Prov 6:1 My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have struck hands in pledge for another,

Prov 6:2 if you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth,

Prov 6:3 then do this, my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands: Go and humble yourself; press your plea with your neighbor!

Prov 6:4 Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids.

Prov 6:5 Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

Pr 6:6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!

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Proverbs devotes no less than three poems to the sluggard (Prov 6:6-11; 24:30-34; 26:13-16) in addition to scattered sayings (Prov 10:26; 13:4; 15:19; 19:24 20:4; 21:25; 22:13; cf. 19:15; 31:27).

The ant – ‘Many types of ants occur in Palestine, but the context clearly identifies this as the harvester ant, sometimes called the agricultural ant, which is about 6 mm long. Its colonies are common and conspicuous in many parts of Israel outside the actual desert. It collects seeds of many kinds, especially grasses, during spring and early summer and stores them in underground galleries, often after removing the husks and letting them blow away in the wind, which clearly indicates the nest entrance.’ (NBD)

The sluggard loves his ease, lives in idleness, minds no business, sticks to nothing, brings nothing to pass. He speaks here to the sluggard,

I. By way of instruction, Pr 6:6-8. He sends him to school. Observe,

1. The master he is sent to school to: Go to the ant.

2. The application of mind that is required: Consider her ways.

3. The lesson that is to be learned. In general, learn wisdom, consider, and be wise; In particular,

(1.) We must prepare for hereafter, and not mind the present time only. Thus provident we must be in our worldly affairs, not with an anxious care, but with a prudent foresight; lay in for winter, for straits and wants that may happen, and for old age; much more in the affairs of our souls. (2.) We must take pains, and labour in our business. Even in summer, when the weather is hot, the ant is busy in gathering food and laying it up, and does not indulge her ease, nor take her pleasure. (3.) We must improve opportunities, we must gather when it is to be had, as the ant does in summer and harvest, in the proper time. Walk while you have the light.

4. The advantages which we have of learning this lesson above what the ant has. She has no guides, overseers, and rulers, but does it of herself, following the instinct of nature; the more shame for us who do not in like manner follow the dictates of our own reason and conscience, though besides them we have parents, masters, ministers, magistrates, to put us in mind of our duty, to check us for the neglect of it, to quicken us to it, to direct us in it, and to call us to an account about it.

II. By way of reproof, Pr 6:9-11. In these verses,

1. He expostulates with the sluggard, rebuking him and reasoning with him, calling him to his work, as a master does his servant that has over-slept himself:

Sluggards should be roused with a How long? This is applicable,

(1.) To those that are slothful in the way of work and duty, in the duties of their particular calling as men or their general calling as Christians. (2.) To those that are secure in the way of sin and danger:

2. He exposes the frivolous excuses he makes for himself, and shows how ridiculous he makes himself. When he is roused he stretches himself, and begs, as for alms, for more sleep, more slumber; he is well in his warm bed, and cannot endure to think of rising, especially of rising to work. But, observe, he promises himself and his master that he will desire but a little more sleep, a little more slumber, and then he will get up and go to his business; still he asks for a little more sleep, yet a little more; he never thinks he has enough, and yet, when he is called, pretends he will come presently. Thus men’s great work is left undone by being put off yet a little longer, de die in diem-from day to day; and they are cheated of all their time by being cheated of the present moments.

3. He gives him fair warning of the fatal consequences of his slothfulness, Pr 6:11.

(1.) Poverty and want will certainly come upon those that are slothful in their business. Spiritual poverty comes upon those that are slothful in the service of God. (2.) “It will come silently and insensibly, will grow upon thee, and come step by step, as one that travels, but will without fail come at last.” (3.) “It will come irresistibly, like an armed man, whom thou canst not oppose nor make thy part good against.”

(Adapted from MHC)

Pr 6:7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler,

The ant has no-one telling it what to do, but it busies itself anyway.

Prov 6:8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.

Pr 6:9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?

The sluggard puts things off – he procrastinates.

Pr 6:10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—

Laziness

  1. Love of ease, Pr 6:9f; 26:14.
  2. Lame excuses, Pr 22:13; 26:13.
  3. Loss of energy, Pr 19:24; 26:15.
  4. Lack of enterprise, Pr 13:4; 21:25.

The old plumber was admonishing his young helper, who was always taking coffee breaks. “When I was an apprentice,” he said, “we used to lay the first two lengths of pipe—then the boss would turn on the water and we’d have to stay ahead of it.”

Temporarily absent from home, a father left Daniel and his brother James with instructions as to the work they were to do that day. On his return he found the task still unperformed, and questioned them about their idleness. “What have you been doing, James?” he asked. “Nothing, Dad.” “Well, Daniel, what have you been doing?” “Helping Jimmy, Dad.”

The Procrastinator’s Poem

I’ve gone for a drink and sharpened my pencils,
Searched through my desk for forgotten utensils.
I reset my watch, I adjusted my chair,
I’ve loosened my tie and straightened my hair.
I filled my pen and tested the blotter
And gone for another drink of water
Adjusted the calendar, and I’ve raised the blind
And I’ve sorted erasers of all different kinds.
Now down to work I can finally sit,
Oops, too late, it’s time to quit.

(Source unknown)

Pr 6:11 and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.

‘More than any other book Proverbs gives visibility to the causes of poverty. Because of the book’s didactic nature the emphasis is upon controllable circumstances but other reasons are included. Poverty is a result of laziness (6:10-11; 10:4; 20:13; 24:33-34), lack of discipline (13:18), idleness (14:23; 28:19), haste (21:5), excess (21:17; 23:20-21), and injustice (13:23).’ (EDBT)

Prov 6:12 A scoundrel and villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth,

Prov 6:13 who winks with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers,

Prov 6:14 who plots evil with deceit in his heart— he always stirs up dissension.

Prov 6:15 Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant; he will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.

Pr 6:16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him:

‘These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.’ The sense is not, that the six things are hateful to God, and the seventh an abomination to him besides; the seven are to be numbered separately, and the seventh is the non plus ultra of all that is hated by God…The chief of all that God hates is he who takes a fiendish delight in setting at variance men who stand nearly related. (John Sanderson)

Pr 6:17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,

‘Lying insults not only your neighbor, whom you may manage to fool, but also God, whom you can never fool. A truth-telling, promise-keeping God who “cannot lie” (Tit 1:2, NEB; also Nu 23:19 1 Sam 15:29), and who wants to see in us his own moral image, naturally “hates. a lying tongue. a false witness who breathes out lies.” (Pr 6:16-19) Lying is part of Satan’s image, not God’s, and we should not wonder that “every one who loves and practices falsehood” should thereby exclude himself from God’s city (Rev 22:15; cf. 21:27). There is no godliness without truthfulness. Lord, have mercy!’ (J.I. Packer, Growing in Christ)

Prov 6:18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil,

Prov 6:19 a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

Prov 6:20 My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

Prov 6:21 Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck.

Prov 6:22 When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you.

Prov 6:23 For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life,

Prov 6:24 keeping you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife.

Prov 6:25 Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes,

Prov 6:26 for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life.

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David Instone-Brewer (see link above) thinks that the translation reflected in the NIV – ‘the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life’ – is inferior to that found in the RSV – ‘For a harlot may be hired for a loaf of bread, but an adulteress stalks a man’s very life.’  Kidner agrees that this latter translation has the support of some of the ancient manuscripts, but that it gives an inferior sense (by ‘shrugging off’ the sin of the prostitute, in a way that is untrue both to the reality of the situation and to the moral tenor of Proverbs).

Prov 6:27 Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?

Prov 6:28 Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?

Prov 6:29 So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished.

Prov 6:30 Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving.

Prov 6:31 Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house.

Prov 6:32 But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself.

Prov 6:33 Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away;

Prov 6:34 for jealousy arouses a husband’s fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.

Prov 6:35 He will not accept any compensation; he will refuse the bribe, however great it is.