Lessons from Proverbs: Wisdom in Action

Proverbs 6:1-19

An old man wanted to plant a tomato garden, but it was
difficult work, and his only son, Vincent, was in prison.
The old man described the predicament in a letter.
“Dear Vincent,
Looks like there will be no tomatoes this year. I’m just too
old to be digging. I wish you were here to dig it for me.
Love, Dad”
A week later, he received a response:
“Dear Dad,
Sorry I’m not there to help, but whatever you do, don’t dig
up that garden. That’s where I buried the bodies.
Love, Vincent”
Soon, FBI agents arrived and dug up the entire area. But
they couldn’t find any bodies. They apologized and left.
The next day, the old man received another letter:
“Dear Dad,
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That’s the best I
could do under the circumstances.
Love, Vinnie”

Today we are going to look at the 6th chapter of Proverbs.
Our focus will be the first 19 verses.

Two weeks ago we talked about the dangers of the adulterous
woman and God’s design for intimacy in marriage between a
man and a woman.

This week we find additional wisdom in the form of warnings
against different behaviors.

Let’s start by looking at the first 5 verses.

Proverbs 6:1-5

Wisdom for Finances

Commentators differ slightly in their interpretation of these first
two verses. Some believe that Solomon is warning against
co-signing debt for anyone. Having been in the banking
business for over 20 years I can tell you that cosigners almost
always have to pay the debt they are backing. It’s not
supposed to work that way, but sadly it normally does.

Others believe that Solomon is warning against co-signing for
someone who isn’t family, or someone you don’t really know.
I tend to agree with the second group because of the way the
Scripture reads. The first phrase mentions neighbor and the
second phrase mentions stranger. I wouldn’t sign up to pay
back debt for a stranger for sure, and I doubt I would sign up
to back a neighbor either.

Solomon gives two pieces of advice for anyone who has
gotten themselves in a financial bind due to co-signing for a
neighbor or stranger.

Deliver yourself
Humble yourself

Go back to your neighbor or that stranger and let them know
you made a mistake, humble yourself before them and beg for
their mercy, and keep begging until they agree to let you free
from your obligation.

Notice the two analogies Solomon gives.
Deliver yourself like a gazelle escaping from the hunter – you
know the gazelle will be getting out of there as quickly as she
can.
Likewise the bird will escape the hunter if it is able.
The point being, if you find that your mouth got you into
trouble financially, do everything you can to get out of it right
away.
Don’t sleep, don’t slumber, deliver yourself, humble yourself,
so you don’t stay enslaved to the debt that doesn’t belong to
you.

Now, let’s move on to the next verses:

Proverbs 6:6-11

Wisdom against Slothfulness

Solomon encourages his son to go to the ant for wisdom.
Watch her ways and be wise Solomon writes.

He describes 3 attributes of the ant:

  1. Self-starter – the ant doesn’t need a foreman or
    supervisor telling him what to do. He knows what to do
    and does it.
  2. Diligent – the ant starts work and keeps working. He
    prepares his food in the summer.
  3. Planner – not only does the and work in the summer. He
    prepares for the time when the food is not plentiful. The
    ant works smart looking ahead to the future.
    The slothful person is not like the ant.

Solomon warns against sloth in other chapters of Proverbs.
Proverbs 26:15 “The sluggard buries his hand in the dish:
He is weary of bringing it to his mouth again.”
The sluggard is lazy. He gets tired of even feeding himself.
Proverbs 22:13 “The sluggard says,
‘There is a lion outside; I will be killed in the streets!’”
The sluggard makes excuses for doing nothing.
The wise person doesn’t have to be told what to do,
the wise person works hard and
the wise person prepares for the future.

The slothful person will come to financial ruin.

Solomon mentions poverty and need.
We can’t expect to sit back and get someone else to take care
of all of our needs. That’s ok when you are a child, but adults
need to provide for themselves. Work hard and you will reap
the rewards.
Be lazy and you will always be in need.
Remember, this is a proverb so it’s a general rule.
The OT law provided for the one-off situations where people
were in need. Land owners were to leave the edge of the field
unharvested so the people in need could come and have
provisions.

Let’s look at the next 4 verses:

Proverbs 6:12-15

Wisdom against Wickedness

The phrase worthless person could be translated from the
Hebrew man of Belial, which is a term for Satan.
The wicked person is one who models his life after Satan.
Notice the graphic description of this man.
Every part of his being is evil.
His mouth speaks perverse words.
His eyes, feet and fingers are all up to no good.
His heart is always bent towards evil. And the final dig against
the evil man is that he spreads strife among others.

Solomon’s point is that a wise man does not set his way
towards evil. When I think about Solomon sharing this wisdom
with his son, it makes me think of some of the lessons I’ve
taught my kids over the years.

Choose your friends wisely
I’ve told them time and time again to try to find good friends.
I encouraged them to spend time with people that make good
decisions.
I’ve heard it said that we become the sum of the 5 people that
we spend the most time with. We become who we hang out
with.
My mom always told me the phrase guilty by association.
She told me to avoid hanging around people who made poor
life choices. Eventually, if I spent enough time with them, their
poor choices would influence me.

Now, let’s look at the final verses:

Proverbs 6:16-19

Wisdom for Unity

When you read v.16 you might think Solomon is going to list 6
things then another 7 things, but that isn’t the case.
This is a way of emphasizing something. It happens multiple
times throughout the book of Proverbs.
Here’s the cool part about this list.

Each of these things that God hates are, at the core, related
to divisiveness.

Several of the things in this list are direct violations of His
original 10 commandments that He gave to Moses on the
mountain.

God desires unity for His church and His children.
Psalm 133:1 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for
brothers to dwell together in unity!”

Wisdom is understanding that God desires unity.
Paul wrote about it to the church in Rome
He explained that the church has many members, but we are
all part of one body, the body of Christ.
We should all work together to honor God and build His
kingdom. Everyone has different gifts and talents and we
should be willing to use them together with others in order to
bring glory to our Father who is in heaven.

APPLICATION

It’s not enough to know what wisdom is.
We have to put it into action.
Almost every week I pray asking God to help us hear His
word and put it into practice.

I’m sure there are several other points of application from our
text this morning, but I’m going to share two that stood out to
me the most.

Work Diligently – we can use the ant as our role model.
The ant works hard day in and day out.
The ant prepares for the future and doesn’t grow weary of
doing what is right.
The Bible tells us to work as though we were working for the
Lord. The world doesn’t abide by that standard. You’ve
probably heard the phrase, the boss is away, the mice will
play. Believers should work hard no matter who is watching
because God sees everything we do. He is always watching.
It also gives a good witness when we continue working even
when others are slacking or taking more breaks than
necessary.

Work towards Unity
In the church there are many dangers to unity.
It’s our responsibility to work together for the common good.
We are all on the same team and we all have different roles to
play as our church works to reach the lost and encourage the
wayward.
What can you do to inspire unity among your church family?
Are you being divisive?
Pray and ask God to help you strive towards His goal of unity.