A Proverb a day, with commentary from H.A. Ironside, a great Bible teacher from the mid-20th Century.
Even the unregenerate would avoid many failures if they followed the instruction of this chapter in their lives and their businesses.
Pledging security for another has been the downfall of many who might have been comfortable and prosperous otherwise. In these verses the one trapped in this way is urged to deliver himself if possible, before the penalty has to be paid.
Unlikely as it may seem on the surface, pride is generally the incentive to offering security. A desire to be thought well of or considered financially secure has led many a man to offer security- even to one who was quite unable to assume such a debt and still meet the needs of those dependent on him. An easygoing disposition leads some to make thoughtless pledges that could lead to their ruin. However one becomes entrapped, the command in these verses should be heeded; one must humble himself and confess that he has undertaken more than righteousness and foresight would advise. Far better a little temporary embarrassment and misunderstanding, even ill will, than to find out later that others have to suffer for the maintenance of a foolish and sinful pride.
Prudence and forethought (not to be confused with anxiety) are commendable virtues that may be learned from observing the ant. Carelessness is not faith; it is a gross presumption to be a sluggard and then to expect divine provision in the hour of need. In this as in all else reaping follows sowing. Diligence and carefulness are commanded and commended by the Lord, and both virtues honor Him; slothfulness on the part of a Christian is a reproach on His name.
Some critics sneer at “Solomon’s grain-eating ant” who stores her food in the harvest for future use. Solomon is supposed to have mistaken the eggs of the ant for grain. But it is now fully demonstrated that he was wiser than his critics. In Palestine there is a species of ant that is not carnivorous. It feeds on grain and does indeed store its food in harvest-time as Solomon declared. Scripture here, as always, is correct and exact. Short-sighted man should accept his limitations and at least take for granted that the Bible is right until proven otherwise!
Sleeping when one should be working is inconsistent with the command to eat bread by the sweat of one’s face (Gen_3:19). No one has a right to count on God to provide for his daily needs when he has not been characterized by diligence. Poverty follows laziness; likewise in a spiritual sense, endless misery follows the one who refuses to be awakened to the things of God in this age of grace. Judson said, “A little more sleep, a little more slumber and thou shalt wake in hell to sleep no more forever!”
The one who is careless in his own affairs is likely to interfere too much in the lives of others. Having nothing to do, he becomes a lazy busybody occupied with foolishness. His mouth is perverse; his eyes disguise the words his lips speak; his feet and hands call attention to things better left unnoticed; for in his heart are perverse and mischievous intentions. He becomes a sower of discord. He scatters evil words that yield a harvest of sorrow that can never be fully destroyed. There were people like this among the Thessalonian saints. The apostle Paul warned the godly to keep away from them so these evildoers would be ashamed (2Th_3:11-14).
Jehovah’s judgment of the evil speaker is set forth in no uncertain terms. Seven things are abominable; six he hates in addition to the one already noticed. That one is put in as though it were the worst of them all.
God always detested a proud look. The one who has learned at the feet of Christ, who is meek and lowly of heart, does not have haughty eyes. The twelfth Song of Degrees gives the words of one who has been discipled in Christ’s school: “Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me” (Psa_131:1). This is the attitude that is well-pleasing to the Lord who says, “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor [or, lowly] and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isa_66:2).
A lying tongue is contrary to God who is truth and who desires truth in the inner man. False words indicate a deceitful heart.
God links a prideful nature and a lying tongue with “hands that shed innocent blood.” The slanderer who uses his tongue to destroy the good name of another is similar to the murderer who uses wicked hands to kill.
An evil scheming heart is the root of all the evils mentioned. All unholy words and doings proceed out of the heart. So feet that rush to mischief are mentioned immediately. They follow where the heart has already gone.
The last two are often found together: a lying witness and one that stirs up dissension. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psa_133:1) The Lord abhors the talebearer who mars that happy unity by spreading evil insinuations.
The only way any of us can avoid these hateful ways is to earnestly cleave to God and His Word, that we may be sanctified by truth.
Obedience to parental discipline is obedience to God. When godly parents seek to bring up their children in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph_6:4) they are laying a solid foundation for eternity. Their wise instruction becomes practical and precious. In any place or any activity, the word of wisdom will be sweet and will keep one from stumbling.
The young man’s particular snare is referred to again in these verses. The purifying influence of the Word of God will protect him from the flattering lips of the strange woman. This false stranger would lure him from the path of truth and virtue to falsity and ruin. The young man is earnestly warned to beware of her fascinations.
We are reminded again that the heart must be guarded in order to keep the feet from forbidden paths. Any tampering with impurity will lead to both spiritual and physical sorrow and poverty. The adulteress will endeavor to entrap with her fascinating glances. The one whose heart is not protected by the sanctifying truth of God will be overcome.
Sinful thoughts should not be entertained. How many upright lives have been damaged by what started as a thoughtless familiarity. The relationship was allowed to develop step by step into adultery and ended in lifelong sorrow. No other sin, except murder, leaves such a dreadful stain. See David’s case in 2 Samuel 11-12.
In clear language God faithfully warns us of the awful consequences of the sin that brought the flood and will bring the fire! Men may forgive and forget other wrongs. This one is never forgotten. No one hates a thief stealing to satisfy his hunger. Both the law of Jehovah and the law of man demand restitution if the thief is arrested. But at least it is possible to make amends, even if it takes all he has. But the adulterer can never make amends to the wronged husband or the partner of the sin. Repentance toward God will not erase the reproach. The marks of the wound and the dishonor will remain to haunt one through the years. The rage of the rightly jealous husband will not be appeased by gifts however great, or apologies however earnest and sincere.
He who ignores these warnings and deliberately goes on trifling with sin is without excuse. The only safe course is to discipline the mind to bring every sinful thought into subjection and allow the truth of God to control the heart (2Co_10:5). This is the only way to “flee.. .youthful lusts,” (2Ti_2:22)-those “fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1Pe_2:11). This is how Joseph resisted in circumstances far more tempting than those in which David fell. He responded “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen_39:9) May we also be preserved from temptation by allowing God’s Word to control our lives.