A STUDY OF WISDOM FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
A Wise Life is one that Takes warnings seriously
Proverbs 6 SCC 7/19/15
Much wisdom can be gained from warnings that fall on resolute ears. Solomon addresses his ‘son’ in v 1 and in v 20. Wisdom prevents chaos in life by establishing order based on understanding how things usually work out in life. Wisdom is a firm grasp of the obvious, which is firmly grasped. Concerning money, Solomon imparts some wisdom…
DON’T UNDERWRITE A FOOLISH PERSON’S DEBT 1-5
One can secure foolish debt 1-2
Verse 1-2: Solomon tells his son not to be foolish enough to cosign for a neighbor who is a misfit (stranger). There was no obligation here just apparently an impulsive act of generosity v 2. Gullible, easily swept away only to realize too late that he had been ‘snared’ and ‘caught’. The most likely scenario is when the co-signee borrows money and defaults on the loan, and then Solomon’s son would be obligated to pay the debt. What is interesting about this warning is that it is most likely based in good intentions—an attempt to help someone financially. They can’t get a loan because he or she has been a misfit of some kind financially and yet you are convinced that the reason they need it is valid. You, then, are attempting to help them with what you determine to be a valid project.
Lose no time to get released from this pledge 3-5
Verse 3-4: Twice the debtor is told to ‘deliver himself’. First deliverance requires humiliation if necessary. Promptly humble yourself, approach your neighbor and press him or her to be released from your pledge. The agreement is faulty due to high interest or unjust terms or unknown and unchecked concerns now uncovered later. It’s clear you should not have impulsively agreed to secure this debt.
Verse 5: The second ‘deliver yourself’ requires letting nothing stand in your way—not even a single nights sleep—but frantically fight to get released. Nothing could be worse than this indebtedness. The similes heighten the need to escape this snare. The ‘gazelle’ in the corral and the ‘bird’ in the trap both desperately attempting to escape picture the debtor’s frenzied attention to escape this difficulty.
NB: Debt is always a problem. You have now only allowed yourself to be responsible for debt, but a debt, which someone else is foolishly managing. If you want to help someone out, then consider giving him or her the money (Deuteronomy 15:10, 15; 19:17). If you feel that giving them the money would encourage them to be irresponsible, then becoming surety for their debt is surely irresponsible.
AVOID LAZINESS OR YOU CAN BECOME FINANCIALLY DESTITUTE 6-11
Be diligent with your time and effort 6-8
Verse 6: One can become financially destitute by laziness as well as foolish transactions. Financial disaster can come in the form of a ‘pledge’ or ‘poverty’. So we have a lesson directed to the sluggard. He can learn from the ant. This comparison is degrading for sure but there is still hope if he learns from the diligence of the ant. So he should observe its ways and discover the wisdom that will supply.
Verse 7-8: Here is what he will learn. First, a good worker needs no boss or supervisor. He is self-motivated, self-directed, and self-corrected v 7. Second, a good worker prepares and gathers v 8. A salesman makes the calls, a farmer prepares the field, a business owner advertises and secures an inventory. Then he gathers in the harvest.
Laziness leads to poverty
Verse 9-11: Third, a good worker is never lazy. The rhetorical questions forcefully rebuke the idler v 9. Sleep is seen, as something required in order to work not keep one from work v 10. It’s not a goal or pleasure in itself. Love of sleep results in poverty v 11. Two similes illustrate the onslaught of poverty: 1) Poverty will come like a ‘bandit’ that robs or a highwayman.
2) Poverty will come like an ‘armed man’ to take your goods by gunpoint. Count on it—you will become penniless and impoverished.
NB: Money is a commodity just like time. It is to be used not abused. We can abuse money by hoarding it as well as spending it. By being selfish with it or being foolish with it. By living for it or irresponsible with it. Money should never own us or us it. Our wealth belongs to God and we are responsible to earn it, to spend it, to give it, to save it and to invest it. Those terms are spelled out in scripture and every responsible believer will scrutinize it’s teaching for godly stewardship. You are responsible for biblical oversight of your wealth.
DON’T BE A CONTENTIOUS PERSON 12-19
A contentious person is devious 12-14
Verse 12: Twice Solomon warns his son not to be one ‘who spreads strife’ v 14 and 19. This links these two sections together. One who does is a ‘worthless person’, ‘a wicked one’. Here is a description of an ‘evil scoundrel’ or a ‘troublemaker’. This villain is corrupt and deceptive. His or her motives will be sinister but often unknown by one influenced by them.
Verse 13-14: This scoundrel’s corruptness begins with his or her ‘false mouth’ and worms its way throughout the entire personage. It includes the ‘winks with his eyes’, ‘signals with his feet’ and ‘points with his fingers’ all sinister sign language v 13 about his devious plots. These gestures on the surface are put-ons that seem playful but are actually malicious. This underhanded ploy derives from his heart v 14, which conceives and conspires malice. The intent is to cause dissension drawing others into strife.
A contentious person will experience calamity 15
Verse 15: In some way disaster will overtake this troublemaker suddenly. The timing of this calamity is ‘sudden’ and ‘instant’. Whatever it is, it will be unexpected and quick. There will be no way for him to counteract it. He will ‘be broken’ and there will be ‘no remedy’. His downfall will be quick, certain, and complete. A character like this will be ruined when exposed.
NB: This is someone who takes or gives bribes, cheats his customer or the government, lies about his product or service, or is otherwise dishonest, secretive, and not above board in his dealings. He generally gets away with it for a while, and then falls suddenly because the word gets around about him, enough people have been shafted and deceived by him or the law catches up with him. Therefore his calamity will come suddenly, not gradually.
God hates the scoundrel’s chicanery 16-19
Verse 16: Describing these schemes with the terms ‘hate’ and ‘abomination’ heighten the fact that they are taboo with God! God is opposed to them, separate from them, and will punish those who do them. Listen, God is spelling this out so we will clearly understand. These traits most likely describe the contentious person in specificity. The arrangement of these is such they are not exhaustive. The six, then seven pattern, is one that describes the first six, then focuses on the seventh for emphasis—one who spreads strife or the contentious person. This is whom this list describes.
Verse 17-19: The seven things that the Lord hates are specific personal attitudes and actions. These seem to contrast with the seven blessed things in the beatitudes of Matthew five. Additionally, the first beatitude, ‘blessed are the poor in spirit,’ contrasts with the first hated thing, ‘a proud look’. The last beatitude ‘blessed are the peacemakers,’ contrasts with the last abomination, ‘one who stirs up dissension’. A focus on the beatitudes will counter what God hates and place one in God’s favor.
1. Haughty eyes suggest arrogant ambition. God is opposed to the proud. Pride is independence from God. Pride says I am master of my own destiny, designer of my own life, and autonomy instead of submission. I determine what is in my best interest and what is not.
2. Lying tongue is deception in action. Psalm 109:2 uses this concept to describe the deceiver who betrays, a passage that the disciples apply to Judas in Acts 1:20. One does not want in his company.
3. Hands shedding innocent blood speak to hands as instruments of murder. Gen 9:6 prevent shedding blood but innocent blood is even a greater crime—Manasseh filled the streets with it 2K 21:16.
4. Heart devising evil smack in middle of the list as it drives all of this. God declared early in Gen 6:5 that the human heart was capable of such. Schemes, deception, and wickedness begins in ones heart.
5. Feet rushing to evil captures the enthusiastic engagement with and participation in activities that bring only pain to all concerned and impacted.
6. False witness uttering lies focuses on perjury, which God specifically called out in the Ten Commandments. This week I stood before a judge for proceedings to evict a tenant. We both were required to swear to be truthful. The tenant’s testimony was several minutes of false witness.
7. One who spreads strife like the contentious person in the previous verses, will stir up dissension and place them in jeopardy with God Himself.
NB: The point here is to tell the potentially naïve that God hates these 7 things. Therefore, these 7 things will keep one from wisdom. These are things that fools use as a shortcut to prosperity, but it keeps them in chaos, making wisdom impossible. God will not tolerate these activities and attitudes.
1. God must love and desire the opposite of what He hates: humility, truthful speech, preservation of life, purity in thought and motive, eager to do good, honest witnesses, and peaceful harmony and quietness of life.
2. Your wealth is determined by God and managed by you. Many things in your life are obviously determined by God including your socio economics. No matter where you are on the financial scale, you have a responsibility before God to know what the Bible teaches you about your finances.
3. If you are contentious with anyone, say your spouse or your parents or your employer or a colleague or someone who threatens you in some way, stop it. God hates that and will judge you by your own contentiousness. You may benefit from it for now but you will have to reckon with God later. Don’t assume you are in charge of your own comfort—let God be sovereign over that.