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Paul Koptac: The chapter brings together two instructions, both concerning behaviors and associations that the wise person avoids. The first set of teachings tells how one deals with other men, here described as brothers and neighbors (6:1–19); the second returns to the subject of the strange/other woman (6:20–35).

Warren Wiersbe: Chapter 6 deals with three enemies that can destroy a person financially, physically, morally, or spiritually:

  • unwise financial commitments (vv. 1–5),
  • laziness (vv. 6–11),
  • and lust (vv. 20–35).

It is not unusual for one person to be guilty of all three, because laziness and lust often go together; people who can easily be pressured into putting up security for somebody can be pressured into doing other foolish things, including committing adultery. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21).

Avoid the Way of Pledges, Sluggards, and Scoundrels (6:1–19)

Get free from pledges (6:1–5)

Go learn from the ant (6:6–11)

Watch out for the scoundrel (6:12–15)

Hate the seven things Yahweh hates (6:16–19)

Avoid the Way of Adultery (6:20–35)

The commands are a guide for life (6:20–24)

The adulteress preys on your life (6:25–29)

The husband will show no mercy (6:30–35)

David Hubbard: Scripture Outline

Disengage Yourselves from Rash Pledges (6:1–5)

Learn Diligence from the Ant (6:6–11)

Perverse People Are Dangerous (6:12–15)

Divisive People Are Deadly (6:16–19)

Call to Attention (6:20–22)

Shun Adultery (6:23–35)

Lindsay Wilson: The warnings against four snares or distractions in 6:1–19 are the only materials in chapters 5-7 that do not deal with the immoral woman. This raises the question of why these verses are located in this part of the book. A crucial hint is that the role of the immoral woman in chapters 5-7 is to personify folly. When you look again at 6:1–19, it seems to be moving beyond the personification of folly to some specific, concrete examples of folly, and warns against them. Perhaps this is in case some miss the significance of personification and say, ‘Well, I haven’t committed adultery, so I’m OK’, even if the rest of their life is full of folly.

  • So verses 1–5 speak of folly in financial matters with your neighbour;
  • verses 6–11 target laziness;
  • verses 12–15 refer to troublemakers,
  • while the numerical sayings of verses 16–19 outline a miscellany of activities, climaxing in stirring up conflict in the community (v. 19).

These examples of other forms of folly are a reminder that the real focus in chapters 5-7 is not adultery or the loose woman, but rather folly itself.


(This would be one quick path to poverty)

A.  (:1-2) Recognize the Trap of Unwise Debt

  1. (:1)  Trapped by Assuming Unnecessary Debt

My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,

If you have struck hands in pledge for another

Ray Ortlund: What is “putting up security” or “giving your pledge” for someone else?  It is cosigning a loan.  It is putting yourself up as collateral.  It is underwriting someone else’s speculative risk.  It is getting into a partnership when your partner’s default can bring you down.  God is saying in verses 1 and 2, “If you’ve done this, you’re not in danger of becoming ensnared, you’re already ensnared.”

Tremper Longman: Interest-bearing loans to fellow Israelites are forbidden (Exod. 22:25 [24 MT]). It was possible to give interest-bearing loans to foreigners, but if “stranger” implies foreigner here, then even these are discouraged. On the other hand, we need to remember that it is also the frequent teaching of the book to be generous to the poor (28:27; 29:7, 14). These are not loans, but rather outright gifts. And that seems to be the point. If people have needs, then give them what they need. The problem with loans is that often they are given in contexts where the lender cannot afford to lose the money, and the risk is just too high.

  1. (:2)  Trapped by Rash Commitments

If you have been trapped by what you said,

                     Ensnared by the words of your mouth

B.  (:3) Seek Deliverance from the Bondage

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!”

David Hubbard: In a society where pride and self-esteem governed public conduct and made apology rare and groveling before a creditor even more rare, this lesson would have cut to the quick. It called for admitting a faux pas, reneging on a promise, and badgering a powerful neighbor for relief from it. Distasteful but necessary. And a wholesome reminder that prudence would have avoided the predicament in the first place. It was not brother or uncle for whom he rashly pledged collateral and cosigned an agreement. It was someone to whom he had no primary obligation and who, in turn, was not at all accountable to him.

C.  (:4-5) Escape with a Sense of Urgency

Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. 

Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,

like a bird from the snare of the fowler.”

Louis Goldberg: The Folly of Overextended Debt:

Unlimited debt is a foolishness for which Wisdom has some severe warnings.  The Mosaic Covenant encouraged people to help one another, especially those who had unexpected financial difficulties.  When loans were involved, no interest was to be charged (Leviticus 25:35-38).  In particular, land sales were carefully regulated because the family plot of land was never to be sold.  All a purchaser could buy from a needy farmer was the crop value to the next year of Jubilee, at which time the use of the land reverted back to the family who owned it (Leviticus 25:13-16).


(This would be a second quick path to poverty)

A.  (:6-8) Study the Model of Diligence in Nature = the Ant

  1. (:6)  Model of the Ant Commended

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!”

Lindsay Wilson: The assumption is that we can learn from observing the natural world, for there are many lessons there about how life works. However, mere observation is not enough, for there is also a need to consider or understand the way that ants live.49 The logical conclusion for the lazy and presumably unshaped person is to embrace wisdom, to take a stand with wisdom not folly, and so be wise.

  1. (:7)  Takes Initiative Without Direct Supervision

It has no commander, no overseer or ruler

Tremper Longman: Verse 7 describes the ant as not having hierarchy in its social structure. The fact that modern scientific study has uncovered hierarchy in an ant colony is beside the point. This information was not available to the ancient Near Eastern observer, so the sage is speaking from the point of view of naive observation. And without obvious social structure, these creatures cope quite well.

The amazing fact is that ants, through their seemingly ceaseless labor, gather enough food to carry them through the winter. In 30:25 ants are described as having no strength, thus their success in gathering food is based on their diligence.

George Mylne: The ant has no guide to set her example, no overseer to inspect her work, no ruler to exact her task and yet she does not neglect a day in summer, when the sky clear; or in harvest, when the grain can be had in plenty. She improves every opportunity to store up provisions, that she may spend the days of cold and scarcity in comfort. And what is the result of all her toil? In winter she enjoys plenty, when other creatures are pinched with poverty, or perish with cold and hunger.

  1. (:8)  Maximizes Opportunities (vs. Procrastinating)

yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”

B.  (:9) Shun Laziness by Rejecting the Snooze Button

How long will you lie there, you sluggard?

           When will you get up from your sleep?”

Getting started is half the battle;

“just give me 5 more minutes” = repetitive refrain

John Miller: The failure of a sluggard to learn foresight and initiative from an ant can have devastating consequences not just for someone in charge of a vineyard, but in any field of endeavor.

C.  (:10-11) Seize Every Opportunity – Because Procrastination = Stealing From Yourself

A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest –

          And poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.”

Tremper Longman: The onset of poverty is described by using similes. In the first place, it is likened to a prowler, and in the second colon it is likened to a man carrying a shield. In both cases, this simile describes individuals whose arrival portends harm. It also suggests the idea that poverty will sneak up on the person and arrive suddenly. Again, the function of this description is to serve as a warning, with the hope that people who have a propensity to be lazy will stir themselves into activity.

Paul Koptak: The two warnings work together to present a lesson on responsibility. The young man is told not to take responsibility for someone else’s finances [securing a pledge for a loan made to a neighbor] and to make sure that he never needs others to take responsibility for him [because of laziness].  Of course, this call to responsibility does not rule out lending to the poor and caring for their needs.

Lindsay Wilson: Neither the fruits of hard work, nor the prize of wisdom, will be achieved by one who is too lazy to act, think and become wise.

George Mylne: The idle man is bad but the mischievous man is still worse. Indeed it generally happens, that he who is enslaved by the one of these vices, becomes in process of time the slave of the other also.


John Miller: In this instance the portrait is of a base person [’cjdcjm], a wicked man (6:12a, lit.). His characteristics are those mentioned in a cluster of sayings in 16:27-30. He is thoroughly corrupt (beliyya’al); the word is used elsewhere for rapists (Judg 19:22), perjurers (1 Kgs 21:10, 13), apostates (Deut 13:14), alcoholics (1 Sam 1:16), troublemakers (1 Sam 10:27), and fools (Prov 16:27; 1 Sam 25:17, 25; Fox: 219). The poem lists four telltale physical features of such a person: He walks about with a corrupt mouth (lit., a crooked mouth; 6:12b; cf. 16:27b). He squints (lit.; winks; his eyes are shifty; 6:13a; 16:30a). He shuffles his feet (not able to stand still). And he points his fingers with malicious intent (6:13). His outer appearance reflects his perverse inner thoughts, which are preoccupied with evil plans (6:14a). As a result, wherever he goes, he sows discord (6:14b; 16:28). The poem closes with a sharp focus on his fate: He will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy (6:15).

A.  (:12a) Their Mask Unveiled – seeing them for who they really are

  1. a scoundrel
  2. and villain

B.  (:12b-14) Their Methodology Exposed – what you see is not what you get

  1. Their Mouth

who goes about with a corrupt mouth

Tremper Longman: The description of evil people proceeds by naming different parts of the body. In the first place, they have crooked mouths. From such mouths one would expect lies (6:19; 13:5; 14:5, 25; 25:18), rumors (18:8), slander (10:18; 20:19), and gossip (11:13; 17:4). All of these are destructive of relationships, both intimate (family) and beyond (society). In short, a perverse mouth speaks falsehoods.

  1. Their Eye

who winks with his eye

Paul Koptak: Mouth, eye, feet, and fingers are all used to communicate false and damaging messages. For example, the wink (6:13) is malicious in 10:10 and a sign of perversity in 16:30. It is not clear whether these signals are secret and seen only by some, or made openly as an accusation, insult, or even a curse.  What is clear is the evil intent with which they are presented. They are outward expressions of internal plotting and deceit (6:14).

Allen Ross: The description moves from the scoundrel’s corrupt or perverse sayings (v.12) to his sinister sign language (v.13) to his disruptive plots developed through deceit. The expressions in v.13 seem to refer to any look or gesture that is put on and therefore a form of deception, if not a way of making insinuations. A wink may seem like a playful thing, but with these troublemakers it is malicious. McKane, 325, thinks there is even a reference here to magic, as “plots” (ḥōrēš, v.14) is used elsewhere to devise magic. The evil plans of their hearts are a vivid reminder of the description of the wicked in Genesis 6:5.

  1. Their Feet

signals with his feet

  1. Their Fingers

and motions with his fingers

  1. Their Heart

who plots evil with deceit in his heart –

                     He always stirs up dissension

C.  (:15) Their Apparent Prosperity Overturned

Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant;

he will suddenly be destroyed – without remedy.”

David Hubbard: What ultimately crushes (“be broken”) such a wretch is not described (v. 15). It may be a righteous uprising of the community; it may be a negative decision by the town’s elders in the litigation that takes place in the city gate. In any case, the defeat is so devastating that all temptation to copy the perverse person is quelled. These words are not wasted on our modem society where both wicked manipulation by magic and mean contention in court are daily realities. The first is an insult to divine power; the second, an outrage to divine love. Perverse people are dangerous, then and now.


There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:”

A.  Arrogance – “haughty eyes

George Mylne: Pride leads the van of this troop of iniquities. Its palace is the heart but its throne is erected in the eye, whence it looks with disdain upon men, and pours defiance towards Heaven. The proud man is not only a rebel to God but a usurper of his dignity. He would be a God to men but the living and true God looks upon him with contempt and indignation, and spurns him into Hell.

B.  Lying – “a lying tongue

Allen Ross: The second description is “a lying tongue” (lešôn šāqer, lit., “tongue of deception”). The term is used in Jeremiah 14:14 to portray false prophets who deceive people and in Psalm 109:2 to describe the deceiver who betrays—a passage that the disciples apply to Judas in Acts 1:20. Deception in speech is harmful (Pr 26:28), but in the end truth will overcome it (12:19).

C.  Murdering – “hands that shed innocent blood

D.  Planning Wickedness – “a heart that devises wicked schemes

Allen Ross: Appropriately, at the center of the list, the fourth phrase (v.18a) concerns the heart that “devises [ḥōrēš] wicked schemes [maḥšebôt ʾāwen].” The heart most often represents the will, which here plots evil. God early on declared that the human heart was capable of doing this sort of thing (Ge 6:5); Proverbs elaborates the theme by showing that the heart that schemes wickedness is also deceitful (Pr 12:20; 14:22).

E.  Executing Wickedness – “feet that are quick to rush into evil

F.  Bearing False Witness – “a false witness who pours out lies

G.  Capstone: Spreading Family Strife – “and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers

Paul Koptak: In sum, the four teachings of Proverbs 6:1–19 work together to create a portrait of folly in its various forms. The young man here is warned about what he might lose in bad deals and neglect and about wicked men who “go about,” scheming to take what is not theirs. Each of the four sections concludes with a negative outcome: The one who pledges is caught in a trap, the sluggard will be ambushed by poverty, the scoundrel will be overtaken by disaster, and the one who stirs up dissension provokes Yahweh’s loathing—no more threat need be said. The one who pledges can get out of the trap and the sluggard can get up and learn from the ant, but the scoundrel will be destroyed without remedy (6:15).

There are good indications, then, that the insertion of these four warnings is not haphazard. We have seen that the teachings on pledges and laziness are related by the call to action (no sleep for the eyes or rest for the hands) and the freedom of self-discipline (free from the power of a neighbor’s hand and free from the need of an overseer). Likewise, the separate but similar teachings on the wicked person and the actions hated by Yahweh are related by the misuse of body parts for evil and its recompense. Yahweh hates these evils, and those who do them will be destroyed.

Taken together, the teaching of the four warnings may be paraphrased: Do not allow your members to become passive so that you are under another’s power, and do not let your members become active for evil so that you imagine you are a power over others. Both extremes ignore the reality of Yahweh’s righteous rule. If the first two have a message about earning and protecting one’s own substance from loss, the last two warn about those who would take it from others.

Lindsay Wilson: A clue to reading numerical sayings is that the focus of the message is often on the last item mentioned. The seventh example here, sowing discord in the community, draws together the remainder of the other descriptions. While they are initially a loose conglomerate of images, they can all be seen to contribute to a breaking down of the harmony and wholesome relationships which God intends to characterize people living together. Proud or haughty looks (eyes) imply that some are better than others. A lying tongue ruptures trust, friendships and families. The shedding of innocent blood undermines justice and causes needless grief. The mention of wicked schemes and feet rushing to do evil reveals some in the group who are concerned only for themselves, regardless of the cost to others. A false witness (as in 14:5, 25; 19:5, 9) can promote injustice and rip a good person’s character to shreds. These are all socially destructive and anti-community activities. God longs for peace in community, and the thrust of the biblical idea of peace is not simply the absence of overt conflict, but more so the presence of wholesome relationships across human divisions. The language used in this numerical saying is very strong: God hates and detests such human failings. This gives some idea of the extent to which God is committed to building up community. Conflict, deceit and hatred must not be allowed to fester.


A.  (:20-24) The Foundation of Parental Guidance Is Your First Line of Defense

  1. (:20-21)  Priority of Obedience to Parents

My son, keep your father’s commands

and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. 

Bind them upon our heart forever;

fasten them around your neck.”

  1. (:22-23)  General Benefits: Guidance / Protection / Correction

When you walk, they will guide you;

when you sleep, they will watch over you;

when you awake, they will speak to you. 

For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light,

and the corrections of discipline are the way to life.

David Hubbard: This admonition to obedience combines three familiar ingredients and adds a new one. Familiar are

  • the equation of wisdom teaching with command and law ( 20; see 3:1) to show that obedience is not a matter of option or choice but of responsibility or rebellion,
  • the mention of both parents as sources of authoritative instruction ( 20; see 1:8; 4:3), a reminder that school was seen as an extension of the home in its obligation to nurture the young,
  • the metaphors of tying or binding ( 21; see 1:9; 3:3, 22) to depict the tenacity with which wisdom is to be grasped and the central part it plays in every aspect of life.

New are the trio of clauses that picture wisdom’s constant role during the key activities of each day (v. 22):

  • a guide during the goings and comings (“roam” suggests “going astray” which is not the point here) that work and leisure demand;
  • a guard during the helpless hours of sleep;
  • a concerned companion (“speak” understates the attention wisdom pays to its wards), present in the early waking hours before dawn and family break the silence.
  1. (:24)  Specific Benefit

keeping you from the immoral woman,

from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife.”

Charles Bridges: But the sin of the adulterer claims no sympathy.  His plea is not the cry of hunger, but of lust; not want, but wantonness; not the lack of bread, but of understanding.  (Comp. Eccles. vii. 25, 26; Jer. v. 8, 21.)  He is willfully given up to his sin.  He destroyeth his own soul.  (Lev. xx. 10.  Chap. ii. 18, 19; v. 22, 23; vii. 22, 23.  Eph. v. 5He gets a wound – not like the soldier or the martyr for Christ – full of honour; but rankling on his conscience (Ps. xxxii. 3,4), and bringing dishonour and indelible reproach upon his name.  The tremendous passions of jealousy and rage shut out all forgiveness.  The face of no one who offered a ransom would be accepted.  No compensation (Gen. xxxix. 19, 20.  Judg. xix. 29, 30), however costly, will content.

B.  (:25-29) Playing with Fire Will Only Get You Burned

  1. (:25)  Don’t Even Start Down This Slippery Slope

Do not lust in your heart after her beauty

or let her captivate you with her eyes

  1. (:26)  The Stakes are High

a.  Poverty – Prostitute out for financial gain

                                    “for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread”

b.  Ruin – Adulteress sucks out your very life (bored with her marriage)

            “and the adulteress preys upon your very life.”

Tremper Longman: The passage reveals some interesting aspects of ancient Israelite culture. In the first place, it warns against two classes of dangerous women: the prostitute and the seductive but married woman. Having sexual relationships with either is wrong, but the argument of the father makes it clear that there is a difference between the two. After all, the consequences of sleeping with a married woman are much larger than sleeping with a prostitute. This difference is summed up in v. 26: “For a prostitute costs a loaf of bread, but a married woman hunts for a man’s life.” The point seems to be that the prostitute will sap material resources, but when one sleeps with a married woman, one must reckon with her jealous husband, who will have the support of the law behind him as he seeks revenge.

  1. (:27-29)  The Consequences are Inevitable

Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? 

Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? 

So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife;

no one who touches her will go unpunished.”

Paul Koptak: Three arguments from analogy then drive home the prohibition of Proverbs 6:25. The parents compare:

  • payments due the prostitute and adulteress (6:26),
  • adultery and the fire that burns lap and feet (6:27–29), and
  • the fates of the hungry thief and the adulterer (6:31–32).

Three negative outcomes are named, respectively:

  • loss of life,
  • punishment like burning,
  • and the combination of public disgrace and a husband’s angry vengeance.

C.  (:30-35) No Amount of Money Can Bail You Out of the Consequences

  1. (:30-31)  Inexcusable Offense

Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is

starving.  Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him

all the wealth of his house.

  1. (:32-33)  Idiotic Self Destruction

But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment;

whoever does so destroys himself. 

Blows and disgrace are his lot,

and his shame will never be wiped away

Max Anders: How can you make restitution for adultery? Committing such a deed shows a lack of judgment, a self-destructive urge. The disgrace of his action can never be wiped away, and the injured husband becomes an implacable foe whom no payment will satisfy.

MAIN IDEA REVIEW: An illicit affair may provide short-term pleasure, but the long-range consequences will be disastrous. Stay faithful to your spouse, and you will experience genuine satisfaction—and God will be pleased. You cannot escape the painful results of immorality.

  1. (:34-35)  Impossibility of Compensation

for jealousy arouses a husband’s fury,

and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge. 

He will not accept any compensation;

he will refuse the bribe, however great it is.”

Warren Wiersbe: In today’s society, if a person has enough money and “clout,” he or she might be able to survive an adulterous scandal, but life is still never quite the same. Whether in this life or the next, sinners can be sure that their sins will find them out. Indulging in sexual sin is always a losing proposition.