24 So listen to me, my sons,
and pay attention to my words.
25 Don’t let your hearts stray away toward [the adulteress].
Don’t wander down her wayward path.
26 For she has been the ruin of many;
many men have been her victims.
27 Her house is the road to the grave.
Her bedroom is the den of death.
(Proverbs 7:24-27, NLT)
This is the third time (cf. Prov. 5:1ff; 6:20ff) that the father has warned the son against adultery. As we observed in day five’s meditation, given the frequency of infidelity in our own time and culture, it should be no surprise that he is doing so. For it is a heart-wrenching reality that in our own time (as it probably was in theirs), adultery is pervasive among us, with almost every week bringing the news of yet another moral failure of a spouse, and the consequent dissolution of a marriage.
So the father, rightly, grabs us lovingly by the collar, gives us a shake, and says, “Wake up to this! Be attentive! Listen to what I’m saying now!” And then waves the devastating consequences of adultery like a smelling salts beneath our noses in an attempt to keep us from falling to temptation.
And why do we need smelling salts?
Because the adulteress is seductive, she is a smooth operator (Prov. 7:21). She will lull a person lacking sense (Prov. 7:7) to sleepily succumb to sexual sin. She will share promises of satisfaction that can be secretively relished. She will smother with kisses, seize with allurements, spread out a seeming banquet of delights, persuade with physical pleasures.
It struck me this morning that there is a deeper danger than merely a person here, the one the father describes as the adulteress. Don’t get me wrong, I think in each instance the father is describing an actual person, an adulteress. But he is also describing the sin of adultery. And what I feel freshly awakened to this morning by these smelling salts is the scary reality that there is a prince of the power of the air, a spirit at work in people that tempts and compels them toward disobedience (Ephesians 2:1-3).
Remember, dear friend, sin is this powerful force and attacker, seeking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). Sin is a wily foe, it is crouching at the door, and its desire is contrary to a good life for us (Genesis 4:7). Sin does not come with a full, frontal assault, saying,
“Here I am, your old friend sin. Come on, turn aside to my ways, stray over here to my path, I’ve prepared some delights that will lead to your slaughter, pierce your heart, lay you low, cost your life, bring you to the grave, and secure your painful and untimely death.”
Who would willingly buy in to that sale?
No. Sin doesn’t come at you that way. Sin is smarter than that. Sin is a seductress. Sin is a smooth talker. Sin baits and hides the hook of your destruction with pleasures and delights, enjoyments and amusements, in order to pierce your soul, hold you fast, and drag you into Sheol and the chamber of death (Proverbs 7:27).
What is the answer to slaying this crouching, smooth-talking devourer of souls?
The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).
1 Follow my advice, my son;
always treasure my commands.
2 Obey my commands and live!
Guard my instructions as you guard your own eyes.
3 Tie them on your fingers as a reminder.
Write them deep within your heart.
4 Love wisdom like a sister;
make insight a beloved member of your family.
5 Let them protect you from an affair with an immoral woman,
from listening to the flattery of a promiscuous woman.
(Proverbs 7:1-5, NLT)
I have hidden your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
(Psalm 119:11, NLT)
Thank you for being the kind of Father that’s not afraid to tell us about the truly scary monsters that live in our world. Sin and Satan are wily and vicious foes, bent on our destruction. But you have supplied us with a book, that warns us of these smooth operators. You describe the kinds of traps and snares that will be laid in our path, so that we might have success in overcoming their temptations. Place within us the desire to follow your advice, treasure your commands, guard your instructions, and obey your commandments, that we may truly live! Fill us with your Holy Spirit, and remind us of the victory that Jesus has already secured by his costly cross.
Yes, and very amen, in Jesus’ name.
Pursuing the wise and good life with you,
Proverbs Thirty-One Day Reading Plan
August 14: Proverbs ch. 1
Aug. 15: ch. 2
Aug. 16: ch. 3
Aug. 17: ch. 4
Aug. 18: ch. 5
Aug. 19: Grace Day
Aug. 20: ch. 6
Aug. 21: ch. 7
Aug. 22: ch. 8
Aug. 23: ch. 9
Aug. 24: ch. 10
Aug. 25: ch. 11
Aug. 26: Grace Day
Aug. 27: ch. 12
Aug. 28: ch. 13
Aug. 29: ch. 14
Aug. 30: ch. 15
Aug. 31: ch. 16
Sept. 1: ch. 17
Sept. 2: Grace Day
Sept. 3: ch. 18
Sept. 4: ch. 19
Sept. 5: ch. 20
Sept. 6: ch. 21
Sept. 7: ch. 22
Sept. 8: ch. 23
Sept. 9: Grace Day
Sept. 10: ch. 24
Sept. 11: ch. 25
Sept. 12: ch. 26
Sept. 13: ch. 27
Sept. 14: ch. 28
Sept. 15: ch. 29
Sept. 16: Grace Day
Sept. 17: ch. 30
Sept. 18: ch. 31
Day Twenty-Six: A Morning Conversation With King Solomon
A conversation that happened this morning as I came upon a visitor in our fireplace room….
Day Nineteen: God Chose Her, Not You
The doctrine of God’s rule and reign in and over all things comes crashing into the human conception of the self-made man. We are tempted to think we have so much to do with our happinesses. But the wisdom found from James speaks a wakefulness into the pondering of our circumstances—the good gifts we have come not from our own hands, but by the grace and providence of our heavenly Father. And the wisdom of Solomon makes clear—one of man’s greatest gifts is something only God can give, an understanding wife.
Day Seventeen: The Great Gain Of Godly Contentment
We live in a world where the temptation is constant to believe the amount of our wealth and possessions directly translates to our joy and happiness. The Bible, once again, confronts our culture and holds out another possibility. Namely, “better” does not imply “more,” “bigger,” or “expensive.” It suggests that the reason you still haven’t found what you are looking for is because you’ve been searching in all the wrong places. Wisdom opens our eyes and hearts to deeper wells of contentment.
Day Fifteen: I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me
I always feel like somebody's watching me. And I have no privacy. Woh, I always feel like somebody's watching me. Tell me is it just a dream? So sang Rockwell in the dawning of my high school years back in 1984. All the cool kids were singing it at the time, and its the tune that sprang to mind when I read this similar sentiment this morning: Yahweh is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3, New Living Translation)
Day Fourteen: Death By Living
For those of us desirous to live a good life, we’ve known since the very beginning of this book that it begins with a healthy awe, reverence, and trembling before the God of the universe whose name is Yahweh (Proverbs 1:7). And here we are again reminded that this humble posture before the Holy One is a fountain overflowing with life.
Day Thirteen: You Can’t Always Get What You Want
One of the key assumptions we’ve been working with as we make our way through the wisdom literature is that God has hardwired wisdom into the way creation (and the creatures within it…us) operates. It was there at the beginning. It’s the inner logic of everything, and the secret code for how it works. (see Proverbs 8:22-31)
Day Eleven: A Pig Is Still A Pig
Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion. (Proverbs 11:22, English Standard Version) “Well…I never!” she replied to the King. Reading this proverb, it seems highly probable to me, given the stories of King Solomon and all the women in his life (1 Kings 11:3), that this was probably a proverb born from experience. He comes along a beautiful woman, of high social standing, of influence and power; but in his interactions with her, he begins to see her true self shining through all her external adornments. She has no discretion—she is a woman of loose and dissolute conversation, her mind and conscience are defiled. There’s a beauty for the eye, but the corruption of her character slowly transforms how Solomon sees her, and no amount of jewelry will cover that up.
Day Twenty-Nine: Please—Quietly Hold Your Tongue
Anger. noun. “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) As I entered day twenty-nine of Proverbs this morning, and came to 29:11, it struck me that this book has quite a bit to say about anger, strife, wrath, quarreling, fights, and rage. It is a theme that Solomon keeps coming back to, probably because he knows that it is a theme woven through humanity and history. Sometimes the best way to see a theme is to pull on that string so all the wisdom he has offered comes together for our observation. The accumulation helps us feel the weight of it.