Proverbs 6 Commentary

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Proverbs 6:1  My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor, Have given a pledge for a stranger,

BGT  Proverbs 6:1 υἱέ ἐὰν ἐγγυήσῃ σὸν φίλον παραδώσεις σὴν χεῖρα ἐχθρῷ

NET  Proverbs 6:1 My child, if you have made a pledge for your neighbor, and have become a guarantor for a stranger,

NLT  Proverbs 6:1 My child, if you have put up security for a friend's debt or agreed to guarantee the debt of a stranger--

ESV  Proverbs 6:1 My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, have given your pledge for a stranger,

NIV  Proverbs 6:1 My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have struck hands in pledge for another,

KJV  Proverbs 6:1 My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger,

LXE  Proverbs 6:1 My son, if thou become surety for thy friend, thou shalt deliver thine hand to an enemy.

ASV  Proverbs 6:1 My son, if thou art become surety for thy neighbor, If thou hast stricken thy hands for a stranger;

CSB  Proverbs 6:1 My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor or entered into an agreement with a stranger,

NKJ  Proverbs 6:1 My son, if you become surety for your friend, If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger,

NRS  Proverbs 6:1 My child, if you have given your pledge to your neighbor, if you have bound yourself to another,

YLT  Proverbs 6:1 My son! if thou hast been surety for thy friend, Hast stricken for a stranger thy hand,

  • if thou be (KJV): Pr 11:15 17:18 20:16 22:26 27:13 Ge 43:9 44:32,33 Job 17:3 Phm 1:18,19 Heb 7:22 


Guzik sums up this chapter - Proverbs 6—Wisdom to a Son on Debts and Work, Sin and Seduction

My son -  Prov. 1:8; Prov. 1:10; Prov. 1:15; Prov. 2:1; Prov. 3:1; Prov. 3:11; Prov. 3:21; Prov. 4:10; Prov. 4:20; Prov. 5:1; Prov. 5:20; Prov. 6:1; Prov. 6:3; Prov. 6:20; Prov. 7:1; Prov. 19:27; Prov. 23:15; Prov. 23:19; Prov. 23:26; Prov. 24:13; Prov. 24:21; Prov. 27:11; Prov. 31:2;

Morris - My son.  In the first nine chapters of Proverbs--the section written for Solomon. There are seventeen specific lessons (Proverbs 1:8,10,15; 2:1; 3:1,11,21; 4:1,10,20; 5:1,7; 6:1,20; 7:1,24; 8:32), each beginning with either "my son," or "hear ye children," always emphasizing the importance of heeding the words of the teachings.

if you have become surety for your neighbor - "made a pledge," "put up surety." A cosigner, one responsible for a debt should the borrower default. stranger. A neutral term; the borrower. Beware of  becoming liable for the financial obligations of another. What is the solution? Deliver yourself or get released from the obligation (Pr 6:3, 5). 

NET NOTE - It was fairly common for people to put up some kind of financial security for someone else, that is, to underwrite another’s debts. But the pledge in view here was foolish because the debtor was a neighbor who was not well known (זָר, zar), perhaps a misfit in the community. The one who pledged security for this one was simply gullible.

Have given a pledge for a stranger - Given a pledge is literally “struck your hands” so the NIV has a good rendering = “have struck hands in pledge” I still remember the days when guarantee of a pledge was signaled by a handshake (e.g., Pr 11:15; 17:18; 22:26), for the man's handshake was as good as his word. It is 2020 as I write -- those days are long gone for most people. Believers can still be men and women of their word and let the assurance provided by their handshake testify to their honesty and truthfulness which ultimately points lost to the Living Lord Jesus the Way, the Truth, the Life (Jn 14:6, cf 1 Pe 3:15). 

Kidner - Even to the recipient, an unconditional pledge may be an unintended disservice by exposing him to temptation and to the subsequent grief of having brought a friend to ruin.

Adam Clarke - “If thou pledge thyself in behalf of another, thou takest the burden off him, and placest it on thine own shoulders; and when he knows he has got one to stand between him and the demands of law and justice, he will feel little responsibility; his spirit of exertion will become crippled.” 

Stranger (02114)(zur) is a verb which means to be a stranger. Things described as strange (in this sense the verb seems to be used as an adjective) - fire, gods (Dt 32:16, Ps 44:20), waters (2Ki 19:24 = water in foreign lands), children ("illegitimate" - NAS, "alien" - ESV)Zur frequently refers to a layman (anyone not a priest. Lxx == allogenes = another race, alien, foreign, stranger) could not eat the meat apportioned to the priests (Ex 29:33, KJV = "stranger", cp Ex 30:33 , Lev 22:10, 12, 13, Nu 1:51, 3:10, 3:38, 16:40 all translated by Lxx with allogenes). NAS translates zur as outsider (Lxx = allogenes) in Nu 18:4,7.

Here in Proverbs 6:1 stranger "probably refers to a neighbor who was not well-known. Alternatively, it could describe a person who is living outside the norms of convention, a moral misfit in the community. In any case, this “stranger” is a high risk in any financial arrangement." (NET NOTE). 

Related Resources:

Proverbs 6:2  If you have been snared with the words of your mouth, Have been caught with the words of your mouth,

BGT  Proverbs 6:2 παγὶς γὰρ ἰσχυρὰ ἀνδρὶ τὰ ἴδια χείλη καὶ ἁλίσκεται χείλεσιν ἰδίου στόματος

NET  Proverbs 6:2 if you have been ensnared by the words you have uttered, and have been caught by the words you have spoken,

NLT  Proverbs 6:2 if you have trapped yourself by your agreement and are caught by what you said--

ESV  Proverbs 6:2 if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth,

NIV  Proverbs 6:2 if you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth,

KJV  Proverbs 6:2 Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.

LXE  Proverbs 6:2 For a man's own lips become a strong snare to him, and he is caught with the lips of his own mouth.

ASV  Proverbs 6:2 Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, Thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.

CSB  Proverbs 6:2 you have been trapped by the words of your lips-- ensnared by the words of your mouth.

NKJ  Proverbs 6:2 You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth.

NRS  Proverbs 6:2 you are snared by the utterance of your lips, caught by the words of your mouth.

YLT  Proverbs 6:2 Hast been snared with sayings of thy mouth, Hast been captured with sayings of thy mouth,

  • Pr 12:13 18:7 

What's the key word/phrase in this passage? Words of your mouth. It reminds me of that saying "put your foot in your mouth" which means to say something foolish. Here foolish "saying" leads inevitably to a fool's entrapment. 

Solomon warns against guaranteeing the debts of others, whether they were a friend or a stranger. This was the promise to pay the debts of the friend or stranger if they failed to pay.

Kidner - This wasn’t really like loaning someone money, nor exactly like cosigning a loan. In modern financial terms, it was more like guaranteeing someone’s open line of credit. “The New Testament shows us Paul accepting Onesimus’s past liabilities, but not his future ones (Philemon 18, 19).... “Job 17:3 uses this circle of ideas to declare that Job is too bad a risk for anybody but God—and to plead that God will take him up (cf. Ps. 119:122). So a bridge is made in the Old Testament between the idea of material insolvency and spiritual.

The snare is your promise to pay someone's debt. You words will in effect "trap" your wallet! You have just placed yourself in a trap according to the wisdom of Solomon. Again, this is not the same as loaning money. It is not saying don't show compassion to the poor and needy. 

Charles Bridges points out that "Our God, while he warns us against putting up security, has taken it on himself. May his name be praised for this! He has given us his Word, his bond, yes, his blood as security for sinners, which no power of hell can shake." 

If you have been snared with the words of your mouth - Have been snared is in In the Niphal meaning “to be caught by bait; to be ensnared” in this context referring to business entanglement. The Hebrew for snared translated in the Lxx with the word pagis which describes anything that catches and holds fast, such as a snare, a trap, a noose, and like the OT uses is used metaphorically in the NT of a false sense of security that leads to a sudden and unexpected judgment (Ro 11:9) or as a deceitful method or trick of the devil for gaining control (1Ti 3.7) or generally of any allurement to wrongdoing, anything that entices, attempts or attracts us (1Ti 6:9 is a prime example!)

Snare (verb) (03369)(yaqosh) refers to setting a trap for the purpose of catching prey - to lay a bait; to lure; to lay snares. It is often used used in a metaphorical sense of the entrapment of people, of catching one in an undesirable situation. (Isa 28:13; Jer 50:24) A snare allures one from the safe path and results in his destruction. Saul tried to ruin David with his daughter Michal (1Sa 18:21). Moses was considered a snare to Egypt (Ex 10:7). Gold ensnares, as does the "god" (idol) covered by the gold! This warning principle applies to all of us! (Dt 7:25).As the trapper snares the unwary animal, so souls can be ensnared by sin (Ps 124:7-note, Ps 141:9-note = a great prayer for all God's saints to pray frequently!) Pride makes one susceptible to snares (Jer 50:24, cf Jer 50:31, 32)

Have been caught with the words of your mouth - Waltke explains the problem that "Becoming surety is folly because the surety makes promises for the future that he cannot control (cf. Proverbs 27:1). Moreover, he has handed himself over to the debtor, who may unmercifully throw him into the hands of the creditor.”

Guzik - “Although we have no information on Israelite laws of surety, seizure of assets and home and even the selling of the debtor into slavery were common penalties for failure to make payment, and the cosigner could well have met the same fate.” (Garrett)

Proverbs 6:3  Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself; Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor, Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.

BGT  Proverbs 6:3 ποίει υἱέ ἃ ἐγώ σοι ἐντέλλομαι καὶ σῴζου ἥκεις γὰρ εἰς χεῖρας κακῶν διὰ σὸν φίλον ἴθι μὴ ἐκλυόμενος παρόξυνε δὲ καὶ τὸν φίλον σου ὃν ἐνεγυήσω

NET  Proverbs 6:3 then, my child, do this in order to deliver yourself, because you have fallen into your neighbor's power: go, humble yourself, and appeal firmly to your neighbor.

NLT  Proverbs 6:3 follow my advice and save yourself, for you have placed yourself at your friend's mercy. Now swallow your pride; go and beg to have your name erased.

ESV  Proverbs 6:3 then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into the hand of your neighbor: go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor.

NIV  Proverbs 6:3 then do this, my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor's hands: Go and humble yourself; press your plea with your neighbor!

KJV  Proverbs 6:3 Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend.

LXE  Proverbs 6:3 My son, do what I command thee, and deliver thyself; for on thy friend's account thou art come into the power of evil men: faint not, but stir up even thy friend for whom thou art become surety.

ASV  Proverbs 6:3 Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, Seeing thou art come into the hand of thy neighbor: Go, humble thyself, and importune thy neighbor;

CSB  Proverbs 6:3 Do this, then, my son, and free yourself, for you have put yourself in your neighbor's power: Go, humble yourself, and plead with your neighbor.

NKJ  Proverbs 6:3 So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; For you have come into the hand of your friend: Go and humble yourself; Plead with your friend.

NRS  Proverbs 6:3 So do this, my child, and save yourself, for you have come into your neighbor's power: go, hurry, and plead with your neighbor.

YLT  Proverbs 6:3 Do this now, my son, and be delivered, For thou hast come into the hand of thy friend. Go, trample on thyself, and strengthen thy friend,

  • when: 2Sa 24:14 2Ch 12:5 Ps 31:8 
  • go: Ex 10:3 2Ch 36:12 Jas 4:10 

Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself NET NOTE deliver - The verb means “to deliver oneself, be delivered” in the Niphal. The image is one of being snatched or plucked quickly out of some danger or trouble, in the sense of a rescue, as in a “brand snatched [Hophal stem] from the fire” (Zech 3:2).

Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor -  The idiom using the “hand” means that the individual has come under the control or the power of someone else. This particular word for hand is used to play ironically on its first occurrence in Pr 6:1. (NET NOTE)

Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor - NLT = "Now swallow your pride; go and beg to have your name erased."

Matthew Poole on humble yourself -  “Hebrew offer thyself to be trodden upon, or throw thyself down at his feet. As thou hast made thyself his servant, bear the fruits of thine own folly, and humbly and earnestly implore his patience and clemency.” (Poole)

NET NOTE on humble yourself - In the Hitpael the verb רָפַס (rafas) means “to stamp oneself down” or “to humble oneself” (cf. KJV, NASB, NIV). BDB 952 s.v. Hithp suggests “become a suppliant.” G. R. Driver related it to the Akkadian cognate rapasu, “trample,” and interpreted as trampling oneself, swallowing pride, being unremitting in effort 

NET NOTE on importune - Heb “be bold.” The verb רָהַב (rahav) means “to act stormily; to act boisterously; to act arrogantly.” The idea here is a strong one: storm against (beset, importune) your neighbor. The meaning is that he should be bold and not take no for an answer. Cf. NIV “press your plea”; TEV “beg him to release you.”

Believer's Study Bible - vv. 3-5) The creditor now has his neighbor in hand as a cosigner, holding surety which may include a man's house and goods, thus making all he has dependent upon the will of his creditor-neighbor (vv. 1, 2). The solution is to "humble" oneself, i.e., to "plead" to gain the desired end. Furthermore, one is not to rest or sleep (v. 4) until he has been released, even as a "gazelle" or "bird" that is entrapped does not rest until it sets itself free (v. 5).

Proverbs 6:4  Give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids;

BGT  Proverbs 6:4 μὴ δῷς ὕπνον σοῖς ὄμμασιν μηδὲ ἐπινυστάξῃς σοῖς βλεφάροις

NET  Proverbs 6:4 Permit no sleep to your eyes or slumber to your eyelids.

NLT  Proverbs 6:4 Don't put it off; do it now! Don't rest until you do.

ESV  Proverbs 6:4 Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber;

NIV  Proverbs 6:4 Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids.

KJV  Proverbs 6:4 Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.

LXE  Proverbs 6:4 Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber with thine eyelids;

ASV  Proverbs 6:4 Give not sleep to thine eyes, Nor slumber to thine eyelids;

CSB  Proverbs 6:4 Don't give sleep to your eyes or slumber to your eyelids.

NKJ  Proverbs 6:4 Give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids.

NRS  Proverbs 6:4 Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber;

YLT  Proverbs 6:4 Give not sleep to thine eyes, And slumber to thine eyelids,

  • Pr 6:10,11 Ps 132:4 Ec 9:10 Mt 24:17,18 Mk 13:35,36 

Give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids - The point is do this immediately, posthaste. Don't put it off. Don't procrastinate or try to rationalize. 

Proverbs 6:5  Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter's hand And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

 BGT  Proverbs 6:5 ἵνα σῴζῃ ὥσπερ δορκὰς ἐκ βρόχων καὶ ὥσπερ ὄρνεον ἐκ παγίδος

NET  Proverbs 6:5 Deliver yourself like a gazelle from a snare, and like a bird from the trap of the fowler.

NLT  Proverbs 6:5 Save yourself like a gazelle escaping from a hunter, like a bird fleeing from a net.

ESV  Proverbs 6:5 save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

NIV  Proverbs 6:5 Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

KJV  Proverbs 6:5 Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.

LXE  Proverbs 6:5 that thou mayest deliver thyself as a doe out of the toils, and as a bird out of a snare.

ASV  Proverbs 6:5 Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, And as a bird from the hand of the fowler.

CSB  Proverbs 6:5 Escape like a gazelle from a hunter, like a bird from a fowler's trap.

NKJ  Proverbs 6:5 Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

NRS  Proverbs 6:5 save yourself like a gazelle from the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

YLT  Proverbs 6:5 Be delivered as a roe from the hand, And as a bird from the hand of a fowler.

  • bird: Pr 1:17 Ps 11:1 124:7 

Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter's hand - Hand generally speaks of power in this context and the thought is that of a gazelle freeing itself from a snare or a trap that a hunter set. What is the picture? Both the gazelle and the bird would do anything they could to escape the trap (and they are dumb animals, or maybe not so dumb!)

And like a bird from the hand of the fowler - The idea of this metaphorical statement is the same as the description of a gazelle. 

Proverbs 6:6  Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise,

BGT  Proverbs 6:6 ἴθι πρὸς τὸν μύρμηκα ὦ ὀκνηρέ καὶ ζήλωσον ἰδὼν τὰς ὁδοὺς αὐτοῦ καὶ γενοῦ ἐκείνου σοφώτερος

NET  Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; observe its ways and be wise!

NLT  Proverbs 6:6 Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!

ESV  Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.

NIV  Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!

KJV  Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

LXE  Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, O sluggard; and see, and emulate his ways, and become wiser than he.

ASV  Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; Consider her ways, and be wise:

CSB  Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, you slacker! Observe its ways and become wise.

NKJ  Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise,

NRS  Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, you lazybones; consider its ways, and be wise.

YLT  Proverbs 6:6 Go unto the ant, O slothful one, See her ways and be wise;

  • the ant: The ant has been famous in all ages for its social habits, foresight, economy and industry.  Collecting their food at the proper seasons, they bite off the ends of the grain to prevent it from germinating, and lay it up in cells till needed. Pr 1:17 Job 12:7,8 Isa 1:3 Mt 6:26 
  • thou: Pr 6:9 10:26 13:4 15:19 18:9 19:15,24 20:4 21:25 22:13 24:30-34 Pr 26:13-16 Mt 25:26 Ro 12:11 Heb 6:12 


As Adam Clarke says "No insect is more laborious, not even the bee itself; and none is more fondly attached to or more careful of its young, than the ant."

Go to the ant, O sluggard - NLT = Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones"

Sluggard in Proverbs - Prov. 6:6; Prov. 6:9; Prov. 13:4; Prov. 19:24; Prov. 20:4; Prov. 21:25; Prov. 22:13; Prov. 24:30; Prov. 26:13; Prov. 26:14; Prov. 26:15; Prov. 26:16

As Guzik points out "The book of Proverbs speaks a lot about the value of hard work, and for good reason. The difference between success and failure, between potential disappointed or fulfilled, is often hard work." 

Henry Morris on the ant -.  Whatever may have been God's overall purpose in creating different animals, many of them--perhaps all, if we can learn enough about them--can be used to illustrate important spiritual truths, as in the industrious example of the ant (Job 12:7-10).

Trapp - Christ sends us to school to the birds of the air, and lilies of the field, to learn dependence upon divine providence, [Matthew 6:25–29] and to the stork, crane, and swallow, to be taught to take the seasons of grace, and not to let slip the opportunities that God putteth into our hands. [Jeremiah 8:7].” 

Observe her ways and be wise - This is humbling - watch a tiny ant to learn wisdom! 

Proverbs 6:7  Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler,

BGT  Proverbs 6:7 ἐκείνῳ γὰρ γεωργίου μὴ ὑπάρχοντος μηδὲ τὸν ἀναγκάζοντα ἔχων μηδὲ ὑπὸ δεσπότην ὢν

NET  Proverbs 6:7 It has no commander, overseer, or ruler,

NLT  Proverbs 6:7 Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work,

ESV  Proverbs 6:7 Without having any chief, officer, or ruler,

NIV  Proverbs 6:7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler,

KJV  Proverbs 6:7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,

LXE  Proverbs 6:7 For whereas he has no husbandry, nor any one to compel him, and is under no master,

ASV  Proverbs 6:7 Which having no chief, Overseer, or ruler,

CSB  Proverbs 6:7 Without leader, administrator, or ruler,

NKJ  Proverbs 6:7 Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler,

NRS  Proverbs 6:7 Without having any chief or officer or ruler,

YLT  Proverbs 6:7 Which hath not captain, overseer, and ruler,

  • Job 38:39-41 39:1-12,26-30 41:4-34 

Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler - What is the point? The ant does not need someone watching over them to make sure they work hard because they always work hard! How about you (me)? Do we slough off slightly when the boss is not looking. The old saying is the "when the cat's away, the mice will play." Do you play or work when the "big cat" is away? Remember as believers we have One Who is ever watching and prompts Paul to write "Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve." (Col 3:22-24+)

Proverbs 6:8  Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest.

NET  Proverbs 6:8 yet it prepares its food in the summer; it gathers at the harvest what it will eat.

NLT  Proverbs 6:8 they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.

ESV  Proverbs 6:8 she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.

NIV  Proverbs 6:8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.

KJV  Proverbs 6:8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

LXE  Proverbs 6:8 he prepares food for himself in the summer, and lays by abundant store in harvest. Or go to the bee, and learn how diligent she is, and how earnestly she is engaged in her work; whose labours kings and private men use for health, and she is desired and respected by all: though weak in body, she is advanced by honouring wisdom.

ASV  Proverbs 6:8 Provideth her bread in the summer, And gathereth her food in the harvest.

CSB  Proverbs 6:8 it prepares its provisions in summer; it gathers its food during harvest.

NKJ  Proverbs 6:8 Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest.

NRS  Proverbs 6:8 it prepares its food in summer, and gathers its sustenance in harvest.

YLT  Proverbs 6:8 She doth prepare in summer her bread, She hath gathered in harvest her food.

  • Pr 30:25 1Ti 6:19 

Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest - "What a deal of grain gets she together in summer! What pains doth she take for it, labouring not by daylight only, but by moonshine also! What huge heaps hath she! What care to bring forth her store, and lay it drying on a sunshine day, lest with moisture it should putrefy." (Trapp)

NET NOTE - The LXX adds a lengthy section at the end of the verse on the lesson from the bee: “Or, go to the bee and learn how diligent she is and how seriously she does her work—her products kings and private persons use for health—she is desired and respected by all—though feeble in body, by honoring wisdom she obtains distinction.” The Greek translator thought the other insect should be mentioned (see C. H. Toy, Proverbs [ICC], 124).

Proverbs 6:9  How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?

BGT  Proverbs 6:9 ἕως τίνος ὀκνηρέ κατάκεισαι πότε δὲ ἐξ ὕπνου ἐγερθήσῃ

NET  Proverbs 6:9 How long, you sluggard, will you lie there? When will you rise from your sleep?

NLT  Proverbs 6:9 But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up?

ESV  Proverbs 6:9 How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?

NIV  Proverbs 6:9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?

KJV  Proverbs 6:9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?

LXE  Proverbs 6:9 How long wilt thou lie, O sluggard? and when wilt thou awake out of sleep?

ASV  Proverbs 6:9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?

CSB  Proverbs 6:9 How long will you stay in bed, you slacker? When will you get up from your sleep?

NKJ  Proverbs 6:9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep?

NRS  Proverbs 6:9 How long will you lie there, O lazybones? When will you rise from your sleep?

YLT  Proverbs 6:9 Till when, O slothful one, dost thou lie? When dost thou arise from thy sleep?

  • How: Pr 1:22 24:33,34 Jer 4:14 
  • when: Ps 94:8 Joh 1:6 Ro 13:11 Eph 5:14 1Th 5:2-7 


How long will you lie down, O sluggard? “The sluggard is the explicit audience, but the implicit audiences are the son and the gullible who are addressed in the book (see Proverbs 1:4–5). They are being warned against laziness through the sluggard’s chastisement (see Proverbs 19:25) (Waltke)

When will you arise from your sleep? - "Solomon asked the lazy man to give account for his ways. The thought is, “You want to sleep—how long? There is life to be lived and work to be done.” Obviously, every person needs sleep. Solomon’s advice is not that we should never sleep, but that we should not excessively sleep." (Guzik) 

Waltke - “Sleep is the defining characteristic of the sluggard (cf. Proverbs 20:13); for him the love of sleep is pure escapism—a refusal to face the world (Proverbs 26:14). In contrast to the sweet sleep of the laboring person (Proverbs 4:23; Eccl. 5:12), the sluggard’s narcotic sleep ever craves still more sleep to escape the pain of living (Proverbs 19:15).

NET NOTE - The use of the two rhetorical questions is designed to rebuke the lazy person in a forceful manner. The sluggard is spending too much time sleeping.


  • How long will you live? 2Sa 19:34 
  • How long will you falter between two opinions? 1Ki 18:21 
  • How long will you reject God? Nu 14:11 
  • How long will you not believe? Nu 14:11 
  • How long will you sleep? Pr 6:9 
  • How long will you refuse to humble yourself? Ex 10:3 

Related Resources:

Proverbs 6:10  "A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest"--

BGT  Proverbs 6:10 ὀλίγον μὲν ὑπνοῖς ὀλίγον δὲ κάθησαι μικρὸν δὲ νυστάζεις ὀλίγον δὲ ἐναγκαλίζῃ χερσὶν στήθη

NET  Proverbs 6:10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to relax,

NLT  Proverbs 6:10 A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest--

ESV  Proverbs 6:10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,

NIV  Proverbs 6:10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest--

KJV  Proverbs 6:10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

LXE  Proverbs 6:10 Thou sleepest a little, and thou restest a little, and thou slumberest a short time, and thou foldest thine arms over thy breast a little.

ASV  Proverbs 6:10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep:

CSB  Proverbs 6:10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to rest,

NKJ  Proverbs 6:10 A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep--

NRS  Proverbs 6:10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,

YLT  Proverbs 6:10 A little sleep, a little slumber, A little clasping of the hands to rest,

  • Pr 6:6 23:33,34 24:33,34 

A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest

NET NOTE - The writer might in this verse be imitating the words of the sluggard who just wants to take “a little nap.” The use is ironic, for by indulging in this little rest the lazy one comes to ruin.

Proverbs 6:11  Your poverty will come in like a vagabond And your need like an armed man.

BGT  Proverbs 6:11 εἶτ᾽ ἐμπαραγίνεταί σοι ὥσπερ κακὸς ὁδοιπόρος ἡ πενία καὶ ἡ ἔνδεια ὥσπερ ἀγαθὸς δρομεύς [1] ἐὰν δὲ ἄοκνος ᾖς ἥξει ὥσπερ πηγὴ ὁ ἀμητός σου ἡ δὲ ἔνδεια ὥσπερ κακὸς δρομεὺς ἀπαυτομολήσει

NET  Proverbs 6:11 and your poverty will come like a robber, and your need like an armed man.

NLT  Proverbs 6:11 then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.

ESV  Proverbs 6:11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

NIV  Proverbs 6:11 and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.

KJV  Proverbs 6:11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.

LXE  Proverbs 6:11 Then poverty comes upon thee as an evil traveller, and want as a swift courier: but if thou be diligent, thine harvest shall arrive as a fountain, and poverty shall flee away as a bad courier.

ASV  Proverbs 6:11 So shall thy poverty come as a robber, And thy want as an armed man.

CSB  Proverbs 6:11 and your poverty will come like a robber, your need, like a bandit.

NKJ  Proverbs 6:11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.

NRS  Proverbs 6:11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want, like an armed warrior.

YLT  Proverbs 6:11 And thy poverty hath come as a traveller, And thy want as an armed man.

  • Pr 10:4 13:4 20:4 

Your poverty will come in like a vagabond - NLT = " then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit" NET - "like a robber." A vagabond is a traveler who is moving swiftly and is likely a robber or bandit. That's the picture of the swiftness of poverty. 

Guzik - The lazy man will find that poverty and need come upon him quickly. The sluggard loves to procrastinate and think things can always be done later. The hard worker can look forward to later; for the lazy man it will come like a prowler. When it comes, it will be your poverty—not one imposed by circumstances or misfortune, but through laziness.

Waltke - “At least 14 proverbs relate idleness, either explicitly or implicitly, to poverty, the bitter end of the sluggard (cf. Pr 20:13; 24:33–34). It is not riches the lazy person lacks; it is food, the necessity of life (cf. Pr 19:15; 20:13; 23:21).”

And your need like an armed man - "That is, with irresistible fury; and thou art not prepared to oppose it.” (Adam Clarke)

Proverbs 6:12  A worthless person, a wicked man, Is the one who walks with a perverse mouth,

BGT  Proverbs 6:12 ἀνὴρ ἄφρων καὶ παράνομος πορεύεται ὁδοὺς οὐκ ἀγαθάς

NET  Proverbs 6:12 A worthless and wicked person walks around saying perverse things;

NLT  Proverbs 6:12 What are worthless and wicked people like? They are constant liars,

ESV  Proverbs 6:12 A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech,

NIV  Proverbs 6:12 A scoundrel and villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth,

KJV  Proverbs 6:12 A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.

LXE  Proverbs 6:12 A foolish man and a transgressor goes in ways that are not good.

ASV  Proverbs 6:12 A worthless person, a man of iniquity, Is he that walketh with a perverse mouth;

CSB  Proverbs 6:12 A worthless person, a wicked man goes around speaking dishonestly,

NKJ  Proverbs 6:12 A worthless person, a wicked man, Walks with a perverse mouth;

NRS  Proverbs 6:12 A scoundrel and a villain goes around with crooked speech,

YLT  Proverbs 6:12 A man of worthlessness, a man of iniquity, Walking with perverseness of mouth,

  • naughty: Pr 11:6 17:4 1Sa 17:28 Jer 24:2,8-10 Jas 1:21 
  • walketh: Pr 6:14 2:12 4:24 8:13 Ps 10:3,7 36:3 52:2-4 59:7 73:8,9 Mt 12:34 Ac 20:30 1Ti 5:13 Tit 1:10,11 Jas 3:6 


A worthless person, a wicked man, Is the one who walks with a perverse mouth - Walks is a metaphor for his life, his behavior, his everyday practices. The point is that he habitually is a man of crooked, corrupt speech so you can't trust him. When he speaks, his speech is not straightforward, or trustworthy. "Heb “crooked” or “twisted.” This term can refer to something that is physically twisted or crooked, or something morally perverse. Cf. NAB “crooked talk”; NRSV “crooked speech.”  walks around with a perverse mouth.” The term “mouth” is a metonymy of cause, an organ of speech put for what is said. This is an individual who says perverted or twisted things.(NET NOTE)

Worthless (1100) (beliya'al some think derives from beli = negative + ya'al: = worth thus "without worth, or profit") Worthlessness, good for nothing, unprofitalbe, destruction, ruin, base, ungodliness, evil, naughty, ungodly, wicked. 1st Use: BELIAL represents men who lead others into idolatry: "some worthless men have gone out from among you and have seduced the inhabitants of their city, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods' (whom you have not known)," (Dt 13:13). See Dt. 15:9 "Beware, lest there is a base thought in your heart, saying...Ps 101:3  I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me. Cp with Nagib H5057 --> ''Ruler'' In NT beliya'al only in 2 Co 6:15 for Satan (worthless). The expression "son" or "man of Belial" means simply a worthless, lawless person (Jdg 19:22; Jdg 20:13; 1Sa 1:16; 1Sa 2:12).LXX renders : paranomos: transgression anomia, and aphron, i.e. "lawless, lawlessness, witless."  Usually it occurs in such expressions as "son(s) of Belial" (Deut 13:14; Jud 19:22; 1 Sam 2:12; 2Chr 13:7), a "daughter of Belial" (1Sam 1:16), "man or men of' (1 Sam 25:25; 2 Sam 16:7; 1 Kings 21:13; Prov 16:27), or a "worthless witness" (Prov 19:28). It appears alone in 2 Sam 23:6 and Job 34:18.  In Prov 6:12, the "worthless man" is equated with the "wicked man," 'ish 'awen. He is a plotter of evil (Prov 16:27) as well as a "counsellor of villainy" (Nah 1:11) and a mocker of justice (Prov 19:28). 

NET NOTE - Whatever the etymology, usage shows that the word describes people who violate the law (Deut 15:9; Judg 19:22; 1 Kgs 21:10, 13; Prov 16:27; et al.) or act in a contemptuous and foolish manner against cultic observance or social institutions (1 Sam 10:27; 25:17; 30:22); cf. NRSV “a scoundrel and a villain” (NAB and NIV similar). The present instruction will focus on the devious practice of such wicked and worthless folk.

  • Deu 13:13  15:9 worthless men...base thought in your heart,
  • Judg 19:22  20:13 certain worthless fellows...worthless fellows
  • 1 Sa 1:16  2:12 10:27 25:17 25:25 30:22 
  • 2 Sa 16:7 20:1 22:5 23:6 
  • 1 Ki 21:10 21:13 two worthless men (2x)
  • 2 Chr 13:7 worthless men gathered about him,
  • Job 34:18 Who says to a king, 'Worthless one,'
  • Ps 18:4 torrents of ungodliness
  • Ps 41:8 A wicked thing is poured out upon him,
  • Ps 101:3 
  • Pr 6:12 16:27 19:28 worthless...worthless...rascally
  • Na 1:11 1:15 A wicked counselor...the wicked one

Proverbs 6:13  Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet, Who points with his fingers;

BGT  Proverbs 6:13 ὁ δ᾽ αὐτὸς ἐννεύει ὀφθαλμῷ σημαίνει δὲ ποδί διδάσκει δὲ ἐννεύμασιν δακτύλων

NET  Proverbs 6:13 he winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, and points with his fingers;

NLT  Proverbs 6:13 signaling their deceit with a wink of the eye, a nudge of the foot, or the wiggle of fingers.

ESV  Proverbs 6:13 winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger,

NIV  Proverbs 6:13 who winks with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers,

KJV  Proverbs 6:13 He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers;

LXE  Proverbs 6:13 And the same winks with the eye, and makes a sign with his foot, and teaches with the beckonings of his fingers.

ASV  Proverbs 6:13 That winketh with his eyes, that speaketh with his feet, That maketh signs with his fingers;

CSB  Proverbs 6:13 winking his eyes, signaling with his feet, and gesturing with his fingers.

NKJ  Proverbs 6:13 He winks with his eyes, He shuffles his feet, He points with his fingers;

NRS  Proverbs 6:13 winking the eyes, shuffling the feet, pointing the fingers,

YLT  Proverbs 6:13 Winking with his eyes, speaking with his feet, Directing with his fingers,

  • Pr 5:6 10:10 Job 15:12 Ps 35:19 

Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet, Who points with his fingers - These depictions simply emphasize his crooked, corrupt character. I have always been suspicions of men who frequently wink at you to "punctuate" what they say or do. "The sinister sign language and gestures of the perverse individual seem to indicate any kind of look or gesture that is put on and therefore a form of deception if not a way of making insinuations." (NET NOTE)

Proverbs 6:14  Who with perversity in his heart continually devises evil, Who spreads strife.

BGT  Proverbs 6:14 διεστραμμένῃ δὲ καρδίᾳ τεκταίνεται κακὰ ἐν παντὶ καιρῷ ὁ τοιοῦτος ταραχὰς συνίστησιν πόλει

NET  Proverbs 6:14 he plots evil with perverse thoughts in his heart, he spreads contention at all times.

NLT  Proverbs 6:14 Their perverted hearts plot evil, and they constantly stir up trouble.

ESV  Proverbs 6:14 with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord;

NIV  Proverbs 6:14 who plots evil with deceit in his heart-- he always stirs up dissension.

KJV  Proverbs 6:14 Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord.

LXE  Proverbs 6:14 His perverse heart devises evils: at all times such a one causes troubles to a city.

ASV  Proverbs 6:14 In whose heart is perverseness, Who deviseth evil continually, Who soweth discord.

CSB  Proverbs 6:14 He always plots evil with perversity in his heart-- he stirs up trouble.

NKJ  Proverbs 6:14 Perversity is in his heart, He devises evil continually, He sows discord.

NRS  Proverbs 6:14 with perverted mind devising evil, continually sowing discord;

YLT  Proverbs 6:14 Frowardness is in his heart, devising evil at all times, Contentions he sendeth forth.

  • perversity: Pr 2:14 16:28-30 21:8 
  • he devises: Pr 6:18 Ps 36:4 Isa 32:7 57:20 Eze 11:2 Mic 2:1 
  • spreads: , Pr 6:19 16:28 22:8 26:17-22 Ho 8:7 Ro 16:17 Ga 6:7,8 

Who with perversity in his heart continually devises evil - The source of his evil is his perverse heart. 

Perversity (08419)(tahpukah from hapak = to turn, overturn) is a feminine noun which means to turn away from what is normal and right. The first OT use describes the perverse generation of Israelites who deviated and distorted the Lord’s ways, turning from Him (Dt 32:20), for their true life is found in Him. Tahpukah describes deceptive and corrupt speech, things that are distorted (Pr. 2:12). "Perversity of evil" signifies that evil itself features perversity, a distortion of what is straight and right (Pr. 2:14). Perversity issues from one's heart (Pr 6:14). Notice that many of the OT uses refer in some way to one's speech (Pr 2:12, 8:13, 10:31, 32, 23:33) and Pr 6:14 links perversion with the heart which makes sense since as Jesus taught out of the mouth comes that which fills the heart (Mt 12:34, Lk 6:45). God hates a perverted mouth which of course speaks of perverted speech (Pr. 8:13).

Who spreads strife - "sows discord." "constantly stir up trouble" Spreads is literally "casts forth" almost like he casts seeds of strife and dissension and we all know the rotten fruit that comes from these "seeds!" 

Spreads (07971)(shalach) means to send, to send forth, to send away, to let go, to put, to expel (cf Ge 3:23). The first use in Ge 3:22 describes Adam as he stretched out his hand to take of the forbidden fruit. The second use in Ge 3:23 describes God's punishment - "God sent him out (shalach) from the Garden." In Ge 8:7 Noah "sent out a raven" then "a dove" (Ge 8:8, 10, 12)

Proverbs 6:15  Therefore his calamity will come suddenly; Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing.

BGT  Proverbs 6:15 διὰ τοῦτο ἐξαπίνης ἔρχεται ἡ ἀπώλεια αὐτοῦ διακοπὴ καὶ συντριβὴ ἀνίατος

NET  Proverbs 6:15 Therefore, his disaster will come suddenly; in an instant he will be broken, and there will be no remedy.

NLT  Proverbs 6:15 But they will be destroyed suddenly, broken in an instant beyond all hope of healing.

ESV  Proverbs 6:15 therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.

NIV  Proverbs 6:15 Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant; he will suddenly be destroyed--without remedy.

KJV  Proverbs 6:15 Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.

LXE  Proverbs 6:15 Therefore his destruction shall come suddenly; overthrow and irretrievable ruin.

ASV  Proverbs 6:15 Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; On a sudden shall he be broken, and that without remedy.

CSB  Proverbs 6:15 Therefore calamity will strike him suddenly; he will be shattered instantly-- beyond recovery.

NKJ  Proverbs 6:15 Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly; Suddenly he shall be broken without remedy.

NRS  Proverbs 6:15 on such a one calamity will descend suddenly; in a moment, damage beyond repair.

YLT  Proverbs 6:15 Therefore suddenly cometh his calamity, Instantly he is broken -- and no healing.

  • shall his: Pr 1:27 29:1 Ps 73:18-20 Isa 30:13 1Th 5:3 
  • he be: 2Ch 36:16 Ps 50:22 Jer 19:11 

Therefore his calamity will come suddenly; Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing - Look at the end of the worthless, wicked man - the WHAT? (What happens to him?) = calamity, broken, no healing. The HOW? (or WHEN? how or when it comes) = suddenly, instantly! The implication is there is no warning. The trap door opens and he finds himself in the noose of his own making! 

Proverbs 6:16  There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:

BGT  Proverbs 6:16 ὅτι χαίρει πᾶσιν οἷς μισεῖ ὁ κύριος συντρίβεται δὲ δι᾽ ἀκαθαρσίαν ψυχῆς

NET  Proverbs 6:16 There are six things that the LORD hates, even seven things that are an abomination to him:

NLT  Proverbs 6:16 There are six things the LORD hates-- no, seven things he detests:

ESV  Proverbs 6:16 There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him:

NIV  Proverbs 6:16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him:

KJV  Proverbs 6:16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

LXE  Proverbs 6:16 For he rejoices in all things which God hates, and he is ruined by reason of impurity of soul.

ASV  Proverbs 6:16 There are six things which Jehovah hateth; Yea, seven which are an abomination unto him:

CSB  Proverbs 6:16 The LORD hates six things; in fact, seven are detestable to Him:

NKJ  Proverbs 6:16 These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

NRS  Proverbs 6:16 There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him:

YLT  Proverbs 6:16 These six hath Jehovah hated, Yea, seven are abominations to His soul.

  • six: Pr 8:13 30:18,21,24,29 Am 1:3,6,9,11 2:1,4,6 
  • an: Pr 3:32 11:1,20 15:8,9 17:15 20:10,23 De 18:10-12 23:18 24:4 De 25:16 Rev 21:27 
  • unto him: Heb. of his soul, Ps 11:5 

There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: "This saying involves a numerical ladder, paralleling six things with seven things (e.g., also Pr 30:15, 18, 21, 24, 29). The point of such a numerical arrangement is that the number does not exhaust the list." (NET NOTE)

Morgan - “The ‘six’ and ‘seven’ of the opening statement have their explanation in the description. The six are first stated, and the seventh is that which results, namely, ‘he that soweth discord among brethren.’ ”

Waltke - “The hissing sibilant sound resounds throughout the catalogue, especially in this verse: ses (six), sane (‘hates’), seba (‘seven’), and napso (‘him’).”

Morris - seven are an abomination.  It is noteworthy that these seven sins hated by God (Proverbs 6:16-19) are, with the one exception of murder, all sins of the mind or tongue.

Guzik on the "big seven" -  Most of these sins are connected to something we do in or through our body. The eyes have a proud look, the tongue lies, and so on. We are again reminded of what Paul wrote in Romans about presenting the parts of our body (our members) to God for the work of righteousness, not sin (Romans 6:13). This collection of seven sins is also focused on how we treat others. We must honor God and worship Him in spirit and in truth; yet God also is concerned about how we treat others. Each of these are serious sins against others.

Believer's Study Bible - (vv. 16-19) These evil qualities are an abomination to Yahweh: (1) the sin of attitude shown by "a proud look," (2) the sin of thought suggested by "a heart that devises wicked plans," (3) the sins of speech illustrated in "a lying tongue" and "a false witness," (4) the sins of action found in "hands that shed innocent blood" and "feet that are swift in running to evil," and (5) the sins of influence revealed in sowing "discord among brethren."

Proverbs 6:17  Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood,

BGT  Proverbs 6:17 ὀφθαλμὸς ὑβριστοῦ γλῶσσα ἄδικος χεῖρες ἐκχέουσαι αἷμα δικαίου

NET  Proverbs 6:17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

NLT  Proverbs 6:17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent,

ESV  Proverbs 6:17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

NIV  Proverbs 6:17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,

KJV  Proverbs 6:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

LXE  Proverbs 6:17 The eye of the haughty, a tongue unjust, hands shedding the blood of the just;

ASV  Proverbs 6:17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood;

CSB  Proverbs 6:17 arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,

NKJ  Proverbs 6:17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood,

NRS  Proverbs 6:17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

YLT  Proverbs 6:17 Eyes high -- tongues false -- And hands shedding innocent blood --

  • Haughty eyes, Pr 30:13 Ps 10:4 18:27 73:6-8 101:5 131:1 Isa 2:11 3:9,16 1Pe 5:5 
  • lying: Pr 12:22 14:5 26:28 Ps 5:6 120:2,3 Ho 4:1,2  Joh 8:44 Rev 22:15 
  • and hands: Pr 1:11 De 27:25 2Ki 24:4 Isa 1:15 59:3-6 

Haughty eyes - "The expression “high/ lofty [רָמוֹת, ramot] eyes” refers to a proud look suggesting arrogant ambition (cf. NCV “a proud look”). The use of “eyes” is a metonymy of adjunct, the look in the eyes accompanying the attitude. This term “high” is used in Num 15:30 for the sin of the “high hand,” i.e., willful rebellion or defiant sin. The usage of “haughty eyes” may be illustrated by its use with the pompous Assyrian invader (Isa 10:12–14) and the proud king of the book of Daniel (11:12). God does not tolerate anyone who thinks so highly of himself and who has such ambition." (NET NOTE)

a lying tongue - "Heb “a tongue of deception.” The genitive noun functions attributively. The term “tongue” functions as a metonymy. The term is used of false prophets who deceive (Jer 14:14), and of a deceiver who betrays (Ps 109:2). The LORD hates deceptive speech because it is destructive (Pr 26:28)." (NET NOTE)

And hands that shed innocent blood - "The hands are the instruments of murder (metonymy of cause), and God hates bloodshed. Gen 9:6 prohibited shedding blood because people are the image of God. Even David being a man of blood (in war mostly) was not permitted to build the Temple (1 Chr 22:8). But shedding innocent blood was a greater crime—it usually went with positions of power, such as King Manasseh filling the streets with blood (2 Kgs 21:16), or princes doing it for gain (Ezek 22:27)." (NET NOTE)

Proverbs 6:18  A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil,

BGT  Proverbs 6:18 καὶ καρδία τεκταινομένη λογισμοὺς κακοὺς καὶ πόδες ἐπισπεύδοντες κακοποιεῖν

NET  Proverbs 6:18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift to run to evil,

NLT  Proverbs 6:18 a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong,

ESV  Proverbs 6:18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,

NIV  Proverbs 6:18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil,

KJV  Proverbs 6:18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

LXE  Proverbs 6:18 and a heart devising evil thoughts, and feet hastening to do evil,-- are hateful to God.

ASV  Proverbs 6:18 A heart that deviseth wicked purposes, Feet that are swift in running to mischief,

CSB  Proverbs 6:18 a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil,

NKJ  Proverbs 6:18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil,

NRS  Proverbs 6:18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that hurry to run to evil,

YLT  Proverbs 6:18 A heart devising thoughts of vanity -- Feet hasting to run to evil --

  • heart: Pr 24:8 Ge 6:5 Ps 36:4 Jer 4:14 Mic 2:1 Zec 8:17 
  • feet: Pr 1:16 Isa 59:7 Ro 3:15 

A heart that devises wicked plans - "The latter term is an attributive genitive. The heart (metonymy of subject) represents the will; here it plots evil schemes. The heart is capable of evil schemes (Gen 6:5); the heart that does this is deceitful (Prov 12:20; 14:22)." (NET NOTE)

Feet that run rapidly to evil - "The MT reads “make haste to run,” that is, be eager to seize the opportunity. The LXX omits “run,” that is, feet hastening to do evil. It must have appeared to the LXX translator that the verb was unnecessary; only one verb occurs in the other cola. sn The word “feet” is here a synecdoche, a part for the whole. Being the instruments of movement, they represent the swift and eager actions of the whole person to do some harm." (NET NOTE)

Proverbs 6:19  A false false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.

BGT  Proverbs 6:19 ἐκκαίει ψεύδη μάρτυς ἄδικος καὶ ἐπιπέμπει κρίσεις ἀνὰ μέσον ἀδελφῶν

NET  Proverbs 6:19 a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who spreads discord among family members.

NLT  Proverbs 6:19 a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.

ESV  Proverbs 6:19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

NIV  Proverbs 6:19 a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

KJV  Proverbs 6:19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

LXE  Proverbs 6:19 An unjust witness kindles falsehoods, and brings on quarrels between brethren.

ASV  Proverbs 6:19 A false witness that uttereth lies, And he that soweth discord among brethren.

CSB  Proverbs 6:19 a lying witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers.

NKJ  Proverbs 6:19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.

NRS  Proverbs 6:19 a lying witness who testifies falsely, and one who sows discord in a family.

YLT  Proverbs 6:19 A false witness who doth breathe out lies -- And one sending forth contentions between brethren.

  • A false: Pr 12:17 19:5,9 25:18 Ex 20:16 23:1 De 19:16-20 1Ki 21:10-15 Ps 27:12 35:11 Mt 15:19 26:59 Ac 6:13 
  • spreads strife: Pr 6:14 16:28 22:10 26:20 2Ti 2:23 Jas 3:14-16,18 3Jn 1:9,10 

A false false witness who utters lies - The LORD hates perjury and a lying witness (e.g., Ps 40:4; Amos 2:4; Mic 1:4). This is a direct violation of the law (Exod 20:16+).

And one who spreads strife among brothers - "Dissension is attributed in Proverbs to contentious people (Pr 21:9; 26:21; 25:24) who have a short fuse (Pr 15:8)." (NET NOTE)

Waltke on spreads strife - “Seventh, the one who unleashes conflicts (see v. 14) again climactically brings the catalogue to its conclusion.”

Adam Clarke describe this one as “he who troubles the peace of a family, of a village, of the state; all who, by lies and misrepresentations, strive to make men’s minds evil-affected towards their brethren.”

Morgan -  “None love a mischief-maker, and yet we are· apt to think of the sin with something less than the Divine intolerance for it. We may take it as an unqualified certainty that no man in whose heart the fear of· Jehovah prevails and rules, can ever sow discord among brethren.”

Charles Bridges - “A withering blast will fall on those who, mistaking prejudice for principle, cause divisions for their own selfish ends (Ro 16:17–18).”

NET NOTE - These seven things the LORD hates. To discover what the LORD desires, one need only list the opposites: humility, truthful speech, preservation of life, pure thoughts, eagerness to do good, honest witnesses, and peaceful harmony. In the NT the Beatitudes present the positive opposites (Matt 5). It has seven blessed things to match these seven hated things; moreover, the first contrasts with the first here (“poor in spirit” of Mt 5:5 with “haughty eyes”), and the seventh (“peacemakers” of Mt 5:7) contrasts with the seventh here (“sows dissension”).

Proverbs 6:20 My son, observe the commandment of your father and do not forsake the teaching of your mother;

  • Pr 1:8,9; 7:1, 2, 3, 4; 23:22; 30:11; Deut 21:18; 27:16; Ep 6:1

Note: All verbs in bold red indicate commands, not suggestions! 

My son - see Pr 1:8, 9. Here Solomon is giving his son that "man to man" talk we all dreaded as young men. Oh, how we "dirty old men" need to hear and re-hear the wise words of counsel in this present evil age modern era, for we live in a time like no other in the way our eyes are bombarded with "bait" of beautiful women which can act like a "lure" tempting us (James 1:14) to secret sins (cp Nu 32:23) in our thought life (2Co 10:4, 5, Php 4:8. We need to hear what King Solomon says to his son.

Bridges - The authority of parental instruction is again enforced (Pr 1:8-9, 4:1)—God never intended young people to be independent of their parents. Instruction from every quarter is valuable. But from parents it is authoritative—the ordinance of God. Therefore let it not be a matter of occasional regard. (An exposition of the Book of Proverbs - Chapter 6)

It is noteworthy that in Proverbs 5-7, each of the warnings against sexual misconduct is prefaced by an admonition to pay attention to the Word of God (Pr 5:1, 2; 7, 8, Pr 6:20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25; Pr 7:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, cp Jesus' words Mt 4:4). The Truth of God's Word heard and heeded (James 1:22, 25) keeps us from believing the lies of the world, the flesh and the devil (Jn 8:44, 2Co 11:3, Rev 12:9) that the "grass is always greener" on the other side of the fence. Remember "lust" begins with thoughts (and images that convey thoughts) and the best defense is a good offense, taking in Truth to counter and expose the Lie (Jn 8:31, 32, 36, 17:17).

It makes me think of the shield the Word provides, Solomon writing that…

Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. (Pr 30:5, cp Ps 119:9, 11)


MOTHER'S LAW -As I read Proverbs 6:20, which refers to "the law of your mother," I recall some of my mother's unique "laws" that have helped me many times.

The first I call "the law of the warm kitchen." When we got home from school on a cold winter's day or when the holidays rolled around, the kitchen was always so warm from baking and cooking that the windows were steamed. It was also warm with a mother's love.

A second law I call "the law of a mother's perspective." When I would come to her all upset over some childish matter, she would often say, "Pay no attention." Or, "Ten years from now you'll have forgotten all about it." That helped me put things into perspective.

But above all was my mother's "law of faith." She had an unswerving trust in God that kept her strong and gentle amid fears, pressures, and sacrifices of the war years and of the 1950s.

Mom's been with the Lord now for many years. Yet I'm still grateful for her "laws," because they have helped me through many difficult days.

Christian mother, you too are writing "laws" for your children. Are they worth remembering? - D C Egner Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

I love you, Mother, for your quiet grace,
For that dear smile upon your kindly face,
For marks of toil upon each loving hand
That worked for me ere I could understand. - Simpson

No man is poor who has a godly mother. - Abraham Lincoln

Proverbs 6:21 Bind them continually on your heart; Tie them around your neck

  • Pr 3:3; 4:6,21; 7:3,4; Ex 13:16; Deut 6:8; 2Co 3:3

Bridges - Bind it continually about thine heart (Pr 3:3, 4:21, 7:3), as thy rule; about thy neck, as thine adorning (Pr 3:3, cp Job 31:36). (An exposition of the Book of Proverbs - Chapter 6)

Bind them continually on your heart - The heart is the "control center" of our being and is in continual need to nourishment by the Word of God (cp also the need for continual watching Pr 4:23).

The command to bind God's Word to various parts of the body (Pr 3:3; 6:21; 7:3; Deut 6:8, 9) was taken literally by the Pharisees and gave rise to the so-called "phylactery" (Mt 23:5), a small leather case containing four portions of the Old Testament (Ex. 13:1-10, 11-16, and Deut. 6:4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 9, 11:13-21) written on parchment. When attending public prayers, the orthodox Jew tied one phylactery to his forehead and the other to his left arm. They also put a phylactery at the door of their house. "Phylactery" is a word that comes from the Greek and means "to watch over, to safeguard." It was their belief that wearing God's Word like an amulet would protect them from evil. This practice is not what Solomon means by binding them on one's heart. The picture is that of "fastening" God's Word to our heart, something that can only be done figuratively as when one reads, heeds, memorizes and meditates on God's Word of Truth and Life. In so doing, the student "binds" the Word to his or her heart.

I like what John Piper says in his practical message on Thy Word I Have Treasured in my Heart...

I believe that the Bible teaches us to memorize scripture the way an ant gathers food in summer: because it is so valuable and will be needed in the winter months. “[The ant] prepares her food in the summer, and gathers her provision in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:8). Memorizing scripture is not a discipline for its own sake. It is because the scriptures are a treasure and will be needed before the day is done to help you escape a sinful attitude and live a life that glorifies God (cp Ps 119:9,11). (Dr Piper's message is highly recommended - I would encourage you if you have time to listen to the audio Mp3 version as it is even better than the transcript - Transcript = Thy Word I Have Treasured in my Heart; or the Mp3 Audio Version)

Bind (07194) (qashar) basically means to fasten or tie something to something else usually by means of a cord, rope, string, thread, etc. We see the meaning illustrated in Ge 38:28 where Zerah’s hand was marked by tying with a scarlet thread. Rahab was instructed to tie a scarlet thread to her window to mark it (Josh 2:18). God instructed Israel to bind his laws (words) to their foreheads and hands (Deut 6:8). Thus, their thoughts and actions were to be governed by his word. In the present context the binding is figurative but is no less real, for the point is that these commandments and teachings are to be so intrinsically a part of who we are that they control what we think, say and do (out of your mouth comes that which fills the heart!). We "bind" them by reading them, memorizing them, meditating upon them and obeying them.

Wiersbe has an interesting explanation of tie them around your neck writing that…

God's truth should also control the neck, because a man might be tempted to turn his head and look at a beautiful woman for the purpose of lusting (Mt 5:27, 28, 29, 30). He may not be able to avoid seeing the woman the first time, but it's looking the second time that gets him into trouble.


F B Meyer - Our Daily Homily - If the son addressed here is bidden to thus care for the words of his parents, how much more should we ponder those of God as given us in God’s blessed Book.

When thou walkest, it shall lead thee. — There is a little circle of friends whom I know of who read this book of Proverbs through every month for practical direction on the path of life. A West-countryman said of this collection of wise words, “If any man shall maister the Book of Proverbs, no man shall maister he.” Take for instance the weighty counsels of the first five verses. How many lives would have been saved from bitter anguish and disappointment if only they had been ruled by them! Let every young man also ponder the closing verses. Let us all meditate more constantly on the Word of God.

When thou sleepest, it shall watch thee. — The man who meditates on the Word of God by day will not be troubled by evil dreams at night. Whatever unholy spirits may prowl around his bed, they will be restrained from molesting him whose head is pillowed on some holy word of God. And on awakening, the Angel of Revelation will whisper words of encouragement and love.

And when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. — The heart is accustomed to commune with itself about many things, but when the mind is full of God through his Word, it seems as though the monologue becomes a dialogue. To all our wonderings, fears, questionings, answers come back from the infinite glory in words of Scripture. Some wear amulets about their necks to preserve them; but the Word of God is both a safeguard and choice treasure.

Proverbs 6:22 When you walk about, they will guide you; When you sleep, they will watch over you; And when you awake, they will talk to you.

  • Pr 2:11; 3:23,24; Ps 17:4; 43:3; 119:9,11,24,54,97,148; Da 11:18, 19, 20, 21

Bridges - Let the law be the friend for all times and circumstances—a guide by day(Pr 3:22, 23, 4:12)—a solace by night(Pr 3:24, Ps 63:5)—yea—a friend for thy waking moments (Ps 139:17-18). Take care that nothing hinders thy early converse with this faithful counsellor—before the world comes in, as the best means of keeping the world out. ‘Happy is the mind, to which the word is an undivided companion.’ (An exposition of the Book of Proverbs - Chapter 6)

Proverbs 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life 

  • Commandment - Ps 119:98, 99, 100, Is 8:20; 2Pe 1:19
  • Rev 2:5
  • Reproofs - Pr 5:12; 15:31; 29:15; Lev 19:17; Ps 141:5, Heb 12:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
  • Pr 3:18; 4:4,13; 15:24; Je 21:8

Psalms 19:8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Ps 119:105 Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.

Psalms 119:130 The unfolding of Thy words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.

2 Peter 1:19 (note) And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

For - Always pause and ponder this strategic term of explanation - Ask (and attempt to answer) at least one simple question - "What is the writer explaining?" Remember that when you find a "for" at the beginning of a verse, it is usually (not 100% - check the context = Keep Context King) a term of explanation. In Proverbs 5-7 there a several "for's" for you to pause and ponder. (Pr 5:3, 20, 21, Pr 6:23, 26, 34, Pr 7:6, 19, 26). As an aside there are over 9000 occurrences of for in the NASB, which should give you many opportunities to practice (and make "perfect") the discipline of interrogating the Biblical text (See interrogate with the 5W/H questions).

Bridges - Such a lamp—so full of light—in this dark world (Ps 119:105) is an inestimable gift. Its reproofs of instruction—as the discipline of our wayward will—are to us as the way of life. (Ps 19:11, 2Ti 3:16-17, cp Mt 7:13-14) (An exposition of the Book of Proverbs - Chapter 6)

In his excellent book (which I highly recommend) My Heart for Thy Cause, written especially to pastors, Brian Borgman writes these words regarding guarding against sexual impurity…

as a preventive discipline, the man of God should load his conscience with the warnings of Scripture and the issues at stake. Owen also gives this advice, when he says, 'Load thy conscience with the guilt of it.' First, there is the holy Law of God. The seventh commandment forbids adultery (Ex 20:14). It is such a heinous sin that God continually illustrates spiritual apostasy in terms of adultery.

Next, bring the nature of the sin into the light of the gospel, thinking deeply upon the abundant mercy and grace God has shown in the gospel. Meditate upon His love and faithfulness. Ponder afresh the greatness of forgiveness and salvation. Owen's words are priceless, 'If this make it not sink in some measure and melt (i.e., bringing the lust to the gospel mercy of God) I fear thy case is dangerous.' Consider the threats against adulterers (1Co 6:9, 10; Gal. 5:19, 20, 21; Ep 5:3, 4, 5). Consider the danger of tasting that forbidden fruit and then being enslaved and hardened, entering the road to apostasy (Heb 3:12, 13, 14). Meditate upon the terrifying words, 'Depart from me you worker of iniquity!' Cling to God's promises to supply His people with grace to fight the good fight. The author heartily recommends John Piper's Future Grace (Sister, OR: Multnomah, 1995) especially chapter 27 on lust (Multnomah, 1995).

Not only does the conscience need to be loaded with the warnings and promises of Scripture, but it also needs to be loaded with the issues at stake. Randy Alcorn gives a number of consequences to sexual impurity: (This list is an edited compilation of a seminary chapel session given by Randy Alcorn at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Or)

Grieving the Lord who redeemed us, thus displeasing the One whose opinion matters most.

Dragging Christ's precious name in the mud, giving the enemies of God an occasion to blaspheme.

Having to face the Lord Jesus at His judgment seat, being accountable for the sin and its consequences.

Experiencing severe Divine discipline.

Adding my name to the list of disgraced leaders, held in contempt by the church and world.

Causing untold suffering to those around me, in the congregation and others, much like Achan.

Loss of respect from my precious wife.

Loss of trust from my life partner.

Untold hurt to my precious children.

Betrayal of my office, and total loss of credibility in ministry, nullifying all labor.

Shame to my family (the cruel comments which would come to my wife and children).

A bloodied conscience, and a sin which would ever be before me.

Disqualified from the calling and ministry I love.

Years of training, education, experience, all wasted for a moment of pleasure.

Irretrievable damage to my witness, especially among loved ones.

Being a stumbling block for the gospel to those in my community.

Possible physical consequences (gonorrhea, herpes, AIDS, the infection of my spouse, etc.)

The consequences are painful just to think about! If the mere thinking on these things brings pain, what would be the reality of it! A man who loses his moral integrity loses all respect and confidence. Make no mistake about it, falling into sexual immorality is to ruin one's life and ministry.

Proverbs 6:24 To keep you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.

  • Pr 2:16; 5:3; 7:5; Eccl 7:26

The evil woman is on the prowl and she knows how to say the words you want to hear!

As Thomas Manton warned…

All sins are rooted in love of pleasure. Therefore be watchful.

Comment: And I would add that many of these sins are rooted in the pleasure of "love", albeit the vapid, empty, selfish, self-serving, narcissistic eros love that the world espouses. Look out! Don't be deceived. Sin is pleasurable but it neglects to tell you the price for what is only passing pleasure. See He 11:25-note)

Bridges - Specially valuable is this lamp and light in sensual temptation (Pr 2:10-11, 16-19, 5:1-8, 7:1-5). Those who choose their own light and wisdom, are sure to fall into a flattering snare (Pr 2:16, 7:21). The neglect of parental warning will furnish in the end bitter matter for unavailing repentance. (Pr 5:11-13) Oh! let the Father’s instruction be heard betimes—"Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. (Ps 119:9, cp Pr 5:11, 17:4)" (An exposition of the Book of Proverbs - Chapter 6)

Proverbs 6:25 Do not desire her beauty in your heart, Nor let her capture you with her eyelids.

  • Lust - 2Sa 11:2, 3, 4, 5; Mt 5:28; James 1:14,15
  • 2Ki 9:30; Song 4:9; Is 3:16

Bridges - Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. 26. For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. 27. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? 28. Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? 29. So is he that goeth in to his neighbor’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent. (An exposition of the Book of Proverbs - Chapter 6)

Desire - Lxx uses epithumia (word study) which in this context speaks of evil lusts (some lusts in Scripture are good - Lk 22:15). Compare other uses of epithumia in the context of evil desires = Ro 1:24 [note], Col 3:5 [note], 1Th 4:5 [note], 1Peter 2:11 [note].

Nor let her capture your eyelids - "The 'eyes' have it" -- Watch out for the eyes men! This is Solomon's advice. This advice is especially vital if you are in a situation where as a man you are giving counsel to a woman who is not your wife. In the first place this is probably (scratch "probably"!) not the best course of action but may be unavoidable. Whenever a woman begins to relate her trials or troubles to me and I sense she needs wise counsel, I send her to my wife who is a godly counselor. If as a man you must counsel a woman, number one, make sure your door is open and your window shades are open, so that you maintain visibility to others outside your office. (I read once that this apparently was Billy Graham's practice.) Never (ever) physically touch a woman in private, and any/all physical contact should be in full view of others and done with utmost discretion (as brothers and sister's in Christ - I personally would shy away from the "holy kiss" in our modern culture! Ro 16:16-note, 1Co 16:20, 2Co 13:12, 1Th 5:26-note) Pfeiffer commenting on the ancient custom of a holy kiss writes that…

its character was completely divorced from the sensual. A pure display of the deep emotion of Christian love, this type of kiss remained a Christian custom until abuse and heathen misunderstanding caused the practice to be curtailed. (Pfeiffer, C F: Wycliffe Bible Commentary. 1981. Moody or Logos)

And to reiterate, as Solomon warns in this passage (and remember he had lots of women's eyes to look into over his life time 1Ki 11:3), beware of eye contact whether it is flirtatious or inquisitive. Remember, she has eye makeup on and you don't!

Capture - This Hebrew verb laqah (03947) can convey the sense of to grasp or seize a person (e.g., see Ezek 8:3)

As the Puritan writer William Gurnall well advised…

Set a strong guard about thy outward senses. These are Satan's landing-place, especially the eye and ear. (cp Pr 4:23 - note)

Proverbs 6:26 For on account of a harlot one is reduced to a loaf of bread, and an adulteress * hunts for the precious life.

  • Pr 5:10; 29:3,8; Lk 15:13, 14, 15, 30
  • 1Sa 2:36
  • Ge 39:14; Ezek 13:8

For - Always pause and ponder this strategic term of explanation - Ask (and attempt to answer) at least one simple question - "What is the writer explaining?" Remember that when you find a "for" at the beginning of a verse, it is usually (not 100% - check the context = Keep Context King) a term of explanation. In Proverbs 5-7 there a several "for's" for you to pause and ponder. (Pr 5:3, 20, 21, Pr 6:23, 26, 34, Pr 7:6, 19, 26). As an aside there are over 9000 occurrences of for in the NASB, which should give you many opportunities to practice (and make "perfect") the discipline of interrogating the Biblical text (See interrogate with the 5W/H questions). In this context Solomon explains the ultimate danger of making intimate eye contact.

Bridges - By vain beauty, (Pr 31:30, Ge 6:2, 39:6, 2Sa 11:2) and wanton eyes (Ge 39:7, 2Ki 9:30, Isa 3:16, 2Pe 2:14. Comp "Paradise Lost, Book 9.50.620), many a deluded victim has been brought to a piece of bread. (Pr 5:10, 29:3, 1Sa 2:26, 36, Job 31:9, 12, Lk 15:13, 30. Comp. the difference between Solomon's chaste and unholy age. 1Ki 10:21, 27 with 1Ki 12:4) Nay—so insatiable is the seducer’s malice, that—like the huntsman, who never loses sight of his prey, till he has pursued it to death—she never ceases to solicit, till she has hunted for the precious life. (Ge 39:14, Jdg 16:18-21l Comp. Ezek 13:18, 20, 21) (An exposition of the Book of Proverbs - Chapter 6)

Harlot - Is the verb zanah (02181) which conveys the main idea of one who commits illicit sex, as when a woman prostitutes herself and is used 4 times with this meaning in Proverbs - Pr 6:26NLT; Pr 7:10; 23:27; 29:3. Note that many of the uses are figurative and describe Israel's unfaithfulness to God and her "whoring" with pagan nations (Isa 23:17, Ezek 23:30, Nah 3:4 and other so-called gods [vain idols] - Ex 34:15, 16, Dt 31:16, Ezek 6:9, Ho 9:1)

Zanah - 83v in the OT in NAS - Gen. 34:31; 38:15, 24; Ex 34:15, 16; Lev. 17:7; 19:29; 20:5f; 21:7, 9, 14; Num. 15:39; 25:1; Deut. 22:21; 23:18; 31:16; Jos. 2:1; 6:17, 22, 25; Jdg. 2:17; 8:27, 33; 11:1; 16:1; 19:2; 1 Ki. 3:16; 22:38; 1 Chr. 5:25; 2 Chr. 21:11, 13; Ps. 73:27; 106:39; Pr 6:26; 7:10; 23:27; 29:3; Isa. 1:21; 23:15, 16, 17; 57:3; Jer. 2:20; 3:1, 3, 6, 8; 5:7; Ezek. 6:9; 16:15, 16, 17, 26, 28, 30, 31, 33, 34, 35, 41; 20:30; 23:3, 5, 19, 30, 43, 44; Hos. 1:2; 2:5; 3:3; 4:10, 12, 13,14, 18; 5:3; 9:1; Joel 3:3; Amos 7:17; Mic. 1:7; Nah. 3:4.

All uses of Zanah in Proverbs…

(Prov 6:26) For on account of a harlot one is reduced to a loaf of bread, And an adulteress hunts for the precious life.

(Prov 7:10) And behold, a woman comes to meet him, Dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart.

(Prov 23:27) For a harlot is a deep pit And an adulterous woman is a narrow well.

(Prov 29:3) A man who loves wisdom makes his father glad, But he who keeps company with harlots wastes his wealth.

Zanah is rendered in the NAS as adulterous(1), become a harlot(1), commit adultery(1), commits flagrant harlotry(1), fall to harlotry(1), harlot(22), harlot*(3), harlot's*(2), harlot's(2), harlotry(3), harlots(5), making a harlot(1), play the harlot(18), play the harlot continually(1), played the harlot(24), playing the harlot(3), plays the harlot(1), prostitute(1), unfaithful (1).

Wiersbe says that "To be "brought to a piece of bread" means to be degraded to the lowest level of poverty." Such is the value of adultery!!!

Adulteress - This feminine noun is 'ishshah (0802) the usual word for woman (Ge 2:23) but can obviously take on other meanings depending on the context - eg, widow (Ru 4:5), adulteress (Pr 6:26, 7:5), even female animals (Ge 7:2)

Hunts - The verb siyd (06679) means to hunt down or to ensnare and is used literally of hunting animals for food (Ge 27:3) and figuratively by the prophet Micah to describe ungodly men (Micah 7:2) and by Ezekiel of hunting lives (Ezek 13:18, 20). The picture is clear that the adulteress is a female on the prowl, looking for a man of weak moral character.

Proverbs 6:27 Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned?

  • Job 31:9, 10, 11, 12; Ho 7:4, 5, 6, 7; James 3:5

Bridges - 27-28 Yet neither the present miseries of this wretched course, nor the certain horror of the end, can draw away the foot, that has dared to tread the forbidden path. Self-confidence sees and fears no danger. ‘I can look to myself, I need not go too far, and I shall get no harm.’ Did the infatuated sinner but open his eyes, he would as soon expect to take fire into his bosom, and his clothes not be burned; or to go upon hot coals, and not be burned; as to go wilfully into sin, and to escape the punishment. (Ex 20:14, 17, Lev 20:10; 2Sa 12:9, Mal 3:5. Even as a sin of ignorance it was liable to be visited. Gen 12:15-18, 20:1-6; 26:10. So strictly has the holy Lord fenced his own ordinance!) (An exposition of the Book of Proverbs - Chapter 6)

Can a man take fire in his bosom - A rhetorical (for effect) question, the answer of which is obvious. The answer of course to this part of the question is "yes" he can do something so foolish, but read on.

And his clothes not be burned? - The answer of course is "no". He will be burned, which is a metaphor for complete ruin, for that is what literal fire does to a structure and in this case what the fire of adultery does to a man's life! (cp Pr 5:5, 11, 23, 7:23)

As G K Chesterton said…

All healthy men, ancient and modern, Eastern and Western, know that there is a certain fury in sex that we cannot afford to inflame, and that a certain mystery and awe must ever surround it if we are to remain sane.


A DEADLY PET - Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? - It was a shocking tragedy. A 15-year-old boy was strangled by the family's pet. The slender youth had gone to an upstairs bedroom to play with an 11-foot Burmese python. Nobody is sure how it happened, but the supposedly tame snake turned into a killer that took the boy's life.

Why play with a powerful snake that can turn into a horrifying agent of death? Why even bring such a potentially dangerous creature into the house? This news story changes the old adage "Don't play with fire!" into a flashing warning signal.

This warning applies even more to the hazard of playing with sin -- some "small" thing that seems merely to give pleasure without hurting anyone. At first it seems harmless, but feed it, let it grow, take pride in it, and a trifling sin can become a terrible tragedy that "brings forth death" (James 1:15). The writer of the Proverbs applied this truth to the area of sexual purity. "Do not lust after her beauty," said Solomon (Pr 6:25).

As believers in Jesus Christ, we must check even the smallest evil the moment it springs up in our heart by confessing it to the Lord and asking Him to help us overcome it. Toying with a pet sin is like playing with a deadly pet. Sooner or later it will turn on us.-- Vernon C. Grounds Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

We can't afford to play with fire
Nor tempt a serpent's bite;
We can't afford to think that sin
Brings any true delight.-- Anon.

The most deadly sins do not leap upon us, they creep upon us.

Proverbs 6:28 Or can a man walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?

The 1828 Webster's Dictionary says scorched means to affect painfully with heat.

Click link to Webster's 1828 Dictionary -- highly recommended because many of the illustrations are taken directly from God's Holy Word…

"It is reported that Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary contains the greatest number of Biblical definitions given in any reference volume. Webster considered "education useless without the Bible". Noah Webster believed that the Bible and Christianity played important roles in the lives of a free people and its government. "In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, ought to be instructed… No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people… " (Reference)

Sure a man can walk on hot coals if he's stupid, but Solomon says he is going to get burned. Pay your money and take your choice. You will reap what you sow. If you want to get really burned, help yourself!


The Scorpion’s Sting - Aesop tells the ancient story of a boy hunting for locusts. The lad had caught quite a few when he saw a scorpion. Mistaking it for a locust, he reached out his hand to take it. The scorpion showed his stinger and said, “If you had but touched me, my friend, you would have lost me, and all your locusts too!”

There are some things you cannot embrace without losing what you have in the process.

King Solomon used a word picture of fire instead of a scorpion as he warned his son against the dangers of sexual sin (Pr 6:27, 28, 29). As a wise father, he wanted his son to know that in this wonderful, dangerous world there are not only flowers and songbirds but also scorpions and fires.

Solomon’s warnings in the Proverbs were not just about sexual immorality. Together with the rest of the Bible, such insights help us to understand the wisdom of an eternal God who loves us far more than our own mothers and fathers do. His Word also points us to the One who can help us even if we have “grabbed a scorpion” or “built a fire in our lap.”

Life offers us choices. Christ graciously offers us forgiveness for what is past, and wisdom for what yet lies ahead. —Mart De Haan Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Search out in me all hidden sin,
And may Thy purity within
So cleanse my life that it may be
A temple wholly fit for Thee. —Smith

The lessons of life are best learned when Christ is your teacher.

Proverbs 6:29 So is the one who goes in to his neighbor's wife. Whoever touches her will not go unpunished.

  • Ge 12:18,19; Lev 20:10; 2Sa 11:3,4; 12:9,10; 16:21; Je 5:8,9; Ezek 22:11; Mal 3:5
  • Ge 20:4, 5, 6, 7; 26:10,11; 1Co 7:1

So - Solomon draws a conclusion from his fiery metaphors. Just as when a man touches fire or hot coals, he is burned, so too will he be scorched for touching the fiery coals of sexual infidelity. King David, a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22, had first hand experience with this proverb (see Nathan's rebuke and prophecy in 2Sa 12:7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18).

Bridges - Sin and punishment are linked together by a chain of adamant. ‘The fire of lust kindles the fire of hell.’(Comp. Job 31:12, James 1:14-15) He cannot afterwards plead the strength of the temptation. Why did he not avoid it? Who that knows how much tinder he carries about him, would wilfully light up the sparks? Heedlessly to rush into temptation, is to provoke the corruption, which is too ready to stir of itself. Beware of suspicious familiarities on the borders of sin. (Ge 39:10, Ro 13:13, 1Thes 5:22) The temptation to criminality in this atmosphere is fearful.10 Whosoever toucheth shall not be innocent. (Ge 20:6, 39:9, 1Cor 7:1) (An exposition of the Book of Proverbs - Chapter 6)

Touches (05060) (naga') is the verb used in (Ex 19:15) where it is translated "do not go near" (a woman) (NASB) and more interpretatively by the NIV (accurately, which is not always the case with this dynamic paraphrase!) as "abstain from sexual relations" (Ex 19:15NIV). Clearly in context and based on other uses of naga' Solomon is alluding to sexual contact.

The Septuagint (LXX) translates naga' in this verse with the Greek verb hapto which means to cause burning to take place (to light or kindle a fire) and came to have a literal meaning of to mean to touch or take hold of (Jn 20:17, Lk 7:39). Hapto was also used figuratively and euphemistically of touching a woman (ie, sexual intercourse as in 1Cor 7:1, and is also used this way in the LXX translation of Ge 20:6.

In Ruth 2:9 (note) the kinsman redeemer Boaz speaks to Ruth the Moabitess words that convey a sense of protection (a godly trait all husbands should seek to emulate) using naga' (LXX again uses hapto) in a context which clearly alludes to the propensity for sexual assault which would be likely to occur to a foreign woman in a field occupied by a group of hot, sweaty young men in the days of the Judges (cp Jdg 21:25-note; Ru 1:1-note).

It is interesting to observe the final NT use of the Greek verb hapto in 1Jn 5:18 where it conveys the sense of "to lay hold of or grasp in order to harm." The believer belongs to God and God protects His children by limiting Satan's power (Job 1:12, later he allows Satan to touch Job [Job 2:4, 5, 6], but He still limited Satan's power for His purposes which are always for good and never for evil [cp Ge 50:20, Ro 8:28, 29-note]. Beloved, to counter fear nourish and build your faith (Col 3:16-note) in the Father's sovereignty which is an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinite sovereignty and let your faith in such a faithful God counter any fear you might have of the Adversary [1Pe 5:8-note, cp 1Jn 4:4]. Remember, faith is the antidote for fear [cp Ep 6:16-note] so in order to strengthen your faith lay hold of the truth in Ro 10:17-note) (See related resource - Fear, How to Handle It)

Will not go unpunished - Solomon alludes to the eternal law of sowing and reaping (Gal 6:7 = STOP being deceived - by your flesh [Jas 1:14-note], the Devil [Re 12:9-note], the world [1Jn 2:15, 16, 17] and sin [He 3:13-note] because God promises = Gal 6:8NLT, Jas 1:16-note, cp Job 4:8, Pr 1:31, 22:8, Ho 8:7, 10:13; Paul speaks of primarily of good sowing in 2Co 9:6)

Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.
—Samuel Smiles

And just in case you are so foolish as to think that you have gotten away with sexual infidelity and your "sly" unfaithfulness to your marriage covenant partner (see marriage covenant), take note of the aged Solomon's wise warning in Ecclesiastes 8:11, 12, 13).

Richard Sibbes ''Satan gives Adam an apple, and takes away Paradise. Therefore in all temptations let us consider not what he offers, but what we shall lose.''

Proverbs 6:30 Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is hungry;

Stealing food is a sin but pales in comparison to another man's wife!

Bridges - Sin and punishment are linked together by a chain of adamant. ‘The fire of lust kindles the fire of hell.’(Comp. Job 31:12, James 1:14-15) He cannot afterwards plead the strength of the temptation. Why did he not avoid it? Who that knows how much tinder he carries about him, would wilfully light up the sparks? Heedlessly to rush into temptation, is to provoke the corruption, which is too ready to stir of itself. Beware of suspicious familiarities on the borders of sin. (Ge 39:10, Ro 13:13, 1Thes 5:22) The temptation to criminality in this atmosphere is fearful.10 Whosoever toucheth shall not be innocent. (Ge 20:6, 39:9, 1Cor 7:1) (An exposition of the Book of Proverbs - Chapter 6)

Proverbs 6:31 But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold; He must give all the substance of his house.

  • Ex 22:1,3,4; 2Sa 12:6; Job 20:18; Lk 19:8
  • Mt 18:25

Bridges - Here is no excuse or impunity for the thief. The full restitution that he is compelled to make (Ex 22:1-4. Seven-fold-not literally. Four or five-fold was the extent of the Divine requirement. Comp. Luke 19:8. It means full = Pr 6:3. and satisfactory--an indefinite number. Comp. Gen. 4:15, 24, Ps 79:12, and alia passim. Comp. Job 20:18)—perhaps sweeping away all his little substance—proves that no extremity can excuse "the transgression of the law." (Comp. 1Cor 6:10, with 1John 3:4) Let him earn his bread by honest industry. If the fruits of industry fail, let him, trusting in God, seek the help of his fellow-creatures. If he have faith to trust, he will never be forced to steal. (See Matt. 6:25-33) Yet his extreme temptation renders him an object rather of pity than of scorn—Men do not despise him. (An exposition of the Book of Proverbs - Chapter 6)

He must repay sevenfold - If a thief who is less despised than an adulterer experiences such thorough retribution, should the adulterer except less? Woe!

Sevenfold - TWOT concludes from the OT uses (Ge 4:15, 24; Ps. 12:6; 79:12; Pr 6:31; Is 30:26)

that this term is often used figuratively to indicate something which has or will occur in a far greater intensity than previously. Such an understanding of shib`athayim, however, in no way denies or forbids it signifying an exact seven times increase in any particular instance. (Harris, R L, Archer, G L & Waltke, B K Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Moody Press)

Proverbs 6:32 The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense; He who would destroy himself does it.

  • Pr 7:7; Ge 39:9,10; 41:39; Eccl 7:25,26; Je 5:8,21; Ro 1:22, 23, 24

Bridges - But the sin of the adulterer claims no sympathy. His plea is not the cry of hunger, but of lust; not want, but wantonness; not the lack of bread, but of understanding. (Comp. Eccl. 7:25-26, Jer 5:8, 21) He is wilfully given up to his sin. He destroyeth his own soul. (Lev 20:10; Pr 2:18, 19; 5:22-23, 7:22-23, Eph 5:5) (An exposition of the Book of Proverbs - Chapter 6)

Lacking sense - Literally the Hebrew says this one "lacks heart"! (cp Pr 7:7, 9:4, Eccl 10:3)

There is a loss of "common sense" when one enters into an adulterous relationship as David did (and remember he would have probably been a mature man in his late 40's or early 50's, so it's not as if he did not know better - the point is that if this Acts 13:22 man could fall so could you and so could I given the right set of seductive circumstances! 1Co 10:12) in 1Sa 11:1,2, 3, 4, 5 (note one person even tried to "talk some sense" into him by telling him Bathsheba was Uriah's wife! Love may be blind. But illicit love is both deaf and dumb!). To commit this sin amounts to a "temporary insanity" (in a moral sense). Even David must have known the basic divine principle of sowing and reaping (Gal 6:7, 8) and yet his lustful thoughts overwhelmed his common sense.

Proverbs 6:33 Wounds and disgrace he will find, and his reproach will not be blotted out.

  • Pr 5:9, 10, 11; Jdg 16:19, 20, 21; Ps 38:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; 51:8

Bridges - He gets a rankling wound upon his conscience (Ps 32:3-4), dishonor and indelible reproach upon his name. (Pr 5:9, Gen 38:23, 49:4, 2Sa 3:13, 13:13, 1Ki 15:5, with Mt 1:6, Neh 13:26. Comp. Dt. 23:2) (An exposition of the Book of Proverbs - Chapter 6)

Wounds (05061) (nega') is from the Hebrew root ng' which describes that which pertains when one thing (or person) physically contacts another. This word then carries the sense of a person being stricken or smitten in some way. It often refers in Scripture to a blemish that has been created by touching, most often a blemish inflicted by leprosy (Lev 13:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc "infection of leprosy"). Nega' could also describe a stroke or some other physical blow. In Scripture, it is usually God Who in some way metes out the plague or stroke. Here are some of the 62 OT uses of nega' - Ge. 12:17; Ex 11:1; 2Sa 7:14 - stripes; 1Ki 8:37, 38-plague, affliction, Ps 38:11; 39:10-stroke; Ps 89:32-stripes; Is 53:8 - prophesying of the stroke (Is 53:8ESV) Messiah suffered in our place!

Disgrace (07036) (qalon) is shame and the feeling that comes with shame or dishonor.

Here are the 17 uses of qalon in the OT - Job 10:15; Ps. 83:16; Pr 3:35; 6:33; 9:7; 11:2; 12:16; 13:18; 18:3; 22:10; Is 22:18; Jer. 13:26; 46:12; Hos. 4:7, 18; Nah. 3:5; Hab. 2:16

Reproach (02781) (cherpah) describes a cause or occasion of blame, discredit, disapproval, disappointment or disgrace.

Here are the 72 uses in the OT - Ge 30:23; 34:14; Josh 5:9; 1Sa 11:2; 17:26; 25:39; 2Sa 13:13; Neh. 1:3; 2:17; 4:4; 5:9; Job 16:10; 19:5; Ps 15:3; 22:6; 31:11; 39:8; 44:13; 69:7, 9, 10, 19, 20; 71:13; 74:22; 78:66; 79:4, 12; 89:41, 50; 109:25; 119:22, 39; Pr. 6:33; 18:3; Is 4:1; 25:8; 30:5; 47:3; 51:7; 54:4; Jer. 6:10; 15:15; 20:8; 23:40; 24:9; 29:18; 31:19; 42:18; 44:8, 12; 49:13; 51:51; La 3:30, 61; 5:1; Ezek. 5:14, 15; 16:57; 21:28; 22:4; 36:15, 30; Da 9:16; 11:18; 12:2; Hos. 12:14; Joel 2:17, 19; Mic. 6:16; Zeph. 2:8; 3:18.

Blotted out (04229) (machah) means to be erased or wiped out, something that Solomon will not happen to the foolish man who commits adultery! And yet we know that God's mercy and grace in Christ opens the door to forgiveness and thus David prayed that his sin of adultery before God be blotted out, even as he confessed and repented (Ps 51:1, 9, cp Ps 32:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7!).

Here are the 32 uses in the OT - Ge 6:7; 7:4, 23-wiping out all life by the flood; Ex 17:14; 32:32f; Nu 5:23; 34:11; Deut 9:14; 25:6, 19; 29:20; Jdg 21:17; 2 Ki. 14:27; 21:13; Neh. 4:5; 13:14; Ps 9:5; 51:1, Ps 51:9; 69:28; 109:13f; Pr 6:33; 30:20; 31:3; Is 25:6, 8; 43:25; 44:22; Je 18:23; Ezek 6:6.

Proverbs 6:34 For jealousy enrages a man, And he will not spare in the day of vengeance.

  • Pr 27:4; Nu 5:14; 25:11; Jdg 19:29,30; Song 8:6; 1Co 10:22

For - Always pause and ponder this strategic term of explanation - Ask (and attempt to answer) at least one simple question - "What is the writer explaining?" Remember that when you find a "for" at the beginning of a verse, it is usually (not 100% - check the context = Keep Context King) a term of explanation. In Proverbs 5-7 there a several "for's" for you to pause and ponder. (Pr 5:3, 20, 21, Pr 6:23, 26, 34, Pr 7:6, 19, 26). As an aside there are over 9000 occurrences of for in the NASB, which should give you many opportunities to practice (and make "perfect") the discipline of interrogating the Biblical text (See interrogate with the 5W/H questions).

Bridges - The tremendous passions of jealousy and rage shut out all forgiveness. (Ge 34:7, 49:5-7, Nu 5:14, Esther 7:7-10, Ezek 16:38. Schultens remarks that no version fully expresses the strength of the original. Rage, 'Ignio. In loco) (An exposition of the Book of Proverbs - Chapter 6)

In Song of Solomon we read that…

Put me like a seal over your heart, Like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, Jealousy is as severe as Sheol; Its flashes are flashes of fire, The very flame of the LORD (NIV = " love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame"). (Song 8:6)

Proverbs 6:35 He will not accept * any ransom, Nor will he be satisfied though you give many gifts

  • Pr 4:3; 7:13; 8:25; 2Ki 5:1; Is 2:9; Mal 2:9

No amount of money can "buy off" the offended husband.

Bridges - The face of no one who offered a ransom would be accepted. No compensation, (Ge 39:19-20) however costly, will content. Such are the many sins—the awfully destructive miseries (2Sa 11:6-24)—flowing from the breach of God’s holy commandment. ‘Oh! how great iniquity’—exclaimed the godly Augustine—‘is this adultery! How great a perverseness! The soul, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, is thus for the pleasures of an hour given to the devil; a thing much to be lamented and bewailed: when that which delighteth is soon gone, that which tormenteth remaineth without end.’ And shall not this fearful picture of sin and its consequences, (which Solomon, alas! was too well fitted to draw) teach us to dread the first approaches to danger; to close every avenue of sense to the entrance of this seductive poison; to shun all communications, that taint the purity of taste, that familiarize the mind with impurity, that give a vivid interest to associations from which a chaste imagination recoils with disgust? Let us learn to seek divine strengthening to "watch and pray" continually; and while we "think we stand, to take heed lest we fall." (1Cor 10:12) (An exposition of the Book of Proverbs - Chapter 6)

Pastor Steven Cole has an excellent message that relates to the subject of sexual purity/impurity as discussed by Solomon in Proverbs 5-7. Take a moment and read his sermon which is in essence his personal testimony to the sufficient grace and power of God to win the battle that rages in men. To God be all the glory. Amen.

by Steven J. Cole

I want to answer a very practical question for Christians living in this sex-saturated society: How can we win the war against lust and the overt sexual sin which results from lust? We’re bombarded daily with sensuality. You can’t watch TV, read a news magazine or drive past bill-boards without being confronted with blatantly sexual pictures and messages. We all know that as Christians, we are to avoid sexual immorality. The tough question is, How? Being a man, I’m writing as a man to men, although what I say has much application to women as well.

For years I fought a losing battle against lust. It wouldn’t be profitable for me to go into detail describing my defeats. But so that you know that I’ve been there, I will say that ever since my early teens, I have been a connoisseur of fine women. Long before the movie, “10,” came out, I had a habit of automatically checking out a woman’s anatomy and scoring her various features. For a number of years, there were very few “Playmates of the Month” whom I had not scrutinized. I was a Christian, even a “committed” Christian and seminary student during some of that time, involved in serving the Lord. But I was defeated by lust.

I still lose an occasional skirmish. But by God’s grace, for many years now, I’ve been winning the war. I want to tell you how. Several things have helped me move from defeat to consistent victory.


I got scared straight. I knew I should be holy. Years ago I yielded my life to the Lord in accordance with Romans 12:1-2. But that didn’t make much difference in my battle against lust. Finally I came to a point where the Lord backed me into the corner and asked pointedly, “Do you want to be a man of God or do you want to keep messing around with this sin?” Gulp! I had to make a choice to be holy.

Theoretically, that decision is easy. But in reality, it’s a fierce struggle, because, frankly, I enjoy looking at sexy women. Hormones start pumping when I feast my eyes on one of those gorgeous creatures. Besides, it’s a pastime I can indulge in secretly. It’s all in my head.

God used two things to show me where unchecked lust can lead, which scared me into dealing with my lust habit.

First, I was scared by the devastation wreaked in the life of a friend who was ruined by sexual sin. When I graduated from semi-nary, I checked out several ministry situations. One opportunity involved working as an associate with a man I’ll call Bob who is about eight years older than I. He had founded a thriving church in Southern California and needed help with the growing demands. I was attracted to working with him because he seemed to be a deeply spiritual man. He would often get away by himself for times of meditation and prayer. His family life seemed solid. He had been married for almost twenty years and had four children, the oldest in his teens. I thought I could learn a lot about ministry working with him.

I finally decided to accept another pastorate which allowed me to preach regularly. About a year later, I had not heard from Bob, in spite of a letter or two on my part. When I mentioned it to a mutual friend, he said, “Haven’t you heard? Bob left his wife and family and moved in with a woman from his church.” I was dumbfounded!

A few months later I was at a Francis Schaeffer conference. I rounded a corner in that crowd of over 2,000 and came face to face with Bob. His countenance reflected his agony. We went out for coffee and he recounted the whole mess to me. It had started when he and his wife went too far as teenagers. She got pregnant and they married under pressure. He had always harbored doubts in his mind as to whether she was God’s best for him. Satan used those thoughts as the crack to drive in his wedge—another woman who was “more attractive.”

About three years later I saw Bob at another conference in an-other part of the state. He was there to counsel with one of the speakers, a well-known pastor. I’ll never forget the continuing look of devastation on his face. He looked haggard and much older. I hung the memory of his face in the gallery of my mind. I stop and gaze at it whenever I’m tempted to pursue the sin of lust.

A second thing the Lord used to scare me into getting serious about holiness was my responsibility as a father and pastor. Bill Gothard has a helpful diagram showing the “umbrella of protection” which God puts over people through proper channels of authority.

He explains that if a father has “holes in his umbrella,” due to sin which hasn’t been dealt with, Satan can get through to those under the father’s charge.

One hot summer day years ago I was pushing our first daughter in her stroller at the shopping mall while my wife was in one of the stores. The women in the mall were dressed (or rather, un-dressed) in native Southern California summer attire. One particularly delectable number walked by, and I found my eyes, true to habit, checking her out. Then I glanced down at our sweet daughter, so innocent in her first year of life. As her father, I would defend her from any foe, human or animal. The Lord stabbed my heart with the thought, “Why are you allowing the worst foe, Satan, access to your daughter through this hole in your umbrella of protection?”

As I reflected on that incident, I broke out in a cold sweat as I realized that not only my family, but the people I pastored would be vulnerable to the enemy if I didn’t clean up my act. You may not be a pastor, but if you’re a Christian, both believers and those outside the faith would be damaged if you fell into sexual sin. The gospel of Christ would be slandered. Realizing how my toleration of lust opened myself and others to spiritual harm scared me. I had to stop messing around with lust!


The next part of the battle strategy was to call my sin what it is: Sin! It’s not just a “problem.” It is disobedience to God. I had to put away all of the rationalizations which I had been using to excuse it: “I’m just a normal, red-blooded American man. My thought-life isn’t any worse than any other man’s. It’s not hurting anyone. Besides, I’m faithful to my wife.” No, I’m in disobedience to God when I entertain lustful thoughts.

Another rationalization I often used was to think that if I fed my lust a little bit, it would satisfy my appetite so that I wouldn’t need more. But that was like pouring gasoline on a fire. A little bit of lust for me is like one drink for an alcoholic. It just makes me crave more. I had to make a commitment to be a teetotaler.

I’ve had to learn that I never will become invulnerable against lust. I’ve discovered that when I indulge in a particular sin, it makes me more vulnerable to temptation in that sin for the rest of my life.

For example, I’ve never taken drugs. You could set a grocery bag of cocaine on my desk, and I wouldn’t have any problem throwing it away. But I know some Christians for whom that would be an in-credibly strong temptation, because they have yielded to that sin. Having yielded repeatedly to the sin of lust, I have to recognize that I will never become so strong that lust will just glance off me. When-ever I get to thinking that I’ve finally conquered lust once and for all, I’m in trouble. “Let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall” (1Cor 10:12).

But being vulnerable to lust and yielding to it are not synonymous. I’ll never be free from the temptation, but I can be free from the sin. By constantly recognizing my weakness, I am driven to trust in the Lord, who is my strength. “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2Cor. 12:10, 9).


One of the convenient things about the sin of lust is that if you’re careful, nobody else knows that you do it. Just make sure you steal your wrongful glances when no one else is watching. Don’t look at the magazine rack in a store where people you know might happen by. With those precautions, you can enjoy your sin and no-body else suspects it.

But that’s like tolerating cracks in a dam. It’s all beneath the surface, where nobody sees it. But sooner or later, the dam will burst and cause a lot of damage. Whenever a man falls into immorality, you can know for sure that he has been tolerating the cracks of mental lust for some time before.

Someone has rightly said, “Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” Lust must be conquered at the thought level.

In the context of talking about mental lust, our Lord said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away” (Matt. 5:29, 28, 30-see notes). Origen took this literally and castrated himself. That takes care of the sex drive, all right! But I’m not persuaded that that’s what Jesus meant! What He meant is, we need to get radical in dealing with sin! I’ve had to get radical by ruthlessly denying myself the luxury of lustful thoughts.

This means forsaking and confessing any lustful thoughts the moment they occur. Memorizing Scripture, such as 2Corinthians 10:3, 4, 5 (see notes), which talks about “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” has helped. That way I can direct my thoughts from the lust to the Lord. I’ve had to guard what I look at in magazines, even weekly news magazines. I try to avoid reading detailed accounts of sexual scandals—even Christian sexual scandals! It’s amazing how I can remember sensual pictures or stories years later, but I have trouble remembering a verse I memorized last week.

I sometimes tear pages out of Newsweek and throw them in the trash, because I can’t read the rest of the magazine without repeatedly looking at the lustful picture. I rarely watch TV or go to movies. I had to throw out a marriage manual because I couldn’t handle the explicit pictures. A few years ago when my office was at home, our teenaged neighbor girls, who were amply endowed by their Creator, were outside my study window in their bikinis washing their car. Between gazes out the window, I was struggling to put together a sermon. I finally got up and pulled the drapes, confessed my sin to the Lord, and was able to finish my sermon.

You may think that pulling drapes, tearing pages out of magazines, throwing away books, and avoiding TV and movies is a bit extreme. So is gouging out your eye. I have to deal radically with my thought life to win the war against lust.


Several years ago I heard about a pastor who had a terrible struggle against lust. He actually rewarded himself for finishing his sermon by going to a porno shop! Concerning his battle against lust, he made the statement, “I cannot tell you why a prayer that has been prayed for ten years is answered on the 1,000th request when God has met the first 999 with silence.”

Now wait a minute! If you think about it, this man is blaming God for his own sin: “I prayed for deliverance, but God didn’t answer. It’s His fault!” That offers no hope to the man struggling with lust: “Keep praying, friend. If you’re lucky, God will catch you be-fore you go over the falls. But maybe not.” Some help that is!

But the Bible never says that the way to deal with lust is to pray about it. It commands me to flee (1Co 6:18). It says that I should cleanse myself from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2Co 7:1-see note). It commands me to walk in the Spirit so that I won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:16-note). Pray, yes! But don’t just pray: Obey!

God puts the active responsibility for obedience in sexual purity on me. Somehow we’ve gotten the mixed-up idea that actively to deny lust in obedience to the Lord involves the flesh. So we pray for deliverance and go on disobeying as if we can’t help it until that magic moment happens. But Paul never says, “Let go and let God give you victory over lust.” He says, “Run!” He says that the grace of God teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires (Titus 2:11-note Titus 2:12-note). I need to do it and can do it! Otherwise, God wouldn’t command me to do it.

Part of fleeing is guarding myself in advance. I used to play games with this. I would go into a store to look at the news magazines (so I told myself). After a few minutes of doing that, I would find myself thumbing through Playboy or Penthouse, which were always conveniently nearby. (“How could I help it, Lord?”) But now I avoid stores where I could be tempted to browse through sexually explicit magazines. The man in Proverbs 7 (note) wouldn’t have wound up in bed with the loose woman if he hadn’t first gone near the corner where she lived (see Prov. 7:8-note).


I’ve heard Christian speakers say that one way to guard against sexual sin is to be satisfied with your wife. It’s true that being sexually satisfied with her helps me not to be lured by lust for others. But I’m uncomfortable with the approach which puts the focus on my needs rather than on my responsibility.

My responsibility as a Christian husband is not to satisfy myself, but to satisfy my wife. I’ve found that my sexual satisfaction is the result of seeking to meet her needs on every level—spiritual, emotional, and physical. When I focus on that, she responds and my sexual needs are met.

A lot of men are sexually frustrated in their marriages because they approach sex to meet their own needs. Jesus’ words about seeking your life and losing it and losing your life to find it (Mark 8:35) apply to sex in marriage. If I approach my wife to satisfy my needs, neither of us feels fulfilled. But if I work at pleasing her, then I’m deeply satisfied. The best sexual times for me are when my wife is pleased.

I’ve had to tear down my sexual expectations which were built from Hollywood and Playboy and rebuild them from Scripture. The world promotes my needs above all else. It knows nothing of the self-sacrifice which our Lord taught. Many Christians have unwittingly bought into this philosophy: “If my wife can’t meet my sexual needs, then I’ll have to meet them some other way. But my needs must be met.” But the Lord’s way is that I am to love my wife sacrificially as Christ loved the church. The blessed irony is that when I work at that, my needs are abundantly met. I can honestly say with gusto, “They have been!”

Dwight Eisenhower once said, “War is a terrible thing. But if you’re going to get into it, you’ve got to get into it all the way.” That’s true in the war against lust. You won’t win by being halfway into it. But if you’ll get into the battle all the way—God’s way, using His strategy—you can win! (Winning The War Against Lust)