Proverbs 6



Warnings Against Folly (6:1–19)

1–5 In this chapter the writer gives several examples of folly. The first example is that of a person who has put up security for his neighbor (verse 1). To “put up security” means to take responsibility for someone else’s debt or other obligation. If the “neighbor” cannot or will not repay his debt, then the person who put up the security has to pay it—which could result in his being impoverished or even enslaved. To “strike hands” (shake hands) on such a pledge for another person is foolhardy.31 The only solution is to go to the person to whom one is obligated and beg to be released from the obligation (verses 3–5). How much better not to have made the pledge in the first place!

6–11 Here the writer speaks to the sluggard, the lazy person who would rather sleep than work: Go to the ant and learn wisdom! (verse 6). Even ants have brains enough to store up food for themselves. If one gets into the habit of being lazy, poverty will come upon him like a bandit—that is, unexpectedly (verse 11).

12–15 Here the writer talks about the person who has a corrupt (dishonest) mouth (verse 12) and who plots evil with deceit in his heart (verse 14). The writer calls such a person a scoundrel and a villain (verse 12), but what he actually describes is a slanderer. There are many people—even religious people—who go around slandering others and are hardly aware they are doing so; they would certainly not think of themselves as “scoundrels” and “villains,” but in God’s sight that is what they are.32 Such a person always stirs up dissension (verse 14); and when he does this among brothers, he is someone whom the Lord hates (see verses 16,19).

16–19 Here the writer lists six things the Lord “hates” and seven things He “detests.”33 The seven things are presented figuratively; for example, haughty eyes stand for pride, and hands that shed innocent blood stand for murder34 (verse 17). Again, as in verse 14, the list ends with the slanderer who stirs up dissension among brothers (verse 19). Within the church the slanderer is possibly the most harmful person of all, because his slander usually goes unnoticed (even to himself) until it is too late and the spiritual unity of the church is destroyed.

Warnings Against Adultery (6:20–35)

20–24 In verses 20–21, the writer repeats earlier admonitions to the young to carefully heed their parents’ teaching (see Proverbs 1:8; 3:3). In verses 22–23, he says that such parental teaching will serve as a constant guide, a lamp to light one’s path (see Psalm 119:105). A parent’s teaching and correction will guard a young man from immoral women and keep him on the way to life (verses 23–24)—as opposed to the way to death (Proverbs 2:18–19).

25–29 Do not lust in your heart after an immoral woman (verse 25). Momentary temptations come to all of us, but one must not nurture them, dwell on them, invite them into one’s heart: that is what lust is. Jesus said that to lust after a woman was the same as committing adultery with her (Matthew 5:28).

To become involved with a prostitute or adulteress will eventually reduce one to a loaf of bread—to poverty—and even put one’s life at risk (verse 26). No one will escape the consequences (verses 27–28); no one who sleeps with an adulteress will go unpunished (verses 29,33–34).

30–35 It is bad enough to steal food, even when one is starving; the thief must pay back sevenfold35 (verses 30–31). But it is inexcusable to “steal” another man’s wife. There is nothing the adulterer can “pay back”; there is no restitution possible (verse 35). The adulterer will face inevitable disgrace and ruin—and possibly death (Leviticus 20:10).