Summary: This is a study into Proverbs chapter six.
Pearls From Proverbs – Chapter Six
We now turn to chapter six of Proverbs.
LIKE A DEER FROM THE HUNTER
1 My son, if you become surety for your friend, If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, 2 You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth. 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. 4 Give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids. 5 Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, And like a bird from the hand of the fowler. Proverbs 6:1-5 (NKJV)
In verse one the word “surety” is used. Webster’s dictionary defines “surety” as: “One that is bound with and for another; one who enters into a bond or recognizance to answer for another’s appearance in court, or for his payment of a debt or for the performance of some act, and who, in case of the principal debtor’s failure, is compellable to pay the debt or damages; a bondsman; a bail.” In our times a co-signer on a loan would be one example of “surety”. If the borrower is not able or does not pay – the co-signer becomes accountable for the debt.
Co-signing for another person is not in itself evil – please do not interpret the scripture – but we are to be stewards of our resources and much enter such an agreement with careful thought and prayer. Remember when you co-sign on a loan – you become obligated for it. The key here are the words – “with a stranger”. Would you co-sign with someone you didn’t even know? Would you walk up to a stranger and tell them that if they stopped paying their bills that you would cover for them? If you do that – “you are snared by the words of your own mouth.” You have promised to take on a burden which you may not be able to afford. One the other hand:
These verses are not a plea against generosity, but against overextending one’s financial resources and acting in irresponsible ways that could lead to poverty. It is important to maintain a balance between generosity and good stewardship. God wants us to help our friends and the needy, but he does not promise to cover the costs of every unwise commitment we make. We should also act responsibly so that our families do not suffer.
A LESSON FROM THE ANT
6 Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, 7 Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, 8 Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest. 9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep-- 11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, And your need like an armed man. Proverbs 6:6-11 (NKJV)
There are many things we can learn from the natural world – we now turn to one of them. Study the ant for there is wisdom in the way it behaves. It has not ruler yet it just does not sit back and do nothing. It gathers food for its own supply. It does not depend on others although I am sure stores what it gathers in a common grain bin. It pulls its own weight – contributing to its own welfare. No sleeping on the job – but working to see that its needs are met. We will see the example of the ant mentioned again later in the book of Proverbs:
The ants are a people not strong, Yet they prepare their food in the summer; Proverbs 30:25 (NKJV)
Matthew Henry says:
“Diligence in business is every man’s wisdom and duty; not so much that he may attain worldly wealth, as that he may not be a burden to others, or a scandal to the church. The ants are more diligent than slothful men. We may learn wisdom from the meanest insects, and be shamed by them. Habits of indolence and indulgence grow upon people. Thus life runs to waste; and poverty, though at first at a distance, gradually draws near, like a traveller; and when it arrives, is like an armed man, too strong to be resisted. All this may be applied to the concerns of our souls. How many love their sleep of sin, and their dreams of worldly happiness! Shall we not seek to awaken such? Shall we not give diligence to secure our own salvation?”
Proverbs warns against giving in to the temptation of laziness, of sleeping instead of working. This does not mean we should never rest: God gave the Jews the Sabbath, a weekly day of rest and restoration. But we should not rest when we should be working. The ant is used as an example because it utilizes its energy and resources economically. If laziness turns us from our responsibilities, poverty may soon bar us from the legitimate rest we should enjoy.