6:1-19 Four Short Poems About Promises, Laziness, Perversity, and Bad Character
In the first 5 verses of this chapter we have warning about the hazards of thoughtless and ill-considered promises. In the Hebrew culture the way one spoke was very important. Once a word is spoken it cannot be retracted, words have an existence of their own once released from the mouth. Jesus warned us that on the Day of Judgment every word that we will speak we will be held accountable for. (Matthew 12:36) Therefore, we should not be ones to make rash promises or statements that we cannot back up with solid fact. Poor behavior with our speech can get us into a lot of trouble.
Take note of the advice of verses 6-11. Many of the ills of society are blamed on a poor work ethic. Those who work hard and try to achieve the very best they can are sometimes regarded as enemies of society. Those who consume the product of their labor are held in higher regard than the ones who produce the product. The hard working ant is a proper example to use in contrast to the lazy person. The ant works tirelessly in preparation for the leaner days that lay ahead. In verse 9 the writer presents us with a perfect Proverb. He presents a commonly accepted truth and puts in a graphic picture for us to understand. One does not have to set out deliberately to be a person of no-account. All he has to do is fold his hands and let it happen. Here life is a lot like gardening. You don’t have to plant weeds; all you have to do is nothing. Inertia is a powerful force that one must struggle against.
Verses 12-15 is the picture of the sly, unprincipled, suggestive person who busies himself sowing discord, finds delight is dropping veiled, dark hints about life in general of particular persons. His maliciousness is deliberate. His mouth speaks only crooked things which is the literal translation of verse 12. All his words are slanted and has an angle and filled with perversity. All would do wisely to avoid such a person as he is a destructive one who takes joy in the havoc he creates.
The conclusion of this poem is a summary of warnings by the use of a numerical Proverb of the characteristics that God finds disfavor. Take note of the physical imagery. Five are associated with parts of the body: eyes, tongue; hands; heart; feet. The body itself is not evil or any part of it. It is the use of the body that is the issue. The body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19) Thus it can be if we make it so, or the body can be a cesspool if we choose.
Verses 6:20 to 7:27 A Long Poem Against Adultery
This poem begins with a the phrase, “My Son.” Followed by the usual admonition to follow the instruction of the parents along with the benefits of following such guidance. Again we see imagery in the companion of wisdom: she will walk with you in the day, watch over you at night as you sleep, and she will talk with you when you are awake. In verse 24 we hear the specific warning of this passage the wisdom is a shield. She will shield against the “smooth tongue of the adventuress,” which is the “strange woman.”
Adultery in Provers is given extreme treatment as it is a sin of sexual immorality, especially with another man’s wife. These teaching are aimed at the young male. They are aimed at the youthful male as a warning against the more experienced married woman who looks for sexual adventure with a younger male. The teaching is that the sin is not excused by physical need, for the sin is folly, a folly that has dire consequences. Thus, “do not let her capture you with her eyelashes,” a graphic metaphor to describe the made up temptress who is not only unveiled but made alluring by the use of cosmetics. These lustful looks of such a woman is enticing to the inexperienced male.
Verse 26 suggest that this adulteress is more greatly to be feared than a prostitute who sells herself for money. The prostitute does it for a loaf of bread, but the stakes are the life of the young male who has become ensnared by the sex-hungry adulteress. The cost of retribution is inevitable says the Proverb. One does not carry fire in his arms without burning his clothes, or walk on hot coals without burning his feet. It would be even more foolish for the young male to engage in sex with his neighbor’s wife. There is no argument for committing this sin. You do not acquit a thief because he is hungry and neither will the offender be excused by the husband of the woman who has engaged the youth in this sin. With wounds, dishonor, disgrace revenge will follow when the evil deed is discovered by the woman’s husband. He cannot be appeased though you may try to buy his anger with gifts, he will not find contentment.