William J. Stewart | Lessons from the Book of Proverbs
In the first part of chapter 6, Solomon warned us about the sluggard and the wicked man. But what types of things characterize the wicked man? The answer is in today’s text.
These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren. (6:16-19)
This “six … seven” is a poetic way of saying “pay attention!” We see the same form used in several other texts (Proverbs 30:15, 18, 29; Job 5:19; Ecclesiastes 11:2; Amos 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 13; 2:1, 4, 6). These things are important. He doesn’t introduce it as a list of things God doesn’t like; God hates these things; and if they are found in us, we are subject to the wrath of the LORD.
A PROUD LOOK
Some versions read “haughty eyes” (ESV, ASV, NASB). This is the person who is drunk on his own greatness. In the process, he is sure to let you know that he is better than you are. It is not wrong to acknowledge an ability we have, but we must be careful not to have a haughty spirit in the process.
This proud spirit is what characterized the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. Remember the Lord spoke of the Pharisee who patted his own back in prayer while speaking evil of the tax collector who nearby humbled himself before God (Luke 18:9-14).
A LYING TONGUE
Lying is a sin that is so commonplace, some don’t acknowledge it to be wrong. In fact, to justify some lies, we’ve coloured them “white.” Rating or classifying sin is a human thing—before God, sin is sin. And all sin, including lying, will keep us from heaven.
In Revelation 21:8, we have a partial list of those who will be condemned to the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. We nod our approval of the murderers, the sexually immoral, the sorcerers and the idolaters being condemned. But then he adds, “…and all liars…” God hates lies (Proverbs 12:22). They are of the devil (John 8:44).
HANDS THAT SHED INNOCENT BLOOD
Solomon already warned his son against those who shed innocent blood (1:11, 16), but surely a reminder of the sanctity of life is not uncalled for. God expects His people to have respect for life and for innocence.
In today’s world, there are millions of innocents (Jeremiah 19:4-5) who are unjustly killed each year. Our society does it under the guise of a “woman’s right to choose.” The Lord hates hands that shed innocent blood. One has no more freedom to kill a baby in the womb than to kill a child in a bed. Murder is murder.
A HEART THAT DEVISES WICKED PLANS
The wise king has formerly warned his son against those who cannot sleep unless they have done evil (4:16), who devise evil continually (6:14). We ought to use our mind for good things, not evil. We should think on how we can help others, not harm.
Evil things generally don’t just happen, they are often planned. We need to make no provision for the flesh (Romans 13:13-14). Jesus warns that the things which defile a man originate from the heart (Matthew 15:19). Therefore we need to carefully keep our heart pure (Proverbs 4:23), for as our heart is, so shall we be.
FEET THAT ARE SWIFT IN RUNNING TO EVIL
These swift feet go hand-in-hand with the evil heart just mentioned. Once the wicked plan has been created, the wicked man seeks to put it into action.
Just as we should use our mind for good things and not evil, we ought to be running to do good and not evil. How many opportunities to do good pass us by—whether we are not looking, or are simply unconcerned with others.
A FALSE WITNESS WHO SPEAKS LIES
He has already mentioned the lying tongue, but this is more specific. We might lie for any number of reasons: to make ourselves look good, to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, to make a story more exciting, etc.. Some will lie specifically to harm others. In a court of law, witnesses are expected to tell the truth. That doesn’t always happen.
When Jesus was arrested, the religious leaders knew they didn’t have any valid charges against Him. Notice:
Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree. Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, ‘We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.’’ But not even then did their testimony agree. (Mark 14:55-59)
May we never seek to imitate such, but always speak truth.
ONE WHO SOWS DISCORD AMONG BRETHREN
Time and again, the Bible speaks about the unity of God’s people. We are described as “one body” (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Ephesians 2:16). We are to be of the same mind toward one another (Romans 12:16; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 2:2). Our unity is to be in imitation of the unity shared between Jesus and His Father (John 17:20-23).
Those who through selfish ambition, conceit, arrogance, or whatever motive seek to destroy the unity that exists among God’s people have made themselves subjects of God’s wrath.
May we aim to build one another up; to increase the unity and fellowship we share in the kingdom of God.