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Five Things Proverbs 6 Teaches

January 06, 2014Filed under theology#devotionsMarkdown source

I have made it my goal to write short posts reflecting on my devotional reading every day. These posts are composed off the cuff, in 30 minutes or less. The following is one such post. Before writing this post, I read: 2 Kings 11–15, Psalm 6, Proverbs 6.

Proverbs 6 makes 5 points, rather distinctly and sharply. First a summary and then a few thoughts on each.

  1. Verses 1–5: Being security for your neighbor—still less for a stranger—is a bad idea.

    This first point is perhaps the least obviously applicable to me today. I don’t make a habit of pledging money or possessions for a friend’s (still less a stranger’s) poor money decisions. I might give a friend (or even a stranger) money, but I can’t imagine putting myself in the position of guaranteeing a loan for someone else. That just seems like a terrible idea. Of course, that’s the point of these verses: it is a terrible idea. The counsel here is to get out of that kind of situation as fast as possible (and, by implication, to avoid getting into such a situation in the first place).

  2. Verses 6–11: Laziness will prove ruinous. Industriousness will produce good results.

    I have seen this proven true time and again in the lives of those around me. As a general rule, people who work hard do well for themselves, and people who are lazy do very poorly for themselves. As a rule, I say, because there are times when this is not true—there really are times when systemic injustices undermine even people’s best efforts. This proverb is a proverb, not an iron-clad guarantee, and we would all do well to remember as much. That said: we would all do well to remember as much: if the political conservative’s typical response is to simply point to this verse as a promise (which it is not), the political liberal’s typical response is to act as though this verse has no bearing whatsoever. Sometimes, poverty has complex, structural, societal roots—but sometimes, people are just lazy. God calls us not to be lazy; work is a good thing that was instituted before the Fall.

  3. Verses 12–15: The ultimate fate of a wicked person is calamity.

    There is nothing terribly complicated here. There is, however, a great deal of hope here for those of us who have watched wicked people go around behaving wickedly and seemingly coming off no worse for wear every time. There will come a day of recompense for every wicked deed. Lord willing, for some of those people, that day came when Christ came, and they will join us in the company of saints as they abandon their wickedness and turn to God. But for those who don’t, justice will come, and it will come swiftly.

  4. Verses 16–19: There are some things God truly hates.

    It is almost passe to note how distasteful this idea is in our culture today, but the words on the page could not be clearer. There are things that Yahweh hates, things that are an abomination to him. He hates pride. He abominates deceit. He hates the shedding of innocent blood. He abominates the plotting of wickedness. He hates the doing of evil. He abominates false witness to be borne. He hates dissension between brothers.

    But more than this: he hates those who do these things. This is dreadful —apart from the grace he shows us in Christ.

  5. Verses 20–35: Adultery is folly. Wisdom runs the other way.

    Once again, the proverbs hammer home the folly of adultery. It is not only that it does not give what it promises and brings spiritual ruin. It is that it also produces, at a purely practical level, destruction. A spouse’s jealousy is (rightly) a fearful thing. Who in his right mind would sleep with another man’s wife, knowing what the response would be? What woman would sleep with another woman’s husband, knowing how her own rage would be? The implications just for one’s own health—still less any other part of one’s life—ought to be enough to warn us away.

The Proverbs remind me again and again that God cares about my life at every level. He is not distant or unengaged with these details; he cares about every aspect of human flourishing, and takes pains to make clear to us what that flourishing looks like—and what it doesn’t.