Proverbs
Introduction 1-5 Do Not Ever Become Surety 6-11 The Sluggard 12-15 A Worthless Person 16-19 Things Which the LORD Hates 20-24 What Keeps from the Evil Woman 25-29 Do Not Take Fire in Your Bosom 30-35 There Is No Ransom for Adultery
Introduction

The verses 1-191My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor,
Have given a pledge for a stranger,
2[If] you have been snared with the words of your mouth,
Have been caught with the words of your mouth,
3Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself;
Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor,
Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.
4Give no sleep to your eyes,
Nor slumber to your eyelids;
5Deliver yourself like a gazelle from [the hunter’s] hand
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.6Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
7Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
8Prepares her food in the summer
[And] gathers her provision in the harvest.
9How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
10“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest”—
11Your poverty will come in like a vagabond
And your need like an armed man.12A worthless person, a wicked man,
Is the one who walks with a perverse mouth,
13Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet,
Who points with his fingers;
14Who [with] perversity in his heart continually devises evil,
Who spreads strife.
15Therefore his calamity will come suddenly;
Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing.16There are six things which the LORD hates,
Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
17Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
18A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that run rapidly to evil,
19A false witness [who] utters lies,
And one who spreads strife among brothers.
of this chapter form an interruption in the speech of the father to his son about the strange woman. Still, the subjects that he deals with in these verses are related to what he has said about her: it is about sins that, like adultery, lead to deep poverty (Pro 5:9-119Or you will give your vigor to others
And your years to the cruel one;
10And strangers will be filled with your strength
And your hard-earned goods [will go] to the house of an alien;
11And you groan at your final end,
When your flesh and your body are consumed;
).


Do Not Ever Become Surety

1My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor,
Have given a pledge for a stranger,
2[If] you have been snared with the words of your mouth,
Have been caught with the words of your mouth,
3Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself;
Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor,
Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.
4Give no sleep to your eyes,
Nor slumber to your eyelids;
5Deliver yourself like a gazelle from [the hunter’s] hand
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

A good father also looks after the financial situation of his son. He speaks about that in verses 1-51My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor,
Have given a pledge for a stranger,
2[If] you have been snared with the words of your mouth,
Have been caught with the words of your mouth,
3Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself;
Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor,
Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.
4Give no sleep to your eyes,
Nor slumber to your eyelids;
5Deliver yourself like a gazelle from [the hunter’s] hand
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
, where he particularly warns about becoming surety for his neighbor (verse 11My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor,
Have given a pledge for a stranger,
). The son is naive when he becomes surety and “gives a pledge”. The father is not so naive for thinking that his son is not capable of doing that. He assumes that his son can let himself to be tempted to become surety.

Nobody is obligated to become surety. To become surety for one’s neighbor is totally different from the usual and permitted manner of helping someone by lending money to someone who is in financial trouble (Mt 5:4242Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.). To become surety means that a person signs a declaration – which happens here symbolically by giving a “pledge” – for taking the responsibility to pay the debt of another person when this person defaults on payment. He serves as a guarantor.

It is wisdom not to take such a responsibility. This is something that is more often warned about in Proverbs (Pro 11:1515He who is guarantor for a stranger will surely suffer for it,
But he who hates being a guarantor is secure.
; 17:1818A man lacking in sense pledges
And becomes guarantor in the presence of his neighbor.
; 22:2626Do not be among those who give pledges,
Among those who become guarantors for debts.
). It is the misuse of money that God has given to be used on His behalf.

Whoever persuades somebody to become surety for him, has snared the other person with the words of his mouth and has made him a captive of those words (verse 22[If] you have been snared with the words of your mouth,
Have been caught with the words of your mouth,
). It is foolish to become surety, for it makes you become a slave of another person due to your own fault. The person for whom you have become surety, will abuse your surety. The gullibility and misplaced generosity may possibly have the effect that the son becomes a lifetime slave of the one he has become surety for.

He who becomes surety, has come “into the hand” of his neighbor (verse 33Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself;
Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor,
Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.
). Therefore the urgent advice of the father sounds that the son will free himself from it against all price. How urgent it is, resonates in addressing his son once more explicitly as “my son”. He has to make sure that he immediately comes out of the snare of the person for whom he became surety. He has to deliver himself, for otherwise he will die. That’s how deadly the danger is.

That implies that he does everything about it so that the other person fulfills his obligations. He has to go to his neighbor for whom he became surety. It may imply that he has to humble himself for him. But everything is better than to die. He must swallow his pride and, if necessary, let the other person trample him, as long as he liberates himself from the grip of his neighbor. He has to sacrifice his sleep for it (verse 44Give no sleep to your eyes,
Nor slumber to your eyelids;
; cf. Psa 132:4-54I will not give sleep to my eyes
Or slumber to my eyelids,
5Until I find a place for the LORD,
A dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
), for postponement is fatal. Therefore he should do it with the pace of a gazelle that flees from the hunter and of a bird that wants to escape the hand of the fowler (verse 55Deliver yourself like a gazelle from [the hunter’s] hand
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
). They see the danger and waste no time, in order to escape from the danger zone.

There is one good surety, which is God Himself (Psa 119:122122Be surety for Your servant for good;
Do not let the arrogant oppress me.
; Job 17:33“Lay down, now, a pledge for me with Yourself;
Who is there that will be my guarantor?
). The Lord Jesus is Surety of the new covenant (Heb 7:2222so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.). He is the fulfillment of it. The Lord was able to; He took up the conditions and fulfilled them. He took up our obligations, which made us to become partakers of the blessings of the new covenant.


The Sluggard

6Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
7Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
8Prepares her food in the summer
[And] gathers her provision in the harvest.
9How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
10“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest”—
11Your poverty will come in like a vagabond
And your need like an armed man.

Laziness (verses 6-116Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
7Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
8Prepares her food in the summer
[And] gathers her provision in the harvest.
9How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
10“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest”—
11Your poverty will come in like a vagabond
And your need like an armed man.
) is, like becoming surety, (verses 1-51My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor,
Have given a pledge for a stranger,
2[If] you have been snared with the words of your mouth,
Have been caught with the words of your mouth,
3Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself;
Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor,
Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.
4Give no sleep to your eyes,
Nor slumber to your eyelids;
5Deliver yourself like a gazelle from [the hunter’s] hand
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
) a path to poverty (Pro 24:30-3430I passed by the field of the sluggard
And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense,
31And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles;
Its surface was covered with nettles,
And its stone wall was broken down.
32When I saw, I reflected upon it;
I looked, [and] received instruction.
33“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest,”
34Then your poverty will come [as] a robber
And your want like an armed man.
). Becoming surety results in unnecessary financial loss; laziness does not deliver any money at all. The father warns the son about that incisively. It looks like he, at a certain moment, saw that his son was lazy. Therefore he appeals to him to go to “the ant”, which means that his son should take a good look at that little creature (verse 66Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
). Just like he could learn from the gazelle and the bird in verse 55Deliver yourself like a gazelle from [the hunter’s] hand
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
, he can learn from the ant (Job 12:77“But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you;
And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you.
). Just to let him see how the ways of the ant are, how busy he is, what his customs are. That will make him to be wise.

The ants do not need an encouragement, an incentive, to get to work. They have no “chief” who leads them in their work and whom they can follow to see how he does it (verse 77Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
). Nor do they have an “officer” who watches them and corrects them. Neither a “ruler” to whom they should obey, is present. People, on the contrary need ‘the eye of the master’, for otherwise they cut corners. But ants work diligently without any exhortation and work well together; they can do a lot of work without somebody stimulating them. There is no ant that doesn’t do anything.

In the example of the ant it is especially about the diligence with which she works. Additionally she also works for the future. She prepares her food in the suitable time, which is “in the harvest” (verse 88Prepares her food in the summer
[And] gathers her provision in the harvest.
), in summer, when it is still warm and “gathers” her provision when there is much to be gathered. In that way she has food in stock for the time when it is cold and she therefore cannot find food anywhere. Joseph is an example of somebody who has acted like that (Gen 41:33-36,46-4933Now let Pharaoh look for a man discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.34Let Pharaoh take action to appoint overseers in charge of the land, and let him exact a fifth [of the produce] of the land of Egypt in the seven years of abundance.35Then let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and store up the grain for food in the cities under Pharaoh’s authority, and let them guard [it].36Let the food become as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land will not perish during the famine.”46Now Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt.47During the seven years of plenty the land brought forth abundantly.48So he gathered all the food of [these] seven years which occurred in the land of Egypt and placed the food in the cities; he placed in every city the food from its own surrounding fields.49Thus Joseph stored up grain in great abundance like the sand of the sea, until he stopped measuring [it], for it was beyond measure.).

After the lesson of the ant, the application comes in verse 99How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
. The father calls his son to order by confronting him punitively with his laziness. That boy did nothing else than lying on his bed. He is forsaking his obligation, for he ought to do his work. The only thing he was occupied with, is his rest. That’s what only counts. He doesn’t think about the future, he did not care about that.

How long will he stay inactive like that? You never know when a real sluggard wakes up from his sleep. When you think that he is awake, he can still turn over and continue to sleep. How wonderful is it, we hear the sluggard mutters, to sleep and slumber “a little” and to rest with a little folding of the hands (verse 1010“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest”—
).

There is an increase of unwillingness to arise and go to work. If “a little sleep” does not succeed anymore, then “a little slumber” is so wonderful. And when that doesn’t succeed and you are totally awake, then “a rest of a little folding of the hands” behind the head or on the chest is also very nice. Who knows, that you ultimately can have ‘a little slumber’ again, when they leave you alone, and you may even succeed to get ‘a little more sleep’.

All these ‘littles’ deliver indeed a lot, namely a lot of poverty. His hands are not folded to pray, but they make clear that he is not intended to roll up his sleeves and use them (Ecc 4:55The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh.). He does not want to work with his hands.

We often apologize or condone a wrong deed or a wrong life style by saying that it is about just “a little”. Do you have to get angry about such a minor issue? What difference do those few minutes make of being late; those few cents which were counted too much; that little lie? But to God there is no such thing as ‘a small’ deviation of the path of obedience. Disobedience is disobedience.

The son should realize that “poverty” will come “like a vagabond” (verse 1111Your poverty will come in like a vagabond
And your need like an armed man.
). A vagabond has no course or direction but steadily continues his way. Such a poverty causes “lack” which comes “like an armed man”. An armed man is a bandit who is looking for a way to overpower him.

Each generation needs to hear these words about the sluggard anew. That goes certainly for the present generation. More and more young people slide deeper into purposelessness, hang around and do nothing. Laziness becomes a habit. We see that in society, but we also see that in the kingdom of God. There are lazy Christians. Every free evening is for themselves. They think that they are entitled to spend some time being relaxed and lazy and doing nothing. The Lord Jesus says to a slave whom He had also ordered to do something, but who did not go to work for Him, that he is a “wicked and lazy” slave (Mt 25:2626“But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no [seed].). There is enough work in the kingdom of God. We will see that when we live with God.


A Worthless Person

12A worthless person, a wicked man,
Is the one who walks with a perverse mouth,
13Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet,
Who points with his fingers;
14Who [with] perversity in his heart continually devises evil,
Who spreads strife.
15Therefore his calamity will come suddenly;
Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing.

The third danger (after being surety and laziness) the father warns his son about, is “a worthless person, a wicked man” (verse 1212A worthless person, a wicked man,
Is the one who walks with a perverse mouth,
). It is a man of Belial, as it also can be translated, which is a wicked and at the same time useless, futile man. Belial is a proper name for satan (2Cor 6:1515Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?). A man of Belial is a son of the devil. He is connected to laziness and wickedness and he is in the power of the devil. He is a man of injustice, which is his lifestyle. Out of the mouth of such a person can come only perverse things. He is a professional swindler.

Besides the perverse things that come out of his mouth, he also speaks an obscure body language (verse 1313Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet,
Who points with his fingers;
). That appears from what he does with his eyes, his feet and his fingers. When you secretly wink with your eyes, you do that towards somebody with whom you have a conspiracy to deceive someone else. However, it is not about an innocent joke here, but about harming and hurting someone (Pro 10:1010He who winks the eye causes trouble,
And a babbling fool will be ruined.
; Psa 35:1919Do not let those who are wrongfully my enemies rejoice over me;
Nor let those who hate me without cause wink maliciously.
). The same goes for “signal with the feet”. He may give his evil companion a push with his feet under the table whether to say or not to say something. He can also signal by “pointing with his fingers”. His look and gestures are insinuating and intended to deceive someone.

It is the secret language of darkness that is only understood by insiders. It is the language of the man of sin, the antichrist, who is the prototype of “a worthless person, a wicked man”. The antichrist is “the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction”, who uses “all the deception of wickedness” (2Thes 2:3,103Let no one in any way deceive you, for [it will not come] unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,10and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.). This man is through and through corrupt.

The heart of the worthless man, the center of his being, is a forge of evil (verse 1414Who [with] perversity in his heart continually devises evil,
Who spreads strife.
; Mt 15:1919For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.). He is continually occupied with conspiracy and devising means to sow fear and misery among people. He is “full of deceit and fraud”, a “son of the devil” and an “enemy of all righteousness” (Acts 13:1010and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord?). What comes out of his heart, “spreads strife” (cf. verse 19b19A false witness [who] utters lies,
And one who spreads strife among brothers.
) in the most intimate relationships. “Strife” is the message that he sends out. Where strife is to be found, he is present and at work. Strife, quarrel, is the opposite of the harmony and the unity which are to be found amongst believers.

This troublemaker and quarrel starter, who seeks the downfall of others, will suddenly, without prior warning, be overwhelmed by calamity (verse 1515Therefore his calamity will come suddenly;
Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing.
). In this way the antichrist will suddenly be knocked down by the judgment of Christ, even like all of those who follow him (1Thes 5:33While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.). He will be totally ruined and will have in no way any chance for a recovery (cf. 2Chr 36:1616but they [continually] mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, until there was no remedy.; Pro 29:11A man who hardens [his] neck after much reproof
Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.
; Jer 19:1111and say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Just so will I break this people and this city, even as one breaks a potter’s vessel, which cannot again be repaired; and they will bury in Topheth because there is no [other] place for burial.).


Things Which the LORD Hates

16There are six things which the LORD hates,
Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
17Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
18A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that run rapidly to evil,
19A false witness [who] utters lies,
And one who spreads strife among brothers.

These verses are connected with the previous verses concerning the worthless person and especially with verse 1414Who [with] perversity in his heart continually devises evil,
Who spreads strife.
. To present some vices of that person, the father uses a form of number proverb in his teaching: “six …yes, seven” (verse 1616There are six things which the LORD hates,
Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
; Pro 30:15,18,21,24,2915The leech has two daughters, “Give,” “Give.”
There are three things that will not be satisfied,
Four that will not say, “Enough”:
18There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
four which I do not understand:
21Under three things the earth quakes,
And under four, it cannot bear up:
24Four things are small on the earth,
But they are exceedingly wise:
29There are three things which are stately in [their] march,
Even four which are stately when they walk:
; Job 5:1919“From six troubles He will deliver you,
Even in seven evil will not touch you.
; Ecc 11:22Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth.; Amos 1:6,9,136Thus says the LORD,
“For three transgressions of Gaza and for four
I will not revoke its [punishment],
Because they deported an entire population
To deliver [it] up to Edom.
9Thus says the LORD,
“For three transgressions of Tyre and for four
I will not revoke its [punishment],
Because they delivered up an entire population to Edom
And did not remember [the] covenant of brotherhood.
13Thus says the LORD,
“For three transgressions of the sons of Ammon and for four
I will not revoke its [punishment],
Because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead
In order to enlarge their borders.
; 2:1,4,61Thus says the LORD,
“For three transgressions of Moab and for four
I will not revoke its [punishment],
Because he burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime.
4Thus says the LORD,
“For three transgressions of Judah and for four
I will not revoke its [punishment],
Because they rejected the law of the LORD
And have not kept His statutes;
Their lies also have led them astray,
Those after which their fathers walked.
6Thus says the LORD,
“For three transgressions of Israel and for four
I will not revoke its [punishment],
Because they sell the righteous for money
And the needy for a pair of sandals.
, Mic 5:55This One will be [our] peace.
When the Assyrian invades our land,
When he tramples on our citadels,
Then we will raise against him
Seven shepherds and eight leaders of men.
). That means that the vices which he mentions, are not an exhaustive list of it. Sexual sins and robbery for example are not mentioned. The things which the LORD “hates”, which “are an abomination to Him”, are things that are totally unfamiliar to Whom He is.

The seven things which the LORD hates, and which we therefore also ought to hate, are specifically personal conducts and attitudes:
1. “Haughty eyes” (verse 1717Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
) are eyes with a proud look, which exposes arrogant ambition. It is a “pomp of haughtiness” (Isa 10:12-1412So it will be that when the Lord has completed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, [He will say], “I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness.”13For he has said,
“By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did [this],
For I have understanding;
And I removed the boundaries of the peoples
And plundered their treasures,
And like a mighty man I brought down [their] inhabitants,
14And my hand reached to the riches of the peoples like a nest,
And as one gathers abandoned eggs, I gathered all the earth;
And there was not one that flapped its wing or opened [its] beak or chirped.”
).
2. “A lying tongue” is a deceitful tongue, a tongue that speaks words that creates a wrong impression to the listener, which causes him to be misled. We see this with the false prophets, who are misleading God’s people (Jer 14:1414Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds.). It is also said of Judas, the wicked betrayer (Psa 109:22For they have opened the wicked and deceitful mouth against me;
They have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
; Acts 1:20b20“For it is written in the book of Psalms,
‘LET HIS HOMESTEAD BE MADE DESOLATE,
AND LET NO ONE DWELL IN IT’;
and,
‘LET ANOTHER MAN TAKE HIS OFFICE.’
). A lying tongue causes injuries (Pro 26:2828A lying tongue hates those it crushes,
And a flattering mouth works ruin.
), but he will once be silenced (Pro 12:1919Truthful lips will be established forever,
But a lying tongue is only for a moment.
).
3. “Hands that shed innocent blood”, are hands of a murderer, which have killed an innocent one. King Manasseh “shed very much innocent blood until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another” (2Kgs 21:1616Moreover, Manasseh shed very much innocent blood until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; besides his sin with which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the LORD.; 2Kgs 24:3-43Surely at the command of the LORD it came upon Judah, to remove [them] from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done,4and also for the innocent blood which he shed, for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; and the LORD would not forgive.).
In the characters 1-3 – pride, lie and murder – we see the capital sins of satan who fell into pride, due to which he is “a murderer of men from the beginning” and “a liar” (Jn 8:4444You are of [your] father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own [nature], for he is a liar and the father of lies.).
4 “A heart that devises wicked plans” (verse 1818A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that run rapidly to evil,
), is another abomination to God. In the heart the thoughts take place. Other people do not see it, but God does. He hates it when people devise sins in their heart.
5. “Feet that run rapidly to evil” (Isa 59:77Their feet run to evil,
And they hasten to shed innocent blood;
Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity,
Devastation and destruction are in their highways.
; Rom 3:1515“Their feet are swift to shed blood,), testify of an obscure enthusiasm and diabolical speed, in order to carry out the devised evil and cause sorrow to others.
6. We can relate “a false witness who utters lies” (verse 1919A false witness [who] utters lies,
And one who spreads strife among brothers.
), with the lying tongue, which is mentioned earlier (see point 2.). Parts of the body are not used now to indicate persons, but it regards the whole person. Here it is about the violation of the ninth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exo 20:1616“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.).
7. “One who spreads strife among brothers”, is a general description of a person who causes and rouses division and quarrels (cf. Rom 16:17-1817Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.18For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.). This is possibly the lowest point of the things which the LORD hates. The seventh point is specially emphasized (“yes, seven”). It is the result of the forgoing. The six previous abominations end up here.

The counterparts of these seven hateful abominations are (1) humbleness, (2) speaking the truth, (3) keeping life, (4) pure thoughts, (5) being diligent to do good things, (6) righteous witness and (7) peaceful harmony.


What Keeps from the Evil Woman

20My son, observe the commandment of your father
And do not forsake the teaching of your mother;
21Bind them continually on your heart;
Tie them around your neck.
22When you walk about, they will guide you;
When you sleep, they will watch over you;
And when you awake, they will talk to you.
23For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light;
And reproofs for discipline are the way of life
24To keep you from the evil woman,
From the smooth tongue of the adulteress.

After the teachings on different subjects in verses 1-191My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor,
Have given a pledge for a stranger,
2[If] you have been snared with the words of your mouth,
Have been caught with the words of your mouth,
3Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself;
Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor,
Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.
4Give no sleep to your eyes,
Nor slumber to your eyelids;
5Deliver yourself like a gazelle from [the hunter’s] hand
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.6Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
7Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
8Prepares her food in the summer
[And] gathers her provision in the harvest.
9How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
10“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest”—
11Your poverty will come in like a vagabond
And your need like an armed man.12A worthless person, a wicked man,
Is the one who walks with a perverse mouth,
13Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet,
Who points with his fingers;
14Who [with] perversity in his heart continually devises evil,
Who spreads strife.
15Therefore his calamity will come suddenly;
Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing.16There are six things which the LORD hates,
Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
17Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
18A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that run rapidly to evil,
19A false witness [who] utters lies,
And one who spreads strife among brothers.
the father continues from verse 2020My son, observe the commandment of your father
And do not forsake the teaching of your mother;
with the teaching about the sin of fornication which he started with in Proverbs 5. This teaching continues up to and includes Proverbs 7. He describes two new aspects of that sin. In Proverbs 2 he speaks about the relation between the harlot and her husband and in Proverbs 5 he highlights the relation between the adulterous husband and his own wife. In the following verses he exposes the relationship between the husband of the adulterous wife and his son when he commits adultery with the adulterous wife. His son will, in case of adultery, have to deal with the husband.

The father is very practical. Adultery is not only a matter over which the church has to exercise discipline. That is indeed an important aspect, but there are more aspects related to this sin. As we have seen earlier, the father speaks about the financial consequences of adultery. Another practical aspect is that the son will have to do with the husband of that woman. That’s what he speaks about in the following.

Before he does that, he firstly presents the importance and the beauty of the commandment of the father and the teaching of his mother (verse 2020My son, observe the commandment of your father
And do not forsake the teaching of your mother;
). This underlines again the significance of the teaching that is given at home by the father and the mother. Father and mother raise their children together. When the children listen to their teaching, it will keep them from an immoral life.

For this reason the father recommends his son to bind the commandment and teaching in his “heart” “continually” (verse 2121Bind them continually on your heart;
Tie them around your neck.
). If the heart is the storing place of the teaching of the parents, it will exert the effect of protection on the actions and ways of the young man. He must also tie them around his neck (cf. Pro 3:33Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
; 7:33Bind them on your fingers;
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
). That will keep him from turning his head to a beautiful, evil woman and paying attention to her.

The total life of the young man will be directed by it (verse 2222When you walk about, they will guide you;
When you sleep, they will watch over you;
And when you awake, they will talk to you.
). It will guide him when “he walks about”; it will watch over him when he “sleeps” and it will talk to him when he “is awake”. It is a summary of everything he does (Deu 6:77You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.; 11:1919You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.). ‘To walk about’ is a daily activity. He ‘sleeps’ after his daily activities. After he has slept, he ‘awakens’ in order to again ‘walk about’. But before he walks about, it is important to ask for advice for the new day and to let the commandment speak to his heart. We can apply this to the keeping of ‘quiet time’ for the reading of God’s Word.

The “commandment” of the father (verse 20a20My son, observe the commandment of your father
And do not forsake the teaching of your mother;
) and the “teaching” of the mother (verse 20b20My son, observe the commandment of your father
And do not forsake the teaching of your mother;
) have the effect of “a lamp” and “a light” (verse 2323For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light;
And reproofs for discipline are the way of life
; Psa 19:88The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
; 119:130130The unfolding of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.
). It makes things clear and open; it shows what is right and what is wrong, so that we may know what we should do. The “reproofs for discipline” that go together with the education, are a path that leads to “life”. He who follows reprimands, will reach life.

Light and life belong together. They are deepened in the New Testament (Jn 1:4-54In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.5The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.). The Word of God is a lamp and a light (Psa 119:105105Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
). A lamp lights up the following step, the light shines far ahead, over the whole path. The lamp and the light correct what is wrong and educate in what is right. If we follow the Lord Jesus, we will not walk in darkness, but we will have the light of life (Jn 8:1212Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”).

The Word guides and guards. Here it is mainly about the fact that the Word will keep the son and guard him against the evil, adulterous woman, when he obeys the commandment and the teaching (verse 2424To keep you from the evil woman,
From the smooth tongue of the adulteress.
). Therefore the young man will not let himself be deceived and tempted by the smooth and flattering tongue of this evil woman (Pro 2:1616To deliver you from the strange woman,
From the adulteress who flatters with her words;
). She is “a foreign woman” (literal translation), someone who is not his and for him, but who belongs to another person.


Do Not Take Fire in Your Bosom

25Do not desire her beauty in your heart,
Nor let her capture you with her eyelids.
26For on account of a harlot [one is reduced] to a loaf of bread,
And an adulteress hunts for the precious life.
27Can a man take fire in his bosom
And his clothes not be burned?
28Or can a man walk on hot coals
And his feet not be scorched?
29So is the one who goes in to his neighbor’s wife;
Whoever touches her will not go unpunished.

The first warning about the evil, foreign woman, regards the heart of the young man (verse 2525Do not desire her beauty in your heart,
Nor let her capture you with her eyelids.
), “for from it [flow] the springs of life” (Pro 4:2323Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it [flow] the springs of life.
). In the heart the temptation is given birth (Jam 1:14-1514But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.15Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.). He should not allow himself to consider in his heart any desire because of the beauty of that woman. Immoral actions start with a lustful look (2Sam 11:22Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance.; 13:1-141Now it was after this that Absalom the son of David had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar, and Amnon the son of David loved her.2Amnon was so frustrated because of his sister Tamar that he made himself ill, for she was a virgin, and it seemed hard to Amnon to do anything to her.3But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David’s brother; and Jonadab was a very shrewd man.4He said to him, “O son of the king, why are you so depressed morning after morning? Will you not tell me?” Then Amnon said to him, “I am in love with Tamar, the sister of my brother Absalom.”5Jonadab then said to him, “Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill; when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and give me [some] food to eat, and let her prepare the food in my sight, that I may see [it] and eat from her hand.’”6So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill; when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, “Please let my sister Tamar come and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat from her hand.”7Then David sent to the house for Tamar, saying, “Go now to your brother Amnon’s house, and prepare food for him.”8So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house, and he was lying down. And she took dough, kneaded [it], made cakes in his sight, and baked the cakes.9She took the pan and dished [them] out before him, but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, “Have everyone go out from me.” So everyone went out from him.10Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the bedroom, that I may eat from your hand.” So Tamar took the cakes which she had made and brought them into the bedroom to her brother Amnon.11When she brought [them] to him to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.”12But she answered him, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this disgraceful thing!13As for me, where could I get rid of my reproach? And as for you, you will be like one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.”14However, he would not listen to her; since he was stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.).

As soon as such a lust appears, it should be judged immediately. Whoever treasures the lust, sins and commits the deed of adultery (Mt 5:2828but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.). Therefore he should not look at her eyes, for they work like strings with which he can be bound. For the commitment of adultery a high price has to be paid (verse 2626For on account of a harlot [one is reduced] to a loaf of bread,
And an adulteress hunts for the precious life.
). It leads to the deepest poverty, “a loaf of bread”, and even to deadly danger: there is a hunt for his “precious life”.

There is mention of two kinds of evil women. There is “a harlot”, which is a person who offers her corrupt ‘services’ for money. He who gets involved with her, becomes poor. There is also “the adulteress” (lit “a man’s wife”). She has gotten bored with her husband and is looking for someone else for her sexual satisfaction. To get involved with the latter is even more dangerous than getting involved with a harlot, for whoever gets involved with her, is not sure about his life. He is completely in her power. Additionally the envious husband will hunt for his “precious life” in order to kill him. The wife will deliver him to her envious husband with a straight face (cf. Gen 39:16-2016So she left his garment beside her until his master came home.17Then she spoke to him with these words, “The Hebrew slave, whom you brought to us, came in to me to make sport of me;18and as I raised my voice and screamed, he left his garment beside me and fled outside.”19Now when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, “This is what your slave did to me,” his anger burned.20So Joseph’s master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail.).

The strange woman must be avoided like fire (verses 27-2827Can a man take fire in his bosom
And his clothes not be burned?
28Or can a man walk on hot coals
And his feet not be scorched?
). The clothes of the one who still gets involved with her, will be burned (verse 2727Can a man take fire in his bosom
And his clothes not be burned?
). Practically it means that the behavior of the fornicator and the adulterer, his appearance and dignity, of which the clothes speak, becomes despicable (Gen 38:13-1813It was told to Tamar, “Behold, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.”14So she removed her widow’s garments and covered [herself] with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in the gateway of Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah had grown up, and she had not been given to him as a wife.15When Judah saw her, he thought she [was] a harlot, for she had covered her face.16So he turned aside to her by the road, and said, “Here now, let me come in to you”; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. And she said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?”17He said, therefore, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” She said, moreover, “Will you give a pledge until you send [it]?”18He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” And she said, “Your seal and your cord, and your staff that is in your hand.” So he gave [them] to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him.). It is not only that it has a ‘burning smell’, which sometimes looks like that, but his whole behavior and dignity have disappeared. He is despised.

Nobody will be so foolish to think that he can walk on hot coals without scorching his feet (verse 2828Or can a man walk on hot coals
And his feet not be scorched?
). ‘Walking’ refers to a repetitive event; it is not an accidental happening. It refers to a continual sexual contact, to a person who is a whore-hopper. It is impossible to do such a thing without getting harmed himself. The father applies this to what happens if his son gets involved with the wife of another man. He then will have to bear the consequences. One cannot escape from that. Those are the ‘natural laws’ of fornication. Destruction is waiting at the end.

The father concludes in verse 2929So is the one who goes in to his neighbor’s wife;
Whoever touches her will not go unpunished.
. Going in to the wife of his neighbor has the meaning of having sexual contact with her. The same goes for touching her. Whoever gets intimate in such a way, whoever commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, will not go unpunished. The punishment for the adulterer is inevitable.


There Is No Ransom for Adultery

30Men do not despise a thief if he steals
To satisfy himself when he is hungry;
31But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold;
He must give all the substance of his house.
32The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense;
He who would destroy himself does it.
33Wounds and disgrace he will find,
And his reproach will not be blotted out.
34For jealousy enrages a man,
And he will not spare in the day of vengeance.
35He will not accept any ransom,
Nor will he be satisfied though you give many gifts.

In verses 30-3130Men do not despise a thief if he steals
To satisfy himself when he is hungry;
31But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold;
He must give all the substance of his house.
the sin of adultery is compared with the sin of stealing. When a thief steals to satisfy his hunger, it is understandable, although it is wrong what he does (verse 3030Men do not despise a thief if he steals
To satisfy himself when he is hungry;
). When they catch him, he will have to pay severely for his crime (verse 3131But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold;
He must give all the substance of his house.
; Exo 22:11“If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.; Lk 19:88Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.”). It can cost him everything that he owns. But when he has finished paying his debt, he will be a free man again.

With a man who commits adultery, it is totally different (verse 3232The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense;
He who would destroy himself does it.
). For somebody who steals because he is hungry, there will be some understanding, but for somebody who ‘steals’ the wife of another person, there never will be any understanding. The young man could have gone to his own wife when he was ‘hungry’. He is not without bread, but he is “without sense”, or as it is literally said, he is missing heart, he lacks heart. What he does, looks like pleasure, but it is suicide. He “destroys himself”.

Adultery provides him ‘pleasure’ for a brief moment, but what he finds, is “wounds and disgrace” and a “reproach” which will not be blotted out (verse 3333Wounds and disgrace he will find,
And his reproach will not be blotted out.
). It is impossible to go unpunished. There is only revenge left. There is nothing that can take away that reproach. It is a hateful sin to God and there are also horrible consequences for the people involved. The Scripture is as practical as the father is.

The word which is translated with “touches” in verse 2929So is the one who goes in to his neighbor’s wife;
Whoever touches her will not go unpunished.
, is translated in this verse with “wounds”. We see here that the relation between the sin and the punishment is shown by a Hebrew play on words. Whoever touches an adulteress affectionately, will be touched severely by wounds which will strike him.

He will have to do with a husband who is enraged by jealousy, who is furious with him (verse 3434For jealousy enrages a man,
And he will not spare in the day of vengeance.
). The pity that people can have with a thief who steals out of hunger, is totally missing with the husband for an adulterer who has committed adultery with his wife. In the day of vengeance, which is the day that he discovers the adultery, vengeance is the only way for him to find satisfaction. The man who commits adultery with his wife, must be judged.

In contrast to the thief there is no way for the adulterer or fornicator to compensate his sin (verse 3535He will not accept any ransom,
Nor will he be satisfied though you give many gifts.
; verses 30-3130Men do not despise a thief if he steals
To satisfy himself when he is hungry;
31But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold;
He must give all the substance of his house.
). The jealous husband will in no way accept any compensation. How great the amount would be, this case is not to be ransomed with money. The adulterer cannot do anything to make up what he had done. He cannot turn back his sin. He has to live with that sin for the rest of his life, if he stays alive, at least, and is not killed by the jealous husband.


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