and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray; being left to the exceeding great folly of his mind, he shall continue to go astray as he has done from God and his good ways, from the precepts of his law, and the rules of his word; going after his own heart's lusts, which will drown him in perdition. This "folly" may be understood either of his fornication and adultery, which is egregious folly; or of his imagining that he should be able to repent of sin when he pleased, and free himself from the bondage of it, and escape the punishment due unto it.
(z) "eo quod non audivit eruditionem", Pagninus, Mercerus, Gejerus; "propter neglectam institutionem", Piscator; "propter non admissam disciplinam", Noldius, p. 181. (a) "Sine correctione et emendatione", Vatablus.
INTRODUCTION TO Proverbs 6
In this chapter the wise man dissuades from rash suretyship; exposes the sin of idleness; describes a wicked man; makes mention of seven things hateful to God; exhorts to attend to parental instructions and precepts, and cautions against adultery. Suretyship is described, Proverbs 6:1; and represented as a snare and a net, in which men are taken, Proverbs 6:2; and advice is given what to do in such a case, for safety in it, and deliverance from it, Proverbs 6:3; The sin of slothfulness is exposed, by observing the industry of the ant, Proverbs 6:6; by expostulating with the sluggard for his continuance in sloth, and by mimicking him, Proverbs 6:9; and by the poverty it brings upon him, Proverbs 6:11. Then a naughty wicked man is described, by his mouth, eyes, feet, fingers, and heart, whose ruin is sudden and inevitable, Proverbs 6:11. The seven things hateful to God are particularly named, Proverbs 6:16. And next the exhortation in some preceding chapters is reassumed, to attend to the instructions of parents; which will be found ornamental, pleasant, and useful, Proverbs 6:20. Especially to preserve from the lewd woman cautioned against, Proverbs 6:24; whose company is dissuaded from; on account of the extreme poverty and distress she brings persons to, and even danger of life, Proverbs 6:26; from the unavoidable ruin such come into, Proverbs 6:27; from the sin of uncleanness being greater than that of theft, Proverbs 6:30; from the folly the adulterer betrays; from the destruction of his soul, and the disgrace he brings on himself, Proverbs 6:32; and from the rage and irreconcilable offence of the husband of the adulteress, Proverbs 6:34.
if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger; or "to" him (b); whom thou knowest not, and to whom thou owest nothing; and hast given him thine hand upon it, as well as thy word and bond, that what such an one owes him shall be paid; a gesture used in suretyship for the confirmation of it, Proverbs 17:18; or, "for a stranger" (c) And the sense is, either if thou art become bound for a friend of thine, and especially if for a stranger thou knowest little or nothing of, this is a piece of rashness and weakness; or, as Gersom, if thou art a surety to thy friend for a stranger, this also is a great inadvertency and oversight. It is a rash and inconsiderate entering into suretyship that is here cautioned against; doing it without inquiring into, and having sufficient knowledge of the person engaged for; and without considering whether able to answer the obligation, if required, without hurting a man's self and family; otherwise suretyship may lawfully be entered into, and good be done by it, and no hurt to the surety himself and family. Jarchi interprets it of the Israelites engaging themselves to the Lord at Sinai, to keep his commandments.
(b) "extraneo", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Baynus, Mercerus, Gejerus, Cocceius, Schultens. (c) "Pro alieno", Tigurine version; "pro alio peregrino", Michaelis.
thou art taken with the words of thy mouth; as in a net, and held fast therein and thereby, and cannot get loose without paying the debt, if the debtor does not, or without the leave of the creditor.
when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; or,
"because or seeing thou art fallen into the hand of thy friend,''
as the Targum; or
"though thou art,'' &c.
as Aben Ezra; which may be understood either of the creditor to whom a man is bound, or of the debtor for whom he is bound, or of both; for a surety is in the hands or power of both: he is in the hands of the creditor, who may demand payment of the debt of him; and he is in the hands of the debtor, who, if a careless or crafty and deceitful man, may leave him to the payment of it. The Septuagint and Arabic versions are,
"for thou art come into the hands of evil men for thy friend;''
and the Syriac version,
"seeing for thy friend thou art fallen into the hands of thine enemy;''
and therefore must make the best of it thou canst, and in the following way:
go, humble thyself; that is, to the creditor, prostrate thyself before him; lie down upon the ground to be trodden on, as the word (d) signifies; fall down on thine knees, and entreat him to discharge thee from the bond, or give longer time for payment, if up; for thou art in his hands, and there is no carrying it with a high hand or a haughty spirit to him; humility, and not haughtiness, is most likely to be serviceable in such a case;
and make sure thy friend; for whom thou art become a surety, as the Syriac and Arabic versions add; solicit him, as the former of these versions render it; stimulate him, as the Septuagint; stir him up, urge him to pay off the debt quickly, and discharge the bond, or give thee security and indemnity from it. Or, "magnify thy friend" (e); that is, to the creditor; speak of him as a very able and responsible man, and as an honest and faithful one, that will pay in due time. Some render it "magnify", and speak well of the debtor to thy friend, which may please and appease him: or, "multiply thy friends" (f); get as many as thou canst to intercede for thee, and get thee discharged from the obligation by some means or another; to this purpose Jarchi.
(d) "praebe conculcandum te", Montanus, Vatablus, Michaelis. (e) "evehe proximum tuum", Tigurine version; "magnifica", so some in Vatablus. (f) "Multiplica amicos tuos", so some in Bayne.
and as a bird from the hand of the fowler; another metaphor, signifying the same thing.
(g) "statim", De Dieu; "subito", Noldius, p. 859. No. 1630. "ilico, repente", so some in Eliae Tishbi, p. 143.
consider her ways; what diligence and industry it uses in providing its food; which, though a small, weak, feeble creature, yet will travel over flints and stones, climb trees, enter into towers, barns, cellars, places high and low, in search of food; never hinder, but help one another in carrying their burdens; prepare little cells to put their provisions in, and are so built as to secure them from rain; and if at any time their corn is wet, they bring out and dry it, and bite off the ends of it, that it may not grow. These, with others, are taken notice of by Frantzius (i); and some of them by Gersom on the place;
and be wise; learn wisdom of it, and be wiser than that, as the Septuagint and Arabic versions: this is a mortification of proud men, that would be reckoned wise, to be sent to so despicable a creature to get wisdom from.
(h) So Horace gives it as an example of labour----"Parvula (nam exemplo est) magni formica laboris", &c. Sermon. l. 1. Sat. 1. v. 33, 34, 35. & Phocylides, v. 152-159. (i) Hist. Animal. Sacr. par. 5. c. 8. Vid. Aelian. Hist. Animal. l. 2. c. 25. & l. 6. c. 43.
(k) Hist. de Animal. l. 1. c. 1.
and gathereth her food in the harvest; the time when corn is ripe, and is shed on the earth; this it gathereth, and lays up in its repositories against a time of need. The seeds it gathers and lays up; it bites off the chit or bud end of them, that they may not grow, as Pliny (m) and others observe, but be a winter store; hence its name in Hebrew is "nemalah", from "namal", "to cut off"; it being done by biting. Yea, according to Aelianus (n), it seems to have some sense of futurity with respect to famine, which being near, it will work exceeding hard to lay up food, fruits, and seed; and, according to Virgil (o) and others, it seems to presage old age, and therefore provides against it. An instruction this to work, while persons are in health, and have youth on their side; that they may have not only a sufficiency for present use, but to lay up against a time of sickness and old age. The Septuagint and Arabic versions add,
"or go to the bee, and learn what a worker she is, and what an admirable work she performs; whose labours kings and private persons use for health: she is desirable to all, and famous; and though weak in strength, honouring wisdom is advanced.''
But this is not in the Hebrew text; but perhaps being written in the margin of some copy of the Septuagint as a parallel instance, was by some unskilful copier put into the text of the Greek version, from whence the Arabic version has taken it; it crept in very early, for Clemens of Alexandria makes mention of it (p).
(l) "Ac veluti ingentem formicae farris acervum", &c. Virgil. Aeneid. l. 4. v. 402, &c. So Horat. Satyr. 1. v. 36. (m) Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 30. Plutarch. vol. 2. de Solert. Animal. p. 968. (n) Vat. Hist. l. 1. c. 12. (o) "Inopi metuens formica senectae", Georgic. l. 1. v. 186. So Horace, ut supra. Juvenal. Satyr. 6. v. 360. (p) Stromat. l. 1. p. 286.
when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? and be about thy lawful calling? doing the duties of religion, and the business of life; providing things honest in the sight of all men; things necessary for thyself and family, and wherewith to do good to others; exercising a conscience void of offence both to God and men. Time should not be slept away, to the neglect of the affairs of life, nor of the concerns of the immortal soul and a future state; men should not be slothful in things temporal or spiritual: whatever may be the proper time to awake and arise out of sleep in a morning, which seems to be according to a man's circumstances, health and business; it is always high time for the sinner to awake out of the sleep of sin, and arise from the dead; and for the drowsy saint to arise out of his lethargy and carnal security.
(q) "jacebis", Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Gejerus; "cubabis", Piscator, Cocceius. (r) Aelian. de Animal. l. 4. c. 43.
a little folding of the hands to sleep; or, "to lie down" (t); a few tossings and tumblings upon the bed more, with his hands folded about his breast; a sleeping gesture, and the posture of sluggards. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "a little thou wilt embrace the breast with the hands"; and the Syriac version, "and a little thou wilt put thine hand upon thy breast". The Jewish commentators understand this as a direction and command to sleep and slumber but little, since a little sleep is sufficient for nature; or otherwise poverty will come, &c. but the former sense is best.
(s) "parvis somnis, parvis dormitationibus", Pagninus; "pauculis somnis, pauculis dormitationibus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (t) "cubando", Junius & Tremellius; "cubare", Piscator; "ad cubandum", Cocceius.
and thy want as an armed man; or, "thy wants as a man of shield" (u): denoting many wants that should come rushing in one upon another, like a man armed with shield and buckler; appearing with great terror and force, not to be resisted. It denotes the unavoidableness of being brought into penury and want by sloth, and the terribleness of such a condition. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions, add,
"but if thou art not slothful, thy harvest shall come as a fountain (as the inundation of a fountain, Arabic); but want shall flee as an evil racer (as an evil man, Arabic; far from thee, Vulgate Latin):''
but this is not in the Hebrew text.
(u) "tanquam vir clypei", Montanus; "vir clypeatus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, &c.
walketh with a froward mouth; speaking perverse things, things contrary to the light of nature and reason, to law and Gospel; uttering lies, and deceit, and blasphemies against God and man; to which he has used himself, and in which he continues, as the word "walketh" signifies: so antichrist has a mouth opened in blasphemies against God and his saints, Revelation 13:5.
(w) "homo Belijahal, vir iniquitatis", Montanus, Vatablus, Baynus, Michaelis.
he speaketh with his feet; the motions of the feet have a language; the stamping of the feet expresses rage; here it seems to intend the giving of a him to another, by privately pressing his foot with his, when he should be silent or should speak, or do this or the other thing he would have him do;
he teacheth with his fingers; by stretching them out or compressing them; and so showing either scorn and contempt (x), or rage and fury. The whole of it seems to design the secret, cunning, artful ways, which wicked men have to convey their meanings to one another, without being understood by other persons; they have a language to themselves, which they express by the motions of their eyes, feet, and fingers: and this character of art and cunning, dissimulation and deceit, fitly agrees with the man of sin, 2 Thessalonians 2:10. So mimics are said to speak with their hands; some have been famous in this way (y).
(x) "In hunc intende digitum", Plauti Pseudolus, Acts 4. Sc. 7. v. 45. "----aliis dat digito literas", Ennius. (y) Vid. Barthii Animadv. ad Claudian. de Consul. Mallii Paneg. v. 311.
he deviseth mischief continually; against his neighbours, and especially against good men; he is continually planning schemes, contriving methods, ways, and means, how to disturb, distress, and ruin men; being a true child of Belial, or of the devil, his heart is the forge where he is continually framing wickedness in one shape or another; and the ground which he is always ploughing up and labouring at to bring forth sin and wickedness, and with which it is fruitful;
he soweth discord; or "strifes" (z): the Syriac version adds, "between two"; which Jarchi interprets between a man and his Maker; rather between a man and his neighbour; between one friend and another; between husband and wife, parents and children, brethren and brethren, magistrates and subjects; between kings and princes of the earth in which sort of work the man of sin, antichrist, has been very busy. The Targum is, "he casteth out strifes", as firebrands among men. The words in the Hebrew text are, "he sendeth out discord", or "strife" (a); these are the messengers sent out by him to make mischief.
(z) "contentiones", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus, Gejerus; "jurgia", V. L. "lites", Baynus, Cocceius; "litigia", Schultens. (a) "mittet", Pagninus, Montanus; "immittit", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus, Gejerus, Schultens, Michaelis.
suddenly shall he be broken without remedy; or, "and there shall be no healing" (b): his bones will be broken to pieces, and there will be no cure for him; or he shall be like an earthen vessel, which, when broke, cannot be put together again. The ruin of wicked men is sudden, inevitable, and irreparable; so antichrist will "come to his end, and none shall help him", Daniel 11:45.
(b) "et non sanitas", Pagninus, Montanus; "curatio", Junius & Tremellius; "medicina", Piscator, Cocceius.
yea, seven are an abomination unto him; or, "the abomination of his soul" (c); what his soul abhors, or he abhors from his very heart: meaning not seven others, but one more along with the six, which make seven; a like way of speaking, see in Proverbs 30:15. Nor is the word "abomination" to be restrained to the "seventh", or "hatred" to the "sixth"; but they are all to be supposed to be hateful and abominable to the Lord; though some think the cardinal number is put for the ordinal, "seven" for the "seventh"; as if the seventh, which is sowing discord among brethren, was of all the most abominable, Proverbs 6:19; it being what was last mentioned in the character of the wicked man, Proverbs 6:14; and which seems to have given occasion to, and for the sake of which this enumeration is made.
(c) "abominatio ejus animae", Montanus, Vatablus, Mercerus, Cocceius, Michaelis, Schultens.
a lying tongue; that is the second of the hateful things; a tongue speaking falsehood, knowingly and willingly, with an intention to deceive others; to hurt the character of a neighbour, or to flatter a friend, is a most detestable evil; it ought to be so to men, it must be so to God, who is a God of truth: nor is there anything in which a man more resembles the devil, who is the father of lies;
and hands that shed innocent blood; human blood; and that of persons who have not been guilty of any capital sin, for which they ought to die by the laws of God or men, and yet shed or poured out as common water; such hands must be defiled, and such men must be hateful to God, they destroying his image, and being like to the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning. These "three" sins are plainly to be seen in the son of Belial, antichrist, who exalts himself above all that is called God, the kings and princes of the earth; he and his followers speak lies in hypocrisy; and is the whore that is drunk with the blood of the saints, 2 Thessalonians 2:4.
(d) "oculi clati", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Michaelis.
feet that be swift in running to mischief; to commit all manner of sin with greediness, especially murder; see Proverbs 1:16.
(e) "cogitationes iniquitatis", Montanus; "cogitationes vanitatis", Cocceius.
and him that soweth discord among brethren; whether in a natural relation, or in a civil society, or in a religious community.
(f) So Vatablus, Mercerus, &c. (g) "qui efflat mendacia", Piscator, Michaelis.
and forsake not the law of thy mother; the same as before, and which is mentioned to show that the same respect is to be had to a mother as to a father, the commandment and law of them being the same, and they standing in the same relation; which yet children are apt to make a difference in, and while they stand in awe of their father and his precepts, slight their mother and her directions, which ought not to be. Some understand this of the congregation of Israel, as some Jewish writers; and others of the church of God, the mother of us all.
and tie them about thy neck; as an ornament, instead of a necklace of pearl, or chains of gold; they should be so far from being thought burdensome and troublesome, that they should be reckoned comely and graceful; see Proverbs 1:9.
when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; from terrifying dreams, evil spirits, dangers by fire or thieves; one that observes it conscientiously may lie down and sleep, secure of the guardianship of divine Providence, and not fear any evil; or "shall watch over thee" (h) in the night season;
and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee; familiarly; and instruct what to do, and how to behave the day following; or "it shall go out with thee" (i), into the fields for a morning's walk, and assist in meditation. Jarchi interprets this of sleeping by death, and of awaking at the resurrection of the dead.
(h) "excubabit apud te", Cocceius; "excubias aget super te", Michaelis, Schultens. (i) "illa ipsa spatiabitur tecum", Schultens.
and the law is light; it makes things clear and manifest, what is right and what is wrong; it enlightens the eyes of the understanding, whereby persons come to see both their sin and their duty; and it directs them to avoid the one and do the other; see Psalm 19:8;
and reproofs of instruction are the way life; kind reproofs given by parents agreeable to the word of God, which instruct what should be shunned and what should be performed, when attended to, put men in the way of an honourable and useful life; and are the means of preserving them from a scandalous and useless one.
from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman; the same with the evil woman, the lewd and adulterous one; see Proverbs 2:16. Jarchi interprets this of idolatry; the character well agrees with the idolatrous church of Rome, or antichrist, represented by a whore, Revelation 17:1; as this woman is called "the woman of evil" (l), for so it may be rendered, one very evil, given up and abandoned to sin; so antichrist is called "the man of sin", 2 Thessalonians 2:3; and as this woman is said to have the "smoothness of a strange tongue" (m), as the words may be translated, and are by the Targum; so the religion of this false church is delivered in a strange language the people understand not, by which they are kept in ignorance and deception; now the word of God read and explained in the mother tongue, and especially the Gospel part of it, the doctrine of wisdom, is a means of preserving persons from the errors and heresies, superstition and idolatry, of the church of Rome, and from being carried away with their false glosses, and gaudy worship, and all its deceivable ways of unrighteousness.
(k) "Otia si tollas periere cupidinis arcus", Ovid. de Remed. Amor. l. 1. v. 139. Quaeritur Aegistheus, "quare sit factus adulter?--in promptu causa est, desidiosus erat". Ibid. v. 161, 162. (l) "a muliere mali", Baynus, Mercerus, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis. (m) "a lenitate linguae extraneae", Montanus; "a laevitate linguae peregrinae", Michaelis; "ex lubrica glabritie linguae peregrinae", Schultens.
neither let her take thee with her eyelids; let her not take thee from instruction with them, so Aben Ezra, from attending to that; or let her not take thy wisdom from thee, so Jarchi; or rather let her not take thee as in a net, with the sparkling of her eyes, with the wanton and amorous glances of them; so the Syriac version, "let her not captivate thee", &c. which applied to the antichristian church, may signify the outward pomp and grandeur of it, its pretensions to antiquity, to the apostolic see, to infallibility, miracles, great devotion, &c. which are taking to men, and are the Circean cup with which she bewitches and allures, Revelation 17:4. The Targum is,
"let her not seduce thee,'' &c.
and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life; or "soul" (n); not content with his precious substance, his jewels, his gold and silver; having stripped him of his goods and livelihood, though some think that is here intended; she lays snares for him, and draws him into those evils which bring him into the hands of her husband, who avenges himself by slaying the adulterer; or into the hands of the civil magistrate, by whom this sin of adultery was punished with death; nay, is the occasion of the ruin of his precious and immortal soul to all eternity: the precious souls of men are part of the wares of antichrist, Revelation 18:13.
(n) "animam", Pagninus, Montanus, &c.
"it is a like thing to fall into fire and into a woman (p);''
the Hebrew words "esh", "fire", and "ishah", "a woman", have some affinity in sound; and the phrase of taking it "into the bosom" fitly expresses the impure embraces of a harlot;
and his clothes not be burned? he cannot, it is impossible; and equally vain is it to think that a man can commit whoredom and it not be known, or he not hurt by it in his name and substance, or in his body, soul, and life.
(o) Plauti Bacehides, Acts 4. Sc. 9. v. 15. "Accede ad ignem hunc", Terent. Eunuehus, Acts 1. Sc. 2. v. 5. (p) , apud Maximum, Eclog. c. 39.
(q) "Periculosae plenum opus aleae tractas: et incedis per ignes suppositos cineri doloso", Horat. Carmin. l. 2. Ode. 1.
whosoever toucheth her; by impure dalliances, and especially by carnal copulation with her, in which sense it is used; see Gill on 1 Corinthians 7:1;
shall not be innocent; or free (r) from disgrace and infamy, from loss of substance or health; from punishment in this life, either by the jealous husband or civil magistrate; and in the world to come by the Lord himself; for "whoremongers and adulterers God will judge", Hebrews 13:4.
(r) "non insons, vel immunis", Schultens; so Gejerus.
to satisfy his soul; his craving appetite for food, having nothing to eat, nor no other way of getting any: the words should be supplied thus, "for he does this to satisfy his soul"; or, as the Syriac version, "for he steals to satisfy his soul": and so they are a reason why men do not despise him, nor use him ill, because it is done with no other view; not with a wicked design to hurt his neighbour, nor with a covetous intent to increase his own substance in an unlawful way, but only to satisfy nature in distress; and another reason follows, or the former confirmed;
when he is hungry; or for "he is hungry" (s); pressed with famine; the temptation is great, nature urges him to it; and though it is criminal, men in such cases wilt not bear hard upon him for it. The Targum is,
"it is not to be wondered at in a thief that he should steal to satisfy his soul when it is hungry.''
The Vulgate Latin version is,
"it is not a great fault when anyone steals, for he steals to fill a hungry soul;''
it is a fault, but it is not a very heinous one, at least it is not so heinous as adultery, for the sake of which it is mentioned, and with which it is compared: the design of the instance is to show the adultery is far greater than that; and yet in our age we see that the one is severely punished even with death for trifling things, when the other goes unpunished.
(s) "quia esurit", Cocceius, Michaelis.
he shall give all the substance of his house: to pay the sevenfold, or to make full restitution; nay, if necessary, he himself may be sold, as the above law requires.
lacketh understanding; or "an heart" (t); the thief lacks bread, and therefore steals, but this man lacks wisdom, and therefore acts so foolish a part; the one does it to satisfy hunger, the other a brutish lust;
he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul; is liable to have his life taken away by the husband of the adulteress; so according to Solon's law (u) the adulterer taken in the act might be killed by the husband: or by the civil magistrate; for according to the law of. Moses he was to die, either to be strangled or stoned; see Gill on John 8:5; and besides, he not only ruins the natural faculties of his soul, besotting, corrupting, and depraving that, giving his heart to a whore, but brings eternal destruction on it; yet so foolish is he, though it issues in the ruin of his precious soul; "he does this" (w), for so the first part of this clause, which stands last in the original text, may be rendered.
(t) "deficit corde", Pagninus, Montanus; "caret corde", Mercerus, Gejerus; so Michaelis. (u) Plutarch. in Vita Solon. p. 90. (w) "ipse faeiet illud", Montanus; "ipse faciet hoc", so some in Vatablus; "is id faciet, sive facit", Cocceius; "ille facit id", Michaelis; "is patrabit illud", Schultens.
and his reproach shall not be wiped away; as long as he lives, though his life may be spared; yea, it shall even continue after death; and though he may repent of his sin and reform, as in the case of David.
(x) "Secat ille cruentis verberibus", Juvenal. Satyr. 10. v. 316. Vid. A. Gell. Noct. Attic. l. 17. c. 18. Horat. Satyr. l. 1. Sat. 2. v. 41, 42. (y) Valer. Maximus, l. 6. c. 1. s. 13.
therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance; when he has an opportunity of avenging himself; whenever he finds the adulterer in his house, or catches him and his wife in bed together, he spares not to take away his life, and sometimes the life of both of them; instances of this nature history furnishes us with: or he will spare no cost and pains to prosecute him before a civil magistrate, and bring him to public justice; prayers and entreaties, bribes and gifts, wilt be of no avail, as follows.