Friday, May 26, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 5, Wisdom Gives Moral Guidance

Solomon has been cautioning his son about getting mixed up with the wrong crowd. He has counseled him to seek the Lord and His wisdom so he won't fall into trouble. Today he provides several examples of how godly wisdom helps a person live a moral life.

"Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways." (Proverbs 2:12-15) According to several commentaries I consulted, Solomon is telling his son that wisdom will protect him from those who are tahpchoth: subversive. And wisdom will protect him from those who promote taphach, which means a change of course but indicates a desire to incite acts of sedition against a government, against a religion, or against commonly accepted modes of honest and lawful living. These type of persons or groups particularly like to target those who are young enough not to know better. They actively recruit young people who want to feel a part of something big, who want their voices heard, who think they can change the world, and who are too inexperienced to recognize they are being used. One example of this would be the Hitler Youth of World War II. Another example would be the young men and women who join terrorist groups like ISIS.

Solomon says, "My son, wisdom will protect you from such things. You may not be old enough to recognize lies and frauds from experience, but godly wisdom will give you discernment in such matters. You will be warned in your spirit that something is wrong and you will avoid falling into this trap."

Wisdom will not only protect the king's son from falling for the lies of men, but it will also keep him from falling for the lies of women. "Wisdom will save you from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words, who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. Surely her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. None who go to her return or attain the paths of life." (Proverbs 2:16-19) Solomon paints the portrait of a woman who was once on the right path but has now gone astray. She is not a pagan woman, for she took her marriage vows "before God". But now she has cast her vows, and her husband "the partner of her youth", aside. She runs after other men and entices them with her hechelikah words, which means smooth or oily words. Her words sound nice to a man's ears. She flatters him and says all the right things. She knows all the right words to make him feel special and appreciated and respected, but her goal is to drag him down into sin with her. He will hate himself by the time she is through with him.

Solomon advises, "The wise man does not get mixed up with an adulterous woman. That path leads to nothing good. It might even cost you your life. Her jealous husband may kill you, or one of her other lovers may kill you, or you might contract a fatal disease from such a promiscuous woman. Even if you manage to keep your physical life, what will such a sin do to your spiritual life? Your relationship with the Lord will die a little bit every day as long as you live in sin like that." The Apostle Paul agrees with Solomon, saying, "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body." (1 Corinthians 6:18) We think of sin as something we commit against God or against our fellow man, and most of our sins fall into those categories, but sexual sin is a sin we commit against ourselves. That path leads to nothing good, as Solomon warns his son.

If his son will follow the words of wisdom he can escape a great deal of trouble in this world. "Thus you will walk in the ways of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it." (Proverbs 2:20-22) The king says, "Sin is pleasurable for a season, but the day of reckoning always comes. Don't live for instant gratification. Don't fulfill your needs in ungodly ways. Don't join in with the wrong people in order to feel accepted and appreciated. Remember who you are in the Lord. He loves you. He wants to provide everything you need. He will reward your faithfulness. But He will not reward sin."

Humans have been created with a need for love and acceptance. If God had not created us this way, we wouldn't form families and communities. We would never accomplish much of anything because we would all be doing our own thing and we wouldn't be able to work together to form societies or governments or nations. Even the Lord Jesus Christ enjoyed the friendship of the disciples. He needed their company and their support, as evidenced by His request that they watch and pray with Him on the night before the crucifixion. There's nothing sinful about wanting to be loved and accepted; sin creeps in when we violate our principles in order to gain someone's love or approval. If gaining acceptance with a particular person or group involves saying or doing things contrary to God's laws and commandments, then we don't need to become involved with that particular person or group. What we need is to remember who we are in the Lord, that we are "accepted in the Beloved". (Ephesians 1:6) We need to remember this, "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) We are not our own; we are Christ's. What greater honor could there be? What better acceptance could we ever hope for? Our Lord, who was able to save us by His own blood, is also able to provide godly friends for us. Let's seek His wisdom when choosing our close friends so that we end up with relationships that encourage us in our faith. Let's seek His wisdom when joining any group or activity so we don't end up with the wrong crowd wandering down the wrong path. If we are wise in the Lord, as Solomon says, we will avoid many of the troubles of this world.

(I will be out of town for three days during this holiday weekend, so we will pick back up with the blog on Tuesday. I wish you all a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend.)

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