1My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor,
Have given a pledge for a stranger,
2If you have been snared with the words of your mouth,
Have been caught with the words of your mouth,
3Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself;
Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor,
Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.
4Give no sleep to your eyes,
Nor slumber to your eyelids;
5Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter's hand
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
What Solomon is after here is to emphasize the high danger and risk of being co-responsible for another person’s debts, bankruptcy, etc. It is one thing to give a person a loan because the worst that could happen is that the loan would be partially repaid or not repaid at all. But one’s personal assets would not be at risk. If there is mutually shared debt obligations, then one’s person’s poor financial decisions could drain the resources of the person who made good financial decisions. It makes more sense to give to a person in need or to offer them a loan (the Bible speaks of interest free loans to fellow countrymen (Deuteronomy 23:19)). This mitigates the risk of a catastrophic situation. Thus, if a person finds themselves as a co-signer or somehow bearing the risk of another person’s mistakes financially, they need to take immediate precautions to rid themselves of any binding contracts in which they could become responsible for the debts of others.
6Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
7Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
8Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest.
9How 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"--
11Your poverty will come in like a vagabond
And your need like an armed man.
Solomon speaks out against laziness here, for we do not get eternal rewards by doing nothing. The ant is an example of a devoted laborer. No chief ant or authority figure forces the ant to work and gather food, but the ant has an innate instinct to labor. A lazy person needs to learn from the ant which stores up food for itself so that it will not be in want. A sluggard is content not to work, and this will lead to having no money or food to eat. Laziness leads to poverty and quickly at that.
12A worthless person, a wicked man,
Is the one who walks with a perverse mouth,
13Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet,
Who points with his fingers;
14Who with perversity in his heart continually devises evil,
Who spreads strife.
15Therefore his calamity will come suddenly;
Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing.
Wicked and worthless go hand in hand as far as character qualities that we do not want to possess. Examples of these qualities include shady dealings, false promises, reneged commitments, and lots of lying. Through subtle signals a person, while saying one thing, is clearly communicating another thing to others. This deceitfulness is a perversity before God, and it is indicative of a heart that is constantly devising evil plans and intentions for others for selfish gain. This leads to pain for others and to much harm. Eventually, those who lay traps for others end up being harmed by their diabolical lifestyle as they make a mistake, suffer at the hands of violent men, or receive divine punishment of some kind. Regardless of what they may get away with on earth, God sees all and will hold them accountable in eternity.
16There are six things which the LORD hates,
Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
17Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
18A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that run rapidly to evil,
19A false witness who utters lies,
And one who spreads strife among brothers.
God hates, first, haughty eyes because pride is the opposite of humility which is what He desires. Second, He hates those who lie because Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). He, being the truth, tells us to rejoice in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). It is the truth which sanctifies (John 17:17), while lying only creates harm and leads to destruction. Third, God hates violence and murder because He loves life and the dignity of His creation. Hands that are quick to do others harm are an abomination to Him. Fourth, a heart that is constantly trying to craft evil ideas and plot their next indulgence of sin is not honoring to God. This is the natural state of man’s heart, and this is why all men need to repent and be changed from the inside out. Fifth, God despises a lackadaisical attitude to Him and to His commandments such that a person doesn’t even attempt to avoid evil and temptation. Those who see evil and run to it, seeking it out wherever they are and whenever they can, is wickedness before God. Sixth, God hates those who say wrong things about others, painting an incorrect picture about a person’s character and integrity. We are supposed to stand up for the truth and for the innocent even if it will cost us. Seventh, God hates those who create enmity, strife, anger, envy, and bitterness among one another, whether family, friends, church associates, business associates, neighbors, etc. God’s will is that we pursue peace with all men as much as is possible and insomuch as it depends upon us. We are to be peacemakers rather than those who stir up division and who provoke a fight. Evil people like seeing people hurt one another, but God wants people to get along in peace and harmony.
20My son, observe the commandment of your father
And do not forsake the teaching of your mother;
21Bind them continually on your heart;
Tie them around your neck.
22When you walk about, they will guide you;
When you sleep, they will watch over you;
And when you awake, they will talk to you.
Getting back to the recurring theme of the importance of seeking wisdom with extreme urgency and fervency, Solomon says to hold to God’s commands and teachings firmly and to not let them go. Insomuch as parents teach the truth of God and His Word, we must treasure that instruction and apply it rigorously. As we meditate on God’s Word, we will be able to know wisdom and make wise decisions. Even as we sleep, wisdom has a way of sorting things out in our minds so that we know what to do when we wake.
23For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light;
And reproofs for discipline are the way of life
24To keep you from the evil woman,
From the smooth tongue of the adulteress.
25Do not desire her beauty in your heart,
Nor let her capture you with her eyelids.
26For on account of a harlot one is reduced to a loaf of bread,
And an adulteress hunts for the precious life.
God’s Word is for teaching, training, and correction so that we will be made complete and mature and able to know and do the will of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It is a lamp to our feet, and a light to our paths. One thing that Scripture is very clear about is that young men do not destroy their lives by committing adultery. And young women need to avoid becoming a woman that tries to get men to lust after her. There is nothing wrong with looking one’s best and trying to be attractive, but it is another thing altogether to portray that one is easy and that one is willing to have sex outside of marriage. The attraction is to be for the spouse alone, not for others.
The adulteress is an evil woman, and she speaks flattering words of false promises of vain hope. Yet she makes it sound so good that it is difficult to resist. That is why wisdom avoids the adulteress and doesn’t linger to hear her out, just as Joseph fled the advances of Potiphar’s wife. A key rule of thumb for life is to not desire the beauty of another woman in one’s heart. Lust is more than just seeing a pretty face and attractive form. It is lingering in thought, starting to devise evil plans, fantasizing, and being captured by envy. The adulteress bats her eyelids, beckoning the fool to speak to her and listen to her temptations. A person who falls for these guises is reduced to being her food as she seeks to devour the precious life for selfish gain. We can walk in wisdom, or we can be somebody else’s breakfast. There is no love here, only selfish, fleeting lust that will leave the soul empty, dry, and with deep sorrow.
27Can a man take fire in his bosom
And his clothes not be burned?
28Or can a man walk on hot coals
And his feet not be scorched?
29So is the one who goes in to his neighbor's wife;
Whoever touches her will not go unpunished.
Solomon cannot be any clearer that those who play with the fire of lust and allow themselves to be seduced will suffer consequences. Just as it is impossible to hold a burning coal in one’s hands and not get burned, adultery scars a person for life.
30Men do not despise a thief if he steals
To satisfy himself when he is hungry;
31But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold;
He must give all the substance of his house.
32The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense;
He who would destroy himself does it.
33Wounds and disgrace he will find,
And his reproach will not be blotted out.
34For jealousy enrages a man,
And he will not spare in the day of vengeance.
35He will not accept any ransom,
Nor will he be satisfied though you give many gifts.
One of the major consequences of adultery is the wrath of the husband who has been cheated on. Jealousy enrages a man, and he will be tempted to take revenge. There is no amount of gifts or peace offerings that can undo the damage that has been done. Damage is also done to the adulteress and to the adulterer, and only a fool who lacks sense would dare do something this destructive that brings such great wounds, shame, and disgrace. People can forgive a person who steals bread because he is hungry, though even then they will likely levy a consequence. But it is not too difficult to repay that kind of a debt. Adultery, however, is not so easily undone and forgotten.