Cautions against rash suretiship. (1-5) A rebuke to slothfulness. (6-11) Seven things hateful to God. (12-19) Exhortations to walk according to God's commandments. (20-35)
Verses 1-5 If we live as directed by the word of God, we shall find it profitable even in this present world. We are stewards of our worldly substance, and have to answer to the Lord for our disposal of it; to waste it in rash schemes, or such plans as may entangle us in difficulties and temptations, is wrong. A man ought never to be surety for more than he is able and willing to pay, and can afford to pay, without wronging his family; he ought to look upon every sum he is engaged for, as his own debt. If we must take all this care to get our debts to men forgiven, much more to obtain forgiveness with God. Humble thyself to him, make sure of Christ as thy Friend, to plead for thee; pray earnestly that thy sins may be pardoned, and that thou mayest be kept from going down to the pit.
Verses 6-11 Diligence in business is every man's wisdom and duty; not so much that he may attain worldly wealth, as that he may not be a burden to others, or a scandal to the church. The ants are more diligent than slothful men. We may learn wisdom from the meanest insects, and be shamed by them. Habits of indolence and indulgence grow upon people. Thus life runs to waste; and poverty, though at first at a distance, gradually draws near, like a traveller; and when it arrives, is like an armed man, too strong to be resisted. All this may be applied to the concerns of our souls. How many love their sleep of sin, and their dreams of worldly happiness! Shall we not seek to awaken such? Shall we not give diligence to secure our own salvation?
Verses 12-19 If the slothful are to be condemned, who do nothing, much more those that do all the ill they can. Observe how such a man is described. He says and does every thing artfully, and with design. His ruin shall come without warning, and without relief. Here is a list of things hateful to God. Those sins are in a special manner provoking to God, which are hurtful to the comfort of human life. These things which God hates, we must hate in ourselves; it is nothing to hate them in others. Let us shun all such practices, and watch and pray against them; and avoid, with marked disapproval, all who are guilty of them, whatever may be their rank.
Verses 20-35 The word of God has something to say to us upon all occasions. Let not faithful reproofs ever make us uneasy. When we consider how much this sin abounds, how heinous adultery is in its own nature, of what evil consequence it is, and how certainly it destroys the spiritual life in the soul, we shall not wonder that the cautions against it are so often repeated. Let us notice the subjects of this chapter. Let us remember Him who willingly became our Surety, when we were strangers and enemies. And shall Christians, who have such prospects, motives, and examples, be slothful and careless? Shall we neglect what is pleasing to God, and what he will graciously reward? May we closely watch every sense by which poison can enter our minds or affections.
Proverbs 6:1-35 . After admonitions against suretyship and sloth (compare Proverbs 6:6-8 ), the character and fate of the wicked generally are set forth, and the writer ( Proverbs 6:20-35 ) resumes the warnings against incontinence, pointing out its certain and terrible results. This train of thought seems to intimate the kindred of these vices.
1,2. if--The condition extends through both verses.
be surety--art pledged.
stricken . . . hand--bargained (compare Job 17:3 ).
with a stranger--that is, for a friend (compare Proverbs 11:15 , 17:18 ).
3. come . . . friend--in his power.
humble . . . sure thy friend--urge as a suppliant; that is, induce the friend to provide otherwise for his debt, or secure the surety.
4, 5. The danger requires promptness.
6-8. The improvident sluggards usually want sureties. Hence, such are advised to industry by the ant's example.
9, 10. Their conduct graphically described;
11. and the fruits of their self-indulgence and indolence presented.
as . . . travellerh--literally, "one who walks backwards and forwards," that is, a highwayman.
armed man--that is, one prepared to destroy.
12. A naughty person--literally, "A man of Belial," or of worthlessness, that is, for good, and so depraved, or wicked (compare 1 Samuel 25:25 , 30:22 , &c.). Idleness and vice are allied. Though indolent in acts, he actively and habitually (walketh) is ill-natured in speech ( Proverbs 4:24 ).
13, 14. If, for fear of detection, he does not speak, he uses signs to carry on his intrigues. These signs are still so used in the East.
14. Frowardness--as in Proverbs 2:14 .
deviseth--literally, "constructs, as an artisan."
mischief--evil to others.
discord--especially litigation. Cunning is the talent of the weak and lazy.
15. Suddenness aggravates evil (compare Proverbs 6:11 , Proverbs 29:1 ).
calamity--literally, "a crushing weight."
broken--shivered as a potter's vessel; utterly destroyed ( Psalms 2:9 ).
16-19. six . . . seven--a mode of speaking to arrest attention ( Proverbs 30:15 Proverbs 30:18 , Job 5:19 ).
17. proud look--literally, "eyes of loftiness" ( Psalms 131:1 ). Eyes, tongue, &c., for persons.
19. speaketh--literally, "breathes out," habitually speaks ( Psalms 27:12 , Acts 9:1 ).
20-23. (Compare Proverbs 1:8 , 3:3 , &c.).
22. it--(compare Proverbs 6:23 ); denotes the instruction of parents ( Proverbs 6:20 ), to which all the qualities of a safe guide and guard and ready teacher are ascribed. It prevents the ingress of evil by supplying good thoughts, even in dreams ( Proverbs 3:21-23 , Psalms 19:9 , 2 Peter 1:19 ).
23. reproofs--( Proverbs 1:23 ) the convictions of error produced by instruction.
24. A specimen of its benefit. By appreciating truth, men are not affected by lying flattery.
25. One of the cautions of this instruction, avoid alluring beauty.
eyelids--By painting the lashes, women enhanced beauty.
26. The supplied words give a better sense than the old version: "The price of a whore is a piece of bread."
adulteress--(Compare Margin), which the parallel and context ( Proverbs 6:29-35 ) sustain. Of similar results of this sin, compare Proverbs 5:9-12 .
will hunt--alluding to the snares spread by harlots (compare Proverbs 7:6-8 ).
precious life--more valuable than all else.
27-29. The guilt and danger most obvious.
30, 31. Such a thief is pitied, though heavily punished.
31. sevenfold--(compare Exodus 22:1-4 ), for many, ample (compare Genesis 4:24 , Matthew 18:21 ), even if all his wealth is taken.
32. lacketh understanding--or, "heart"; destitute of moral principle and prudence.
33. dishonour--or, "shame," as well as hurt of body ( Proverbs 3:35 ).
reproach . . . away--No restitution will suffice;
34, 35. nor any terms of reconciliation be admitted.
regard--or, "accept" any ransom.