This is the seventh day of this thirty-one day journey through the book of Proverbs. Due to extenuating circumstances (primarily a long night filled with sick children and hospital visits) I have not had opportunity to do as much study and writing as I would have liked. Thus I will be relying somewhat on last year’s study of this passage.
Chapter seven of Proverbs is divided into three sections. The first and last of them are instructions to avoid adultery while the middle section is a narrative used to illustrate this teaching.
The first five verses have what is becoming a familiar ring. “My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call insight your intimate friend, to keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words.”
These verses sound like several others that have appeared earlier in Proverbs. They teach that I am to heed the wise teachings of my father and trust them to guide my path. Just as with the Lord’s commandments I am to “bind them on [my] fingers; write them on the tablet of [my] heart.” The wisdom of my parents is to complement the commandments of God to form the foundation for a life of walking with God. The authority of the teaching of wisdom is similar to that of the Law – both will guide me, protect me, and allow me to live a life devoted to God.
The second section paints a picture of a young man being led astray by the lure of adultery. A foolish young man devoid of understanding is met by a woman who is intent on leading him astray. She flatters him and lures him to her bed. She lures him with the false promise of love (“Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love”) knowing all the while that illicit, adulteress sex can never fulfill the longings for true love. She deliberately confuses lust with love and deceives both the young man and her husband.
The foolish man eventually heeds her words and is seduced. He follows her into her house “as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast.” As cattle is unknowingly led to the slaughter, so does this foolish young man allow himself to be led to his own destruction. He does not know that an arrow has fatally pierced him and that his sin will cost him his life. As we have learned previously, adultery is one of the worst transgressions against God’s natural order, for it destroys lives and relationships and flagrantly disobeys God’s clearest commandments which are written on every person’s heart. Cleary, and somewhat ironically, it was of utmost importance to Solomon, a man who gave himself over to the temptation of sexual sin.
The passage closes with a father’s concern for his children to heed his wisdom. He says that I am not to be led astray by adultery. My heart is to remain fixed on the path to upright, honorable living, rather than to focus on and dream about sin. If my heart is led astray, my mind and body will soon follow into the way of sin which is a path leading to eternal punishment. This reminds me of the book of James, where the author tells us that what comes out of our mouths or comes out of our lives is a direct reflection of what is in our hearts. And as every believer can testify, when we allow our hearts to stray from God, our lives soon follow.
Like most men, too often I assume that I am above sexual sin. One formative moment in my life was a time my pastor stood in front of the church and said, “I, ____ _________ confess that I am capable of committing any sin.” That helped me realize that to deny that I am capable of any type of sin, is to invite myself to fail in that very area. I am sure that if I were to deny my ability to commit adultery, Satan would focus his attacks on that very area, preying on my blindness. Like my pastor, I need to admit that there is not a category of sin from which I am exempt. And so I need to guard my heart against every type of sin, and perhaps most especially against those ones where I may begin to think I am immune.