Diligence is the key in which this proverb is sung. Be diligent to free yourself from debt. If you owe someone something, do whatever is required to pay them in full. Otherwise, the debtor remains in bondage to the creditor. From the debtor’s perspective, goods and services received are intended to increase prosperity. Yet, ironically, poverty will be the lot of the debtor, since all energy is spent paying the creditor. Work hard, therefore, to pay the piper and settle any debts owed (Prov 6:1-11)!

“God is love” ( 1 Jn 4:8) but as Prov 6:16-19 makes clear he also hates certain behaviors and those who commit them (see also Ps 5:5). All of the behaviors listed are crimes against the community. They are social sins. And, since “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:39) is the second greatest commandment, it follows that God takes seriously our sins against others.

One of the behaviors God hates is repeated (“lying tongue” verse 17b; “a false witness who pours out lies” verse 19a). The list begins with six, but parses out the repeated item such that there are seven total (Prov 6:16). It’s also likely that lying is repeated for emphasis because this is especially heinous to the Lord. What we say matters and everyone deserves the truth, unless of course they’ve forfeited their right to the truth because it will be used for immoral gain. This does not mean that lying is an ethical alternative. Silence is an option.

Although body parts are mentioned as culprits responsible for the reprehensible activities God hates (the eyes, the tongue, our hands, the heart, our feet, our testimony), it is the whole “person” that brings the behaviors to a climax (Prov 6:19). It’s as if the proverbial parent is showing us that not one member of our being is immune to offending God, so every member must be brought under scrutiny. Diligence is not merely a heart matter; it must run throughout our physical presence. Whether we see, say, touch, feel, move toward, or imply, all behaviors must tenaciously seek to please God at every turn.

Remaining diligent to follow parents’s wisdom proves helpful in avoiding the pitfalls of foolishness (Prov 6:20-23), particularly the stupidity of sexual immorality (Prov 6:24-35). Although the choice to succumb is entirely ours, the consequences are not. They are inescapable and only ruinous (Prov 6:29, 32). Even the shame and disgrace for doing the wrong thing for the right reason can be overlooked by the community (Prov 6:30-31), but the adulterer finds only disdain and disgrace (Prov 6:32-35). Mercy forsakes him. One has only to wait a few seconds before asking anyone in the Western hemisphere to name a president of the United States who has been unfaithful to his wife. The community may overlook it, but they will never forget it. His wife will both remember and not overlook it. Adultery forever stains the community.

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