Sunday, June 4, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 11, Wisdom Helps Us Avoid Sexual Temptation, Part One

Chapter Five is devoted exclusively to a discourse on the sin of adultery and how to avoid it.

This is not the only time Solomon will speak on the subject of adultery in the book of Proverbs. I think there is a very important reason why he keeps revisiting this particular sin, for the act of adultery took an enormous toll on his own family. His father David and his mother Bathsheba committed adultery with each other, a sin they tried desperately to hide even after Bathsheba realized she was expecting a child that didn't belong to her husband Uriah, who was away with the army. David made a couple of attempts to send Uriah home to sleep with Bathsheba in order to pass the baby off as his, but because Uriah was an honorable army commander, he refused to enjoy the comforts of home while his men camped in the fields away from their families. Because he was quickly running out of time, David gave up on persuading Uriah to go home and instead arranged for him to be killed in battle, thus taking Bathsheba for his own wife and attempting to deceive the people into thinking the child was conceived in wedlock. Not only was no one in the kingdom fooled, but God wasn't fooled. The Bible says, "But the thing David had done displeased the Lord." (2 Samuel 11:27b) In addition, the son Bathsheba bore to David did not survive, for the Lord had to make a public example of judging David's sin. David was in too high a position of power and influence to be allowed to flagrantly sin against the Lord and lead the people of the nation astray, for the prophet Nathan said, "You have shown utter contempt for the Lord." (2 Samuel 12:14) The child went on to be with the Lord, but for all his life Solomon knew this story. He knew he had an older brother in heaven, he knew his father and mother had committed adultery, and he knew his father had a man killed because his lust had led him to sin against the Lord.

No wonder Solomon has so much to say about being faithful to your own spouse and not yearning after someone else's spouse! While it's true Solomon had many wives and concubines, this was not considered adultery, although it was not the ideal situation. Solomon was legally married to all these women and as far as we know he never chased after any other man's wife. David too had several wives and concubines, though not nearly as many as Solomon had, but he had no excuse for taking another man's wife to bed with him. If he had physical needs he didn't need to look outside his own palace for fulfillment. This is the message Solomon wants to get across to his son, and to us. We are to work on the relationships we already have. If God has blessed us with a spouse, we are to do all we can to make a happy home with that person. We aren't to spend our time being envious of someone else's marriage. If we submit everything to the Lord, He is able to do great things, even with a marriage that has not been so great up til now.

Solomon begins, "My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it." (Proverbs 5:1-6) Solomon knows that a young man in his son's position is going to be propositioned by women. Rehoboam is the crown prince of Israel. He will be the next king. He's extremely wealthy. He's probably good-looking as well, for we know David was, and the genetics for good looks were probably passed down to Solomon and to Solomon's son, especially since we know Solomon's mother was beautiful and we can assume Rehoboam's mother was beautiful too. Women are going to be throwing themselves at the son of Solomon, even married women. Some women can't seem to resist wealth and power, even if the man himself is not very attractive. But when he's good-looking he's considered to be the "whole package", the most eligible bachelor around.

We don't want to miss the fact that the adulterous woman seduces with her words, not with her looks. Solomon doesn't mention her looks and we don't know whether or not she is very pretty or quite plain. Many a man has committed adultery with a woman who is no more beautiful than his wife, or even far less attractive than his wife. Why is that? I think it's because of her words and how they make him feel. Studies have been done that show that the main reason a married man might be tempted by another woman is because he doesn't feel respected or appreciated in his own home. Now I grant you that there are certain types of men who have no interest in being faithful to anyone. There are women like that too. I'm not talking about that type of situation. But in marriage, the wife should be the husband's main source of encouragement. The main reason married women seem to stray is because they don't feel noticed or loved by their husbands. Their husbands don't spend time with them or pay much attention to them. Perhaps this is why the adulterous woman in Solomon's story is trying to seduce another man. She's speaking all sorts of pretty words to him in order to get her own needs for attention met. The Bible tells wives to respect their husbands and husbands to love their wives, because these are the primary needs each spouse has in the marriage. If a man feels respected and appreciated at home, he's far less likely to listen to flattering words from another woman. If a woman feels loved and cherished at home, she's far less interested in attention from another man.

"Now then, my sons, listen to me; Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, lest you lose your honor to others and your dignity to one who is cruel, lest strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich the house of another. " (Proverbs 5:7-10) Solomon uses the plural "sons" again as he did in Chapter Four, and we still don't know whether he had more than one son or whether he is speaking to an assembly of young men. But he makes an interesting point when he links the act of adultery with the loss of wealth. How does this happen? Well, in our day, it's easy to see how this could happen, because adultery often leads to divorce. The legal proceedings alone may cost thousands of dollars, not to mention the loss incurred when dividing property and financial assets. In addition, if a man fathers a baby by the woman with whom he committed adultery, there is the expense of raising a child. Sometimes blackmail comes into play, with the adulterous woman demanding money from the man, or with someone else who knows of the situation blackmailing him. In some cultures there are legal penalties levied in such situations and fines to be paid to the injured parties. Whether the cost is monetary or relational or emotional or spiritual, adultery is going to cost something. God is going to be displeased with the thing we have done, just as He was displeased with what David had done. Even if our sin is not found out, it's going to have an impact on our relationship with the Lord. But usually there are natural consequences as well, such as the breakup of a family or the loss of our good name.

Solomon says, "It's not going to be pretty, no matter how it turns out. It's best to avoid such a situation altogether. Don't even let your eyes follow a woman; that's what led to my father's horrific sins. Don't let your ears listen to her words; smooth words from the serpent are what caused the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Keep the Lord's commandments. Enjoy the marriage relationship He's given you. Work on it. Respect and love your spouse. Be good to your spouse. Don't be looking around comparing your marriage to the marriages of others. God can do great things with the marriage you already have."

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