THE GREAT TEACHER Jesus Christ King James Bible Book of Proverbs
Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored ninety-two books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

Again, Solomon is offering advice or counsel to his son, which if heeded, will not only help him avoid the pitfalls of life, leading to a far more peaceful life but will also enhance his character among the people. Hence, if we want to avoid the ruination of both our reputation with others, as well as Jehovah God, we too must pay close attention to Proverbs chapter six.

Deliver Yourself From Foolish Pledges

Proverbs 6:1-3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor,
have given your pledge for a stranger,
if you are snared in the words of your mouth,
caught in the words of your mouth,
Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself,
for you have come into the palm of your neighbor:
go, humble yourself, plead with your neighbor.

My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor: This is a supposed or assumed situation. “My son, suppose you have …” Become surety means to become a pledge or a guarantee, it is a person who takes responsibility for another’s performance of an undertaking. The Hebrew word (ʿā·rǎḇ) means to put up a security, mortgage, make a guarantee, give a pledge. One pledges (promising to do) something as collateral, which can even include oneself, such as the case in Genesis 43:9, Judah says to Jacob, “I will be a pledge of his [Benjamin] safety,” i.e., safe return.

Neighbor: (Heb. rēaʿ) This does not necessarily refer to someone who lives next door or near to another. The Hebrew noun generally refers to any countryman with a focus on local companions, friends, acquaintances, colleagues. It can be one who is of the same race, or social/geographical or someone who lives within your community. – Ex. 2:13; 22:6; 2 Sam. 16:17; Prov. 6:1.

Have given your pledge for a stranger: Pledge means a thing that is given as security for the fulfillment of a contract or the payment of a debt and is liable to forfeiture in the event of failure. The Hebrew literally means ‘to strike tour palms (hand) with a stranger.’ It is similar to making an agreement today by shaking hands on a deal. Stranger: (Heb. zār) was applied to those who forsook what was in harmony with the Mosaic Law and so were estranged from God and not necessarily as some foreigner or non-Israelite. Here it simply seems to be a contrast between someone you know (neighbor) with some you do not know (stranger). However, it is possible that the contrast could be a countryman Israelite (neighbor) with a non-Israelite (stranger). The point being made is that it is careless and unwise to make a security, a pledge, a deal with a total stranger based on a mere handshake. (Prov. 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 22:26–27; 27:13) To make a deal with a total stranger based on a handshake alone places you at the mercy of the person you are indebted to and the neighbor. (vs. 1, 3)


If you are snared in the words of your mouth: A snare (Heb. yā·qǎš) brings an animal into captivity, harm, or death when it is caught in them; therefore, snares can represent causes of one’s loss of freedom, or calamity, harm, or death. A servant of God must thoroughly examine and be cautious about what securities, pledges, deals that he chooses to make so that he does not find himself snared (trapped) in a situation, herein the repaying of the debt, from which escape may be very difficult or essentially impossible. (Prov. 6:1-3; 20:25)

Caught in the words of your mouth: This is repeated twice. Caught is similar to snared and renders a Hebrew verb (lā·ḵǎḏ), which means to capture, seize, take that implies by force and is also used of catching something in a snare or trap.

Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself: Here the Hebrew conjunction then transitions us from the “if” clauses of verses 1-2 into the commands of verse 3. Do this is basically saying that this is what you are to do if you wish to deliver (save) yourself. Deliver yourself means to save yourself, to remove yourself, to free yourself, to flee from danger, the snare.

For you have come into the palm of your neighbor: The Hebrew word (kǎp̄) is rendered “hand” (ASV, ESV, NSSB) but it literally means “palm.” ‘In, into, or under the palm (hand) of someone’ means to be under their control, power or dominion. “you have come into the control of your neighbor.”

Go, humble yourself, plead with your neighbor: The Hebrew verb (rā·p̄ǎs) whose form and meaning seem to have the sense of tread on oneself, trample oneself down, or crush down. This means to act in a modest, unassuming way, having no arrogance and pride.

The proverb is warning the reader about being too quick to offer some kind of financial security for a stranger or neighbor that was not well known in the community, to place that kind of trust in him. It would be foolish to take such a risk with one’s finances. This warning is not to take away from the Law that exhorted them to help their fellow Israelite brother who fell on hard times, by loaning him money without interest, helping him with food, or even taking him in for a time. (Leviticus 25:35-38) However, if the new neighbor is not well known, he could be a social misfit that does not wisely take care of his responsibilities. Then, in this case, you would be naive to risk your family’s finances on such an unknown. There may have been a trustworthy Israelite neighbor, who was involving himself in a risky business venture. He may have needed more capital so he would look to his friends and neighbors to invest with him. This would be foolish too because the debt would be on those invested if the deal fell through. It is like cosigning for a house loan today. If the borrowers fail to make the payments, the cosigner is responsible for the loan.


Withdraw from an Unwise Commitment without Delay

Proverbs 6:4-5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

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.

Give no sleep to your eyes: This is a figurative expression that means the resolve and importance of getting free from this commitment spoken of in verses 1-3 quickly. This should be done without delay.

Nor slumber to your eyelids: Line two here is repeating line one in a more poetic form. It is better to withdraw from an unwise commitment when it is still possible than to be entrapped by it. The Hebrew noun (tenû·mā(h)) rendered slumber means an emphasis on inactivity, which implies laziness in some contexts – Job 33:15; Ps 132:4; Prov. 6:4, 10; 24:33.

Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter: The Hebrew verb (nā·ṣǎl) rendered save yourself means simply to save your life and has the sense of to escape with your life, to flee from or avoid this commitment at all costs. It is the same verb from verse 3 that was rendered deliver yourself and meant for the young man to save himself, to remove himself, to free himself, to flee from the danger of his commitment or pledge. Gazelle renders a Hebrew noun (eî) that refers to a fast-running and graceful antelope, which stresses the need to move quickly in removing oneself from this commitment.

And like a bird from the hand of the fowler: Here bird (Heb. ip·pôr) is referring to any of the various kinds of birds. However, the focus seems to be on a small bird. From the hand is referring to the capability of the hand, its ability to take hold of something, to grab, grasp, or catch. The fowler (Heb. yā·qûš) is referring to someone who traps fowls for good, specifically, a bird hunter. One who lays snares for birds.

Here Solomon is telling the Israelite who has acted impulsively by offering assurances in a financial deal for a stranger or neighbor, who then realizes his stupidity on what seemed wise at first but upon further examination looks as if it is risky and foolish, not to sleep through one night without getting out of the commitment. This Israelite needs to run from the deal he had made, like a gazelle from a hunter or a bird from the trapper!


Be Hardworking Like the Ant

Proverbs 6:6-8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Go to the ant, O sluggard;
consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief,
officer, or ruler,
She prepares her bread in summer
and gathers her sustenance in harvest.

Go to the ant, O sluggard: Here go (hā·lǎḵ) does not mean to travel from one place to another but rather to go observe and learn from the ant. In other words, go watch and observe how the ants live to learn a lesson about laziness. The ant is likely a reference to the harvester ant also known as the agricultural ant found in the eastern Mediterranean area as well as many other areas of the world. While ant is used in the singular in the Hebrew, it is in a collective sense. The advice is not to watch one single ant but rather to watch an entire colony of ants at work.

Consider her ways, and be wise: Here consider (rā·ʾā(h)) means to look at, to observe or watch, to reflect on, to take into consideration, as you make judgments based your new found awareness. While ant is in the feminine, be wise in the Hebrew (ḥā·ḵǎm) is a command in the masculine to acquire and exercise good judgment and understanding, showing oneself to be wise, which is addressed to the sluggard.

Notably, the ant instinctively preparing for the future being persistent and determined, as they carry or tenaciously dragging objects in an unwavering manner, which weigh twice their own weight or even more, as they do everything possible to carry out their demanding task. They also refuse to turn back even when there is a chance that they may fall, slide, or roll down what seems like to them some very steep rock face or cliff. They are exceptionally helpful and supportive as they carry out their work. They also keep their nests very clean and they demonstrate worry, being anxious for their fellow workers, even helping injured or exhausted ants back to the nest.

Without having any chief: Here chief (Heb. qā·în) is referring to a clan leader or commander of men (Josh 10:24), who rules over or guides, inspires, and motivates others.

officer, or ruler: An officer (Heb. šō·ṭēr) in the Old Testament can be a judicial, civil, or military person, who is like a work foreman that overseers and manages the tasks at hand, be they judicial, civil, or military, depending on the context. (Ex. 5:6, 10, 14-15, 19) The ruler (Heb. mā·šǎl) is a general term that refers to one who rules, governs, controls, being in charge, commanding others with primacy authority. The purpose of using all three of these terms (chief, officer, ruler) is to highlight the fact that ants do not need many layers of oversight to carry out their tasks.

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She prepares her bread in summer: Here again, while it literally says she (singular ant) prepares, it is in a collective sense. Prepare (Heb. kûn) means to get ready in advance, which, in this case, the food (literally bread) is gathered and then stored for a future use, i.e., the winter.

And gathers her sustenance in harvest: Here gather (ʾā·ḡǎr) is collecting the food. (Deut. 28:39; Prov. 6:8; 10:5) Here sustenance (mǎ·ʾǎḵāl) has the same meaning as bread in the first line, both meaning food.

One reference work says, “Storing food during the harvest for use during the wintertime, the ant embodied two great virtues, diligence, and wisdom. Actually, the ants either enter a state of dormancy when it is cold or continue working all year around. Obviously, the ants’ endless carrying of grains, leaves, and matter to their ant-heaps must have been the grounds for the proverbial sayings.”[1]

The ant has no chief, officer, or ruler. While it is true that they have a queen ant; however, she is simply responsible for laying eggs, and serving as the mother of the colony. She does not give the ants any sort of directions in carrying out their work. Therefore, the work of hundreds of thousands of ants in a given colony is carried out by hard work and wisdom. The ant wisely stores up its food in the summer, and at harvest, it stockpiles provisions.

The lesson the Israelite was to gain from the ant, was that they needed to be hard working. Whether he is being observed by a supervisor or not, he needs to work hard and strive to improve himself as a worker. For any Christian today, we too need to be doing our best in whatever we are doing, because it brings either glory or reproach to our good name, and more importantly to the name of God. This applies whether we are in the privacy of our home, or at our place of employment, school, or religious services. There are far more benefits to being diligent, as opposed to being lazy.

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Are You Asleep to Your Responsibilities?

Proverbs 6:9-11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

How 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,
11 your poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and your want like an armed man.

How long will you lie down, O sluggard: Here how long (ʿǎḏ mā·ṯǎy) if taken literally, it is a question about the length of time, or it can be taken as a sarcastic rhetorical question, “are you going to sleep forever!” If we go back to the Bible background of a worker who is gathering crops during the harvest time, he is working from daylight to dark because it is imperative that the crops not be left too long in the field when they are ready for harvest, toward the end of May or in the first week in June. The weather is hot, and it rarely rained in the Promised Land in ancient times during the harvest time. Harvest time meant the entire family, all of its members would be living in the fields until the harvest was over. Thus, the sluggard, a lazy, sluggish person, who is always lying down on the job would be very unwelcome, family or not. The harvest of saving souls today through our evangelism is comparable. Are we going to be asleep to our privileges when we could be sharing the Gospel (biblical truths) with others, lying down on the one Job that Jesus Christ gave all Christians (Matt. 24:14; 28:19-20; Ac 1:8), as opposed to being prepared to make a defense for the faith? – Colossians 4:6; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 2:15, 25; 1 Peter 3:15; Jude 1:3

When will you arise from your sleep: The sluggard is seen here as sleeping. This too is a rhetorical question, such as the Good News Translation GNT (TEV) “When is he ever going to get up?” Using two rhetorical questions, Solomon has tried to awaken this slothful one from his idleness and laziness.

A little sleep, a little slumber: Here Solomon is mimicking this lazy person in speech, whom he has just asked, “are you going to sleep forever!” Now, Solomon sarcastically is saying something like, “A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there.” The Message (MSG)

A little folding of the hands to rest: Solomon continues to mimic this lazy one here, with his sarcasm (sit back, take it easy, MSG), as the folding of the hands is referring to a person who has lied down to relax, rest and sleep, so he has crossed his hands over their chest.

Your poverty will come upon you like a robber: While the lazy one is taking ‘a nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sitting back, taking it easy,’ poverty (Heb. rêš ʾǎt·tā(h), your poverty) suddenly and powerfully he is overtaken with the speed of a bandit.

And your want like an armed man: In addition, scarcity, shortage, and insufficiency attacks the sluggard like an armed man. In other words, this lazy one has no money and no goods, so he cannot financially support himself. Just how long would an employer suffer the loss of time of a sluggish, lazy, idle employee? What about a lazy, sluggish student who is negligent, slack, lax attitude, and unwilling to study but expects to receive a good grade in school? How will our heavenly Father feel about a lazy, sluggish Christian who is negligent, slack, lax attitude, and unwilling to study the Bible to prepare for Christian meetings, to share the Gospel but expects to receive eternal life? – Matthew 7:21-23.

Asking questions that he really expects no answers to, Solomon makes a valiant attempt at getting the lazy one to rise up from his sluggishness. The reality that escapes the lazy one is that while he is slumbering, poverty overtakes him with quickness, like a robber. The work that needed to be carried out, soon overtakes him, such as his fields where he should have been raising crops; ‘thistles had come up everywhere, weeds covered the ground and its walls were broken down.’ (Pro 24:30-31) Yes, laziness has only but one end in sight, poverty.


Beware of the Ruthless and their wickedness

Proverbs 6:12-15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

12 A worthless man, a wicked man,
goes about with crooked speech,[2]
13 winks with his eyes, scrapes[3] with his feet,
points with[4] his finger,
14 with perverted heart devises evil,
continually sowing[5] discord;

15 therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly;
in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.

A worthless man, a wicked man: Here a worthless is a person who is of morally objectionable behavior, who does not conform to a biblical standard (worldview or mindset), who does evil, so he is of little worth. Man is the translation of the Hebrew ’adam, which is masculine but applies to either a male or a female. A wicked (Heb. ʾā·wěn) man is an evil person who essentially is erring, acting illegally or wrongly. This aspect of sin refers to committing a perverseness, wrongness, lawlessness, law-breaking, which can also include the rejection of the sovereignty of God. It is an act or a feeling that steps over the line of God’s moral standard, as something God forbids, or the person ignores carry out (doing) something that God requires, whether it be by one’s thoughts, feelings, speech, or actions. It also focuses on the liability or guilt of one’s wicked, wrongful act. This error may be deliberate or accidental; either willful deviation of what is right or unknowingly making a mistake. (Lev. 4:13-35; 5:1-6, 14-19; Num. 15:22-29; Ps 19:12-13) Of course, if it is intentional; then, the consequence is far more serious. (Num. 15:30-31) Error is in opposition to the truth, and those willfully sinning corrupt the truth, a course that only brings forth flagrant sin. (Isa 5:18-23) We can be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. – Ex 9:27, 34-35; Heb. 3:13-15.

Goes about with crooked speech: Here to go about is referring to persons who go about (here and there) living a morally objectionable life. Crooked (ʿiq·qešû) speech is literally “crookedness of mouth.” Crooked speech is unwise speech in that it is false speech, lies, and deception. This speech is a perversion, a moral corruptness that deviates from what is right and just. The true servant of God speaks the truth by his words and by the life he lives.

Winks with his eyes, scrapes with his feet: Here winks (Heb. qā·rǎṣ) is a gesture where the worthless, wicked person signals insincerity and deceit with a smirk on his face. Scrapes (Heb. mā·lǎl) … feet is also a silent gesture of insincerity and deceit from the worthless, wicked person, which is only found once, here in the Old Testament.

Points with his finger: Another non-verbal, silent gesture, attempting to divert attention away from his insincerity and deceit, his worthless, evil ways.

With perverted heart devises evil: The perverted (Heb. tǎh·pǔ·ô) man has rejected what is right in life, his ability to distinguish between right and wrong has become distorted so that he now twists the truth by cooked speech and distortion of the truth; persuading others to join him on his course of life. He deliberately deviates from what is good. Crooked speech (false speech, lies, and deception) is characteristic of those who reject wisdom (cf. Prov. 8:13; 10:31-32). The reference to perverted heart is discussing images of the mind, thoughts that are evil.

Continually sowing discord: Without letup, this wicked, worthless man is causing discord (Heb. meḏān) in the life of others. Discord is a bitter conflict that can get heated to the point of violent dissention.

Verses 12-14 lay out a description of a worthless man, which literally means a “man of Belial,” a description that would later be attributed to the Devil. The description is of one who is a “useless” or “good for nothing” person, possessing deceptive words. Just as Jesus rebuked the Jewish religious leaders of his day, saying, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father!” What are those desires? Jesus said of the Devil, “He … does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) The desires of this worthless man are deceitful speech.

So much so that his body language works in concert with his deceptive words, the winking of the eye, shuffling his feet, and pointing fingers, which are an aid to his accomplices. All of this indicates this worthless man is planning evil against someone. The question is, ‘how will this end for this good for nothing man?

Verse 15 helps us to see that no lie, no deception can last forever, it all must see the light of day eventually. At the very moment that he is exposed, suddenly the calamity of a ruined reputation is upon him. Even if such a deceiver should somehow fool everyone throughout his life, judgment will come from Jehovah God himself, and that will certainly come quickly.


Hate What God Hates

Proverbs 6:16-19 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

16 There are six things that Jehovah hates,
seven that are an abomination of his soul:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that quickly to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.

The arrangement of six things … seven is a Hebrew literary device, which tells us that this is not the entirety of what Jehovah hates or sees as an abomination, just the top seven. The first five of these qualities are body parts, which star with the head and move down to the feet (eyes, tongue, hands, heart, feet). Our final two qualities are a false witness and one who causes trouble for other.

The haughty eyes belong to one who is proud, conceited, possessing qualities such as stubbornness and arrogance. This is a person that sees himself as the pinnacle of everyone, who would not even consider lowering his arrogant gaze before Jehovah himself. The lying tongue belongs to one continuously deceives others with misleading utterly false information, which causes others to arrive at a mistaken belief. This is a person that could care less about the destruction the lies in the wake of his deception. The distortion of the truth is this one’s means of making the world mold to his perception of things. He could never accept the moral values of right and wrong set out in Scripture because he has distorted the truth so much his moral compass is unable to point toward truth. The hands that shed innocent blood belong to a person that has anger issues that could lead to the loss of life one day if the opportunity presented itself. He has no regard for the gift of human life that the Creator so gracious gave humankind. This person is easily enraged over any perceived insult to his person and will not hesitate to do bodily harm.

The heart [mind] that devises wicked plans belongs to a person that looks out for no one but himself. His motive of operation is to come out on top in life, regardless of how many people he must step on to get there. He will live within the rules of society when things are going his way but will not hesitate to go outside of those rules when it is convenient, which makes him extremely dangerous.

The feet that hurry to run to evil belong to a person that looks toward sin with pleasure, having ceased to feel moral pain. He literally sins with greediness, always looking for more ways to feed his pleasure centers. You have the burglar that breaks into the house to steal valuables, and then you have the vandal-burglar that breaks into the house to do damage for the thrill of it and steals something because it came to his attention in the process.

The false witness who breathes lies belong to a person that lies as easily as he takes a breath and has no pause in bearing false witness under oath, or in life. The one who sends out discord between brothers belong to a person that takes pleasure in causing trouble with his family and friends. Both of these last two persons cause havoc on society from the friend, to the family, to the community, as well as the court of law.

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Parental Principles, Teachings, and Rules are to Guide and Protect the Child

Proverbs 6:20-22 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

20 My son, My child, keep the commandment of your father,
and forsake not the teaching[6] of your mother.
21 Bind them on your heart continually;
tie them around your neck.
22 When you walk, she[7] will lead you;
when you lie down, she will watch over you;
and when you awake, she will talk with you.

My son, My child, keep the commandment of your father: Here the Hebrew noun commandment (mi·wā(h)) is an authoritative direction or instruction, given as a prescription from the one with the authority or power to a person under the authority or control of another within an organization or a family. – 1 Sam. 13:13; 1 Ki 2:43.

And forsake not the teaching of your mother: The sense of forsaking (Heb. nā·ṭǎš) is to abandon, to leave behind. The son would be very foolish to abandon such warm loving communication and instruction from the mother, which are the building blocks of a balanced attitude toward life.

Bind them on your heart continually: Bind … heart is a figurative way of saying “Remember their words always” (ERV), “Keep their words with you always” (GNT), or “always keep it in mind.” (CEV)

Tie them around your neck: Tie … neck is a figurative way of saying “keep in mind everything they tell you” (TLB), “Let [commandments and teachings] be as if they were tied around your neck” (ICB), or “and never forget it.” (CEV) The neck in Bible times was where beautiful and precious ornaments were worn, such as the necklace, so you should display by way of your conduct the commandments of the father and the laws (teachings) of the mother prominently. The importance of the discipline and authority of the father and the mother (and more significantly the value of God’s commandments and laws) is being emphasized by tying them around the neck.

When you walk, she will lead you: Here she is referring to the father’s commandments and the mother’s teaching, with walk suggesting that the son or child, or student, the one learning is behind the one who is guiding or leading, that is, the father’s authoritative direction or instruction and the mother teachings, as well as God’s commandments and laws.

When you lie down, she will watch over you: Again, she is referring to the father’s commandments and the mother’s teachings, with lying down suggesting that the son or child, or student, the one learning is being protected (watched over) at their most vulnerable times in life by the commands and instructions of the father and the teachings of the mother.

And when you awake, she will talk with you: Once more, she is referring to the father’s commandments and the mother’s teachings, with when you awake suggesting that the son or child, or student, the one learning is being guided at each new stage of their life by the commands and instructions of the father and the teachings of the mother. Here talk is not verbal communication between two people but refers to instruction, advice, or counsel that the young one receives from the parent, or that faithful servants receive from God.

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Here with verse 20 through chapter 7, we begin a journey of counsel and insight that is penned to help the young over avoid sexual immorality. Throughout the Bible, obedience to parents is coupled with subjection to God. The parents of the ancient Israelites were obligated by the Law to teach their children. Moses encouraged fathers, “these words that I am commanding you today shall be on your heart. And you shall recite them to your children, and you shall talk about them at the time of your living in your house and at the time of your going on the road and at the time of your lying down and at the time of your rising up.” (Deut. 6:6-7) The mother had an impact on her children as well. While she contributed to their guidance and direction, it was under the headship of the Father, she would enforce the family law. In fact, the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, the reader will discover that the main educational influence is the family.

The Word of God should be deeply embedded within the heart of the child from the beginning, which will only happen if the parent(s) are consistent with their message. The significance of the correction and parental authority of the parent(s) (as well as God’s Word) is stressed by the exhortation to ‘tie them upon your neck,’ where beautiful and precious jewelry was worn. (Pro. 1:8, 9; 3:1-3; 6:20, 21) When the young child is walking, that is “to go about; to go to and fro” through life, she (the commandments and instructions of verse 20), will lead the child (Deut. 6:7) When the child lays down each evening, one his parents should close out his day in prayer with him, which will become a lifelong practice. A parent can share some of God’s Word with their child after he awakes, before the start of their day. In this way, God’s Word, the commands of the father, and the instruction of the mother will lay a foundation that will help the child to walk with God for life.


Keep Away from the Immoral Woman’s Smooth Tongue

Proverbs 6:23-24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light,
and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,
24 to preserve you from the evil woman,
from the smooth tongue of the immoral woman.[8]

For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light: Hebrew noun commandment (mi·wā(h)) is an authoritative direction or instruction, given as a prescription from the one with the authority or power to a person under the authority or control of another within an organization or a family. (1 Sam. 13:13; 1 Ki 2:43) Teaching (tô·rā(h)) is information that is passed on to a student, a worker or a child.

And the reproofs of discipline are the way of life: The humble person is one who welcomes reproofs (Heb. tô·ḵǎ·ḥǎṯ), which are rebukes, corrections, strongly worded counsel that may result in a punishment and discipline (Heb. mû·sār), which is corrective counsel. Those who are proud, they hate being counseled; These ones feel as though they have done nothing wrong anyway. However, faithful servants of God have a lowly mind (do not think more of themselves than necessary), they understand that due to human imperfect mistakes are bound to happen and they appreciate being corrected.

To preserve you from the evil woman: Scriptural reproofs and discipline can really safeguard us, keep us, prevent us, or preserve (Heb. šā·mǎr) us from the snare of sexual immorality with the evil woman, if we have a humble heart and set aside and arrogance or pride. The evil woman is defined in the lines that follow as a seductive, flattering, adventuress adulteress.

From the smooth tongue of the immoral woman: The smooth tongue is a figurative expression for seductive flattery, that is speech that flatters or seduces. The immoral woman (sense, strange woman) (Heb. zā·rā(h)) (2:16; 5:3) is referring to those who set aside what was in harmony with the Mosaic Law and thus distanced and estrange themselves from God. Therefore, the immoral sensual woman (prostitute) was not necessarily a foreigner. “The strange woman,” the prostitute, is described as one “who forsakes the companion of her youth” (2:17), which is referring to the husband of her young womanhood. She has ignored and disregarded the prohibition on adultery that was a part of the covenant of her God, the Mosaic Law covenant. – Ex. 20:14; Jeremiah 2:25; 3:13.

Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” The commandments of the father and the teachings of the mother are also a lamp to the feet and a light to the path, which enables the child to make wise decisions in the present, but to make decisions that affect tomorrow as well. Even the corrective counsel that must come at times will keep on the path to life. This counsel for the son will especially help him to sidestep the pitfalls of sexual immorality if he chooses to heed it. Unlike other places in Proverbs, this immoral woman is not a prostitute, but the wife of another. However, even a wife is capable of carrying out prostitution. This evil woman is associated with the immoral behavior of other cultures outside of the Israelite nation.


Do Not Desire the Immoral Woman’s Beauty

Proverbs 6:25-26 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

25 Do not desire her beauty in your heart,
and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes;[9]
26 for because of a prostitute, a man is reduced to a loaf of bread,
but a wife of another man hunts down a precious soul.[10]

26 [Although the price of a prostitute may be as much as a loaf of bread,
another man’s wife hunts the precious life].[11]

Do not desire her beauty in your heart: Here (Heb. ḥā·mǎḏ) desire is being used in the bad sense in that the young man is being warned against strongly wanting, lusting after, coveting the beauty of another man’s wife.

And do not let her capture you with her eyelashes: Here (Heb. lā·qǎḥ) capture is referring to the young man being seduced or being led astray by the alluring eyes of another man’s wife. The Hebrew (ʿǎp̄·ʿǎp·pǎ·yim) is rendered eyelashes here but is literally “eyelids,” which is referring to how a woman uses her alluring eyes to attract the attention of men.

For because of a prostitute, a man is reduced to a loaf of bread: A prostitute is a person, in particular, a woman, who engages in sexual activity for payment. It seems that Solomon is saying that an adulterous wife being referred to as a prostitute may cost as much as a loaf of bread.

But a wife of another man hunts down a precious soul: The adulteress wife endangers the “precious soul,” or life, of her adulterous partner. The Hebrew (û) hunts down is referring to the husband of the adulteress doing after the adulterous young man, who had sexual relations with his wife, intending to cause him bodily harm or kill him.

Exodus 20:14, “You shall not commit adultery,” which means that we need to value the sanctity of marriage, to remain faithful at times of temptation. At Matthew 5:28 Jesus states, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (ESV) Jesus identified the preliminaries, which was a sin in and of itself, that lead up to the sinful act of adultery, as “lustful intent.” Focus on the word “intent.” This is not a man walking along who catches sight of a beautiful woman and has an indecent thought, which he then dismisses (that is not lusting). It is not even a man in the same situation that has an indecent thought, who goes on to entertain and cultivate that thought (this is lusting and is a sin). No, this is a man that is staring, gazing at a woman with the intent of lusting, and is looking at the woman, with the intention of peaking her interest and desire, to get her to lust.

Verse 25 of chapter 26 in Proverbs warns the son against just that, do not get “lustful intent” in your heart because of her beauty. Yes, even when the evil woman is seeking to flame such desires. Aside from the fact that it violates God’s Law, for mere moments of immediate gratification at a very inexpensive price, you are risking your life on a wife, who has a husband that will take your precious life.

James 1:14-15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own desire.[12] 15 Then the desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

James states but each one is tempted, which signifies that temptation is on an individual basis. The temptation is not another individual’s problem but is an individual choice that one gives into or rejects. James also writes one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his desire, which exposes that the problem of temptation lies not with God, but rather it is in oneself. James says that temptation is always directed at the desire of one’s heart. Therefore, God is not the one who is causing the temptation, but the temptation comes through the enticement of one’s lust within his heart.

 The Greek word James uses here for enticed is deleazo, which means to “lure as bait.” (Vine 1996, 203) James tells us in the passage that the underlying motivation for all temptation is selfish desire, that all temptations spring from man’s desire to satisfy his own flesh and personal forbidden desires. This means the temptation that Satan offers to people always deals with that which is pleasurable to man and appeals to his desires. This is not to say that human desires in and of itself are wrong. Moreover, human pleasure is not bad in and of itself. Satan has corrupted the desires of the flesh, which was perfectly natural before the sin of Adam. For example, there was a natural desire for a physical relationship between man and woman. After the fall, Paul tells us that it has become a standard practice “For their women [to] exchange natural relations for those that are contrary to nature,” i.e., homosexuality. (Rom. 1:26) Once the lust is manifested in the heart then the more it lingers there without being dealt with then it will begin to carry away the individual with the enticement of what that fulfilled lust can bring.

Temptation always begins with an enticement towards one’s lust or an unwarranted desire. If not cast down, one then is carried away by the bait of the enticement. Then soon after, one will take the bait, give in to the temptation, and satisfy the lust of his flesh. It is for this reason that James writes then the desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin. James continues with the progression stating sin when it is fully-grown brings forth death. Once the desire is conceived, or once the individual gives acts upon that temptation by giving into its evil desire, it gives birth to sin that can lead to death.

James is telling these believers that once sin is conceived and begins to take root in the heart if it is not dealt with, it will become full grown within the heart, to attain what their hearts desire. James makes it very clear that once we give in to the temptation of that lust, it will inevitably give birth to sin. What was meant to produce pleasure and satisfaction, now only causes chaos and devastation. James warns these believers that the only result of fulfilling their lust brought about death. This death could for some have led to physical death depending upon the lust they were giving into. James has a deeper meaning in the fact that it was causing spiritual death to these believers when they gave into sin.

Again, we can see from Adam and Eve that when they ate of the fruit, they did so out of their desire and pleasure for power and control that stemmed from their lust. When they ate of the fruit, the promise of fulfillment only resulted in death. When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, they faced spiritual death, in the fact that their sin had separated them from God. In turn, because of the curse, they would also suffer physical death due to their sin. James is warning these believers of the serious danger of temptation and the consequences if they were to give in to their lust. James wants his readers to understand that for the one who persisted in his temptation and living in that manner, and then, in the end, he would face eternal destruction. Paul wrote in Romans 7:20-21, “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.  Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.”[13]


Warning Against Having Sexual Relations with a Married Woman

Proverbs 6:27-29 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

27 Can a man carry[14] fire in his bosom
and his clothes not be burned?
28 Or can a man walk on hot coals
and his feet not be scorched?
29 So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife;
none who touches her will go unpunished.

Can a man carry fire in his bosom: Solomon is using fire (Heb. ʾēš) to emphasize the danger of adultery, that is, the consequences of the man’s actions. The bosom (Heb. êq) is a person’s chest or breast, an area of the body between the waist and where the shoulders and arms meet, which is used to fold one’s garment into a sort of pocket for carrying things.

And his clothes not be burned: A rhetorical question, which is a figure of speech in the form of a question that is asked to make a point rather than to elicit an answer. The answer here is a definite no.

Or can a man walk on hot coals: The hot coals (Heb. gǎ·ḥǎl) (char coal) is a hot fragment of coal that had been made from wood, which is left from a fire and is still smoldering.

And his feet not be scorched: The feet (Heb. rě·ḡěl) here refer to the soles of the feet. It is another rhetorical question, which is a figure of speech in the form of a question that is asked to make a point rather than to elicit an answer. The answer again is a definite no.

So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife: Here Solomon is comparing the one who commits adultery to the one who gets burned in verses 27-28.

none who touches her will go unpunished: Here touches (Heb. kōl) goes beyond some incidental contact of a handshake or a kiss or a hug as a greeting, as it refers to immoral adulterous sexual relations. Such a sinner will surely be punished.

This pictorial message is all too clear, as there is no way of committing adultery, and not suffering the consequences in some fashion. The picture that these two questions paint is that most generally, it is not some mild pain, but something that will bring about agonizing, unbearable pain, which will scar you for life.


The Restitution for Adultery Is Very Heavy

Proverbs 6:30-31 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

30 Men[15] do not despise a thief if he steals
to satisfy his soul when he is hungry.
31 But if he is found, he must pay sevenfold;
he will give all the valuables of his house.

These verses begin the final section of chapter six (vss. 30-35), which deal with the consequences of committing adultery. At first, they may very much seem out of place, an interruption of sorts to the flow of what had been being said. Verses 30-31 is comparing the adulterous man to a thief, while 34-34 he is seen as the foolish person, who has humiliated and shamed himself, while the final verses of 34-35, he suffers the consequences of his actions in that the husband is now seeking revenge, and there is no price that will quiet his rage and vengeful heart, who now target the adulterous man.

Men do not despise a thief if he steals: The Hebrew literally says, they do notMen is used in place of the third person plural pronoun, they, in the ASV, RSV, 1995 NASB and the UASV. Despise, loathe, scorn, derision, (Heb. bûz) means to look down on another person with contempt, which will like result in a verbal remark. Certainly, the adulterous man is despised and loathed. Thief steals refers to a criminal who takes something (another man’s wife) by stealth (sneaking behind the back of the husband) that does not belong to him.

To satisfy his soul when he is hungry: Appetite is used in the ESV as a translation of the Hebrew word “soul” (ně·p̄ěš), which conveys the idea of craving, desiring or wanting.

But if he is found, he must pay sevenfold: The Hebrew (mā·ṣā(ʾ)) can be rendered found (ASV, NASB, LEB, UASV) or caught (ESV, CSB). Either rendering is perfectly fine. The Hebrew verb found or caught is in the passive, which means that he was caught, found out, or discovered, that is, captured in the act, and was thus taken into custody. Here pay (Heb. šā·lēm) is not referring to one who pays a fine for committing a criminal act but rather is referring to this one making restitution, paying something to someone (restoring something) for the loss that he has suffered because of his actions. In the case of the husband who is seeking retribution for the adulterous man who took his wife from him, is seeking punishment to be inflicted on the adulterous man as vengeance for the wrong he has committed. Sevenfold means the thief in this corresponding analogy is going to have to restore what was lost seven times as much as he stole from the owner. This conveys a very serious retribution for a man who has stolen another man’s wife.

He will give all the valuables of his house: The Hebrew verb here rendered give means that the thief (adulterous man) will transfer the possession of all he has to the victim of the theft (the husband); handing it all over to the harmed or injured person. How much more serious will society see the restitution, repayment, really retribution (punishment inflicted on someone as vengeance) for a man who has stolen the wife of another man?

Unlike today, ancient Israel had no jails, so restitution was a major part of the Mosaic Law. A thief, who stole because of greed, was despised, but if it was because of desperation, as he needed to feed himself or especially his family, it was at least understood, and he would receive mercy. To steal in ancient Israel was a very risky choice, because if the value were one hundred dollars, if caught, he would have to repay two, four, or five hundred dollars. The sevenfold mentioned here likely means the full or complete amount, which could be many times the amount stolen, even it was all he had. If he did not have the ability to repay the restitution, he would have been sold into servitude for his thieving, until the amount owed was repaid by labor.

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The Consequences of Adultery

Proverbs 6:32-33 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

32 He who commits adultery with a woman is in want of heart;
he who does it is bringing his own soul to destruction.
33 Wounds and dishonor he will find,
and his disgrace will not be wiped away.

He who commits adultery with a woman is in want of heart: The heart is very prominent in the Scriptures, as it is mentioned about a thousand times in one way or another. By far, the great majority of its occurrences in the Scriptures, the word “heart” (Heart, lev, le·vav) is used figuratively. Servants of God cannot be halfhearted or in want of heart, or even double hearted. (Ps 12:2; Prov. 10:13) As a reader of hearts, God can see any insincere or feigned behavior on our part. He is well aware of our actions and thinking, even when we are alone. He knows our heart condition, what we are trying to do with our lives. If our heart is good, and we love God’s Word, he will know. (Josh. 1:8-9; Ps. 1:1-3; 119:97, 101, 105, and 165) A person who is halfhearted is lukewarmly worshiping God. (Ps 119:113; Rev. 3:16) This young man being tempted by adultery is double hearted (literally, with a heart and a heart), is trying to serve two masters (God and his flesh), or he is deceivingly saying one thing to his wife while thinking adulterous thoughts to himself. (1 Ch. 12:33; Ps 12:2) Jesus clearly condemned such double hearted hypocrisy (Matt 15:7-8) This young man facing an adulterous situation is also in want of heart, as he is inexperienced, lacking good sense and wisdom, lacking good judgment or discernment.

This verse is talking to the adulterous man from 6:27-29 even more than it is contrasting 6:30-31. Only an inexperienced, foolish young man lacking good sense and wisdom, lacking good judgment or discernment would carry fire in his bosom believing that his clothes would not be burned or only a stupid young man would think that he could walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched. Only an inexperienced, foolish young man lacking good sense and wisdom, lacking good judgment or discernment would believe that for mere immediate gratification he can have an adulterous affair with another man’s wife and never be caught, never have to suffer the consequences

He who does it is bringing his own soul to destruction: He who does what? What is “it”? He who has sexual relations with another man’s wife. Combining destruction (Heb. šā·ḥǎṯ) with himself as the object of that destruction means that he is bringing himself to ruin, he is ravaging himself, devastating himself, he is cutting off his soul (life) both in this satanic age and the one to come. The danger can be even greater when this foolish man seeks sexual relations with someone else’s wife. An adulterous man endangers his “own soul,” or life, from the illicit woman’s husband.

Wounds and dishonor he will find: When this foolish adulterous man is eventually caught, and he will be in time, at best he will lose the trust of his wife forever and at worst, she will leave him, his family and friends will despise him, and the husband of the woman in his adulterous affair will seek retribution. In the end, he commits self-inflicted wounds on himself, he brings dishonor to himself (nothing but contempt or scorn, being looked down upon, living a life of shame), he destroys himself.

And his disgrace will not be wiped away: Here disgrace, contempt (Heb. ḥěr·pā(h)) is a state of dishonor. This dishonor and disgrace where family and friends see him with contempt or scorn; this life of shame will never be wiped away. This Hebrew verb (mā·ḥā(h)) destroy, wipe out, blot out is frequently used to refer to the tears, sins, and the memory. The adulterous man has damaged his self-respect and his prospects for any real future happiness.

A person who commits adultery is a thief as well (6:30-31); he is stealing a person that belongs to another. The punishment for stealing food because one is starving can be asked back fivefold, how much more so for the one who steals another man’s wife, as he has no excuse for his actions!

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There Is No Compensation for Adultery

Proverbs 6:34-35 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

34 For jealousy enrages a man,
and he will not spare in the day of vengeance.
35 He will not accept any ransom;
nor will he be willing though you give many gifts.

For jealousy enrages a man: Here jealousy (Heb. qin·ʾā(h)) is not the jealousy that one might think it to be. This Hebrew word is referring to a righteous jealous, an appropriate desire for what one has the right to, like the husband of the wife, who has been committing adultery with another man, such as the one from 6:25-33. Here in this context man (gě·ḇěr) is not being used as any man or all men but rather in the sense of maleness or manliness of those who are rightly enraged and have a case of righteous jealousy over having to lose the affection of their wife to another man. Enrage is a word rendered for a Hebrew word (ḥē·mā(h)) that literally means venom, snake poison, but also carries the meaning of furry, a feeling of intense anger, wrath, and rage. This is a very strong feeling of displeasure, hostility, resentment, and bitterness for being wronged. This is an extension of the burning feeling, the heat that one feels when they are worked up over a great injustice, which has put them in emotional strife and turmoil.

And he will not spare in the day of vengeance: The expression will not spare means that the husband of the adulteress wife will not restrain his vengeful heart. The day of vengeance (Heb. nā·qām) is coming for the man who stole his wife. The husband is going to punish, inflict retribution on this man, that is, he is going be justified in his repaying back the harm that he himself has had to suffer. The husband is going to harm this man for the emotional injury that he has caused him, he will show him no mercy.

He will not accept any ransom: Here accept ransom or compensation (RSV, ESV, LEB) is literally “lift up the face of any.” The expression “lift the face” means ‘showing consideration for’ another. In other words, the husband of the adulteress wife will show no consideration, he will not accept any kind of payment or compensation for the man who stole his wife. The adulterous man can offer no payment, no ransom, not any kind of compensation that will turn back the vengeance of the husband.

Nor will he be willing though you give many gifts: Here the verb willing means that the husband will never agree, consent, or accept, to be satisfied, appeased, or compensated for being wronged by this adulterous man, regardless of how many gifts he may offer. The husband will not be dissuaded from taking action.

One cannot restore what he took in the case of adultery; it is a damage, in which a lifetime of labor would never satisfy. There is no pity or restitution for adultery. The name of the one who has committed such an act was forever to feel ashamed because he knew he had done something horribly wrong. Because there is no possible way of bringing justice to such a grievous sin, the penalty under the Mosaic Law for adultery was death for both guilty parties. – Deuteronomy 22:22-24.

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Proverbs 6:26 Why are there so many different ways of translating and interpreting this verse?

The Hebrew of verse 24 is very challenging. “The [Hebrew] word (bé’ad) may be taken either as “on account of” (= by means of a) prostitute (cf. ASV, NASB), or “for the price of” a prostitute (cf. NAB). Most expositors take the first reading, though that use of the preposition is unattested, and then must supply “one is brought to.” The verse would then say that going to a prostitute can bring a man to poverty but going to another man’s wife can lead to death. If the second view were taken, it would mean that one had a smaller price than the other. It is not indicating that one is preferable to the other; both are to be avoided.”[16] On this Duane A. Garrett writes,

Although support can be found for the [1984] NIV rendition in scholarly literature [For the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life], it is a conjectural and quite questionable translation. The verse is best rendered, “Although the price of a prostitute may be as much as a loaf of bread, / [another] man’s wife hunts the precious life.” The man’s life, which the wayward woman hunts, is called “precious” (i.e., valuable) in contrast to meager payment the prostitute demands. This obviously is not meant to endorse going to a prostitute as opposed to having an affair with another man’s wife but to show the complete folly of getting involved with another man’s wife. Indeed, “prostitute,” in parallel here with the “[other] man’s wife,” may well be one and the same person. She takes a small payment as a prostitute from her victim but as adulteress steals away his very life. The price also indicates the degradation of this act to both man and woman; it is cheap. Going to the immoral woman is the quintessential self-destructive act.[17]


(6:1-3) How do these verses make the point of you needing to deliver yourself from foolish pledges?

(6:4-5) Explain the figurative expressions in these verses and how to they stress the urgency of withdrawing from unwise commitments.

(6:6-8) Using these verses, explain why it is more beneficial to be hardworking like the ant.

(6:9-11) How can someone be asleep to their responsibilities?

(6:12-15) Explain the figurative language used to describe how the wicked behaves and the caution we should show. What does verse 15 help us to see?

(6:16-19) What does Jehovah hate and why should we hate it too?

(6:20-22) Why is it important that children keep the commandments of their father and the teachings of their mother? Who is “she” in verse 22?

(6:23-24) How does the humble differ from the proud and how is this beneficial in reference to the evil, immoral woman of verse 24??

(6:25-26) Explain what Jesus meant by lustful intent at Matthew 5:28. What are the costs of immediate gratification? How are we to understand James 1:14-15?

(6:27-29) The figurative language of verses 27-28 are similar, explain what the author meant. What is the pictorial message of these verses 27-29?

(6:32-33) How is the “heart” used in the Scriptures and to what extent?

(6:34-35) Why is there no compensation for adultery and how does this husband feel about the adulterous man who stole his wife?

[1] Jesper Svartvik, “Ant”, in Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, ed. David Noel Freedman, Allen C. Myers and Astrid B. Beck, 66 (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000).

[2] I.e. deceitful or dishonest speech

[3] I.e. signals with his feet

[4] Lit instructs with

[5] Lit sends out

[6] Or law

[7] Or they will; I.e. the commandment of your father and the teaching or law of your mother (3xs this verse)

[8] Lit foreign woman

[9] I.e. alluring eyes

[10] I.e. life

[11] Duane A. Garrett, vol. 14, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, The New American Commentary, 100 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993).

[12] Or “own lust

[13] Thomas D. Lea, THE BOOK OF JAMES, vol. 17, CPH New Testament Commentary (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2017), 28-29.

[14] Lit snatch up

[15] Lit They do not … Men is used in place of the third person plural pronoun, they.

[16] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes, Pr 6:26 (Biblical Studies Press, 2006).

[17] Duane A. Garrett, vol. 14, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, The New American Commentary, 100 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993).