by Pastor Mark Hudson
Proverbs 6 is divided up by Bruce Waltke as
6:1-19 Three Inferior Men
6:20-35 The High Price of an Unchaste Wife
For the three foolish people, the first has become surety for a neighbor, the second is a sluggard or lazy person, and the third is a troublemaker or insurrectionist. This section is followed by the seven things the Lord hates. Looking at the first section, we do not know why, in this hypothetical situation, the person who has given himself as security for his neighbor’s loan. Maybe the neighbor asked him to help him out for a brief time or maybe there was promise of financial gain. It could have been hasty and ill-advised compassion. The command is ‘save yourself’ in v. 3. The ‘son’ is to get out of that trap (v. 5) as soon as possible (v. 4). Whatever it takes, plead with your neighbor (v. 3) and do not waste a minute (v. 4).
The next warning is about being a sluggard or being lazy. The sluggard is too lazy to work even though most of us are motivated to work because we like to eat, desire for better things, or to improve our lot in life. So, the lazy person is instructed to look at the ant. This is probably the harvester ant. These ants stole so many seeds that there were legislation regarding who owned the seeds, if they found their nest. These ants stored so many seeds, farmers would fight over who owned the seeds discovered in their underground caverns. The lazy person brings ruin and poverty on himself and his family.
Then there is the troublemaker or insurrectionists. This is the sneaky (v. 13), back-stabbing person who gossips (v. 14) and leaves a trail of hurt, pain and mistrust in her wake. He is called worthless, wicked (v. 12) and has a perverted heart (v. 14). This is a serious warning to those (even those who never read these verses) who either do this or know people who do. This is God talking about how some people live and act.
Why are these three placed together? Waltke sees a connection with the previous chapter with these words: ‘stranger’ (5:10; 6:1) and ‘caught/captured’ (5:22; 6:2). The Lord acts as the final judge in 5:22-23 and 6:15-19. These actions all hurt the community and they all bring trouble to the person who does these deeds.
Of course, this doesn’t mean we cannot help our neighbor. If you do loan money to your neighbor, the relationship will change. One ought to consider it a gift or never exchange money at all. But whenever money is involved, there is always obligation.
With the sluggard, this does not mean a person cannot rest or nap during the day. Nor does it mean the hardest working person is naturally a believer. This is wisdom literature. Some of us need to step up and some of need to learn to rest. But this is about a lazy person. It may be one who lives in a house that is falling apart, driving a car that is not cared for etc. But there are people who are not well off that work hard and there may be wealthy people who are lazy. This rebuke is not for certain external things to look for but a person who does not intend to fulfill his/her obligations.
Then we come to the six, no 7, things the Lord hates in v. 16ff. One scholar notice this about these sins: “they are all disruptive in their tendency, that they are characterized by self-assertiveness or malice or violence, and that they break the bond of confidence and loyalty between man and man (Waltke Vol 1, p. 346 quoting McKane). These sins revolve around the heart. The heart is in the middle v. 18. The first three sins involve the eyes, tongue, and hands while the last three involve feet and tongue. These sins are an abomination to God. He hates them. Waltke writes “the hissing . . . sound resonates throughout this catalogue” since the following words starts with the s sound in Hebrew; six, hates, seven and him. Consider that we you look down on someone, when you lie, when you sow discord, or run to do evil God hates that. Hate is a strong word but so is abomination. God is not indifferent to our sin.
In Proverbs 6:20-35, there is an introduction in vs. 20-24, followed by the lesson in 25-35a. Consider that this sin, extolled by Hollywood, popular songs, and many t.v. movies or shows, is a terrible sin against God. The first problem is found in v. 25, “do not desire her beauty in your heart.” Adultery begins in the heart as all sin does. Sin is not merely a violation of external demands. Sin begins inside us wanting, in this case, something or someone, that is not ours.
In this section starting in verse 26, the father appeals to the son’s concern for himself. In vs. 26-29, the father warns the son that he will pay dearly for this rebellion. In v. 32, “he who does it (commits adultery) destroys himself.” This is an appeal to consider the consequences. In v. 30, the son is told that no one will pity you because you were not starving which is why a hungry person steals food. And he will pay bitterly and severely (vs. 31, 33, 35).
I hasten to add that all the sins the Bible addresses are sins some of us commit. While we need to be clear about the severity of sin against a holy God, we do not want to suggest any of these is the unpardonable sin. In fact, our black hearts, our rebellion, cause the glory of God to appear bright and full of splendor. Of course, we are not to sin more to make God’s grace look great (Rom. 3:7-8). But Christ, who is our Wisdom, earned our salvation and offers it to whomever repents and believes the gospel. So we should not despair but be clear as well as compassionate to other sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. We look away from ourselves to Christ Who is a fountain of everlasting joy and delight.
Glorious Father, we come to You in Jesus’ name by the power of the Holy Spirit. How can we ever look down on our friends and family members caught in sin? We have done the same if not worse. Sadly, to our shame, we have seriously sinned after being born again. But You take our shame, guilt, and sin and dressed us in the pure white spotless clothes of forgiveness, acceptance, and grace. You pour out of forgiveness and acceptance which is so hard for us to accept because it is so wonderful and we feel so unworthy. Lord Jesus, we will praise You forever for what the Triune God has done for us. We ask for Your Spirit to live holy and pure lives. Take away our love of sinning. In Christ’s sweet and majestic name, Amen.