This is part six in my 31-day study through the book of Proverbs. The purpose of the study is to learn what God would teach me through this book about wisdom and discernment. Yesterday’s topic was the perils of adultery and the wisdom of living a sexually pure life. I learned that everyone faces the lure of sexual temptation, both the wise and foolish. I learned that I am to fight this temptation by making my wife my delight and rejoicing forever in her love. I am to look only to her for fulfillment. If I do sin it is due to my lack of wisdom and I have no one to blame for my sin but myself.
The sixth chapter of Proverbs provides wisdom on several different topics. It opens with an exhortation to avoid assuming financial security for a friend. If I do that I have laid down a snare for myself and will soon find myself caught in it, for I have given control of my life to another person. I should do all I can to remove myself from the situation by humbling myself before my friend and asking him to release me from my pledge. I need to do this with a sense of urgency, dedicating myself to it until I am free.
The author turns to a lesson about laziness based on one of the most humble of all creatures – the ant.
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 food in harvest.
How long will you lie there, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man.
I remember reading these words for the first time in fifth grade when I was assigned a project on the ant. My parents showed me what the Bible had to say about the ant and I formed my project around God’s wisdom. The Bible tells the sluggard, the man whose foolishness expresses itself in laziness, to look to the ant for wisdom. What a wonderful thought, that God’s crowning creation, humans, can learn from one of the tiniest and most humble. We can see God’s wisdom even in a creature as tiny and seemingly insignificant as the ant. The ant has no captain, no ruler, yet works hard every day. She spends her life providing for herself. The sluggard, on the other hand, is lazy and spends his life sleeping. The natural consequence of his laziness is that poverty will come upon him and overtake him like an armed robber who breaks in at night.
The author begins a portrayal of a worthless, foolish person. He is not a person that speaks openly and honestly, but rather “winks with his eyes, signals with his feet,
points with his finger.” He makes veiled suggestions without actually holding a position. He continually devises evil in his heart and tries to stir up dissension. His reward will come suddenly and harshly.
Verses 16 to 19 show seven things that God hates in human relationships. They begin with a common construct in Hebrew poetry. “There are six things that the LORD hates,
seven that are an abomination to him.” The successive numbers are often used to add emphasis to a passage. We then see seven things that God hates:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.
God hates malice and discord. He despises a heart that is filled with hate and seeks to stir up dissension.
The final section in this chapter provides another warning against adultery. I am again warned to heed my parent’s advice, for this wisdom will lead and guide me through life. Verse 23 looks back at Psalm 119. It reads “For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.” Wisdom supplements the law and the Scriptures to provide instruction on how to live. Wisdom is not synonymous with these, but complements them.
I am again shown the consequences of adultery. “Can a man carry fire next to his chest
and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished.” The inevitable result of committing adultery is punishment. Just as one cannot walk on hot coals and not sear his feet, so I cannot have a sinful relationship and escape the consequences.
People do not despise a man for stealing food when he is starving. He must still suffer the consequences for his theft but people can understand the need. Adultery is different, though, because there is never a need for it like there is a need for sustenance. He will suffer public reproach for his actions. He will even become a target of revenge for the offended husband. There are always consequences for remaining foolish rather than learning wisdom.
The objective for this study is to learn godly wisdom and discernment. Based on the sixth chapter of Proverbs, here is what I have learned:
- Never give up control over my life by assuming financial security for a friend.
- I can learn wisdom from God through anything he has created, even the most humble of creatures.
- God hates malice and discord and those who seek to stir them up will suffer His reproof.
- Wisdom supplements but does not replace a knowledge of God’s law.
- There is never an excuse for committing adultery and there will always be consequences for forsaking wisdom in this area.