Proverbs 6


Exhortations against becoming surety for others, 1-5;

against idleness, from the example of the ant, 6-11;

description of a worthless person, 12-15;

seven things hateful to God, 16-19;

the benefits of instruction, 20-23;

farther exhortations against bad women, and especially against

adultery, 24-33;

what may be expected from jealousy, 34, 35.


Verse 1. If thou be surety for thy friend] lereacha, for

thy neighbour; i.e., any person. If thou pledge thyself in behalf

of another, thou takest the burden off him, and placest it on

thine own shoulders; and when he knows he has got one to stand

between him and the demands of law and justice, he will feel

little responsibility; his spirit of exertion will become

crippled, and listlessness as to the event will be the

consequence. His own character will suffer little; his property

nothing, for his friend bears all the burden: and perhaps the very

person for whom he bore this burden treats him with neglect; and,

lest the restoration of the pledge should be required, will avoid

both the sight and presence of his friend. Give what thou canst;

but, except in extreme cases, be surety for no man. Striking or

shaking hands when the mouth had once made the promise, was

considered as the ratification of the engagement; and thus the man

became ensnared with the words of his mouth.

Verse 3. Do this-deliver thyself] Continue to press him for whom

thou art become surety, to pay his creditor; give him no rest till

he do it, else thou mayest fully expect to be left to pay the


Verse 5. Deliver thyself as a roe] tsebi, the antelope. If

thou art got into the snare, get out if thou possibly canst; make

every struggle and excertion, as the antelope taken in the net,

and the bird taken in the snare would, in order to get free from

thy captivity.

Verse 6. Go to the ant, thou sluggard] nemalah, the ant,

is a remarkable creature for foresight, industry, and economy. At

the proper seasons they collect their food-not in the summer to

lay up for the winter; for they sleep during the winter, and eat

not; and therefore such hoards would be to them useless; but when

the food necessary for them is most plentiful, then they collect

it for their consumption in the proper seasons. No insect is more

laborious, not even the bee itself; and none is more fondly

attached to or more careful of its young, than the ant. When the

young are in their aurelia state, in which they appear like a

small grain of rice, they will bring them out of their nests, and

lay them near their holes, for the benefit of the sun; and on the

approach of rain, carefully remove them, and deposit them in the

nest, the hole or entrance to which they will cover with a piece

of thin stone or tile, to prevent the wet from getting in. It is a

fact that they do not lay up any meat for winter; nor does

Solomon, either here or in Pr 30:25, assert it. He simply says

that they provide their food in summer, and gather it in harvest;

these are the most proper times for a stock to be laid in for

their consumption; not in winter; for no such thing appears in any

of their nests, nor do they need it, as they sleep during that

season; but for autumn, during which they wake and work. Spring,

summer, and autumn, they are incessant in their labour; and their

conduct affords a bright example to men.

Verse 10. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber] This, if not the

language, is the feeling of the sluggard. The ant gathers its

food in summer and in harvest, and sleeps in winter when it has no

work to do. If the sluggard would work in the day, and sleep at

night, it would be all proper. The ant yields him a lesson of


Verse 11. So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth] That

is, with slow, but surely approaching steps.

Thy want as an armed man.] That is, with irresistible fury; and

thou art not prepared to oppose it. The Vulgate, Septuagint, and

Arabic add the following clause to this verse:-

"But if thou wilt be diligent, thy harvest shall be as a

fountain; and poverty shall flee far away from thee."

It is also thus in the Old MS. Bible: If forsothe unslow thou

shul ben; shul comen as a welle thi rip; and nede fer shal fleen

fro thee.

Verse 12. A naughty person] adam beliyal, "Adam good

for nothing." When he lost his innocence. A man apostata; Old MS.


A wicked man] ish aven. He soon became a general

transgressor after having departed from his God. All his

posterity, unless restored by Divine grace, are men of Belial, and

sinners by trade; and most of them, in one form or other, answer

the character here given. They yield their members instruments of

unrighteousness unto sin.

Verse 13. He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet,

he teacheth with his fingers] These things seem to be spoken of

debauchees; and the following quotation from Ovid, Amor. lib. i.,

El. iv., ver. 15, shows the whole process of the villany spoken of

by Solomon:

Cum premit ille torum, vultu comes ipsa modesto

Ibis, ut accumbas: clam mihi tange pedem.

Me specta, nutusque meos, vultum que loquacem

Excipe furtivas, et refer ipsa, notas.

Verba superciliis sine voce loquentia dicam

Verba leges digitis, verba notata mero.

Cum tibi succurrit Veneris lascivia nostrae,

Purpureas tenero pollice tange genas, &c., &c.

The whole elegy is in the same strain: it is translated in

Garth's Ovid, but cannot be introduced here.

Verse 14. He deviseth mischief] He plots schemes and plans to

bring it to pass.

He soweth discord.] Between men and their wives, by seducing the

latter from their fidelity. See the preceding quotation.

Verse 15. Suddenly shall he be broken] Probably alluding to some

punishment of the adulterer, such as being stoned to death. A

multitude shall join together, and so overwhelm him with stones,

that he shall have his flesh and bones broken to pieces, and there

shall be no remedy-none to deliver or pity him.

Verse 16. These six-doth the Lord hate] 1. A proud look-exalted

eyes; those who will not condescend to look on the rest of

mankind. 2. A lying tongue-he who neither loves nor tells truth.

3. Hands that shed innocent blood, whether by murder or by

battery. 4. A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations-the heart

that fabricates such, lays the foundation, builds upon it, and

completes the superstructure of iniquity. 5. Feet that be swift in

running to mischief-he who works iniquity with greediness. 6. A

false witness that speaketh lies-one who, even on his oath before

a court of justice, tells any thing but the truth.

Seven are an abomination unto him] naphsho, "to his

soul." The seventh is, he that soweth discord among brethren-he

who troubles the peace of a family, of a village, of the state;

all who, by lies and misrepresentations, strive to make men's

minds evil-affected towards their brethren.

Verse 20. Keep thy father's commandment] See on Pr 1:8.

Verse 21. Bind them continually upon thine heart] See on

Pr 3:3. And see a similar command, to which this is an

allusion, De 6:6-8.

Verse 22. When thou goest, it shall lead thee] Here the law is

personified; and is represented as a nurse, teacher, and

guardian, by night and day. An upright man never goes but as

directed by God's word and led by God's Spirit.

When thou sleepest] He commends his body and soul to the

protection of his Maker when he lies down and sleeps in peace. And

when he awakes in the morning, the promises and mercies of God are

the first things that present themselves to his recollection.

Verse 23. For the commandment is a lamp] It illuminates our

path. It shows us how we should walk and praise God.

And the law is light] A general light, showing the nature

and will of GOD, and the interest and duty of MAN.

And reproofs of instruction] Or, that instruction which reproves

us for our sins and errors leads us into the way of life.

Verse 24. To keep thee from the evil woman] Solomon had suffered

sorely from this quarter; and hence his repeated cautions and

warnings to others. The strange woman always means one that is not

a man's own; and sometimes it may also imply a foreign harlot, one

who is also a stranger to the God of Israel.

Verse 25. Neither let her take thee with her eye-lids.] It is a

very general custom in the East to paint the eye-lids. I have many

Asiatic drawings in which this is expressed. They have a method of

polishing the eyes with a preparation of antimony, so that they

appear with an indescribable lustre; or, as one who mentions the

fact from observation, "Their eyes appear to be swimming in


Verse 26. By means of a whorish woman] In following lewd women,

a man is soon reduced to poverty and disease. The Septuagint gives

this a strange turn: τιμηγαρπορνηςοσηκαιενοςαρτου. "For the

price or hire of a whore is about one loaf." So many were they in

the land, that they hired themselves out for a bare subsistence.

The Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic, give the same sense. The old MS.

Bible has it thus: The price forsothe of a strumpet is unneth oon

lof: the woman forsothe taketh the precious liif of a man. The

sense of which is, and probably the sense of the Hebrew too, While

the man hires the whore for a single loaf of bread; the woman thus

hired taketh his precious life. She extracts his energy, and

poisons his constitution. In the first clause ishshah

zonah is plainly a prostitute; but should we render esheth,

in the second clause, an adulteress? I think not. The versions in

general join esheth ish, together, which, thus connected,

signify no more than the wife of a man; and out of this we have

made adulteress, and Coverdale a married woman. I do not think

that the Old MS. Bible gives a good sense; and it requires a good

deal of paraphrase to extract the common meaning from the text.

Though the following verses seem to countenance the common

interpretation, yet they may contain a complete sense of

themselves; but, taken in either way, the sense is good, though

the construction is a little violent.

Verse 27. Can a man take fire] These were proverbial

expressions, the meaning of which was plain to every capacity.

Verse 29. So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife] As sure

as he who takes fire into his bosom, or who walks upon live coals,

is burnt thereby; so sure he that seduces his neighbour's wife

shall be guilty. That is, he shall be punished.

Verse 30. Men do not despise a thief if he steal] Every man

pities the poor culprit who was perishing for lack of food, and

stole to satisfy his hunger; yet no law clears him: he is bound to

make restitution; in some cases double, in others quadruple and

quintuple; and if he have not property enough to make

restitution, to be sold for a bondsman; Ex 22:1-4; Le 25:39.

Verse 32. But whoso committeth adultery] The case understood is

that of a married man: he has a wife; and therefore is not in the

circumstances of the poor thief, who stole to appease his hunger,

having nothing to eat. In this alone the opposition between the

two cases is found: the thief had no food, and he stole some; the

married man had a wife, and yet went in to the wife of his


Destroyeth his own soul.] Sins against his life, for, under the

law of Moses, adultery was punished with death; Le 20:10;

De 22:22.

Verse 33. A wound and dishonour shall he get] Among the Romans,

when a man was caught in the fact, the injured husband took the

law into his own hand; and a large radish was thrust up into the

anus of the transgressor, which not only overwhelmed him with

infamy and disgrace, but generally caused his death.

Verse 34. Jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not

spare] He will not, when he has detected the adulterer in the

fact, wait for the slow progress of the law: it is then to him the

day of vengeance; and in general, he avenges himself on the spot,

as we see above.

Verse 35. He will not regard any ransom] This is an injury that

admits of no compensation. No gifts can satisfy a man for the

injury his honour has sustained; and to take a bribe or a ransom,

would be setting up chastity at a price.

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