Proverbs 6 has four distinct sections, on financial prudence (vv. 1-3), diligence (vv. 6-11), troublemakers (vv. 12-19), and adultery (vv. 20-35).
Verses 1-3 urge the son to be prudent in financial affairs. Entering an agreement to be a guarantor for a neighbour’s debt (v. 1) means becoming responsible for another person’s foolish choices; such an agreement is a trap (v. 2; see Proverbs 17:18). The father urges the son to lose no time and spare no effort in liberating himself from this snare (vv. 3-5).
Verses 6-11 urge the son to observe the ant and learn diligence from it. The industrious ant is a model of wise activity (vv. 6-8; see Proverbs 30:25); its hard work (vv. 6-7) is contrasted with the sluggard who finds every excuse to rest (v. 10; see also Proverbs 24:30-34). One results in ample provision (v. 8) while the other results in scarcity (v. 11).
Verses 12-19 warn against the wicked and the troublemaker, who has a perverse mouth (v. 12) and devious behaviour that come from evil intentions (vv. 13-14)-such a person will ultimately be destroyed (v. 15). In this context, the writer introduces seven things which God hates (vv. 16-19). Heading the list is pride. Note that wickedness includes works of the hands, feet, tongue, and heart. Finally, we are told that God detests the one who ″stirs up conflict in the community″ (v. 19).
The final section, verses 20-35, stresses the vital importance of resisting adultery; a repetition of the warnings given in Proverbs 5 to 7. The writer makes it clear that adultery is a process that begins with lustful eyes (v. 25), and also notes that while relations with a prostitute (v. 26) are bad enough, taking another man’s wife-even if it’s at her initiative (v. 26)-is even worse.
This chapter’s warning against adultery stresses the consequences of adultery (vv. 27-29) more than in previous chapters. While theft may be understood when there are desperate circumstances (vv. 30-31), adultery will earn nothing but destruction (v. 32), shame, and disgrace (v. 33), as well as a husband’s fury (v. 34).
Note that in a civil society, an adulterer is to be named and shamed (v. 33). Any other response is indicative of a society’s decadent attitude of compromise and tolerance.
Do you tolerate any of the things God loathes (Proverbs 6:16-19)? Pray that God will help you clothe yourself in His qualities.
Why do you think the writer returns to the issue of adultery? What does this section say which hasn’t been said before?