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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Proverbs 6

 

 

Verse 1

Proverbs 6:1 My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, [if] thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger,

Ver. 1. My son, if thou be surety.] The wise man, having exhorted his son to marry, rather than burn, and to nourish a family, rather than to haunt harlots’ houses, to the end that he may show himself a good economic, and provide for the comfortable subsistence of wife and children, he bids him here beware - (1.) Of unadvised suretyship; (2.) Of idleness, two great enemies to thrift, without which there can be no good house kept. The royalty of Solomon could not have consisted, for all his riches, without forecast and frugality.


Verse 2

Proverbs 6:2 Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.

Ver. 2. Thou art snared,] i. e., Endangered to slavery or poverty, or both. Hence the proverb, Sponde, noxa praesto est; Give thy word, and thou art not far from a mischief. Shun, therefore, suretyship, if fairly thou canst, or if not, propound the worst, and undertake for no more than thou canst well perform without thy very great prejudice: ne, ut leo cassibus irretitus dixeris, Si praescivissem? lest thou, being got into the hamble trambles, come in too late with thy fool’s "Had I wist."

Thou art taken.] For a bargain binds a man by the law of nature, and of nations. Judah, though in a shameful business, would make good his engagement to the harlot. [Genesis 38:23] Every godly man will do so, though it be to his own hindrance. [Psalms 15:4] The Romans had a great care always to perform their word, insomuch that the first temple built in Rome was dedicated to the goddess Fidelity. The Athenians were so careful this way, that Atticus testis is used for one that keeps touch, and Attica fides is sure hold; as, contrarily, Punica fides, there was no hold to be taken of Carthaginian promises. Of a certain pope and his nephew, it is said that the one never spoke as he thought, the other never performed what he spoke. This was small to their commendation. Debt is a burden to every well-minded man; neither can he be at rest till he come to "owe nothing to any man but this, that ye love one another." [Romans 13:8] When Archbishop Cranmer discerned the storm which afterwards fell upon him in Queen Mary’s days, he took express order for the payment of all his debts and engagements, which when it was once done, a most joyful man was he, saith Master Foxe in his life. (a) For bills and obligations do mancipate the most free and ingenuous spirit, and so put a man out of aim that he can neither serve God without distraction nor do good to others, nor set his own state in any good order, but lives and dies entangled and puzzled with cares and snares; and, after a tedious and laborious life passed in a circle of fretting thoughts, he leaves at last, instead of better patrimony, a world of intricate troubles to his posterity, who are also "taken with the words of his mouth."


Verse 3

Proverbs 6:3 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.

Ver. 3. When thou art come into the hand.] For "the borrower is servant to the lender," [Proverbs 22:7] and Facile ex amico inimicum facies cui promissa non reddes, saith Jerome. (a) A friend will soon become a foe, if unfriendly and unfaithfully dealt with. Not keeping time makes a jar in payments - and so in friendship too - as well as in music.

Go, humble thyself.] Crave favour and further time of the creditor. Say, Doubt not of your debt, only forbear a while. Cast thyserf at his feet, as to be trodden - so the Hebrew word here signifieth. [Ezekiel 32:2; Ezekiel 34:18] Stick not at any submission, so thou mayest gain time, and get off, and not be forced to run into the usurer’s books, that Amalek, or licking people, which, as cormorants, fall upon the borrowers, and, like cur dogs, suck your blood only with licking, and in the end kill you, and crush you, rob you, and ravish you. [Psalms 10:8-10]

And make sure thy friend.] For whom thou standest engaged; call upon him to save thee harmless. For as Alphius, the usurer, sometimes said of his clients, Optima nomina non appellando mala fieri; { b} even good debtors will prove slack paymasters if they be let alone, if not now and then called upon. Some read the words thus: Multiply thy friends, or solicit them, viz., to intercede for thee to the creditor, and to keep thee out of this brake.


Verse 4

Proverbs 6:4 Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.

Ver. 4. Give not sleep to thine eyes, &c.] Augustus wondered at a certain knight in Rome, that owed much, and yet could sleep securely; and when this knight died, he sent to buy his bed, as supposing there was something more than ordinary in it, to procure sleep. (a) The opportunity of liberty and thriving is to be well husbanded, lest some storm arising from the cruelty of creditors, or mutability of outward things, overwhelm a man with debt and danger, as the whirlwind doth the unwary traveller upon the Alps with snow. Now if such care be taken that we run not rashly in debt to men, how much more to God! If to undertake for others be so dangerous, how should we pray with that godly man Augustine, From my "other men’s sins" good Lord deliver me! If we are so to humble ourselves to our fellow creatures in this case, how much more should we "humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may lift us up in due season!" [James 4:10] If this is to be done without delay, where the danger reacheth but to the outward man, how much more speed and earnestness should be used in making peace with God, whose wrath is a fire that burns as low as hell, and getting the black lines of our sins drawn over with the red lines of his Son’s blood; and so utterly razed out of the book of his remembrance!


Verse 5

Proverbs 6:5 Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand [of the hunter], and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.

Ver. 5. As a roe from the hand, &c.] This creature may be taken, but not easily tamed: it seeks therefore by all means to make escape, and when it fleeth, looketh behind it, holding it no life, if not at liberty. (a)

And as a bird.] A most fearful creature, and desirous of liberty, that Avis Paradisi bird of paradise, especially, that being taken, never gives over groaning, till let go again. Nititur in sylvas quaeque redire suas.


Verse 6

Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

Ver. 6. Go to the ant, thou sluggard.] Man, that was once the captain of God’s school, is now, for his truantcy, turned down into the lowest form as it were, to learn his A B C’s again; yea, to be taught by these lowest creatures. So Christ sends us to school to the birds of the air, and lilies of the field, to learn dependence upon divine providence, [Matthew 6:25-29] and to the stork, crane, and swallow, to be taught to take the seasons of grace, and not to let slip the opportunities that God putteth into our hands. [Jeremiah 8:7] This poor despicable creature the ant, is here set in the chair to read us a lecture of sedulity and good husbandry. What a deal of grain gets she together in summer! What pains doth she take for it, labouring not by daylight only, but by moonshine also! What huge heaps hath she! What care to bring forth her store, and lay it drying on a sunshine day, lest with moisture it should putrefy, &c. Not only Aristotle, Aelian, and Pliny, but also Basil, Ambrose, and Jerome, have observed and written much of the nature and industry of this poor creature; telling us in addition that in the ant, bee, stork, &c., God hath set before us, as in a picture, the lively resemblance of many excellent virtues, which we ought to pursue and practise. These, saith one, are veri laicorum libri, the true laymen’s books, the images that may teach men the right knowledge of God and of his will, of themselves and their duties.


Verse 7

Proverbs 6:7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,

Ver. 7. Which having no guide, overseer, &c.] How much more then should man, who hath all these, and is both ad laborem natus, et ratione ornatus, born to labour, and hath reason to guide him. Only he must take heed that he be not antlike, wholly taken up about What shall we eat, or what shall we drink? &c.


Verse 8

Proverbs 6:8 Provideth her meat in the summer, [and] gathereth her food in the harvest.

Ver. 8. Provideth her meat in the summer.] She devours indeed much grain, made chiefly for the use of man; but deserves, saith an interpreter, for this very cause, to be fed with the finest wheat, and greatest dainties, that all men may have her always in their eye: diligent men to quicken their diligence, and sluggards to shame them for their slothfulness.

And gathereth her food in harvest.] That may serve in winter. It is good for a man to keep somewhat by him, to have something in store, and not in diem vivere, to live for the day, (a) as the fowls of heaven do. Bonus Servatius facit bonum Bouifacium, as the Dutch proverb hath it; A good saver makes a well doer. Care must be taken ne promus sit fortior condo, that our layings out be not more than our layings up. Let no man here object that of our Saviour, "Care not for tomorrow," &c. There is a care of diligence, and a care of diffidence; a care of the head, and a care of the heart; the former is needful, the latter sinflil.


Verse 9

Proverbs 6:9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?

Ver. 9. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard?] The ear, we say, is first up in a morning: call a sleeping man by his name, and he will sooner awake and answer to it than to anything else. The wise man therefore thus deals with the sluggard, that he may go forth and shake him, as Samson, not giving way to excessive sleep, which comes as a publican, saith Plutarch, and takes away a third part of our lives at least. Pliny (a) said to his nephew, when he saw him walk out some hours without studying, Poteras has horas non perdere, you might have put these hours to better uses. May not the same be said to the sleepy sluggard? While the crocodile sleeps with open mouth, the Indian rat shoots himself into his body, and eats up his entrails. While Ishbosheth slept upon his bed at noon, Baanah and Rechab took away his head. Epaminondas, a renowned captain, finding one of his sentinels asleep, thrust him through with his sword: and being chided for so great severity, replied, Talem eum reliqui qualem inveni, I left him but as I found him. It must be our care that death serve us not in like sort, that we be not taken napping, and so "killed with death." [Revelation 2:23] The bird Onocrotalus is so well practised to expect the hawk to grapple with her, that even when she shutteth her eyes she sleepeth with her beak exalted, as if she would contend with her adversary, to teach us continual vigilance, resembling those who were wont to sleep with brazen balls in their hands, which falling on vessels purposely set on their bedsides, the noise did dissuade immoderate sleep, Nullus mihi per otium exit dies, partem etiam noctium studiis vindico, saith Seneca, (b) I let no day pass me idly, some part of the night also I spend in study. Our King Alfred, 872 AD, cast the natural day into three parts: eight hours he spent in prayer, study, and writing, eight in the service of his body, and eight in the affairs of his state; which space, having then no other divice for it, he measured by a great wax light divided into so many parts, receiving notice by the keeper thereof, as the several hours passed in the burning. (c) The Jews divided likewise the day into three parts, the first, ad Tephilla, for prayer; the second, ad Torah, for reading the law; the third, ad Malachah, for work; no talk of sleep. Their work would, likely, keep them waking. As for the law, what Servilius Scevola said of the civil law, holds more true of the divine, Ius civile scriptum est vigilantibus non dormitantibus, the law was not written for sleepers, but wakers. Jerome exhorted some godly women to whom he wrote, not to lay the Bible out of their hands, until being overcome with sleep, and not able any longer to hold up their heads, they bowed them down, as it were, to greet the leaves below them, with a kiss. (d) And for prayer, David would not fall asleep at it, but break his sleep for it. [Psalms 119:62; Psalms 119:147] He was at it at midnight, at day dawn, and "In the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up." [Psalms 5:3] Two military words (e) he there makes use of, to shew his wakefulness at his work soldiers are not the greatest sleepers: Caesar was no less vigilant, than valiant: Scanderbeg from his first coming to Epirus never slept more than two hours in a night; - he would not only pray, but marshal up his prayers, put them in good array; and when he had so done, he would be as a spy upon a tower, to see whether he prevailed, whether he got the day. (f) The spouse slept, but her heart waked; and, as repenting of that half-sleep also, which yet the night and foul weather persuaded, she promiseth to get up early. [Song of Solomon 5:2; Song of Solomon 7:12] Our Saviour was up and at prayer "a great while before day." [Mark 1:35] The holy angels are styled "Watchers," Eγρηγοροι. [Daniel 4:10] And they are three times pronounced happy that watch. [Luke 12:37-38; Luke 12:43] "Watch therefore."


Verse 10

Proverbs 6:10 [Yet] a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

Ver. 10. Yet a little sleep.] Heb., Sleeps; so, slumbers. Though he speaks in the plural, and would have much, yet all is but a little in his pretence and conceit. He asks "a little," but he will not be denied: sed finite paululum ibit tu longum. (a) First, he must have "sleep"; having slept, he must have "slumbers," - sleep will not quickly be rubbed out of his eyes; having slumbered, he must "fold his hands." Compressis sedere manibus (b) to sit with hands folded up, is used by the Latins in a like sense. He tumbles on his bed, "as a door on the hinges." [Proverbs 16:14] A man must come with a lever to help him off his couch.


Verse 11

Proverbs 6:11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.

Ver. 11. As a traveller, and thy want as an armed man.] That is, Speedily and irresistibly. Men must sweat out a living, and earn their bread before they eat it. [2 Thessalonians 3:12] Think not to have wealth without working; as cities and towns are said to have fallen into Timotheus’s toil as he was sleeping - with so much ease he took them in. Spontaneae lassitudines morbos praecedunt, (a) roamings and reachings forerun diseases; so doth sluggishness usher in penury; when, as manus motitans, "the nimble hand maketh rich"; [Proverbs 10:4] and "in all labour there is abundance." [Proverbs 14:23] But, Nae, illi falsi sunt qui diversissimas res expectant ignaviae voluptatem et praemia virtutis. (b) They are utterly out that think to have the pleasure of idleness, and the plenty of painfulness.


Verse 12

Proverbs 6:12 A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.

Ver. 12. A naughty person.] Lo, every idle man is a naughty man; is, or ere long will be; for by doing nothing, men learn to do evil, said the heathen. (a) And "thou wicked and slothful servant," saith our Saviour. [Matthew 25:26] He puts no difference between nequam et nequaquam, an idle and an evil person. The devil also will not long suffer such a one to be idle, but will soon set him to work. Idleness is the hour of temptation.

A wicked man.] Or, An unprofitable man, vir nihili; good for nothing, but to eat, and drink, and sleep, and sport, and sit, and talk, and laugh, and be merry. These are nothing; nay, they are excrements in human society; that live in the world to no purpose, yea, to bad purpose. Oh, it is good, saith one (b) to do something whereby the world may be the better; and not to come hither merely as rats and mice, only to devour victuals, and to run squeaking up and down.

Walketh with a froward mouth.] Graditur ore perverso. Nothing more usual with idlebies than to go tattling up and down, prying, and spying, and carrying tales and rumours. [1 Timothy 5:13] {See Trapp on "1 Timothy 5:13"} It is nothing that they can do; they will say the more therefore; αργοι, περιεργοι. [2 Thessalonians 3:11]


Verse 13

Proverbs 6:13 He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers;

Ver. 13. He winketh with his eyes.] He is restless in evil, and with his odd tricks and gesticulations seeks to spread mischief, even there, where he dares not otherwise discover himself. Or the sense may be this: Though he speak froward things, though he slander and detract, to the hurt of the hearers, yet as if he spake nothing but truth, and out of deep affection to the party, he seeks to assure it by the constance of his countenance, by the gravity of his gait, and by the motion of his fingers, to make believe that it is so indeed, when as in truth it is neither so nor so.


Verse 14

Proverbs 6:14 Frowardness [is] in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord.

Ver. 14. Frowardness is in his heart.] What marvel then though he solecise with his hand, (a) though he twinkle with his eye, and tinkle with his feet, &c.? "When he speaketh fair, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart." [Proverbs 26:25] Even those seven next mentioned here, [Proverbs 6:16-19] as Aben Ezra conceiveth upon that text.

He deviseth mischief continually.] Heb., At all times. Pliny speaks of the scorpion, that there is not one minute wherein it doth not put forth the sting. The soul of a wicked man is "in a sling," [1 Samuel 25:29] restless, and violently tossed about by Satan, who acts and agitates him. [Ephesians 2:2 Micah 2:1 Hosea 7:6]

He soweth discord.] And so shows himself a true breathing devil, a disciple of Machiavel, whose maxim was, divide et impera, make division and get dominion. In the year 1579, Allen at Rhemes instructed his emissary seducers, sent over into England, to make way for their great project of perdition in 1588, by dividing the people under the terms of Protestant and Puritan, and provoking them thereby to real and mutual both hate and contempt. (b) And what labouring there is now by the Jesuit party to heighten our unhappy differences, that they may make themselves masters of all, who seeth not? Herein they deal, - saith Gregory, of the like factors for the devil in his time, - as the master of the pit, who oft sets two cocks to fight together to the death of both, that after mutual conquest, he may sup with both their carcases. The Jews, before they were banished out of this kingdom, threw bags of poison into the wells and fountains that the people were to drink of, and thereby endeavoured to poison them all: so do our seedsmen of sedition.


Verse 15

Proverbs 6:15 Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.

Ver. 15. Suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.] A dismal doom: broken, and not bruised only; "suddenly" broken, when they least dream or dread the danger. And this "without remedy"; no possibility of piecing them up again, or putting them into a better condition. See this exemplified in Nabal, [1 Samuel 25:36-38] and Doeg. [Psalms 52:1-9]


Verse 16

Proverbs 6:16 These six [things] doth the LORD hate: yea, seven [are] an abomination unto him:

Ver. 16. These six things doth the Lord hate.] That is, He detesteth, damneth, punisheth them in the sluggard, whose soul is the sink of all these ensuing evils. Where note, that sin makes wicked men the object of God’s hatred; the saints, of his pity: as we hate poison in a toad, but we pity it in a man; in the one, it is their nature, in the other, their disease.

Yea, seven are an abomination to him.] Or, That seventh (a) his soul abhorreth, that sowing of discord among brethren heighteneth and completeth his hatred of the rest.


Verse 17

Proverbs 6:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

Ver. 17. A proud look.] Heb., Haughty eyes. Men’s hearts usually and chiefly sit and show themselves in oculis, in loculis, in poculis, in their eyes, purses, and cups. The Latins speaking of an arrogant disdainful person say, that he doth supercilium attollere, look loftily. (a) Odi fastum istius Ecclesiae, said Basil; (b) I hate the proud stateliness of that Western Church: the Church of Rome he means, which even in those purer times began to look big, and despise all others in comparison of itself. (c) This he somewhere calls οφρυς δυτικη, the Western eyebrow, which occasioned at length that lamentable separation of the Eastern or Greek Church from communion with the Latin: the other four patriarchs dividing themselves from the Bishop of Rome, and at their parting, using these or the like words, - "Thy greatness we know, thy covetousness we cannot satisfy; thine intolerable insolence we can no longer endure, live to thyself," &c. (d) God himself "resists" a proud person in a special manner, [1 Peter 5:5] and that "afar off"; [Psalms 138:6] he cannot abide the sight of him, looks aloof at him. For whereas all other vices fly from God, saith Boethius, pride lets fly at him. (e) No wonder therefore though his soul abhor it, when it "buds especially," [Ezekiel 7:10] and "testifies to a man’s face," [Hosea 7:10] breaking forth as the masterpock of the soul in big swelling words, bubbles of vanity, [2 Peter 2:18] proud gait, ridiculous gestures, garish attire, lofty and haughty looks, that hate of heaven and gate to hell. David could not endure it in any of his. [Psalms 101:5] No more could Queen Elizabeth in the greatest favourite about her. Dissension once falling out between her and Essex about a fit man for government of Ireland, he forgetting himself, and neglecting his duty, uncivilly turneth his back, as it were in contempt, with a scornful look. She waxing impatient, gave him a cuff on the ear, bidding him begone with a vengeance, &c. (f) For avoiding of all discontent and distempers this way occasioned, it were to be wished that men would first get humble hearts, - the apostle makes humble mindedness the first virtue, [Ephesians 4:2] as here a proud look is made the first vice, the master root, - and then, that they would enter into a covenant, as Job did, with his own eyes at least; [Job 31:1] such a covenant as was once made at a meeting of the Borderers in the marches between England and Scotland: security was given and confirmed on both sides by oath, according to custom, and proclamation made, saith mine author, (g) that no man should harm other by word, deed, or look.

A lying tongue.] Heb., A tongue of lying - viz., that hath learnt the trade, and can do it artificially. "A friar, a liar," was the old proverb here, passing for current of that evil generation, those loud and lewd liars. "The proud have forged lies against me"; [Psalms 119:69] - Assunt mendacium mendacio, so the Hebrew hath it; they sew one lie to another, "until their iniquity be found to be hateful." [Psalms 36:2] "A righteous man" - how much more the righteous God! - "hateth lying; but a wicked man" - for his lying - "is loathsome" (Heb., stinketh), "and cometh to shame." [Proverbs 13:5] Pilate, for instance, - of whom Egesippus saith that he was Vir nequam et parvi faciens mendacium, a naughty man, and that made light of a lie. It may seem so by that scornful question of his What is truth? [John 18:38] Tacitus also is by Tertullian said to be mendaciorum loquacissimus. Where he speaks of Christians, he writes so many lines, so many lies. Liars pervert the end for which God created speech, which was, to give light to the notions of the mind. Hence φωνη, quasi φως του νου.

And hands that shed innocent blood.] This is fitly subjoined and set after a lying tongue, because bloodshed is oft occasioned by lying.

Nil est audacius illis

Deprensis: iram atque animos ex crimine sumunt. ”

- Juvenal.

Ruffians revenge the lie given them with a stab. Persecutors, as in the French massacre, give out that Christians are the worst of men, not fit to live for their notorious enormities, and therefore not to be pitied if taken from the earth. Those that kill a dog, saith the French proverb, make the world believe he was mad first. So they always belied the Church, and traduced her to the world, and then persecuted her; first "took away her veil," and then "wounded her,." {Song of Solomon 5:7} The devil was first a slanderer and liar, and then a murderer. He cannot murder without he slander first. But "God will destroy them that speak lies; the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man." [Psalms 5:6]


Verse 18

Proverbs 6:18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

Ver. 18. An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations.] This is the old beldam, the mother of all the foregoing and following mischiefs, and is therefore fitly set in the midst of the seven, as having an influence into all. From the eyes, the wise man descends to the mouth; from the mouth to the hands; from the hands to the heart; from thence to the feet; and so takes the parts in order as they stand. But as for the heart, it transfuseth its venom into all the rest, and may say to them all, as the heart of Apollodorus the tyrant seemed to say to him, who dreamed one night that he was flayed by the Scythians, and boiled in a caldron, and that his heart spoke to him out of the kettle, Eγω σοι τουτων αιτια; It is I that have drawn thee to all this. Those in hell cry so, doubtless.

Feet that be swift.] As if they should come too late. This is a foul abuse of the locomotive faculty given us by God for better purpose, that we should be "swift to hear," [James 1:19] "run to and fro to increase knowledge," [Daniel 12:4] walk in the way that is called holy, "go from strength to strength," [Psalms 84:7] taking long strides towards heaven. Those, then, that walk in a contrary road, and make all possible haste to heap up sin upon sin, must needs be abominated and accursed of God.


Verse 19

Proverbs 6:19 A false witness [that] speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Ver. 19. A false witness that speaketh lies.] Heb., That blows abroad lies, - as with a pair of bellows; that vents them boldly and freely in open court, in the face of the country. These knights of the post can lend an oath for a need, as they did Jezebel against Naboth, and, like those in the history, will not stick to swear that their friend or foe was at Rome and Interamna both at once. God oft thundereth against such, to show his utter hatred of them, and hath threatened that the winged flying book, that is full of curses, within and without, shall overtake them ere they get home, and shall rest in the midst of their houses, to consume them with the timber thereof, and the stones thereof. [Zechariah 5:4]

And him that soweth discord.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 6:14"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 6:16"} Unity among brethren is fitly compared to a cable rope, which will not easily break; but if once cut asunder, it is hard to tie a knot upon it. What ill officers then are breedbates and boutefeus [firebrands]!


Verse 20

Proverbs 6:20 My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

Ver. 20. My son, keep thy father’s commandment.] The commandments of religious parents are the very commandments of God himself, and are therefore to be as carefully kept "as the apple of a man’s eye." [Proverbs 7:2] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 1:8"}


Verse 21

Proverbs 6:21 Bind them continually upon thine heart, [and] tie them about thy neck.

Ver. 21. Bind them continually.] Observe them with as much care and conscience as thou art bound to do the law of God given by Moses. [Deuteronomy 6:8] {See Trapp on "Matthew 23:5"}


Verse 22

Proverbs 6:22 When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and [when] thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.

Ver. 22. When thou goest, it shall lead (a) thee.] No such guide to God as the word, which while a man holds to, he may safely say, Lord, if I be deceived, thou hast deceived me; if I be out of the way, thy word hath misled me.

When thou sleepest, it shall keep thee.] If thou sleep with some good meditation in thy mind, it shall keep thee from foolish and sinful dreams and fancies, and set thy heart in a holy frame when thou awakest, he that raketh up his fire at night shall find fire in the morning. "How precious are thy thoughts" (that is, thoughts of thee) "unto me, O God." [Psalms 139:17] What follows "When I awake, I am still with thee." [Psalms 139:18]


Verse 23

Proverbs 6:23 For the commandment [is] a lamp; and the law [is] light; and reproofs of instruction [are] the way of life:

Ver. 23. For the commandment is a lamp.] Or, Candle, whereof there is no small use when men go to bed, or rise early. He that hath the word of Christ richly dwelling in him may lay his hand upon his heart, and say as dying Oecolampadius did, Hic sat lucis; here is plenty of light. Under the law all was in riddles; Moses was veiled; and yet that saying was then verified, Et latet et lucet. There was light enough to light men to Christ, "the end of the law." [Romans 10:4]

And reproofs of instruction.] Or, Corrections of instructions. A lesson set on with a whipping is best remembered. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 3:13"}


Verse 24

Proverbs 6:24 To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.

Ver. 24. To keep thee from the evil woman.] Heb., From the woman of evil, that is wholly given up to wickedness, - as Aaron saith of the people, [Exodus 32:22] and as Plautus, In fermenlo tota iacet uxor. In this sense Antichrist is called "the man of sin." [2 Thessalonians 2:3]

From the flattery of the tongue.] This is the proper effect of God’s word, hid in the heart, as an amulet. Bellerophon and other heathens, without this preservative, abstained from adultery, either for love of praise, or fear of punishment, or opinion of merit. But this was not properly chastity, but continence, which kept them from the outward act, sed non sine dolore - not without inward lustings and hankerings after strange flesh. Vellem, si non essem imperator, said Scipio, when a fair harlot was offered to him; I would if I were not a general.

Of a strange woman.] Filthiness, as also swearing and drunkenness, in a woman is most abominable. Hence, among other reasons, saith one, the whorish woman is called "the strange woman."


Verse 25

Proverbs 6:25 Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.

Ver. 25. Lust not after her beauty.] Aureliae Orestillae praeter formam nihil unquam bonus laudavit. Aurelia Orestilla had beauty indeed, but nothing else that was praise worthy, saith the historian. (a) How much better Aspasia Milesia, of whom Aelian (b) reports that she was fair and modest. And the Lady Jane Gray, whose excellent beauty was adorned with all variety of virtues, as a clear sky with stars, as a princely diadem with jewels. Some women are like Helen without, Hecuba within; but it is a small praise to have a good face and a naughty nature - a beautiful countenance and a base life.

In thine heart.] {See Trapp on "Matthew 5:28"} {See Trapp on "1 Corinthians 7:34"}

Neither let her take thee with her eyelids.] Si nescis, oculi sunt in amore duces. Some (c) render it, Neque te capiat splendoribus suis; let her not take time with her glitterings, and gay habiliments, or head tires. Cyprian and Augustine say that superfluous attire is worse than whoredom, because whoredom only corrupts chastity, but this corrupts nature. Jerome saith, that if women adorn themselves so as to provoke men to lust after them, though no evil follow upon it, yet those women shall suffer eternal damnation, because they offered poison to others, though none would drink it.


Verse 26

Proverbs 6:26 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.

Ver. 26. For by means of a whorish woman.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 5:10"} These creatures know no other language but that of the horse leech’s daughter, Give, give, and may fitly be compared to the ravens of Arabia, that, fully gorged, have a tunable, sweet record, but empty, screech horribly; or to carrion crows, that flock to a dead carcase, not to defend it, but to devour it; and no sooner have they bared the bones but they are gone. Thus dame Alice Peirce, King Edward III’s concubine, served him while he lived; all was here as she would; and when this king lay dying, she packed away what she could snatch, even to the rings on his fingers, and so left him. (a)

Corpus, opes, animum, famam, vim, lumina, scortum

Debilitat, perdit, necat, aufert, cripit, orbat."

Will hunt for the precious life.] As Potiphar’s wife did for Joseph’s. {Genesis 39:14} And surely it was a great providence of God that, upon her false accusation, he had not been presently put to death. Into prison he was thrown, and so laden with fetters, that "the iron entered into his soul" Psalms 105:18 - i.e., ate into his flesh, and all by means of this whorish woman, whose lust turned into hatred. Aut te ardenter amat, aut te capitaliter odit. (b) {See Trapp on "Proverbs 5:11"}


Verse 27

Proverbs 6:27 Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?

Ver. 27. Can a man take fire?] Lest any man should reply, ‘I will see to myself, and save one from the afore named mischiefs; I have more wit than to trust any harlot, and more skill than to let it come abroad to my disgrace and detriment’; the wise man answers, that it is as possible to take a live coal from the hearth, and bear it in a man’s bosom without burning his clothes, or to walk upon fire without scorching his feet, as to attempt anything in this kind and to escape Scot free. Flagitium et flagellum sicut acus et filum. Sin and punishment go linked together with chains of adamant. Thy clothes will stink, at least, of that fire; thy feet will blister, at least, with those coals. If the great shower blow over thee, yet thou shalt be wet with the after drops.


Verse 28

Proverbs 6:28 Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?

Ver. 28. Can one go upon hot coals?] Similitudes are never set out to confirm or confute, but to adorn and illustrate, giving unto their matter a certain kind of lively gesture, and stirring up thereby men’s drowsy minds to the consideration and acknowledgment of the truth, and to the pursuit and practice of virtue and godliness. Of the great use of similes, we may read in Chrysost., Hom. in Gen.; Origen in Levit.; August. de Doctrina Christ., lib. ii.; Greg. Moral., lib. iii. cap. 36, &c.


Verse 29

Proverbs 6:29 So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.

Ver. 29. So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife.] That suspiciously converseth with her alone, though haply with no intent of corrupting her. Joseph shunned the company of his mistress; he would not be with her alone. [Genesis 39:10] Chambering and secret familiarity with women is forbidden, as a deed of darkness and dishonesty. [Romans 13:13] How much more, then, wanton touches and dalliance! Sit not at all with another man’s wife; sit not down upon the bed with her, saith Siracides (chap. 9). Christ’s disciples marvelled that he talked with the woman of Samaria, solus cum sola, - saith Beza. [John 4:27] But he might do that which we must beware of lest concupiscence kindle. Abraham might see Sodom burning, but Lot might not look that way.

Shall not be innocent.] Shall not be held so, howsoever he shall suffer in his name, be he never so honest - besides that hereby he tempts the devil to tempt him to uncleanness. Now the proverb is, Oculus et lama non patiuntur iocos, A man’s eye and his name will bear no jest. And he was no fool that said, Negligere quid de se quisque sentiat, non solum arrogantis est, sed et dissoluti. He is not only a proud but a lewd person, that takes no thought what others think and talk of him. "Provide," we must, "for things honest, not only before the Lord, but also before men." [2 Corinthians 8:20-21]


Verse 30

Proverbs 6:30 [Men] do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry;

Ver. 30. Men do not despise a thief.] We used to say, A liar is worse than a thief; (a) and Siracides saith the same of a constant liar. (chap. 20) But that an adulterer is worse than a thief, the Holy Ghost here assureth us; and his reasons are unanswerable. For, first, his necessity pleads for him: (b) he must either steal or starve; and this doth somewhat excuse him, a tanto, as they say, but not a tote; for as a man should rather die than lie, so he should rather perish than purloin or pilfer. But what excuse hath the adulterer? - non ventris inediam patitur, sed cordis indigentiam, He wants not meat, but wit; he preserveth not his body, but destroyeth his soul.


Verse 31

Proverbs 6:31 But [if] he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.

Ver. 31. He shall restore sevenfold,] i.e., Manifold, according as the law limiteth, though it be to the utmost of what the thief is worth. But what restitution can the adulterer make, should he make him amends with as much more? The thief steals out of want; the adulterer of wantonness.


Verse 32

Proverbs 6:32 [But] whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he [that] doeth it destroyeth his own soul.

Ver. 32. Lacketh understanding.] Being wholly carried by sensual appetite, against the dictates both of religion and of reason. Beetles love dunghills better than ointments, and swine love mud better than a garden. Luther tells of a certain noble in his country so besotted with the sin of whoredom, he was not ashamed to say, that if he might ever live here, and be carried from one whore house to another, there to satisfy his lusts, he would never desire any other heaven. This filthy man did afterwards breathe out his wretched soul between two notorious harlots.

Destroyeth his own soul.] It is not therefore leve peccatum, a small sin, as the pope’s canonists call it. (a) Divine justice doth not use to kill flies with beetles.


Verse 33

Proverbs 6:33 A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.

Ver. 33. A wound and dishonour shall he get.] Either from the husband of the adulteress or from the magistrate, who will put him to death, according to the law of God, [Leviticus 20:10; Leviticus 20:13; Leviticus 20:15-16 Deuteronomy 22:22-24] and of various nations, with whom adultery is a capital crime.

And his reproach shall not be wiped away.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 5:9"} How oft read we of David that he was upright in all things, save only in the matter of Uriah! What an indelible blot is that still upon him!


Verse 34

Proverbs 6:34 For jealousy [is] the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.

Ver. 34. For jealousy is the rage.] Howbeit he may not kill the adulterer, though taken in the act, but prosecute the law against him, and appeal to the magistrate, who is the lord keeper of both tables - custos utriusque tabulae. But if no law will relieve a man, yet let him know that he shall do himself no disservice by making God his chancellor.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 6:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-6.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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