Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man. — Proverbs 6:10-11
Sleep is a precious commodity, especially for mothers of young children, but at times it can be dangerous. Recently I was trying to catch a few extra minutes of shut-eye after having been up several times in the night with my infant son. Suddenly I was awakened by a deluge of cold water gushing down my back. I sat up in a flash to see my two-year-old daughter standing by the bed, holding an empty glass. “Here go, Mommy!” she exclaimed brightly. I lifted the soaking blankets off and got up, water trickling off the bed and down my back. My opportunity to snooze for a few moments longer was over. Clearly, when my daughter is up, I had better be awake to make sure she doesn’t wreak havoc!
Of course I dried out quickly from my rude awakening, and no permanent damage was done. However, there are other ways we can “sleep” without shutting our eyes, and that is the kind of sleep that can be dangerous. Perhaps we are mentally asleep while we are supposed to be working. We may be zoned out while our college professor is outlining key concepts that we’ll be tested on later. Or we may be daydreaming while sitting in church on Sunday morning. Dozing off at the wrong time can cause a lot of problems, both in our temporal environment and in our Christian lives! In fact, if we’re not careful, we could lose the riches of God’s blessing in our lives simply because we’ve allowed ourselves to drift into a spiritual “snooze” instead of focusing on spiritual matters.
In our focus verse, Solomon warns against laziness — of sleeping when one should be working. Certainly our bodies need periods of physical rest, whether it is regular hours of sleep or a vacation from work. God rested on the seventh day of Creation, establishing a pattern for refreshment and restoration that we are to follow. Nevertheless, the warning Solomon gave has relevance in our lives. We might be awake physically, but sleeping our days away spiritually by neglecting to read the Bible and pray, doing our tasks of service half-heartedly, or failing to pay attention to the messages God is sending us.
If we have drifted into a pattern of spiritual sleep, God might have to startle us awake. And like my daughter dumping water down my back, it probably will not be enjoyable! However, if we stay alert to His voice and keep our minds and hearts fully engaged with what He has given us to do, we will not need to fear physical or spiritual poverty — or an abrupt awakening.
The matter of personal conduct continues in this chapter. While chapter 5 dealt with the sin that Solomon believed was the immediate danger to the young men of Israel, chapter 6 moves to other matters that can also lead a young man to dishonor. The man who conducts himself as detailed by the instruction given here will be saved from many failures.
Verses 1-5 warn against suretyship — pledging to assume the obligations or debts of another person should he default. To the Hebrews, speech was extremely important, and spoken words could not be taken back. For that reason, Solomon warned that a person should not make promises lightly, especially in the place of another who may or may not take his obligation seriously. Such behavior could bring a great deal of trouble. It seems unlikely that these strong admonitions were intended to prohibit generosity or the direct lending of money to members of one’s community, although even that can lead to difficulties. Solomon seemingly wanted the young men under his influence to properly understand the complications that can accompany certain financial and business arrangements.
The ant illustration in verse 6 provided a model of industry for the foolish and lazy man. The ant instinctively prepares at harvest time for the cold months of winter, and Solomon was pointing out the advantages of thinking ahead, diligent work, self-directedness, and efficiency. When an ant finds a source of food, it returns to its colony and leaves a scented trail to alert other ants of the find. Over time, ants determine the shortest path to the food, and often carry fifty times their weight in food back to the colony.
In verses 12-19, Solomon warned against the evils of lying. Modern studies have proven a fact that Solomon understood: liars tend to give nonverbal indicators that they are lying. These indicators include blinking or winking the eyes and frequently touching the face. The seven things that the Lord hates were given as a climax to the instruction in verses 12-15. This form of proverb (listing a number of items and then increasing them by one) was later termed a “middah” by Hebrew writers. It indicates that the list could go on and on.
In the last part of the chapter, verses 20-35, Solomon returned to warning against sexual sins. He specifically cautioned for alertness to the potential deceit of an older, married temptress. Verse 26 suggests that an adulteress seeking a relationship should be more feared than a prostitute who is only after monetary gain. In verses 29-31, the argument that those guilty of adultery should be excused because they had unmet needs is shown to be unacceptable. Solomon pointed out that a thief would not be excused if he argued that he could not feed himself.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The superiority of the way of wisdom
E The warnings of wisdom
2. Concerning other acts of folly
a. The folly of suretyship (6:1-5)
b. The folly of laziness (6:6-11)
c. The folly of deceit (6:12-15)
d. The folly of seven sins (6:16-19)
e. The folly of adultery (6:20-35)
Solomon condemns the sluggard and warns against laziness and sleep, but a spiritual application can be made as well. It is vital to stay spiritually awake and focused on the things of God!