Proverbs 6:6
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Proverbs 6:6-8. Go to the ant, &c. — “Nor are industry and diligence requisite in this alone, but in all thy affairs; to which, therefore, if thou art slothful, I must excite thee by the example of the ants; whose orderly and unanimous diligence, in collecting and preserving food for themselves, if thou wilt observe, thou mayest be ashamed” to be indolent, “and learn hereafter to imitate their provident care.” Which having no guide, &c. — “Which is the more remarkable, because they have none to lead and direct them as mankind have; no overseer to exact their labours; no supreme governor to call them to an account for any negligence. And yet they never omit the opportunity they have in harvest to make provision against the winter; but toil perpetually, in gathering and carrying food into the cells they have digged for it in the earth; where they lay it up, and secure it with admirable art; that it may neither be injured by the weather, nor stolen from them by other creatures.” — Bishop Patrick.6:6-11 Diligence in business is every man's wisdom and duty; not so much that he may attain worldly wealth, as that he may not be a burden to others, or a scandal to the church. The ants are more diligent than slothful men. We may learn wisdom from the meanest insects, and be shamed by them. Habits of indolence and indulgence grow upon people. Thus life runs to waste; and poverty, though at first at a distance, gradually draws near, like a traveller; and when it arrives, is like an armed man, too strong to be resisted. All this may be applied to the concerns of our souls. How many love their sleep of sin, and their dreams of worldly happiness! Shall we not seek to awaken such? Shall we not give diligence to secure our own salvation?The warning against the wastefulness of the prodigal is followed by a warning as emphatic against the wastefulness of sloth. The point of comparison with the ant is not so much the foresight of the insect as its unwearied activity during the appointed season, rebuking man's inaction at a special crisis Proverbs 6:4. In Proverbs 30:25, the storing, provident habit of the ant is noticed. 6-8. The improvident sluggards usually want sureties. Hence, such are advised to industry by the ant's example. This is another distinct precept; and it is for the most part as needless to seek, as hard to find, coherence in the proverbs and counsels of this book.

Her ways; her actions and manner of living, especially her diligence and providence, which are the things commended in her, Proverbs 6:7,8; of which naturalists give many instances, as that the ants watch the fittest seasons for all things, that they provide most plentifully against the time of famine, that they never hinder, but always assist, one another in their work, and unite their force together to carry away such things as are too large or heavy for one of them; that they prepare fit cells or repositories for their corn in the ground, and such as the rain cannot easily reach; and if through excessive rain their corn be wet, they bring it forth to be dried; that they bite off the ends of the grains of corn that they may not grow, &c. Go to the ant, thou sluggard,.... That art become surety for another, and got into a snare and net, and yet takest no pains to get out. Or this may be directed, not to the surety, but the debtor; who, through his slothfulness, has contracted debts, and uses no industry to be in a capacity to pay them. Or, it may be, this has no connection with the former; but the wise man proceeds to a new subject, and to dissuade from idleness, which brings ruin on families, and leads to all sin; and, for the instruction of idle and slothful men, proposes the example of the ant, and sends them to it to learn industry of it (h);

consider her ways; what diligence and industry it uses in providing its food; which, though a small, weak, feeble creature, yet will travel over flints and stones, climb trees, enter into towers, barns, cellars, places high and low, in search of food; never hinder, but help one another in carrying their burdens; prepare little cells to put their provisions in, and are so built as to secure them from rain; and if at any time their corn is wet, they bring out and dry it, and bite off the ends of it, that it may not grow. These, with others, are taken notice of by Frantzius (i); and some of them by Gersom on the place;

and be wise; learn wisdom of it, and be wiser than that, as the Septuagint and Arabic versions: this is a mortification of proud men, that would be reckoned wise, to be sent to so despicable a creature to get wisdom from.

(h) So Horace gives it as an example of labour----"Parvula (nam exemplo est) magni formica laboris", &c. Sermon. l. 1. Sat. 1. v. 33, 34, 35. & Phocylides, v. 152-159. (i) Hist. Animal. Sacr. par. 5. c. 8. Vid. Aelian. Hist. Animal. l. 2. c. 25. & l. 6. c. 43.

Go to the {b} ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

(b) If the word of God cannot instruct you, learn from the little ant to labour for yourself and not to burden others.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. Go to the ant] Comp. Proverbs 30:25; where however the foresight of the little insect is chiefly in view. Here its ceaseless activity, and that of its own free-will, without being set on work or kept up to it by external authority (Proverbs 6:7), furnishes the lesson to the sluggard.

sluggard] The Heb. word occurs frequently in this Book, but not elsewhere. Forms of the same root occur in Jdg 18:9, “be not slothful to go,” and Ecclesiastes 10:18, “by slothfulness the roof sinketh in.”

Twelfth Address. Chap. 6. Proverbs 6:6-11. The Sluggard

6–11. Comp. on this Section Proverbs 24:30-34.Verses 6-11. - 10. Tenth admonitory discourse. Warning against sloth. The ethical connection of this discourse with the preceding has already been pointed out. Sloth militates against prosperity; it is the prolific parent of want, and, even more surely than suretyship, leads to misfortune and ruin, The certainty with which ruin steals upon the sluggard may be the reason why the teacher closes the discourse in the way he does. In the case of suretyship such an issue is uncertain; there is the possibility of escape, the surety may prevail upon his friend to release him from his obligation, and so he may escape ruin; but with sloth no such contingency is possible, its invariable end is disaster. So far as the grammatical structure of the two discourses is concerned, they appear to be quite independent of each other, the only points of coincidence observable being the repetition of one or two words, which is purely accidental (cf. "go" in vers. 3 and 6, and "sleep" and "slumber" in vers. 4 and 10). Verse 6. - Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. The ant (Hebrew, n'malah) is here brought forward as supplying an example of wisdom to the sluggard. The habits of this insect, its industry and providence, have in all ages made it the symbol of these two qualities, and not only the sacred, but also profane writers have praised its foresight, and held it up for imitation. The ant is only mentioned twice in the Old Testament, and on both occasions in our book (see present passage and Proverbs 30:25). The derivation of n'malah is either from the root nam, with reference first to the silence with which it moves, and secondly to its active yet unperceived motion (Delitzsch), or from namal, i.q. malal, "to cut off," from its cutting off or consuming seeds (ab incidendis seminibus) (Buxtorf, Gesenius). The Aramaic name, shum'sh'manah, however, points to its activity and rapid running hither and thither (Fleischer). Sluggard; Hebrew, atsel, a verbal adjective tbund only in the Proverbs. The primary idea of the root atsal is that of languor and laxity. The cognate abstract nouns ats'lah and ats'luth, equivalent to "slothfulness," occur in Proverbs 19:15; Proverbs 31:27. Consider her ways; attentively regard them, and from them derive a lesson of wisdom. Her ways are the manner in which the ant displays her industry and foresight. That the intercourse of the sexes out of the married relationship is the commencement of the ruin of a fool is now proved.

21 For the ways of every one are before the eyes of Jahve,

     And all his paths He marketh out.

22 His own sins lay hold of him, the evil-doer,

     And in the bands of his sins is he held fast.

23 He dies for the want of correction,

     And in the fulness of his folly he staggers to ruin.

It is unnecessary to interpret נכח as an adverbial accusative: straight before Jahve's eyes; it may be the nominative of the predicate; the ways of man (for אישׁ is here an individual, whether man or woman) are an object (properly, fixing) of the eyes of Jahve. With this the thought would suitably connect itself: et onmes orbitas ejus ad amussim examinat; but פּלּס, as the denom. of פּלס, Psalm 58:3, is not connected with all the places where the verb is united with the obj. of the way, and Psalm 78:50 shows that it has there the meaning to break though, to open a way (from פל, to split, cf. Talmudic מפלּשׁ, opened, accessible, from פלשׁ, Syriac pelaa, perfodere, fodiendo viam, aditum sibi aperire). The opening of the way is here not, as at Isaiah 26:7, conceived of as the setting aside of the hindrances in the way of him who walks, but generally as making walking in the way possible: man can take no step in any direction without God; and that not only does not exempt him from moral responsibility, but the consciousness of this is rather for the first time rightly quickened by the consciousness of being encompassed on every side by the knowledge and the power of God. The dissuasion of Proverbs 5:20 is thus in Proverbs 5:21 grounded in the fact, that man at every stage and step of his journey is observed and encompassed by God: it is impossible for him to escape from the knowledge of God or from dependence on Him. Thus opening all the paths of man, He has also appointed to the way of sin the punishment with which it corrects itself: "his sins lay hold of him, the evil-doer." The suffix יו does not refer to אישׁ of Proverbs 5:21, where every one without exception and without distinction is meant, but it relates to the obj. following, the evil-doer, namely, as the explanatory permutative annexed to the "him" according to the scheme, Exodus 2:6; the permutative is distinguished from the apposition by this, that the latter is a forethought explanation which heightens the understanding of the subject, while the former is an explanation afterwards brought in which guards against a misunderstanding. The same construction, Proverbs 14:13, belonging to the syntaxis ornata in the old Hebrew, has become common in the Aramaic and in the modern Hebrew. Instead of ילכּדוּהוּ (Proverbs 5:22), the poet uses poetically ילכּדנו; the interposed נ may belong to the emphatic ground-form ילכּדוּן, but is epenthetic if one compares forms such as קבנו (R. קב), Numbers 23:13 (cf. p. 73). The חמּאתו governed by חבלי, laquei (חבלי, tormina), is either gen. exeg.: bands which consist in his sin, or gen. subj.: bands which his sin unites, or better, gen. possess.: bands which his sin brings with it. By these bands he will be held fast, and so will die: he (הוּא referring to the person described) will die in insubordination (Symm. δι ̓ ἀπαιδευσίαν), or better, since אין and רב are placed in contrast: in want of correction. With the ישׁגּה (Proverbs 5:23), repeated purposely from Proverbs 5:20, there is connected the idea of the overthrow which is certain to overtake the infatuated man. In Proverbs 5:20 the sense of moral error began already to connect itself with this verb. אוּלת is the right name of unrestrained lust of the flesh. אולת is connected with אוּל, the belly; אול, Arab. âl, to draw together, to condense, to thicken (Isaiah, p. 424). Dummheit (stupidity) and the Old-Norse dumba, darkness, are in their roots related to each other. Also in the Semitic the words for blackness and darkness are derived from roots meaning condensation. אויל is the mind made thick, darkened, and become like crude matter.

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