Becoming a Person Others Need
Proverbs 6:6-11,16-19,23-27 May 19 2013
It’s helpful to list the characteristics of the wisdom which the writer praises as a divine quality and which bring human beings long and blessed lives . Some of the characteristics mentioned in these chapters are: speaks what is right and true ; detests wickedness; is associated with prudence, knowledge, and discretion ; hates prides and arrogance ; walks in the way of righteousness and justice .
Earlier chapters emphasized the benefits of wisdom. Wisdom protects , prolongs life and brings prosperity , wins favor in the sight of God and man , leads to riches and honor ; and brings peace and blessing . Wisdom keeps us from stumbling and from fear, so that “when you lie down . . .your sleep will be sweet” .
Folly, here “moral rebellion,” is also personalized in chapters as a woman and set in contrast to wisdom. Wisdom is disciplined, responsive to God, and rewards those who choose her. Folly is undisciplined, sensuous, and brings those who choose her to an early grave.
The contrast between wisdom and folly developed in these first chapters is a fitting introduction to the body of the book, which contains dozens of wisdom sayings.
1. A rebuke to slothfulness. (Prov.6:6-11)
Prov. 6:6 Go to the ant, you sluggard!
Consider her ways and be wise,7 Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler,8 Provides her supplies in the summer,
And gathers her food in the harvest.9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard?When will you rise from your sleep?10 A little sleep, a little slumber,A little folding of the hands to sleep—11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler,And your need like an armed man.
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?
2. Seven things hateful to God. (Prov. 6:16-19)
Prov. 6:16 These six things the Lord hates,Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:17 A proud look, A lying tongue,Hands that shed innocent blood,18 A heart that devises wicked plans,Feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 A false witness who speaks lies . And one who sows discord among brethren.
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.
3. Exhortations to walk according to God’s commandments. (Prov. 6:23-27)
Prov. 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp,And the law a light; Reproofs of instruction are the way of life,24 To keep you from the evil woman,From the flattering tongue of a seductress.25 Do not lust after her beauty in your heart,or let her allure you with her eyelids.26 For by means of a harlot. A man is reduced to a crust of bread;And an adulteress will prey upon his precious life.27 Can a man take fire to his bosom,And his clothes not be burned?
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.
These chapters develop two themes interwoven by a distinctive literary device. The first theme is the dangers of adultery, filled with warnings against the seductive woman. The second theme is the praise of wisdom, personified as a woman. The use of the device is partly explained by the fact that the noun “wisdom” is feminine, but its development reflects the genius of the author who plays off the notion of desirability, contrasting the sensory appeal of the seductress and the total satisfaction to be found in choosing to make one’s commitment to wisdom instead. Only 6:1-19 seems to briefly abandon this powerful analogy t introduce brief, typical proverbial bits of counsel and advice.