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 17:18). The father urges the son to lose no time and spare no effort in liberating himself from this snare (6:3–5).
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 30:25); its hard work (6:6–7) is contrasted with the sluggard who finds every excuse to rest (v. 10; see also 24:30–34). One results in ample provision (6:8) 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 (6:25), and also notes that while relations with a prostitute (v. 26), bought with the equivalent of a loaf of bread, 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 more than in previous chapters. The author warns: “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished” (vv. 27–29).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.
Why do you think the writer returns to the issue of adultery? What does this section say which hasn’t been said before?
Consider the consequences of adultery stated in Proverbs 6:27–34. Can you think of any real life examples? Pray that God will help you take heed of the consequences of adultery.