’s command. And forsake not the law of thy mother Which children are too apt to despise. Bind them continually upon thy heart Constantly remember and duly consider them; tie them about thy neck See on Proverbs 1:9; Proverbs 3:3. When thou goest, it shall lead thee Namely, the law of God, which thy parents have taught thee, and pressed upon thee, shall direct thee how to order all thy steps and actions. It shall talk with thee It shall give thee counsel and comfort. For the commandment is a lamp It enlightens the dark mind, and clearly discovers to a man the plain and right way. And reproofs of instruction Wise and instructive reproofs or admonitions; are the way to life Both to preserve and prolong this life, and to ensure eternal life to those that obey them.

Verses 24-29

Proverbs 6:24-29. To keep thee from the evil woman Which is mentioned as a great commendation of God’s word, because neither worldly discretion, nor a good education, nor moral precepts, nor any other considerations, are sufficient preservatives against this lust, as is manifest from daily experience. Lust not after her beauty Do not give way to, or delight thyself with, unchaste thoughts or affections: compare Matthew 5:28. Neither let her take thee with her eyelids With her wanton glances. For by means, &c., a man is brought to a piece of bread To extreme poverty, so as to want, and be forced to beg his bread. And the adulteress will hunt for the precious life To take away a man’s life; either by consuming his body and spirits, and so shortening his days; or more directly and strictly when she hath any great provocation to do it, or any prospect of considerable advantage thereby. Can a man take fire in his bosom and not be burned? The question implies a denial; he cannot escape burning. No more can he who burns in lust avoid destruction. Whosoever toucheth her In any immodest way; shall not be innocent He is in imminent danger of adultery, as he that takes fire in his bosom, or goes upon hot coals, is in danger of being burned. The way of sin is down hill, and those that venture upon the temptation to it will hardly escape the sin itself; and certainly shall not escape punishment, but shall meet with it either from God or man.

Verses 30-35

Proverbs 6:30-35 . Men do not despise a thief That is, abhor or reproach him, but rather pity and pardon him, who is urged by mere necessity to these practices, but the adulterer is abhorred by all. If he The thief; be found, he shall restore seven-fold The law ( Exo 22:1-4 ) did not oblige the thief to restore seven-fold, but only five oxen for one, or in another case double. Some persons think that the word seven-fold is only used as an indefinite number, meaning he shall restore the value of that which he hath taken, and much more. Others think that, as thefts were multiplied, so the punishment of them was increased in Solomon’s time; or, at least, that it was the practice of some nations to require this seven-fold restitution. Some again have thought (which seems most probable) that he speaks not of that restitution which the law required, but of that which either the wronged person might force the thief to make, or which the thief would willingly give rather than be exposed to public shame. But whoso committeth adultery lacketh understanding Shows still greater folly; for, if he is found out, he is not punished in his estate only, but with loss of life; for if a theft, occasioned by hunger, is so punished, how much more severely shall the adulterer be punished, who robs a man of what is so much more valuable and dear to him than any part of his property, even of his wife, without any such necessity. He is indeed a brutish and silly man who madly rushes upon those filthy courses without any sense or consideration of the horrid shame and certain destruction which attend upon them. He that doeth it That commits such a crime; destroyeth his own soul Not only his life, but his soul: he is guilty, not only of self-murder, but of soul-murder. A wound and dishonour shall he get Evil or corporeal punishment from the magistrate, or rather from the woman’s husband, as it follows. And his reproach shall not be wiped away Although it should be forgiven by God, yet the reproach and scandal of it will remain. For jealousy is the rage of a man It inflames a man with rage and fury against the adulterer. Therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance When he has an opportunity to avenge himself upon the delinquent. He will not regard any ransom Though the adulterer may be willing to expiate his crime, and redeem his life at any rate, it will not be accepted: the largest gifts will be refused, and nothing will satisfy the injured husband but the death of the person who hath injured him so deeply.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 6". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/proverbs-6.html. 1857.
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