The book of Proverbs gained its title from the first verse of the first chapter, “The Proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel.” Although Solomon is not the only contributor to the book, he is the author of most of it. The purpose of the book is to teach through a series of pithy and clever statements of truth, called “proverbs” how one is to live wisely and skillfully. This purpose is outlined in Proverbs 1:1-7:
The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: to know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding, to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion— a wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
My son, if you become surety for your friend, if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, you are snared by the words of your mouth; you are taken by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; for you have come into the hand of your friend: go and humble yourself; plead with your friend. Give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, and like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
This passage warns against anyone becoming a surety (a guarantee or collateral) for another, that is, making oneself liable for someone else’s debt should that person be unable or unwilling to pay it. This is very practical advice (truth) then and now when so many unwittingly cosign for someone else’s installment loan due to a borrower’s insufficient credit. It is wise instruction because:
This wisdom applies to both friend and stranger, it makes no difference. For a person to secure another’s loan by means of his own estate and reputation is both an encumbrance and trap that often stems from a position of self-effort, which is usually the product of pride—employing very poor insight and foresight.
If this is the case, the passage strongly advises the cosigner to immediately, humbly and urgently go to the borrower and request release from the financial arrangement, as a gazelle and bird would, with all their power, squirm free from their captors.
See also: Proverbs 11:15; 17:18; 22:26.
Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, o sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep— so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.
This passage is a protest against laziness. A sluggard is a term for a “habitually lazy person.” The passage suggests two important lessons to be learned from the “ant” (mentioned only here and in Proverbs 30:25):
The passage ends with a warning against the person who habitually puts things off in order to gain a little comfort in rest or sleep, because procrastination will only bring dire poverty, which will come suddenly and decisively as a prowling burglar springs upon his unsuspecting victim.
See also: Proverbs 13:4; 20:4; 24:33, 34.
A worthless person, a wicked man, walks with a perverse mouth; he winks with his eyes, he shuffles his feet, he points with his fingers; perversity is in his heart, he devises evil continually, he sows discord. Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly; suddenly he shall be broken without remedy.
This passage concerns itself with a truly evil person. Worthless in Hebrew is bliyaal, meaning “a wicked person of perdition.” Then the passage, by the “repetition rule,” labels the person again using the Hebrew word awen, meaning a “person given over to idolatry.” This kind of person is identified by the following:
Since this passage (12-15) and the next one (16-19) are companions and since the next passage is more definitive regarding a person who is evil, these aspects will be discussed in the commentary on the next passage. Suffice it to conclude here that such an evil person will be subject to an abrupt and terrible judgment, one without remedy.
See also: Proverbs 6:19; 10:10; Micah 2:1.
These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.
This passage follows the “repetition rule” and reinforces the description of a truly evil person, as is introduced in verse 12. The construction, “These six . . . seven . . . ,” represents a way of handling numbers in synonymous parallelism in Hebrew poetry.
The notable addition to this list of attributes that applies to an evil person, which closely parallels the list of elements in the previous passage, is a description of God’s attitude toward them. Such evil adornments are:
The seven evil attributes listed in this passage are:
This is an attitude of self-exaltation (conceit or self-superiority) that arrogantly tramples on others and within its faux-sphere of “independence” rebels against God. Pride was the sin of Satan (1 Timothy 3:6). Pride deceives the heart (Jeremiah 49:16) and hardens the mind (Daniel 5:20). It is the basis of all other sin, and God intensely hates it (Proverbs 6:16, 17; 16:5) and will bring it into judgment (Proverbs 16:18).
This is the conveying of a false statement—information deliberately given as being true. It is also “anything meant to deceive”—deception. Satan was the author and father of “the lie” (John 8:44)—in his original apostasy (Isaiah 14:12-20; Ezekiel 28:1-19) and immediately after God’s creation of man (Genesis 3:1-7). Not only did man prefer “the lie” just after his creation, but he continuously chooses it over a willingness to accept God (Romans 1:25). In the final apostasy, just prior to the second coming of Christ to the earth, the world will receive “the lie” of the Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12; 1 John 2:22; 4:3; Revelation 13:1-18). False prophets become Satan’s dupes (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) by deceiving people with lies against God’s truth (Isaiah 9:15, 16; 30:9, 10; Jeremiah 23:14, 25, 26, 32). Unregenerate men, like their spiritual father (John 8:44), speak lies from their birth (Psalm 58:3), making them their refuge (Isaiah 28:15, 17; 59:3, 4) until they reside among liars forever (Revelation 21:27; 22:15). The lot of all liars, of every kind, along with other incorrigible sinners (those who refuse Christ), will be in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8).
This is the premeditated and purposeful killing of an innocent person. It is distinguished from the unintentional slaying of a person. The penalty for the one who murders was set initially by God, and it is execution (Genesis 9:6). God has extended to human government the right to exact the death penalty (Numbers 35:33; John 19:10; Romans 13:1-4).
The killing of an enemy in war does not constitute murder. The sixth commandment (Exodus 20:13) doesn’t prohibit warfare. Nations have the right to defend themselves against aggressors (Exodus 17:8-16; Judges 6:33-40; 1 Samuel 7:3-13; Psalms 18:34; 144:1; Romans 13:1-4).
The killing of a man in self-defense does not constitute murder (Genesis 4:23; 2 Samuel 2:19-23). There is no guilt in killing an intruder at night, but there is guilt when he is killed after sunrise (Exodus 22:2).
A person is a murderer when his animal, known to be vicious, kills a person (Exodus 21:29); however, the death penalty may be commuted by the payment of a fine (Exodus 21:30-32).
A murderer’s guilt does not involve his children (Deuteronomy 24:16; 2 Kings 14:6; Jeremiah 31:29, 30) unless they knowingly and willingly participate in the murder (Joshua 7:24; Ester 9:7-10; Matthew 23:34-36; 27:25).
A nation can become guilty of corporate murder (Acts 7:52). Although it was the combined sinfulness of man that was the basis for Christ to go to the cross and suffer both spiritual and physical death for all mankind, it cannot be said that mankind “murdered” Christ, since he alone had the power to lay down His life (John 10:17, 18).
Satan is the original murderer (John 8:44). Man’s kinship with Satan makes every person who possesses a spirit of hatred an actual (1 John 3:15) or a potential murderer (Matthew 5:21). Such murderers have no place in God’s kingdom either now (Galatians 5:20) or hereafter (Revelation 21:8).
This is an active and virulent form of evil—that which is particularly depraved and dynamic in the moral and spiritual realm. It first encompasses perversity of the mind (Proverbs 15:26), a description by Christ of the hearts of the Pharisees (Matthew 12:34, 35; 22:18). It is manifested in and by evil actions, which is in contrast to righteous actions and persons (Matthew 13:49). Wicked works—all “human good”—alienate the unbeliever from God (Colossians 1:21). Apostates and false teachers are wicked (2 Timothy 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:2). In Romans 1:29 wickedness is one of several terms used to describe the utter depravity of man. Certainty of punishment awaits the wicked (Psalm 9:17; Proverbs 6:12-15; Matthew 13:49). Satan is the ultimate “wicked one” (Matthew 13:19; 1 John 2:13, 14; 5:18).
This is anything in thought or deed, active or inactive, which is in opposition to God and righteousness. It can be manifested in the spiritual realm, the moral realm, the social realm and the natural realm. Satan is evil personified.
Whereas “lying,” as is described above, is general in nature, this refers to the specific altering of truth as it relates to another person; and, most significantly, as it relates to God. The misrepresentation of God’s truth, both as revealed in nature and His Word would qualify one as a “false witness.” Such representation leads others away from God and is therefore subject to grave judgment. False witnesses may be found in religions (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) and sects (Christian Science, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormonism, Scientology, etc.) that deny the Deity of Jesus Christ, His vicarious and efficacious work on the cross and His resurrection. False witnesses may be found in the occult and paranormal; and they may be found in many branches of modern science, particularly those who teach the theory of evolution.
This is the purposeful instigation and spreading of division, strife and confusion among “brethren” (Hebrew: ach, meaning “a general relationship whether by blood or affinity—any person who is similar to another. A term of affection used for a companion or colleague).
This is the specific and planned activity of an evil person designed to keep mankind apart from God. It can also be applied to Christians whose activities within the corporate Church or local church accomplish the same goal. It is usually demonstrated through rigid legalism—the advocacy of a host of “dos and don’ts” which more often than not have no basis in Scripture; although, are usually assumed through the faux-contrivance of various scriptures.
This type of legalism must never be confused with the sincere efforts of believer who wish to defend the faith. The careful and exacting interpretation of God’s Word and the defense of proper Bible doctrine are both expected and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, as evidenced in God’s Word (Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16, 17; Hebrews 4:12; Galatians 2:11; Philippians 1:17, 27; Titus 1:13; Jude 3).
My son, keep your father's command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you; and when you awake, they will speak with you. For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life, to keep you from the evil woman, from the flattering tongue of a seductress. Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids. For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; and an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. Can a man take fire to his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared? So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent. People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving. Yet when he is found, he must restore sevenfold; he may have to give up all the substance of his house. Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so destroys his own soul. Wounds and dishonor he will get, and his reproach will not be wiped away. For jealousy is a husband's fury; therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. He will accept no recompense, nor will he be appeased though you give many gifts.
This passage initiates a lengthy message, which actually is carried on into chapter 7 (vs. 27), regarding the calamity and folly of adultery and harlotry (sexual association with prostitutes) and how to defend against such by knowing and obedience to God’s Word. Its message is of such clarity that it needs little to no commentary.
The passage begins with the importance of staying close to God’s Word in order that it may guide one’s life in a manner that will please God. A believer who honors God by reading, believing and adhering to His Word (Bible doctrine) will walk in light with a clear and wise understanding of circumstances and events. The believer will find that the practice of studying Bible doctrine will instill within him the “mind of Christ,” which will reinforce the friendship between him and the Lord when he is awake or asleep, at rest or in motion.
Walking in accordance with God’s Word will protect the believer from falling into one of Satan’s most vicious traps, sexual immorality. God gave man and women the right and honor to partner with Him in the procreation of the human race. God made it clear from the very beginning that this was a privilege that was to be exercised and kept holy between one man and one woman. It was to be a sacred part of a holy union—a one-time event (marriage) that should last unto death of one or both of them.
This passage is strong advice regarding the method of entrapment by unchecked attraction and lust toward the opposite sex. It outlines the pitfalls and the results of falling into this form of degradation. It reinforces the fact that only through continuous and dedicated study of God’s Word will a person be able to defend against Satan’s attack in this social realm.