Proverbs 6
Matthew Poole's Commentary
My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger,
A dehortation against suretiship, Proverbs 6:1. The danger of it, Proverbs 6:2; and the way of delivery, Proverbs 6:3-5. Sluggards reproved by a similitude of the ant, Proverbs 6:6-11. The carriage of the wicked described, Proverbs 6:12-14; and his sudden ruin, Proverbs 6:15. Of seven things which are displeasing to God, Proverbs 6:16-19. The benefits of keeping the commandments, Proverbs 6:20-24. The mischief of adultery, Proverbs 6:25. Its evil consequences, Proverbs 6:26-35.

Surety, to wit, rashly, without considering for whom or how far thou dost oblige thyself, or how thou shalt discharge the debt, if occasion require it. Otherwise suretiship in some cases may be not only lawful, but an act of justice, and prudence, and charity. See Genesis 42:37 43:9 Philemon 1:19. Or, to (as this prefix most commonly signifies) a friend. Stricken thy hand; obliged thyself by giving thy hand, or joining thy hands with another man’s, as the custom then was in such cases; of which see Job 17:3 Proverbs 17:18 22:26. With a stranger; with the creditor, whom he calls a stranger, because the usurers in Israel, who lent money to others for their necessary occasions, upon condition of paying use for it, were either heathens, or were reputed as bad as heathens, because this practice was forbidden by God’s law, Deu 23:9. Or, to or for a stranger; for here is the same prefix which is rendered for in the former clause. And so he may imply, that whether a man be surety to or for a friend, or to or for a stranger, the case and course to be used is much of the same kind.

Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.
Thy freedom is lost, and thou art now in bondage to another.

Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend.
Into the hand; into the power.

Of thy friend; either,

1. Of the creditor, who possibly may be also thy friend; yet take the following course with him, and much more if he be a stranger. Or,

2. Of the debtor, for whom, as being thy friend, thou didst become surety; whereby thou art not only in the creditor’s power to exact payment, but also in the debtor’s power, by his neglect or unfaithfulness, to expose thee to the payment of the debt. And this may seem best to agree both with Proverbs 6:1, where friend is taken in that sense, and is distinguished from the creditor, who is called a stranger, and with the words here following; for this humbling of himself was not likely to have much power with a stranger and a griping usurer; but it might probably prevail with his friend, either to take effectual care to pay the debt, or at least to discharge him from the obligation, or to secure him against it some other way.

Humble thyself, Heb. offer thyself to be trodden upon, or throw thyself down at his feet. As thou hast made thyself his servant, bear the fruits of thine own folly, and humbly and earnestly implore his patience and clemency.

And make sure thy friend; or, and prevail with thy friend; strive to win him by thine incessant and earnest solicitations. Or, honour or magnify thy friend, which is fitly and properly opposed to, and indeed is in some good measure done by, the humbling a man’s self before him.

Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.
To wit, until thou hast taken care for the discharge of this obligation. Be not secure, nor negligent, nor dilatory in this matter.

Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.
With all possible expedition, as the roe runs swiftly away.

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
This is another distinct precept; and it is for the most part as needless to seek, as hard to find, coherence in the proverbs and counsels of this book.

Her ways; her actions and manner of living, especially her diligence and providence, which are the things commended in her, Proverbs 6:7,8; of which naturalists give many instances, as that the ants watch the fittest seasons for all things, that they provide most plentifully against the time of famine, that they never hinder, but always assist, one another in their work, and unite their force together to carry away such things as are too large or heavy for one of them; that they prepare fit cells or repositories for their corn in the ground, and such as the rain cannot easily reach; and if through excessive rain their corn be wet, they bring it forth to be dried; that they bite off the ends of the grains of corn that they may not grow, &c.

Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
Which might direct them in or quicken them to the work, as the bees have their kings, and many other creatures have their leaders. This heightens their commendation.

Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.
When they come forth in great numbers, as in winter they stir not out of their holes.

How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?
How long wilt thou sleep? when the ants are watchful and labour, not only in the day time, but even by night, when the moon shineth.

Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
This he speaks in the person of the sluggard, refusing to arise, and requiring more sleep, that so he might express the disposition and common practice of such persons.

Folding of the hands is the gesture of men composing themselves to sleep.

So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.
As one that travaileth, swiftly and unexpectedly. As an armed man, irresistibly or unavoidably.

A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.
He showeth the haughtiness of his heart by the wickedness of his talk and discourses, to which he doth accustom himself, as walking implies.

He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers;
He vents his wickedness, as by his speech, so also by his gestures, whereby he secretly signifies what he is afraid or ashamed to express openly to his accomplices, his intentions or desires of some evil towards another person; which having in the general declared by the motion of his eyes or feet, he points out the particular person by his fingers.

Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord.
Frowardness; perverse or wicked thoughts and desires.

He soweth discord; either out of malice against others, or out of a base design of improving it to his own advantage.

Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.
Heb. and there shall be no healing; no prevention of it beforehand, nor recovery afterward.

These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
Hate, to wit, above many other sins, which have a worse name in the world.

A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
A proud look; pride of heart, which commonly discovers itself by a man’s looks and gestures. See Psalm 101:5 131:1 Proverbs 30:13.

A lying tongue; he that accustometh himself to lying and deceit in his common conversation.

An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations; he whose practice it is to design and contrive wickedness.

Feet that be swift in running to mischief; such as greedily and readily execute their wicked designs, without any restraint or delay.

A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
That speaketh lies, to wit, in judgment; whereby this differs from the former lying, Proverbs 6:17. Brethren; dear relations or friends.

My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
Keep thy father’s commandment, so far as it is not contrary to God’s command.

Forsake not the law of thy mother, whom children are too apt to despise. See Proverbs 1:8.

Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.
Bind them continually upon thine heart; constantly remember and duly consider them.

Tie them about thy neck: see on Proverbs 1:9 3:3.

When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.
It, the law of God, which thy parents have taught thee, and pressed upon thee,

shall lead thee; direct thee how to order all thy steps and actions.

It shall talk with thee; it shall give thee counsel and comfort.

For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:
Is a lamp; it enlightens thy dark mind, and clearly discovers to thee the plain and right way.

Reproofs of instruction; wise and instructive reproofs or admonitions.

The way to life; both to preserve and prolong this life, and to procure eternal life to those that obey them.

To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.
This is mentioned as a great commendation of God’s word, because neither worldly discretion, nor civil education, nor moral precepts, nor any other considerations, are sufficient preservatives against this lust, as is manifest from daily experience.

Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.
Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; do not give way to, nor delight thyself with, unchaste thoughts or affections. Compare Matthew 5:28.

With her eyelids; either with her beauty, which consists much in the eyes; or rather, with her amours and wanton glances.

For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.
To a piece of bread; to extreme poverty, so as to want and be forced to beg his bread. Hunt for the precious life; to take away a man’s life; either by consuming his body and spirits, and so shortening his days; or more directly and strictly, when she hath any great provocation to it, or any prospect of considerable advantage by it. Or, for the precious soul, which she corrupteth and destroyeth. But I prefer the former sense.

Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?
The question implies a denial; he cannot escape burning. No more can he who burns in lust avoid destruction.

Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?
No text from Poole on this verse.

So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.
That goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; that lieth with her, as the phrase signifies, Genesis 19:31 29:21,23, &c. Toucheth her, i.e. hath carnal knowledge of her, as this word is used, Genesis 20:6 1 Corinthians 7:1, and in Terence, and other writers.

Shall not be innocent; shall be punished as a malefactor, either by God or man.

Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry;
Despise, i.e. abhor or reproach him, but rather pity and pardon him, who is urged by mere necessity to these practices.

But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.
He shall restore seven-fold.

Quest. How doth this agree with God’s law, which required only that he should restore double, or at most fourfold, or fivefold? Exodus 22:1:4.

Answ. 1. The number of seven may be here put indefinitely for many times, as it is Genesis 4:24 Leviticus 26:28, and in many other places.

2. Some think that as thefts were multiplied, so the punishment of it was increased, in Solomon’s time; or, at least, that it was the practice of some nations to require this sevenfold restitution.

3. He speaks not of that restitution which the law required, but of that which either the wronged person being potent might force the thief to make, or which the thief would willingly give rather than be exposed to public shame; as appears by the following clause, wherein he adds to this sevenfold restitution

all his substance, which no law of God or man required. See Poole "Exodus 22:4".

But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.
Lacketh understanding; is a brutish and silly man, who madly rusheth upon these filthy courses, without any sense or consideration of the horrid shame and certain destruction which attends upon them.

Destroyeth his own soul, or life; is guilty of self-murder and of soul-murder.

A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.
A wound; civil or corporal punishment from the magistrate, or rather from the woman’s husband, as it follows.

His reproach shall not be wiped away; although it be forgiven by God, yet the reproach and scandal of it remains.

For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.
Is the rage of a man; it inflames a man with rage and fury against the adulterer.

In the day of vengeance; when he hath an opportunity to avenge himself upon the delinquent.

He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.
He will accept of no other recompence for the injury beneath thy life.

Matthew Poole's Commentary

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bible Hub
Proverbs 5
Top of Page
Top of Page