William J. Stewart | Lessons from the Book of Proverbs
Every parent hopes their children will be wise in their approach to life. Beyond the moral implications that Solomon has already focused on in previous chapters, it is desirable for wisdom to excel in one’s day to day life. A number of issues arise in this: making sound decisions, having a good work ethic, etc.. Solomon addresses these sort of things in our text today.
DON’T BECOME SURETY
…if you become surety for your friend, if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger … deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter… (6:1, 5)
It is good to help people if we are able, and yet it is foolish to do so to our own hurt. Whether it be a friend or a stranger in need, the wise king demands that we not allow a sense of compassion to work apart from wisdom.
Think about it—if the company who is entering a contract with an individual is requiring a co-signer, they don’t believe the borrower or tenant is capable or responsible enough to meet the obligation long-term. How foolish then for us to sign our name on the dotted line! Solomon tells his son—don’t sleep until you have freed yourself.
This was so important, Solomon mentioned it 4 more times (11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 22:26)! If we have become surety for another, and are not able to remove ourselves from the contract, we are obligated, even if it is to our own hurt (Psalm 15:4).
DON’T BE LAZY!
Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep—so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man. (6:6-11)
Was Solomon’s son lazy? Perhaps. The text continues to be addressed to him (6:1). The instruction may have been given because of an existing problem, or it may have been to prevent laziness setting in. either way, the message is clear—don’t be lazy!
Let us note, there is a difference between being lazy and taking some leisure time. It is good and right for one to take a break from work, to have an occasional vacation, to enjoy innocent pleasures this life offers—to take time to smell the roses, if you will. That is very different from laziness. Those who are lazy cannot take a break from work, for they do not work. Now, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a job; it just means that they are not diligent at it.
The apostle Paul, writing to the church at Thessalonica said:
If a man shall not work, neither shall he eat.
(2 Thessalonians 3:10)
Just like wise Solomon, the apostle Paul did not condone nor excuse laziness among God’s people. What kind of example is it to the world if those who claim to serve the Lord are slumbering sluggards? Likewise, what message does it send for the king’s son to be a lazy leach? And so we are told to consider one of God’s amazing creatures, the ant.
With no supervisor and no required quotas, the ant diligent works, gathering in the summer the food needed for sustenance. There are some people in the workforce (and some who ought to be in it but are not), who if they were in the ant’s position, they would starve. “Consider her ways and be wise,” Solomon says.
When God made Adam, He made him to work. He placed him in the garden to tend to it. After the sin in the garden, when man was put out, again, work was required of him. If he did not work diligently, he and his family would starve. Plain and simple, part of fulfilling our purpose here is to work. Work not only is a means of providing for one’s family (the primary purpose), but it also gives a sense of achievement, and shows one to be both competent and trustworthy. Those who do not work, or who are not diligent in their work, invite poverty to be their constant companion, place their families in unnecessary difficulties, and present themselves as servants of Satan. Not only are idle hands the devil’s workshop, but any time we choose not to do something God requires, we give glory to Satan.
THE WORTHLESS & WICKED MAN
A worthless person, a wicked man, walks with a perverse mouth; he winks with his eyes, he shuffles his feet, he points with his fingers; perversity is in his heart, he devises evil continually, he sows discord. Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly; suddenly he shall be broken without remedy. (6:12-15)
Who is this worthless and wicked man? It is no coincidence this instruction follows on the heals of Solomon’s words about diligence. Those who are too lazy to work as they should often seem to have all kinds of energy for evil things. Such an individual may have a tongue that wags uncontrollably, an eye for deception and manipulation, is shifty and unreliable in his ways, a complainer and a backbiter, always ready to point out the shortcomings of others.
Verse 14 says, “He devises evil continually.” According to JFB, the idea is that he “constructs, as an artisan” these evil plans. How sad, for someone to use the creative capacity that God has placed in him in order to accomplish the devil’s work!
Calamity will come to those who misuse and abuse others for their own gain. The time will come when those who choose filthy lucre and laziness over honest work will be broken down with no remedy. If not in this life, then before God in eternity. May we not be of that sort. May we walk in diligence and uprightness of heart, to the glory of God.