Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.
– Proverbs 6:4
The point Solomon presses is urgency in freeing oneself from so unwise and potentially disastrous of a decision. The urgency throughout this section of verses reflects the serious nature of the problem. The point is to take it seriously and not casually and to do all that can be done in honesty to get out of the obligation, including humbling yourself extremely.
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.
– Proverbs 6:3
Solomon employs the language of urgency and immediate action. If you have found yourself in this situation, get out of it as soon as possible. Deliver means to tear away and answers to the image of being ensnared in the previous verse. Humble has the thought of trample. It is a picture of lying down on the ground and being walked on. The point is to humble yourself to whatever extent necessary. To make sure means to urge and implies strenuously. Solomon does not advise trickery or deceit, but he does implore to lower yourself however far necessary and to pursue urgently the release from your hasty suretyship.
Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.
– Proverbs 6:2
Snared and taken refer to being caught in a trap such as a hunter might use to catch an animal. In this case, the impetuous youth’s mouth has landed him in the trap. Being in the trap is the consequence of a hasty action taken without thought. The way of wisdom is to consider well the implications and outcome of a path before entering upon it (Proverbs 4:26; 14:8, 15; 22:3). The issue here is debt and surety but the applications go beyond.
Chapter 6, verses 1-15, bring forward three follies or traps for a young man to avoid. Solomon continues his fatherly addresses and speaks plainly and practically. He warns of being hasty and obligating oneself, sloth, and avoiding unprofitable friendships or partnerships. Verses 16-19 is the famous list of seven abominations and verses 20-35 return to warnings against going after an evil woman. The repetitive and extensive way Solomon addresses this alerts us to attention to its importance.
My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger;
– Proverbs 6:1
Solomon begins a new address here that runs through verse 15. Verses 1-5 address the issue of hastiness in becoming obligated for the debt of another. He doesn’t use the usual call to attention, but begins simply, “My son.” Surety refers to giving a pledge to pay a debt if a person defaults and striking hands refers to the method then of entering into a contract. The point is speaking of becoming legally obligated to pay the debts of another. Friend here doesn’t necessarily indicate closeness. It could be anyone, so the relation is not important. The point is this being done willingly. In other words, it’s a situation where you are not under any binding obligation and so Solomon is warning against rashly obligating oneself voluntarily.
He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.
– Proverbs 5:23
Instruction points to restraint, or self-discipline as we would say. The way of folly, and here great folly, is the way of death (Proverbs 10:21; 14:32). To go astray means to err or even to reel. It picks up the notion of being ravished from the previous verses. This sort of folly is completely senseless and ultimately ruinous. This is the grim consequence and what lies at the end of the road that wisdom will consider.
His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.
– Proverbs 5:22
The man who falls after the strange woman will be caught and bound with his own sin. Such women are “snares and nets” (Ecclesiastes 7:29). The summary teaching of Proverbs is that folly brings its own judgment (Proverbs 1:18, 31; 11:3, 5). The evil imaginations and schemes of the wicked are their own undoing. It is also so with the man who will not delight in his wife, but rather seek out another.
For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.
– Proverbs 5:21
The arguments against adultery are not only the life consequences on earth. The Lord sees all our ways. Ways refers to a road and is a common figure for one’s course of life. The strange woman says her husband is not at home and so entices with the thought that all will be secret (Proverbs 7:18-20). Solomon reminds that regardless of what man may see or know, the Lord knows all. He ponders or weighs all of man’s goings. The word here means a track, or well-worn path. Kidner observed it is a figure for habits. The point is to remember both the knowledge and the judgment of the Lord.
And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?
– Proverbs 5:20
Verses 20-23 end this chapter with a renewed warning of the consequences of adultery. Solomon has juxtaposed it with the blessing of lifelong faithful marriage and then asks why one would choose the strange woman. He uses the word ravished again from the previous verse, but here it is the negative connotation of being delirious. It’s like trading gold for a bag of dirt. No sane person does that. It calls to mind the parable of Nathan to David (2 Samuel 12:1-6). Nathan’s rebuke was along these lines that David had great blessing, but despised it and took another man’s treasure from him (2 Samuel 12:7-12).
Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.
– Proverbs 5:19
This verse is both poetic and plain. It has the plainest statement in this section and informs the context that the intimate, physical relationship between husband and wife is emphasized throughout. A perusal of commentaries yields a number of fanciful interpretations that are purely allegorical. This is unnecessary and obscures the plain, literal, contextual sense of the passage.
The first phrase compares the wife to two animals that were symbolic of grace and beauty. The loving hind is an affectionate doe, or female deer. The pleasant roe is a graceful female mountain goat. Both creatures are surefooted and even on steep and difficult terrain they bound about gracefully. They were considered beautiful of form and symbolized the beauty of a woman. Solomon instructs his son to be smitten with the beauty of his own wife.
Breasts, or bosom, has obvious, plain meaning but also is spoken of in terms of the closeness of husband and wife (Song of Solomon 1:13). The word for satisfy means to drink one’s fill, to be saturated. At all times means the satisfaction is to be both continual and frequent. Solomon once again highlights the blessing and delight of faithful marriage, of which adultery is both a corruption and a poor substitute.
Ravished means to reel or stagger as in from the effects of intoxicating drinks. A husband is affected in every aspect by his wife’s love. The wife’s love encompasses all aspects of affection and action. Loving and being loved deeply is a blessing of faithful marriage and is unique to that union.