This morning brings us to day five of this thirty-one day study of Proverbs, and that means that we are studying the fifth chapter. This chapter bears much resemblance to the second, for it is primarily concerned with submission to the law, and avoidance of sins of a sexual nature.
As we have seen many times already, this chapter begins as a word from a father to a son. “My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge.” While Solomon does not begin with a “thus saith the Lord” statement, he still demands the listener’s attention, for he commands that he be attentive to his wisdom and diligently seek to understand. What the author will say in this chapter is worthy of meditation and will be valuable in living to the glory of God. To ignore these teachings is to ignore God-given wisdom.
“For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.” This passage describes both the pleasures and trouble that an immoral woman brings. While her lips drip honey and she has smooth speech, indicating that she will offer short-term pleasure, in the end she is bitter, sharp and she leads only to death. The pleasure she offers is seductive, but deceptive, for any pleasure gained will be as nothing compared to the bitterness she brings. We see also that she is a fool, for she takes no time out of her busy schedule of immorality to ponder her life to see whether she is living in an upright way. Instead she wanders, ignorantly spiraling ever closer to death, dragging down with her whoever she can bring.
There are consequences to our sin. Solomon warns against immorality “Lest…at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, “How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors. I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation.” He, who willfully rejects wisdom, will live to regret it. The honest assessment of a life given over to debauchery, immorality and unfaithfulness will be solemn, for the person will have to admit that his life was wasted. He will look at his life and regret that he ignored discipline and hated reproof. He will regret ignoring the teaching of those who sought to instruct him, and worst of all, the teaching of God Himself who sought to impart His wisdom. And to further his disgrace, his sin will be common knowledge, for it will be visible to the assembly and congregation.
There is a sense in which sexual immorality epitomizes a wasted life, for it rejects the clear teaching of every wise instructor and ignores the law which God has written on the heart of every person. To give oneself to sexual sin is to take a dramatic and deliberate step away from God.
Verses 15-20 are reminiscent of the Song of Solomon. “Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” These are such beautiful words and ones which ought to stir the heart of any husband. We are to delight always in our wives as we did when we were young. The passion, joy, commitment and intensity of young love should be with us always. We are to be intoxicated (or as the New King James translates it, enraptured) within the love of the woman God has provided.
The chapter closes with the first mention of God since the close of chapter three. We learn that God is always watching, always seeing and always pondering, or taking note of, our lives. “For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths.” God oversees everything we do and say. While we may not face immediate punishment for a sin we commit, God’s oversight ensures that anyone who lives a life of folly will be captured by it. “The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.” A man’s own sinfulness and rebellion ensnare him, for the natural order of the world dictates that a fool will dwell in his folly, living out death in this world. On the other hand, the man who seeks wisdom will truly live.
Sexual immorality is a path leading directly to death. The less satisfied I am in my wife, the less I am able to be enraptured and intoxicated by her. And of course it follows that the less intoxicated I am in her, the more likely I am to find fault, to make excuses, and to look for intoxication in the arms of another. But short-term pleasure rarely brings any long-term joy. Our society offers unrivaled opportunities to commit sexual sin. Yet the importance of fleeing this type of sin cannot be overstated. For when I begin to give my attention and pleasure to another, I will necessarily erode my relationship to the wife of my youth and will be well along the road to folly and to death. It is my prayer that I will always rejoice in the wife of my youth, loving her as fondly and deeply as the day we were married.