This is part five in my 31-day study through the book of Proverbs. The purpose of the study is to learn what God would teach me through this book about wisdom and discernment. Yesterday I learned the importance of imparting wisdom to my children and ensuring that wisdom is passed from generation to generation. I also learned that wisdom and foolishness are constantly battling to form who I am and how I express myself through words and actions.
Today’s chapter begins with the exhortation for a son to listen to his father. This seems to be a popular means of attracting attention to what is important in this book. The chapter speaks about a specific type of foolishness with which Solomon was all too familiar – that of adultery and sexual immorality. He describes an immoral woman in almost comical language:
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.
Though she may seem beautiful, attractive and may seem to offer the delights I so desire, in the end I will find it is all a charade. What looks so attractive is actually despicable and destructive. Giving in to my lusts and following in her ways will inevitably lead me to my destruction.
The passage continues with the author exhorting his children to avoid this form of foolishness. In previous chapters we saw that the natural reward for living a life of wisdom is financial blessing. Here we see that a life of foolish sexual immorality will lead to a removal of God’s blessings. Eventually I will come to realize that I should have heeded this instruction. I will regret not heeding his wise words. Destruction and unhappiness are the inevitable results of not following in the ways of wisdom. My foolishness will be made public for I will be “at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation.” I have seen this time and again in life, where sexual immortality leads to public humiliation as terrible sins become public. These sins hurt not just the participants but always their families and church families as well. Seeing the results of sexual immorality has served in my life as almost as strong a deterrent as the words of God forbidding it. Were I willing to disregard God’s words I hope that my memory of other people’s sin would keep me on the path of wisdom.
The author now begins to speak of marital fidelity using metaphors that have to do with water. He tells me to keep my love and affections focused only on my wife, saying “Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well.” I am to guard myself against a life of promiscuity by being faithful to my wife.
Verses 18 and 19 are poetic and beautiful. “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.” As an expression of wisdom I am to rejoice forever in the woman I married while I was still young and am to find both physical and emotional satisfaction in her forever.
I recently read and reviewed the book When Good Men Are Tempted. The author, Bill Perkins, wrote that most sexual immorality is based on trying to rediscover the excitement of young love. We recall the excitement of young love and remember what it was like to be enraptured. When we compare that to our marriages we feel unsatisfied and may soon find ourselves looking elsewhere, hoping to rediscover it with another woman. The word enrapture, used in Proverbs, certainly does speak of young love, but I am to strive to ensure it applies to me for as long as I live. If I remain enraptured in the love of my wife I will remove one of the greatest temptations I can face.
The author provides the alternative to a life of fidelity and that is to be ensnared and enraptured by an adulterous woman. How much greater is the way of wisdom and obedience!
In previous verses the reasons to live a life of sexual purity have been human reasons, but the author now turns to Divine reasons. God watches me and knows all that I do. I cannot hide my sin from him. If I ever end up being ensnared by sin, I will have no one but myself to blame, for I will be caught in the cord of my own sin! As it applies to this chapter, if I began an adulterous relationship, forsaking my wife, it will be entirely my fault. My own foolishness, my own lack of understanding and obedience will lead to my downfall.
The objective for this study is to learn godly wisdom and discernment. Based on the fifth chapter of Proverbs, here is what I have learned:
- The lure of sexual immorality will call to every person in his or her lifetime. Though it appears wonderful, the reality is that it is destructive.
- Sexual immorality will become public and affect not just the participants but their families and even their churches as well.
- I am to ever rejoice in my wife, looking to her alone for my physical and emotional needs.
- I am responsible for my own sin. If I disregard wise instruction and follow in the ways of foolishness I will have no one to blame but myself for my inevitable destruction.