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Proverbs 6:1. With a stranger, rather, “for” a stranger.
Proverbs 6:3. When thou art come, rather, “for thou hast come.” Humble thyself, literally “let thyself be trodden under foot.” Make sure, “importune,” “urge.”
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH—Proverbs 6:1-5
I. Man’s highest glory may become the chief instrument of his trouble. The human tongue, or rather the power of speech, is a gift that stands preeminent among the good gifts of God to His creatures. It is man’s most potent instrument of good or evil. The tongue of the statesman, when used wisely, may bring blessings on millions, but when it is made the tool of ambition it may entail misery upon generations. The tongue of a Christian, when used wisely, may be the means of bringing others into the way of life, but his unguarded words may be a stumbling-block in the way of many. The warning of the text reminds us that when the tongue is not kept in check by reason and consideration the glory becomes the means of ensnaring the whole man. The horse is a most useful servant to man, but the creature must be under proper control or he may be the means of inflicting the most serious injury upon his rider. If the rudder of a vessel is left to the guidance of the waves, the vessel is very likely to find herself upon the rocks. So with the tongue of man, it must be under the control of reason or it may bring its owner into danger and disgrace. When a man binds himself by solemn promises to a stranger of whose character he must be ignorant, he is very likely to involve himself and those dependent on him in much trouble, and perhaps in dishonour. A promise hastily made without due consideration of the consequences has often entailed upon a man years of suffering.
II. The same instrument which, thoughtlessly used, brings a man into a snare, may, when rightly guided, be the means of his deliverance. The promise made by Herod to Herodias (Matthew 14:7) was one which ought never to have been made. The king was ensnared by allowing his tongue to utter rash words, of which even he upon reflection repented. In his case, without doubt, it would have been a much less sin to have broken his promise than to keep it. But in the case before us, the advice given by Solomon to his pupil is, not to break his word, but to use the same instrument by which he bound himself, to obtain, if possible, a release. This he is to do—
1. By means purely moral. There are other means which a man might try. He might use threatening; he might employ falsehood; but these would be sinful. The only lawful means are those here implied, viz., words of persuasion and entreaty.
2. Without delay. He must endeavour to rectify his error at once; every day that passes over his head may be bringing nearer the day when he may be called upon to redeem his promise, and so he is to give “no sleep to his eyes nor slumber to his eyelids.
III. This advice is to be followed as a matter of duty. The man who has acted imprudently is bound to endeavour to deliver himself by lawful means. He is not to allow pride to hinder him (Proverbs 6:3). He is bound to try and prevent his life from being marred in the future—perhaps to its very close. For a man who is fettered by a promise which ought never to have been made, is like a creature born to enjoy freedom who has been taken captive by the hunter or the fowler. And as it is more than lawful for the roe or the bird (Proverbs 6:5) to try to regain its freedom, so is it the duty of man to use all right means to the same end.
ILLLUSTRATION OF Proverbs 6:1
The custom of striking hands at the conclusion of a bargain has maintained its ground among the customs of civilised nations down to the present time. To strike hands with another was the emblem of agreement among the Greeks under the walls of Troy, for Nestor complains, in a public assembly of the chiefs, that the Trojans had violated the engagements which they had sanctioned by libations of wine and by giving their right hands. (Iliad, Book II. i. 341, see also Book IV. i. 139). The Roman faith was plighted in the same way; for in Virgil, when Dido marked from her watch-towers the Trojan fleet setting forward with balanced sails, she exclaimed, “Is this the honour, the faith, En dextra fidesque?” Another striking instance is quoted by Calmet from Ockley’s History of the Saracens. Telha, just before he died, asked one of Ali’s men if he belonged to the Emperor of the Faithful, and being informed that he did, “Give me, then,” said he, “your hand, that I may put mine into it, and by this action renew the oath of fidelity I have already made to him.” (Calmet, vol. iii). See also Job 17:3; 2 Kings 10:15.—Paxton’s Illustrations of Scripture.
OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS
Proverbs 6:1. The two characters are carefully distinguished.
1. The companion, on whose behalf the young man pledges himself.
2. The stranger, probably the Phœnician money-lender, to whom he makes himself responsible. Plumptre.
God graciously directs our temporal affairs by His providence, and condescends, in His word, to give us instructions concerning them. If we regard not these, we need not be surprised though His providence convince us, by dear-bought experience, of our folly and sin.—Lawson.
The son has just been warned against the deadly wound of a stranger. He is now cautioned against a hurt from an imprudent friend.… Our God, while he warns us against suretyship, has taken it upon Himself. He has given His word, His bond—yea, His blood—for sinners: a security that no powers of hell can shake.—Bridges.
Solomon, on different occasions, condemns the practice of suretyship. The condemnation is general. It does not follow, however, that what he says is to be taken as an unqualified prohibition, to which there are no circumstances that can constitute an exception.… There are cases in which it is unavoidable; and there are cases in which the law requires it; and there are cases in which it is not only in consistency with law, but required by all the claims of prudence, justice, and charity. These, however, are rare. And it may be laid down as a maxim regarding the transactions of business, and all the mutual dealings of man with man, that the less of it the better. In such cases as the following, it is manifestly inadmissible, and may even, in some instances, involve a large amount of moral turpitude.
I. It is wrong for a man to come under engagements that are beyond his actually existing means. Such a course is one not merely of imprudence, but there is in it a threefold injustice. First, to the creditor for whom he becomes surety. Secondly, to his family, if he has one, to whom the requisition of payment must bring distress and ruin. Thirdly, to those who give him credit in his own transactions, with the risks of his own trade.
II. The same observations are applicable to the making of engagements with inconsideration and rashness. The case here supposed is evidently that of suretyship for a friend to a stranger. And the rashness may be viewed either in relation to the person or to the case.—Wardlaw.
It may at first excite surprise that Solomon should have thought it needful to dwell so much as he does in the Proverbs on the evil of suretyship (Proverbs 11:15; Proverbs 17:18; Proverbs 20:16; Proverbs 22:26; Proverbs 27:13), and that in his lessons of moral prudence he should assign the first place to cautions against it. The reason is probably to be found in the peculiar circumstances under which the Proverbs were written, and the special design of the author in writing them; although, doubtless, Solomon had a general and universal purpose in composing them, and the Holy Spirit, who employed his instrumentality in the work, looked far beyond Solomon and his times, and extended his view to all ages and nations of the world.… But the occasion which gave rise to the writing of the Proverbs was a personal and national one. Many strangers resorted to Jerusalem in the days of Solomon from all parts of the civilised world, for the purpose of commerce and trade. Borrowing and lending money was much in vogue; and many shrewd and crafty adventurers speculated on the credulity of rich capitalists. Solomon addresses his son Rehoboam (Proverbs 6:3). He was born before his father’s accession to the throne, and Solomon reigned forty years. We hear nothing of him until his ripe maturity, and then we are told of an act of egregious folly. It was evident he was just the person to be the dupe of licentious spendthrifts and griping usurers. The courtly parasite who desired to find means for paying his own debts, or indulging his own vices, and the avaricious moneylender, would find a victim in the princely heir to the throne, whom they would flatter with eulogies on his generosity, and would puff up with proud notions of the exhaustless wealth to which he was the aspirant.—Wordsworth.
Proverbs 6:2. In the passage before us the warning is not so much against suretyship in general as merely against the imprudent assumption of such obligations, leaving out of account the moral unreliableness of the man involved; and the counsel is to the quickest possible release from every obligation of this kind that may have been hastily assumed. With the admonitions of our Lord in His Sermon on the Mount, to be ready at all times for the lending and giving away of one’s property, even in cases where one cannot hope for the recovery of what has been given out (Luke 6:30-36 : comp. with 1 Corinthians 6:7), this demand is not in conflict. For Christ also plainly demands no such readiness to suffer loss on account of our neighbour, as would deprive us of personal liberty, and rob us of all means of further beneficence.—Lange’s Commentary.
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.”—Trapp.
Proverbs 6:3. This appeal is not, obviously, to the bond-giver, who has seduced us to endorse him, and is as helpless as we to get anybody off; but the bond-holder; and the great remedy, therefore, for a securityship is to beg off in the most unspeakable abjectness, and to press and to urge the creditor to release our name. Now, I say, this is not simpliciter, the gist of the inspiration. But if we introduce the Gospel; if we see in this a great picture of our guilt; if we see in the bond-holder the Friend to whom we are to appeal; if we see in the bond-giver sin in all the seductive forms in which it has come down to us from the original transgressor; if the grip of the suretyship is the law, and the form of the law is the broken covenant; if the act of our “striking hands” is the way we have accepted the curse of Adam, and the way we have volunteered under this stranger’s burdens, then the whole passage becomes complete, and we are ready for the appeal, “Go, humble thyself,” &c. That is the very Gospel.—Miller.
St. Gregory, Bede, and other ancient expositors, apply these injunctions in a spiritual sense. “To be a surety for a friend is to take upon thee the charge of looking to another’s soul,” says St. Gregory, who also, reading the latter clause of this verse in the sense of “urging” and “importuning” (see Critical Notes), explains it thus: “Whosoever is set before others for an example of their living is admonished, not only to watch himself, but to rouse up his friend: for it sufficeth not that he doth watch well, if he do not rouse him also over whom he is set from the drowsiness of sin.
4. Has this precept any connection with our spiritual interests? It has. It is a part of the eighth commandment, and though men regard it rather as a loss than as a Sin to endanger their outward estate, it is both a sin and a temptation. Men who once seemed upright in their dealings have brought reproach upon religion by living and dying in other men’s debt, and by having recourse to unjustifiable methods, suggested by distress, to relieve themselves. The effect of suretyship, even with the most upright men, has often proved hurtful to their souls, embittering their days, and unfitting them for the cheerful service of religion. We are the servants of Christ, and must not disqualify ourselves for His service by making ourselves needlessly the servants of men.—Lawson.
Proverbs 6:5. It is evident, however, that the language implies, If, with all your efforts, you are unsuccessful in obtaining your discharge you must stand to your engagement. Treachery would be a much greater loss in character.—Wardlaw.
Proverbs 6:11. One that travelleth, “a highwayman,” “a footpad.” Armed man, literally, “a man of the shield.
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Proverbs 6:6-11
INDUSTRY AND INDOLENCE
I. The industrious insect.
1. Nature is intended to be a moral teacher to man. The most saintly natures of ancient and modern times have regarded God’s works in this light, and God Himself has led the van in so often pointing man to animate and inanimate Nature for instruction and comfort. He first announced this truth when He said to Noah, “I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth” (Genesis 9:13). This is the first record of the enlistment of Nature as a helper to the human soul, the first recorded instance of God’s pointing out to man what He intended all natural objects to become to His spiritual nature. Here the son of Solomon is exhorted to gain instruction—to be stirred up to a sense of duty—from a study of one of God’s inferior creatures.
2. Nature becomes the instructor of those only who consider her ways. The existence, within a man’s reach, of the most beautiful painting in the world will be of no advantage to him unless he studies it. It is only as he considers it that it will convey to him the thought of the painter. The works of God are within the reach of men, but they must be looked at and considered if they are to be to Him what God intended them to be. God placed the bow in the cloud and the tiny ant upon the ground to be subjects of meditation. The Psalmist considered the heavens before he was moved with a sense of his own littleness and God’s majesty (Psalms 8:0). Solomon’s precept is, “Consider the ant.”
3. The lessons which are to be learned from, the study of the ant. Industry, improvement of opportunities, and individual action. The amount of work done by this insignificant insect ought to be enough to shame an indolent man into activity. Her care in embracing present opportunities is a loud rebuke to those who would put off until to-morrow what, perhaps, can only be done to-day. She says, by her diligent use of present hours, “I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). Especially her individual effort is held up as worthy of imitation (Proverbs 6:7). While some men wait for another to take the initiative, to clear the path for them, she puts forth her own individual effort without guide, overseer, or ruler. Each man must do his own work in the world, each one has responsibilities of his own which will not admit of being discharged by proxy. He must find out his individual duty, and not try to shift the burden upon the shoulders of another, or wait for another to go before him in the way.
II. The indolent man.
1. He does the right thing at the wrong time, or indulges to excess in a gift of God which is intended to be used in moderation. Sleep is one of God’s most precious gifts to man in his present condition. It is a necessity of human nature. The prophet Elijah had an angel of God to watch over him while he slept. God saw that it was the medicine he most needed in that hour of bodily fatigue and mental depression. But if he had been sleeping at the hour of evening sacrifice, when the nation had to choose between God and Baal on Mount Carmel, he would have been guilty of a great sin against himself, his nation, and his God. Israel was promised the land of rest after they had fought their way through the desert. Rest is the reward of labour and not to be substituted for it. And although intervals of rest are necessary and right, life is meant for work, and the motto of every man ought to be that of the famous coadjutor of the great William of Orange, St. Aldegonde, “Repos ailleurs” (rest elsewhere). The sin of the sluggard is the abuse of a great blessing, the doing a right thing at the wrong time.
2. The consequence of such conduct. This can be abundantly illustrated from human experience. If the farmer rests when, regardless of cold and storm, he ought to be ploughing or sowing, poverty will be coming upon him when his barns ought to be filled with plenty. The man who lets slip his spiritual opportunities through soulindolence, will find himself in a state of soul-poverty at the end of life. When he ought to be reaping an abundant harvest of soul-satisfaction from a life whose energies have been used to bless himself and others, he will find himself in a state of soul-destitution. The rich man said to his soul, “Take thine ease,” when he ought to have aroused it to prepare for the future which was coming up to meet him. But for the neglect of this God branded him as a “fool” (Luke 12:20).
ILLUSTRATIONS OF Proverbs 6:6-8
When I began to employ workmen in this country, nothing annoyed me more than the necessity to hire also an overseer, or to fulfil this office myself. But I soon found this was universal, and strictly necessary. Without an overseer very little work would be done, and nothing as it should be. The workmen will not work at all unless kept to it and directed in it by an overseer who is himself a perfect specimen of laziness. He does absolutely nothing but smoke his pipe, order this, scold that one, discuss the how and the why with the men themselves, or with idle passers-by. This overseeing often costs more than the work overseen. Now the ants manage far better. Every one attends to his own business and does it well. In another respect these provident creatures read a very necessary lesson to Orientals. In all warm climates there is a ruinous want of calculation and forecast. Having enough fur the current day, men are reckless as to the future.… Now the ant “provideth her meat in summer.” All summer long, and especially in harvest, every denizen of their populous habitation is busy. As we ride or walk over the grassy plains, we notice paths leading to their subterranean granaries; at first broad, clean and smooth, like roads near a city, but constantly branching off into smaller and less distinct, until they disappear in the herbage of the plain. Along these converging paths hurry thousands of ants, thickening inward until it becomes an unbroken column of busy beings going in search of or returning with their food. I read lately, in a work of some pretension, that ants do not carry away wheat or barley. This was by way of comment on Proverbs 6:8. Tell it to these farmers, and they will laugh at you. Ants are the greatest robbers in the land. Leave a bushel of wheat in the vicinity of one of their subterranean cities, and in a surprisingly short time the whole commonwealth will be summoned to plunder. A broad, black column stretches from the wheat to the hole, and, as if by magic, every grain seems to be accommodated with legs, and walks off in a hurry along the moving column.—Thompson’s Land and the Book.
Solomon’s lesson to the sluggard has been generally adduced as a strong confirmation of the ancient opinion, that ants have a magazine of provisions for winter; it can, however, only relate to the species of a warm climate, the habits of which are probably different from those of a cold one; so that his words, as commonly interpreted, may be perfectly correct and consistent with Nature, and yet be not at all applicable to the species that are indigenous to Europe. But Solomon does not affirm that the ant laid up in her cell stores of grain, but that she gathers her food when it is most plentiful, and thus shows her wisdom and prudence. The words thus interpreted will apply to the species among us, as well as to those that are not indigenous.—Kirby and Spence’s Entomology.
OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS
Proverbs 6:5. We may infer Rehoboam’s character from such exhortations as these. And these and following precepts derive much interest from what we have reason to believe was his character. His position bore some resemblance to that of our own Charles II., at the voluptuous court of Versaillies, before his accession to the throne, and the character of the one was in some respects similar to that of the other. The unhappy example of his own father Solomon, in his old age, was more potent for evil than the precepts of the Proverbs were for good. At the age of forty-one Rehoboam was a feeble libertine. The warnings of the Icón Basiliké fell flat on the ears of the royal author’s own son, and Rehoboam derived little benefit from the book of Proverbs.—Wordsworth.
Proverbs 6:6-8. Our whole present life is the time for action; the future for retribution, which shall be ushered in by the judgment: the latter is the harvest (Matthew 25:3-4).—Fausset.
How is man degenerated from the nobility of his creation, that an insect must be a pattern unto him. He that goes well without a guide is fit to be a guide, he that does well without an overseer is fit to be an overseer, he that orders himself well without a ruler is fit to be a ruler. Let the ant, therefore, be a guide unto the sluggard, and teach him to guide himself, who guides herself so carefully. Let the ant be his overseer, which he sees to overgo himself so much in pains and labour. Let the ant be his ruler, and by her example command him to work which rules herself so well in working.—Jermin.
First, as the ant in summer gathereth whereupon to live in winter, so every Christian in a time of quietness should gather out of God’s word, that in trouble and adversity he may have wherewith to live spiritually. Secondly, we ought to labour by the example of the ant, that we get the fruit of good works, in the harvest of this present life, so sedulously and diligently, that in the time of winter and judgment we perish not with hunger.—St. Augustine.
These precepts have a spiritual meaning and are to be applied to the soil of the heart and mind. As Bede says here, “The present life is compared to summer and harvest, because now, in the heat of trials, we must reap and lay up for the future, and the day of death and judgment is the winter for which we must prepare, and when there is no more any time for preparation.”—Wordsworth.
Man, that was once the captain of God’s school, is now, for his truantliness, turned down into the lowest form, as it were to learn his A B C again; yea, to be taught by these meanest creatures.… Let no man here object that word of our Saviour, “Take no thought for the morrow.” 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 sinful.—Trapp.
Proverbs 6:9. Much more loudly would we call to the spiritual sluggard—thou that art sleeping away the opportunities of grace; not “striving to enter in at the strait gate” (Luke 13:24); taking thy salvation for granted; hoping that thou shalt “reap where thou has not sown, and gather where thou hast not strawed” (Matthew 25:26); improve, after this pattern, the summer and harvest season—the time of youth, the present, perhaps the only moment. The ant hath no guide. How many guides have you?—conscience, the Bible, ministers! She has no overseer. You are living before Him “whose eyes are as a flame of fire.” She has no ruler calling her to account. “Every one of us must give account of himself to God.”—Bridges.
Epaminondas, finding one of his sentinels asleep, thrust him through with his sword; and, being chidden for so great severity, replied, “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.… Our Saviour was up and at prayer “a great while before day” (Mark 1:45). The holy angels are styled “watchers” (Daniel 4:10), and they are three times pronounced happy that watch (Luke 12:37-38; Luke 12:43).—Trapp.
Proverbs 6:11. Two things are denoted in this imagery.
1. That idleness will quickly bring poverty.
2. That it will come as a destroyer.—Stuart.
I look upon indolence as a sort of suicide, for the man is effectually destroyed, though the appetite of the brute may survive.—Lord Chesterfield.
God will not support thee without work, but by work, that is His holy ordinance (Genesis 3:19): Do thy part, and God will do His.—Egard.
A most dreadful simile! One who has waited for a fight knows how slowly the armed men seem to come up. They may be hours passing the intervening space. There is no sound of them. They are not on the roads, or on the air, either in sight or echo; and yet they are coming on! The intervening time is the sluggard’s sleeping time; and it seems an age. But his want will come.… All slothfulness is, no doubt, rebuked; but especially that which has all heaven for its garnered stores; all hell for its experience of want; all time for its season of neglect; and all eternity to break upon its sleep.—Miller.
Proverbs 6:12. A naughty person, “a worthless man.”
Proverbs 6:13. Teacheth, “motions.”
Proverbs 6:14. Frowardness, “perverseness.”
Proverbs 6:16. Six, yea, seven. “A peculiar proverbial form, for which Arabic and Persian gnomic literature supply numerous illustrations. Eister probably gives the simplest and most correct explanation, deriving it “purely from the exigencies of parallelism.” “The form of parallelism could not, on account of harmony, be sacrificed in any verse. But how should a parallel be found for a number? Since it was not any definite number that was the important thing, relief was found by taking one of the next adjacent numbers as the parallel to that which was chiefly in mind” (Lange’s Commentary).
Proverbs 6:17. A proud look, literally, “haughty eyes.”
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH—Proverbs 6:12-19
A STUDENT OF INIQUITY
I. We have in these words a picture of a man so wicked that he makes it his study how to commit sin. The sin of many men, perhaps of most men, arises from thoughtlessness, weakness, or slothfulness (see Proverbs 6:9-10), but there are others who make sin their business, and apply themselves to it with as much diligence as the merchant gives to his trade, or the man of letters to his pursuit of knowledge. “He deviseth mischief” (Proverbs 6:14), “his heart deviseth wicked imaginations” (Proverbs 6:18). Those who wish to compass any particular end must think upon the means by which they can accomplish it. Progression in iniquity is not always accomplished without thought, and wicked men have to plan much and think deeply sometimes before their malicious devices are ripe for execution. The thief has to study his profession before he can become an accomplished burglar. The sharper must spend much time in acquiring the skill by which he preys upon less experienced gamblers. The murderer must ponder deeply how he is to do his bloody deed without detection. It cost Haman a good deal of thinking before he could devise a scheme likely to injure Mordecai. The chief priests and scribes held many consultations before they could compass the death of Christ (Mark 11:18; Mark 14:1-55, etc.). The wicked man of the text is a student of ways and means.
2. He is constant in his studies. If a man professes to make any branch of knowledge his particular study and only applies himself to it by fits and starts, we know he is not much in earnest about it, but if he is constant in his application, he demonstrates by his perseverance that he intends, if possible, to excel. The wicked man here pictured by Solomon has made up his mind not to fail through lack of continuous application, “he deviseth mischief continually” (Proverbs 6:14). If one plan fails, he begins to form another; when one scheme has brought the desired end, he at once sets to work at a fresh one; as a natural consequence—
3. He makes progress, “he walks with a froward mouth” (Proverbs 6:12), his feet become “swift in running to mischief” (Proverbs 6:18). The man who is always in the practice of any art can hardly stand still in it. He can hardly fail to become more and more of an adept. He sees where he might have done better yesterday and supplies the deficiency next time. And this is true of the work of wickedness as of any other work, “practice makes perfect.” There are men, for instance, who from constant practice “lie like truth.” The more the man studies how to injure his fellow-creatures, the more easily he can plan; the oftener he plans, the easier he finds it.
4. In order to carry out his designs he invents an original language (Proverbs 6:13). There is no member of the body which cannot become a medium to convey thought. The eye is very eloquent in this work, the hand, the lip, the finger, the whole body may do this to some extent, and are sometimes blessedly so employed when affliction has shut out our fellow-man from hearing the human voice, but this man of wickedness makes his whole body a medium for the conveyance of his evil plans and desires. He yields his “members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin” (Romans 6:13). The common every-day language of outspoken honest men will not do to convey his thoughts, because his thoughts are against the welfare of his fellow creatures. This compels him to use a language which is comprehended only by those who are like himself. The eye can be used in this way as a more safe and swift instrument than the tongue. A look may embody a thought that would need many words to express. The glance of one wicked man to another has often been the sentence of death to many. And so, in a less degree, perhaps, with the foot and the hand, as Matthew Henry says, “Those whom he makes use of as the tools of his wickedness understand the ill meaning of a wink of his eye, a stamp of his feet, the least motion of his fingers. He gives orders for evil-doing, and yet would not be thought to do so, but has ways of concealing what he does, so that he may not be suspected.”
II. The end of such a man. (Proverbs 6:15.)
1. His very success will bring his ruin. The man who makes it the business of his life to lay plans against the comfort of his fellow-creatures may succeed for a time, but by-and-by he will find himself so famous, or infamous, that a reward may be offered for his person, and his very success in deceiving others in the past will possibly so throw him off his guard as to make him an easy prey to those who now lay in wait to bring him to justice. But if he escapes the messenger of human retribution, he is sure of the Divine Nemesis. God’s law and the universe are against him. In sowing discord in the world, he has sowed destruction for himself, and he must reap it. However cleverly he may have outwitted his fellow-men, he has not deceived God, and His law is that “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Ephesians 6:7).
2. The punishment will come when least expected. “Suddenly shall he be broken” (Proverbs 6:15). The thief makes it his study to find an entrance into his victim’s house when he least expects him, and he finds himself one day repaid in his own coin. When he is enjoying his fancied security an officer of justice visits him, and suddenly he is summoned to answer for his crimes. This we find is generally the case with retribution; it not only comes certainly, but at a time when it is least looked for.
3. His ruin will be complete. “He shall be broken without remedy” (Proverbs 6:15). The crime of murder is regarded by our code of law as one which deserves the extremest penalty which man can inflict upon man. The murderer, as a rule, is visited with a punishment which, so far as his earthly existence goes, cuts off all hope for the future. The man who is pictured to us in these verses is one who appears to have completed his character as a sinner. The number seven is often used in Scripture to denote perfection—completion; and this student of iniquity appears to have succeeded so well in his studies that there is no vice which is not found in one of the seven things which go to make up his character. His pride leads him to refuse God’s yoke, and to carve out for himself a way without reference to the will of Him in whom he lives and moves. But his lying tongue betrays a sense of weakness. He fears that his plans, though so skilfully laid, may not succeed, and therefore he has recourse to deception to help him out with them. And so cruel is he that he shrinks from no misery that he may bring upon others in the furtherance of his own designs; neither the character nor the life of his victims is spared. He is “a false witness that speaketh lies and soweth discord,” his “hands shed innocent blood.” For so diseased a member of the body politic there seems nothing left but amputation. So complete a sinner must suffer a complete ruin, Finally, that such a character should be an abomination to the Lord (Proverbs 6:16) is most natural, if we consider how entirely it is at variance with what God is Himself. Like seeks and loves like. The musical soul seeks and delights in those who love music. The courageous Jonathan delights in the courageous David. God is humble. He takes a right estimate of Himself and others. This is true humility. “Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high, who humbleth Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth?” (Psalms 113:5-6). How great a contrast is He in this respect to the man of “proud look.” God is a “God of truth” (Psalms 31:5), it is a blessed impossibilty with Him to lie (Titus 1:2). How can He do other than abominate a “lying tongue.” He is the Saviour of men (1 Timothy 4:10); this sinner seeks to destroy them. He is the Author of peace and the lover of concord; this man’s aim has been to “sow discord” even “among brethren.”
ILLUSTRATION OF Proverbs 6:13
It should be remembered that, in the East, when people are in the house they do not wear sandals, consequently their feet and toes are exposed. When guests wish to speak so as not to be observed by the host, they convey their meaning by the feet and toes. Does a person wish to leave the room in company with another? he lifts up one of his feet; and should the other refuse, he also lifts up a foot and suddenly puts it down again. When merchants wish to make a bargain with others without making known their terms, they sit on the ground, have a piece of cloth thrown over the lap, and then put a hand under, and thus speak with their fingers. When the Brahmins convey religious mysteries to their disciples, they teach with their fingers, having the hands concealed in the folds of their robe.—Roberts, in Biblical Treasury.
OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS
Proverbs 6:12. He who is nobody in deeds is often strong in words. He whose hands are idle has a tongue anything but idle; and he tries by words suited to men’s humours to win that favour which he cannot by deeds.—Cartwright.
“Walketh” implies progress in evil, as the tendency of all sin is to grow more and more inveterate.—Fausset.
Every idle man is a “naughty” man; is, or, ere long, will be, for by doing nothing men learn to do evil. And “thou wicked and slothful servant,” saith our Saviour (Matthew 25:26). He putteth no difference between the idle person and the wicked person. The devil will not long suffer such an one to be idle, but will soon set him to work. Idleness is the hour of temptation.—Trapp.
Proverbs 6:13. He conveys his meanings, and carries on his schemes, and promotes his ends, in every sly, covert, unsuspected way.—Wardlaw.
Not speech only, but all other means by which man holds intercourse with man, are turned to instruments of fraud and falsehood. The wink which tells the accomplice that the victim is already snared, the gestures with foot and hand, half of deceit, half of mockery—these would betray him to anyone who was not blind.—Plumptre.
Proverbs 6:14. The wise man had showed before the outward rivulets, now he shows the inward fountain, a corrupt heart. This is added lest we should think that only outward signs and gestures are evil. If neither by outward signs nor gestures a wicked man dare express himself, yet his heart is evil—Francis Taylor.
As the agriculturist applies himself wholly to the ploughing and sowing of his land, so the froward gives himself wholly to iniquity, seeking his harvest of gain, or of enjoyment of malignity, in traducing or lying, or in praising with words whilst all the time traducing by signs.—Fausset.
Where frowardness soweth the field, what can grow but contentions only? But these are first sown in the heart by mischievous devices, and there being come to a ripeness, then are they gathered, and are again sown in the outward actions of discord, one harvest serving to bring on another until they bring the seedsman to the harvest of destruction. The force of the verse is, that when wickedness is silent outwardly, it is devising mischief inwardly, that it may practice it the more abundantly.—Jermin.
Proverbs 6:15. Therefore, if a thing be so ruinous; if it be a fountain of sin; if it be sending forth corruption in such a manner as to increase the mass of it, and never diminish it; if it be putting forth causes of quarrel both with God and man, then that thing must be crushed. We would expect a sharp, clean end. If it be a root, it must be threaded to its very eye, and all the life of it must be traced and crushed quite out of it in the soil.—Miller.
The word “suddenly” shows the vanity of the sinner’s hope that he shall have the time or the gift of repentance (Job 21:17-18; Psalms 64:4).—Fausset.
It were pity such a villain should go without his reward. The wise man, therefore, doth not leave him without his judgment denounced, and it is a grievous one. For he that spendeth time to devise mischief shall not have time at last to devise help for the preventing of his own sudden mischief. He that by plots maketh the breaches of strife, shall at length be broken suddenly into pieces, without hope of piecing himself together again.… Of Satan it is said that he fell like lightning from heaven, the fall whereof is most sudden, and so that it never riseth again. And so cometh the calamity of malicious, froward hearts: such is the breaking fall of their destruction.—Jermin.
Proverbs 6:16. This, curtly, is a restatement of the picture just passed; not exactly, but ripened a little, and advanced into a more mature expression.—Miller.
It is an evidence of the good-will God bears to mankind, that those sins are in a special manner provoking to Him which are prejudicial to the comfort of human life and society.—Henry.
The things which God hateth are the things which the devil maketh. He cannot be the author and hater of the same thing. And therefore it is not man, but the wicked things in man, which God abhorreth, and which, did not man love, God would still love man, although He hateth them.—Jermin.
Proverbs 6:17. A proud look or “lofty eyes” might seem to have little to do with a “worthless man” (see Critical Notes on Proverbs 6:12), but a man is a man of emptiness solely because he is depending, in divers ways, upon himself. Humility is the very first lesson towards salvation. A man could not live a whole long life taking “a little more sleep” if he was not arrogantly depending upon something within himself. “Hands that shed innocent blood:” The movements of such a man are all deadly. The amiable may be fairly stung by such rude speech, but the wise man intends to imply that a deceived impenitence deceives and festers all about it. The worldly father that misguides his son sheds his blood. It is astonishing how much there is in the Bible of this cruel language (Psalms 5:9; Isaiah 1:21, &c.).—Miller.
Proverbs 6:18. The heart underlies the seven vices which are an abomination to God, and in the midst, because it is the fountain from which evil flows in all directions.—Starke.
Proverbs 6:19. If the heavenly “dew descends upon the brethren that dwell together in unity” (Psalms 133:0), a withering blast will fall on those who, mistaking prejudice for principle, “cause divisions” for their own selfish ends (Romans 16:17-18). If we cannot attain unity of opinion, “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10), at least let us cultivate unity of Spirit (Philippians 3:16).—Bridges.
Proverbs 6:12-19. As respects the arrangement in which the seven manifestations of treacherous dealing are enumerated in Proverbs 6:16-19, it does not perfectly correspond with the order observed in Proverbs 6:12-14. There the series is—mouth, eyes, feet, fingers, heart, devising evil counsels, stirring up strifes; here it is eyes, tongue, hands, heart, feet, speaking lies, instigating strife. With reference to the organs which are named as the instruments in the first five forms of treacherous wickedness, in the second enumeration an order is adopted involving a regular descent; the base disposition to stir up strife, or to let loose controversy in both cases ends the series.… The six or seven vices, twice enumerated in different order and form of expression, are, at the same time, all of them manifestations of hatred against one’s neighbour, or sins against the second table of the Decalogue; yet it is not so much a general unkindness as rather an unkindness consisting and displaying itself in falseness and malice that is emphasised as their common element. And only on account of the peculiarly mischievous and ruinous character of just these sins of hatred to one’s neighbour, is he who is subject to them represented as an object of especially intense abhorrence on the part of a holy God, and as threatened with the strongest manifestations of His anger in penalties.—Dr. Zöckler, in Lange’s Commentary.
Proverbs 6:16-19. There is one parallel well worthy of notice between the seven cursed things here and the seven blessed things in the fifth chapter of Matthew. In the Old Testament the things are set down in the sterner form of what the Lord hates, like the “Thou shalt not” of the Decalogue. In the New Testament the form is in accordance with the gentleness of Christ. There we learn the good things that are blessed, and are left to gather thence the opposite evils that are cursed. But, making allowance for the difference in form, the first and the last of the seven are identical in the two lists. “The Lord hates a proud look” is precisely equivalent to “Blessed are the poor in spirit;” and “He that soweth discord among brethren” is the exact converse of the “peacemaker.” This coincidence must be designed. When Jesus was teaching His disciples on the Mount He seems to have had in view the similar instructions that Solomon had formerly delivered, and, while the teaching is substantially new, there is as much of allusion to the ancient Scripture as to make it manifest that the Great Teacher kept His eye upon the prophets, and sanctioned all their testimony.—Arnot.
Proverbs 6:21. Continually, “for evermore.”
Proverbs 6:22. Lange’s Commentary translates into the imperative form, “let it lead thee,” etc.
Proverbs 6:22. Last clause, literally “Whoso will destroy his life, he does it.”
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Proverbs 6:20-23
On Proverbs 6:20-21, see Homiletics on chap. Proverbs 1:8, and Proverbs 4:1
THE LAW OF GOD’S WORD
I. The Divine law as a lamp.
1. It is like a lamp because it is portable. A light that cannot be carried from place to place will be useless to a man who has to find his way home in the dark on an uneven road. Life is such a journey, and the commandment of the Lord can be carried in man’s memory and heart: “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalms 119:11).
2. Its existence declares that men need light from a source outside themselves. A man’s eyes on a dark night are not sufficient to enable him to find the right road. If he depends simply upon them he will find that the “light within him is darkness” (Luke 11:35). He must have external help. The existence of God’s revelation in the world proves that man has not enough light within him to guide his feet into the way of peace. His own spiritual perception will not enable him to find his way through the night to eternal day.
3. It is in constant requisition. The position and relation of our globe to the sun makes it certain that night will constantly succeed the day. And while night continues to follow day the lamp will be needed to illumine the darkness. The Divine lamp will never be out of use while temptation, and doubt, and sin, and ignorance beset the path of man, as certainly as the revolution of the globe brings the night.
II. The commandment as a guide. “When thou goest, it shall lead thee” (Proverbs 6:22). Where leading is promised ignorance is implied. The man who trusts to another to guide him acknowledges by the act that the guide knows more than he does. Scripture takes for granted that man is ignorant. Its existence implies that man needs information and direction concerning his life.
III. The commandment as a guard. “When thou sleepest, it shall keep thee.” A keeper, or guard, implies danger in general, and in this instance in particular. There is a general danger in times of pestilence, and there is a special danger in some places and under some circumstances. There is a danger common to all vessels when sailing the ocean, but there are some parts which are especially dangerous. So is it with men in relation to sin. There is the general liability to fall into sin common to all men, but there are dangers which more especially beset youth and inexperience, and there is one sin above all others which is terrible in its effects and ruinous to the whole man. The text applies to a general keeping from the common danger and to a special keeping from this special danger (Proverbs 6:24).
IV. The commandment is a keeper, a guide, and a lamp to those only who keep it. A man binds his sandal upon his foot and it keeps his foot, because it has itself been kept in its right place. There is a mutual keeping. There can be no keeping by the word unless there is a keeping of the word. A greater than Solomon has told us this truth. Our Lord, in His parable of the sower, reminds us of those wayside hearers who, not keeping the word, were not kept by it, and of those who, like the rocky and thorny ground, kept it only for a while and were only kept by it until the time of temptation scorched them, and their profession withered away (Matthew 13:1-7). And our Lord Himself used the commandment in the hour of His temptation to keep Him. To all the advances of the tempter he replied, “It is written.”
OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS
Proverbs 6:20. The first feature that arrests attention in this picture is, that effects are attributed to the law of a mother which only God’s law can produce. The inference is obvious and sure. It is assumed that the law which a mother instils is the Word of God dwelling richly in her own heart, and that she acts as a channel to convey that Word to the heart of her children. To assume it as actually done is the most impressive method of enjoining it. Parents are, by the constitution of things, in an important sense mediators between God and their children for a time.… Your children are, by grace, let into you, so as to drink in what you contain. The only safety is, that you be by grace let into Christ, so that what they get from you shall be, not what springs within you, but what flows into you from the Springhead of holiness. To the children it is the law of their mother, and therefore they receive it; but in substance it is the truth from Jesus, and to receive it is life.—Arnot.
We have already noticed (ch. Proverbs 1:8) the fifth commandment as comprehending the first five; just as the tenth commandment comprehends the latter five. They ought to be painted so in churches. Handed down so, we verily believe, to Moses, each table must have carried five commandments. Honouring our father, in all the broad meaning of that term, is the first commandment “in,” not “with” (as in Eng. version), “promise” (Ephesians 6:2).—Miller.
Proverbs 6:21. “Bind them continually” signifieth such a care of firm binding as when one, to be sure of binding strong, doth as it were always hold the strings in his hands, and is continually pulling them. And surely we had need so to bind continually God’s commandments and law to our hearts and necks, for they are but loose knots which the best of us make, and they are ever and anon slipping back, unless our diligence be still pulling hard to keep them close. To bind that to our hearts which bindeth us to godliness, is to loose ourselves; to tie that about our necks which ties us to religion, is to free ourselves. A good father’s commandment, a good mother’s law, doth tie us in observance unto God’s law; if, therefore, we shall bind the one upon our hearts continually, if we shall tie the other about our necks, this will give us the freedom of true sons, both with God and man. This hearty binding, and willing tying of ourselves, taketh away all burdensome feeling of any tie or binding from us.—Jermin.
Bind them upon thine heart “for ever,” because through all eternity these commandments will be the very highest objects of affection. Holiness will be the greatest treasure of the blessed. And, second, “tie them about thy neck” for a still higher reason. Holiness is a bright ornament. It is precious on its own account. It is worthy, not on account of what it does, or of what it seems, but of what it is. That is, if we neither had joy in it nor won profit by it, it would be glorious like a necklace upon the blind, intrinsically, and on its own account.—Miller.
Proverbs 6:22. 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 has misled me.” 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 unto me, O God” (Psalms 139:17). What follows? “When I awake, I am still with Thee” (Proverbs 6:18).—Trapp.
I. The thing to be done. The Word of God is to talk with us. A man’s character is obviously much influenced by his habitual talk. Sentiments received in conversation powerfully affect the mind.… The idea of dealing with the Holy Scripture as a conversible companion is implied in the very name, “The Word of God,” and in the statement that “God, who in sundry times, and in divers manners, spoke to the Fathers, by the prophets, has spoken to us by His son” (Hebrews 1:1).
1. The word of God will talk to us instructively. No part is addressed to mere speculation or curiosity. It has always in view the object of furnishing the mind with that which shall be useful in the highest sense, and for the longest duration.
2. It will talk without flattery. Our best friends seldom dare to tell us all that is thought of us. But the Word of God tells us what we actually are, and where our faults and danger lie.
3. It will talk with us affectionately. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend,” yet they may be “wounds” after all, to minds too susceptible. But there is a depth of love even in the sternest rebukes of the Word of God.
II. The particular time when the Word of God may talk with us. “When thou wakest.”
1. To forewarn us. Every day is a little life, and who can say what the coming hour may bring forth.
2. To fore-arm us. There is not an hour in which some temptation may not present itself, or some principle be severely tried. A spiritual armour is therefore necessary, while a part of that armour, which is indispensable, is “the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
3. To pre-occupy us. “How is it,” said a friend to a learned physician, “that amidst much employment and continual exercise of mind you preserve such unruffled tranquillity?” “It is,” said he, “because I give the first hour of every morning to the Holy Scriptures and to prayer.” Much benefit may well be expected from a pre-occupation of the mind and heart, so entirely consonant to the whole tenor of man’s relations to his Maker and perpetual benefactor.—Bullar.
Observe three benefits of keeping instruction, and in each the fit time and the act. A man walking, needs a guide; sleeping, needs a watchman; awaking, needs a friend to talk with him.—Francis Taylor.
Proverbs 6:23.—The reproofs of the law may alarm and terrify, but they are not to be less valued on that account. The threatenings of hell guard the way to heaven, and strongly urge us to keep the King’s highway, the only way of safety.—Lawson.
The parallelism with Psalms 119:105, deserves special notice. The alliteration, “the law is light,” like the vulgate, “lex, lux,” reproduces a corresponding paronomasia in the Hebrew.—Plumptre.
He that hath the word of Christ richly dwelling in him, may lay his hand upon his heart and say, as dying Ecolampadius did: “Here is plenty of light.” Under the law all was in riddles; Moses was veiled; and yet that saying was then verified. There was light enough to lead men to Christ “the end of the law” (Romans 10:4). “Reproofs of instruction,” or “corrections of instruction.” A lesson set on with a whipping is best remembered.—Trapp.
Proverbs 6:24. Evil woman, literally. “the woman of evil.”
Proverbs 6:26. Last clause means “an adulteress allures to that which may cost a man his life” (Stuart).
Proverbs 6:30. Despise. Some translators render this word “scorn,” others “disregard.” Stuart, Wordsworth, and others adopt the former and understand the words to mean “men do not despise the thief, they do despise the adulterer.” Noyes and others, adopting the latter rendering, take the sentence to mean “men punish even a thief, how much more an adulterer.”
Proverbs 6:34. Jealousy, i.e., of the injured husband.
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH—Proverbs 6:24-35
A SPECIAL SIN AND ITS PENALTIES FROM WHICH HE WHO KEEPS GOD’S LAW WILL BE KEPT
I. From the huntress of souls. The animals of tropical jungles are compelled at intervals to forsake their safe retreats and come down to the brink of the river to quench their thirst. This necessity of their life involves them in danger. The instinct of the lion tells him that the antelope will be compelled, by the cravings of his nature, to come to the place of water, and therefore he lays in wait there to make him an easy prey. And the hunter, being fully aware of the same fact, crouches by the river-side and takes both the lion and his prey. Thus the natural bodily instincts are used as means by which the lives of the creatures are destroyed. The danger of which the young man is here warned arises out of the existence of a God-given and, therefore, lawful desire. The huntress of souls—as she is well named in Proverbs 6:25—takes advantage of this lawful propensity and uses it as a means of the destruction of her victim. She knows that the young man, from the strength of his lawful desires, is, comparatively, an easy prey to the seducer, hence it is to him that she points her weapons. These weapons are:
1. Flattery. Fair words cost nothing. A score of base coin can be purchased for a copper, and are worth exchanging for one golden piece. The dogs lick the hand of the vendor of their meat, but this not out of any affection for him. They do not use their tongue out of any affection for him, but for what he has. So the adulteress, and so indeed all flatterers. They give the base coin only in the hope of getting gold in return—fair words for real benefits. They will lick the back of the hand in order to get something out of the palm.
2. Her beauty. The beauty of a woman is a powerful weapon, and, if rightly used, may be a means of greatly blessing others. But, alas, how often has it been debased to the vilest purposes, how many times have strong men been cast down by it, how many sons of the mighty has it brought low, even to the dust! The keeping in the heart of the law of God’s word will teach the young man to estimate flattering words and mere external beauty at their real worth.
II. From the inevitable marks left upon both constitution and character by unlawful intercourse (Proverbs 6:27-28). A man’s raiment cannot be kindled into a flame without its retaining the marks after the fire has been extinguished. The scar of the burn will remain even after the wound is healed. So those who yield to the solicitations of the “strange woman” will find that soul and body will suffer from the effects of the sin long after the action has been committed.
III. From the deserved contempt of all the pure-minded (Proverbs 6:30-31). It is a sin compared with which a theft is a light crime in the eyes of God, and therefore in the eyes of the best men. A thief may make restitution for his crime, bnt this sin cannot be atoned for by an after act. Gold may be repaid fourfold, but dishonour brought upon a husband by a wife’s infidelity is a blot which cannot be effaced. The loss of the poor man’s ewe-lamb might be atoned for, but David could not have restored to Uriah an innocent wife. (See 2 Samuel 12:1-6). Hence the much heavier punishment under the Mosaic law for adultery than for theft. (See Exodus 22:1-4; Leviticus 20:10).
IV. From the fury of a lawful jealousy (Proverbs 6:34). Where there is true love there is a jealousy for the honour and reputation of the object loved. The man who is not jealous for the honour of his country is not a patriot. The father who is not jealous for the reputation of his family is not worthy of the name. And so the husband who is not jealous of his own and his wife’s honour is a stranger to real love. There is a right and lawful jealousy. God calls Himself “a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5). There are rights which belong to Him alone, and He is justly displeased if they are given to any other being. Paul tells the Corinthian Church that he was “jealous over them with a godly jealousy” (2 Corinthians 11:2). He was their Father in Christ, and he felt that his honour as well as theirs was staked upon their living holy lives. And the righteous jealousy of the injured husband spoken of in the text is to be dreaded, because it is righteous—because it has just grounds for its existence, and because God will see to it that the wrong is avenged.
ILLUSTRATION OF Proverbs 6:25
This probably refers to the care with which women in the East paint their eyelids, in a great measure in order to captivate the men, who, from the manner in which they are muffled up, can often see no more of their persons than their eyes—which may, indeed, be one reason why so much pains are taken to set them off.
ILLUSTRATION OF Proverbs 6:28
This image would hardly occur to us, who never go barefoot, and are never or rarely exposed to any liability of treading upon burning coals. If we desired to express the same sentiment by a similar image, we should say, “Can one handle hot coals and not be burned?” But in the East travelling parties kindle fires in the open air for cooking and for warmth, and a passenger might easily burn his naked foot by treading inadvertently upon the hot but not glowing place of one of these recently quitted fires.—Kitto.
OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS
Proverbs 6:24. Bound and kept in the heart as a friend, that law will prevail to keep the youth “from the strange woman.” Observing a great swelling wave rolling forward to devour him, this faithful teacher imparts to the young voyager on life’s troubled sea a principle which will bear him buoyant over it. A slender vessel floats alone upon the ocean, contending with the storm. A huge wave approaches, towering high above her hull. All depends upon how the ship shall take it. If she go under it she will never rise again: if she is so trimmed that her bows rise with the first approaches, she springs lightly over it, and gets no harm. The threatening billow passes beneath her, and breaks with a growl behind her, but the ship is safe. The law and love of the Lord, taught by his mother in childhood, and maintaining its place yet as the friend of his bosom and the ruler of his conscience, will give the youth a spring upward proportionate to the magnitude of the temptation coming on.—Arnot.
That which is said of Jael is true of the strange woman. She brought forth soft words, but a hard nail; in her mouth was a gentle hammer, but in her hand a heavy one. Open force is more easily resisted, but that which is hid in the beginning with fair words in the end stingeth most cruelly.—Jermin.
“Flattery.” That constitutes the risk. If impenitence would tell the truth, or even if we would allow the truth, there would be no danger. But hers is an alien tongue in this,—that though we deliberately admit it is a cheat, we accept its flattery.—Miller.
Proverbs 6:26. A famine of bread followeth the gluttony of lust, and it is life itself that is destroyed by it. He that is thus brought to a morsel of bread on earth, shall be brought to a drop of water in hell, if repentance do not in time beg a gracious pardon for him. That man’s life is precious, the devil himself affirmeth, who seeketh to make it vile; he saith, who laboureth to destroy it, that “Skin for skin, all that a man hath will he give for his life” (Job 2:4). How unworthy valuers are they therefore of their own lives who esteem them less than the devil does, and who make them a prey to the adulteress, who as a lion hunteth after them.—Jermin.
Nothing is so bewitching aswomanly enchantment. Nothing in esse, when it is base, is so contemptible. Nothing sweeps a man with such a perfect storm of influence. Nothing leaves him so perfectly defrauded and unpaid.—Miller.
Proverbs 6:27-28. “Fire” is a favourite emblem for wickedness. “Wickedness burneth as the fire” (Isaiah 9:18, see also Isaiah 65:5). The
(1) pain, the
(2) waste, the
(3), growth, and
(4) the small beginnings of sin are all instanced in the fire. “Bosom.” Here is just where sin is taken. Sin is not only the inward but the outward enemy, not only the coals in our bosom but the coals (or fierce tempting occasions) in the midst of which we walk—Miller.
Sin and punishment are linked together by a chain of adamant. “The fire of lust kindles the fire of hell,” says Henry. He cannot afterwards plead the strength of the temptation. Why did he not avoid it? Who that knows how much tinder he carries about with him would wilfully lightup the sparks?—Bridges.
Perhaps such an one may think to tread upon coals, thereby to tread them out, but he will first tread the fire into his own feet: perhaps such an one may think to walk in the ways of lust, thereby to walk them out, but he will first walk out the strength of his body and means. The affections are the feet of man’s soul, and if they walk upon this fire they will be inflamed suddenly.—Jermin.
Proverbs 6:29. Though the plea of a sleepy conscience be not guilty, the sentence of God is, not innocent. It was for this wickedness that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah; it was for it He brought the deluge of waters upon the world, and as it is observed, for no other sin do we read, that God is said to have repented to have made man, but for this.—Jermin.
Proverbs 6:30. Compared with an adulterer, a thief is not treated with so much ignominy. The laws of modern society have reversed the maxims of Solomon; and, to the dishonour of Christian nations, an adulterer, who steals what is most precious to a man, and what is irretrievable, is treated by the law with more lenity than a thief, who robs him of what is comparatively of little value and may be easily replaced.—Wordsworth.
Adultery is worse than theft. It is before us in the commandments as the greater sin (Exodus 20:14-15).
1. It is a far greater theft.
2. The provocation to theft is greater. Want drives the one, wantonness draws the other. One may preserve his bodily life by his sin, the other destroys it. Hunger is a great provocation to evil (ch. Proverbs 30:9). Necessity is a sore weapon.—Francis Taylor.
Proverbs 6:33. The three things here mentioned may be referred to three causes. The wound to the devil, the enemy of mankind, the dishonour to God, dishonoured by the adulterer, the reproach to sin, which is the true object of reproach. The devil woundeth out of malice, God dishonoureth in justice, sin reproacheth by nature; and where nature hath fastened the reproach or stain it is not any art that can take it out or wipe it away. He that giveth this good counsel was himself an example of what he writeth. As Jerome saith, Solomon, the sun of men, the treasure of God’s delights, the peculiar house of wisdom, blurred with the thick ink of dishonour, lost the light of his soul, the glory of his house, the sweet perfume of his name, by the love of a woman.—Jermin.
What an indelible blot is the matter of Uriah upon David still.—Trapp.
Proverbs 6:34. Howbeit he may not kill the adulterer, but if no law will relieve a man, yet let him know that he shall do himself no disservice by making God his chancellor.—Trapp.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Proverbs 6". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany