This will be the fourth sermon in a series I began several months ago on the book of Proverbs.  In the last sermon in this series, we discussed Solomon’s warnings to his son’s about the consequences of hooking up with an adulteress woman and the consequences of adultery in general.  We used the adulteress relationship between David and Bathsheba as our primary example of the dynamics involved in such a relationship.

       We discussed how the sin of adultery isn’t just the sin of adultery but always involves the sins of covetousness and deceit as well and sometimes, as we saw with David, the sin of murder. With our discussion of Solomon’s thoughts on the issue of adultery we finished Proverbs chapter 5 and will now move on to Proverbs chapter 6.

       Proverbs 6:1-5: My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have struck hands in pledge for another, if you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor's hands: Go and humble yourself; press your plea with your neighbor! Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

       If you have ever been approached to be a co-signer on a loan, you will immediately know what Solomon is talking about here.  To put up security for your neighbor is to tell your neighbor that if he defaults on whatever it may be he has promised to do you will do it for him.

       Solomon apparently sees this as very risky and tells his son to do all he can do to get out of such arrangement. There have been many who have become co-signers to a loan only to have the burden of such loan fall on their shoulders when their son or daughter or friend defaults on payments.  Solomon apparently sees putting up security for someone else to risky and something to be avoided. 

       Now I understand that sometimes the only way someone can get a loan is to have a co-signer.  To get a loan one needs a certain credit rating and if such credit rating isn’t there the loan won’t be granted unless someone with a good credit rating agrees to make the payments if the recipient of the loan defaults.

       While being a co-signer or putting up collateral to cover the obligations of another person may be a kind and loving thing to do, there can be serious collateral damage to such an arrangement.  Friendships have been lost and family relations have been strained over such arrangements. When someone has to pick up the payments on a defaulted loan or relinquish the item or items that were put up as collateral, some pretty nasty interactions can take place between the parties involved. Unless you are convinced the person you are helping out is very responsible and would only default in the most extreme of circumstances, it would probably be good to take Solomon’s advice and steer clear of such arrangements.

       It should be noted that the Hebrew word translated neighbor in the NIV rendering of Proverbs 6:1-5 is better translated “stranger.”  The NET translation footnotes this word by saying:

       NET: “probably refers to a neighbor who was not well-known. Alternatively, it could describe a person who is living outside the norms of convention, a moral misfit in the community. In any case, this “stranger” is a high risk in any financial arrangement.”

       If this is the case, Solomon may have been focusing on being careful not to put up security for a stranger as this is just too risky.

       Let’s now move to Proverbs 6:6.  Like we saw in our investigation of Solomon’s Book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon tends to write in a rather eclectic manner in that he jumps around from one thought to another without there necessarily being a connection between his thoughts.  After speaking about putting up security for a neighbor he now jumps to speaking about ants. 

       Proverbs 6:6-11: Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!  It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest-- and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.

       If it is true that Solomon, when talking about avoiding putting up security for your neighbor, is speaking about a person who is living outside the norms of convention as the NET Bible indicates, Maybe Solomon is seeing the neighbor as a sluggard and that is why he warns his son about putting up security for such neighbor. 

       At any rate, Solomon makes an interesting analogy to say the least.  He instructs us to consider the ways of the ant and in so doing be wise and avoid being a sluggard which he basically defines as a do nothing sort of person.  Since Solomon uses the ant as an object lesson, I thought it may be of interest to learn a little about ants.  So here are some ant facts.

  • There are more than 12,000 species of ants all over the world.
  • An ant can lift 20 times its own body weight. If a second grader was as strong as an ant, she would be able to pick up a car!
  • Some queen ants can live for many years and have millions of babies!
  • Ants don’t have ears. Ants "hear" by feeling vibrations in the ground through their feet.
  • When ants fight, it is usually to the death!
  • When foraging, ants leave a pheromone trail so that they know where they’ve been.
  • Queen ants have wings, which they shed when they start a new nest.
  • Ants don’t have lungs. Oxygen enters through tiny holes all over the body and carbon dioxide leaves through the same holes.
  • When the queen of the colony dies, the colony can only survive a few months. Queens are rarely replaced and the workers are not able to reproduce.

       Depending on the species, ant colonies can consist of millions of ants.  There are three kinds of ants in a colony: The queen, the female workers, and males. The queen and the males have wings, while the workers don’t have wings. The queen is the only ant that can lay eggs. The male ant’s job is to mate with future queen ants and they do not live very long afterwards. Once the queen grows to adulthood, she spends the rest of her life laying eggs! Depending on the species, a colony may have one queen or many queens.

       Ant colonies also have soldier ants that protect the queen, defend the colony, gather or kill food, and attack enemy colonies in search for food and nesting space. If they defeat another ant colony, they take away eggs of the defeated ant colony. When the eggs hatch, the new ants become the "slave" ants for the colony. Some jobs of the colony include taking care of the eggs and babies, gathering food for the colony and building the anthills or mounds.

       In warm climates, these industrious little insects may stay busy year-round gathering food, repairing the nest or caring for the colony's young. In colder climates such as ours, they take a break for the winter and live off the food they gathered in the summer.  While they will store food for the winter, they also prepare for the winter by eating more than usual during the autumn, fattening themselves up and then hibernate during the winter.

       Solomon uses the industrious little insect called ant to impress upon us the need to be industrious and be diligent in providing for ourselves and those under our care.  He points out that our failure to do so can result in poverty. Solomon uses the work ethic of the ant to impress upon us the need to be diligent in providing for ourselves and those under our care.  Apostle Paul is even more emphatic about having a work ethic.

       2 Thessalonians 3:6-10:  In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.  For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ""If a man will not work, he shall not eat.''

       While it is certainly appropriate to supply the needs of those in need, it is also incumbent on us to identify a freeloader when we see one and encourage such a person to provide for his various needs by working. The Scriptural instruction is that when able we are to work for the food on our table and not expect others to provide our food and other necessities.  

       While our governmental social welfare programs are a blessing to those who are legitimately unable to provide for themselves, these programs unfortunately also serve to enable the sluggard to continue being a sluggard who then becomes an unnecessary burden on society.  

       Having dealt with the sluggard issue, Solomon moves ahead to a discussion of the winking scoundrel. 

       Proverbs 6:12-15:   A scoundrel and villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth,  who winks with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers, who plots evil with deceit in his heart-- he always stirs up dissension. Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant; he will suddenly be destroyed--without remedy.

       We have all experienced the wink of the eye.  We probably have done it ourselves.  For example, you may be in a group were someone is spouting off about something you feel is off the wall and you give that “all knowing” wink of the eye to others in the group thus signaling to them that the person speaking doesn’t know what he or she is talking about.

       While such wink of the eye may be an innocent gesture for most of us and not in any way indicative of our being a scoundrel or villain, there are those who use the wink of the eye or some other bodily signal to facilitate dissension or something much worse.  I have seen movies where the wink of the eye signaled a fight or a shooting.  Solomon is talking about the person who runs off at the mouth and uses body language to stir up strife.  This kind of behavior usually catches up with such person and they reap what they sow. 

       Solomon now moves to an interesting discussion of seven things YHWH hates.  

       Proverbs 6:16-19: There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,  a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

       The first thing that may strike us here is that YHWH hates.  The Hebrew word translated “hate” is the verb sane (saw-nay’).  It appears 147 times in the OT and simply means to detest or intensely dislike someone or something.  

       In reviewing the OT occurrences of this word it becomes obvious that there are many more things God hates in addition to the seven things listed here in Proverbs.  What such a review will also reveal is that what God hates is all types of behavior that runs contrary to the Law of Love.  Love toward God and love toward each other.  God is a God of love and peace.  All behavior that runs contrary to the establishment and maintenance of love and peace is detestable to God. 

       God is the personification of righteousness.  To be righteous is to do what is right.  God defines what is right.  All behavior that is contrary to the right that is defined by God is wrong behavior and God has no use for wrong behavior. Therefore, it should be obvious why God hates the things listed by Solomon in Proverbs, chapter six.

       Some look at passages of Scripture that speak of God hating things and ask how can a God of love hate?  Well the answer to that question is rather simple. Love and hate are not mutually exclusive.  To be mutually exclusive means that it is impossible for two things to exist together at the same time.  This is not true of love and hate. God, as well as we humans, can love some things and hate other things at the same time. 

       There is another question; however, that is more difficult to answer. The Scriptures speak extensively about Gods love for us.  Yet the Scriptures also speak of God hating sinners.  Does God really hate sinners or does He only hate the sin we commit?  We have all heard the phrase “hate the sin but love the sinner.”  Is that how God relates to us?  Does He hate the sin we commit while all the while loving us despite our sinning behavior?

        In Proverbs 6 it’s recorded that among the things God hates is a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.  Doesn’t this sound like God hating the person who commits these sins and not just the sin itself?  Solomon does not say God hates the dissension a man stirs up; he says God hates the man who stirs up dissension.  We find similar language in the Psalms.

       Psalm 5:5: The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong.

       Psalm 11:5: The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates.

       These passages of Scripture would appear to say God hates the sinner and not just the sin.  What is sin?  The Scriptures define sin as lawlessness.  Any behavior contrary to God’s will is sin. Sin is the result of human volition. It is unrighteous behavior which means it is behavior contrary to what God has defined as right.  Sin occurs when we humans make choices contrary to righteousness.  Sin is not some independent phenomenon floating in the air. Sin owes its existence to behavioral choices we make that are contrary to righteousness and God hates unrighteous behavior.

       Does God hating unrighteous behavior equate with God hating the sinner himself?  Can God hate and love us at the same time?  Are hate and love mutually exclusive?  We often think of hate as one having a visceral, deep rooted, unforgiving animosity toward someone.  This, however, is not what is meant when Scripture says God hates the sinner. 

       It is apparent that when God says he hates sinners he is saying he hates the behavioral choices we make that are contrary to righteousness and not that He has a visceral animosity toward the sinner.  Scripture makes it very clear that God does not hold some deep seated unforgiving visceral hatred for sinners.

       John 3:16-17:  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

       Romans 5:8: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

       1 John 4:8-10: Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

       “I hate him when he does that.”  We have all heard this expression and probably we all have used it ourselves from time to time. Does this mean we have a visceral, deep seated, unforgiving animosity toward such person?   Of course not.  We are simply expressing our dissatisfaction with the behavior of someone. When Scripture says God hates the sinner, it is in this sense God hates the sinner. 

       In Scripture, the word hate is often used not in the absolute sense of intensely disliking someone but as a contrast to ones level of affection for someone else.  It’s recorded that God loved Jacob but hated Esau and that He choose Jacob over Esau before they were born.  Did God intensely dislike Esau?  Not at all! Scripture shows God blessing Esau as time passed by. 

       In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says you can’t serve two masters because you will hate the one and love the other.  Is Jesus here saying you will have a deep seated animosity toward one versus the other?  Jesus is simply making a contrast here.  Such contrast is even more evident in Luke 14:26.

       Luke 14:26: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple.

       The Greek word translated “hate” here is miseo (mis-eh'-o). Greek Lexicons define this word as “to hate, pursue with hatred, to detest.”  Is Jesus saying we should detest our father, mother, spouse, children, siblings and even ourselves?  The absurdity of such a conclusion should be apparent. Such a conclusion would run contrary to the command to honor our father and mother and love our spouse and children.  Jesus is simply making a statement of contrast between the level of love we should have for Him as opposed to anyone else.

       When God says he hates sinners but loves the righteous, he is simply making a contrast between how he feels about those who behave sinfully and those who behave righteously. He is not expressing some deep seated visceral animosity toward sinners.

       Let’s begin now to look at these seven things God hates.  The first of the seven things God hates is haughty eyes.  The word haughty is a rendering of a Hebrew word that means to be high or lofty.  Solomon uses it here to signify a look of pride arrogance and defiance.   This same word is rendered “defiant” in Numbers 15:30.

       Numbers 15:30:  "`But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the LORD, and that person must be cut off from his people.

       We find the Psalmist using this same phrase in association with a proud heart and Solomon uses this word in association with pride in Proverbs 6:18.

       Psalm 101:5: Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure.

       Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

       There are a number of Scriptural passages that show God hates pride and the expression of pride in ones behavior which can include the look of the eyes and other forms of body language.  We have all experienced the swagger in someone’s walk or the arrogant manner in which they position themselves before us or someone else. 

       When the Scriptures speak of pride they are not speaking about having satisfaction in ones accomplishments.  They are not speaking about being happy about a job well done.  They are speaking about believing ones accomplishments are completely self generated without the involvement of any outside power.  While we all accomplish certain things in life, we need to always recognize that our lives depend on the sustaining power of God and if it wasn’t for the power of God we wouldn’t exist let alone accomplish anything.  If it wasn’t for God having given us the wherewithal to accomplish things we would accomplish nothing.  It is the attitude of self aggrandizement that God hates. 

       A good example of this is found in Isaiah.  We know from the OT Scriptures that God used the nation of Assyria to punish the Northern Kingdom of Israel for their sin.  A number of years later God used the Babylonians to judge the Southern Kingdom of Judah in like manner. It is apparent from Scripture that the Assyrian king believed it was he and he alone who was responsible for the demise of Israel and other nations. 

       Isaiah 10:12-13: When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, "I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes. For he says: "`By the strength of my hand I have done this, and by my wisdom, because I have understanding. I removed the boundaries of nations, I plundered their treasures; like a mighty one I subdued their kings.

       It is interesting that Isaiah uses very similar language to that of Solomon in speaking of the Assyrian king having haughty eyes and associating such a look with pride of heart. We have the account of the King of Babylon being removed from power because he failed to give God the glory for having placed him in power.

       Daniel 4:29-32: as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?"  The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, "This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes."  

       What we need to learn from all of this is that God is sovereign over all things and we need to recognize God as the source of every facet of our Being.  We humans do not function independent of the power of God.  While God does allow us to make choices and live our lives according to those choices, he also expects us to constantly recognize Him as the ultimate source of all things and the one who defines for us how we are to behave.  It is only when we do this can we expect to be blessed by God.  God’s blessing is dependent on our obedience to His law and our recognition of His sovereignty. 

       When President Obama concluded his state of the union speech the other night he ended his speech with the usual “and may God bless the United States of America."  Really?  God bless the United States of America?  God bless a county were millions of babies are aborted every year, where homosexual behavior and same sex marriage is acceptable, where crime is rampant, where prayer and discussion of God as the creator is off limits in the public school system.  God will not bless our country unless and until we repent and embrace the standards He has established for human behavior.