Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 14, More Warnings About Promiscuity

Solomon once again warns us that someone else's spouse is not meant for us. As we said while we studied Chapter Five, he teaches on the subject of adultery several times probably because it had such a terrible impact on his own family. This is still very timely advice in our world today, for sexual images bombard us everywhere we go. We can be driving down the highway on the way to work and see a provocative billboard. In the grocery checkout line we are faced with magazines featuring sexually suggestive photographs. Even some of the commercials we see on TV try to make us believe we will have more luck with the opposite sex if we purchase certain cars or beauty products or pills. The idea the world is trying to get across to us is, "It's okay to enjoy sex outside of marriage. Everybody does it. It's okay to chase after someone else's spouse. It happens all the time. Do what makes you happy. Follow your heart." The problem with following our hearts is this, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9) Following our hearts will lead us to do deceitful things, but following the word of God will keep us on the straight path, as Solomon says today.

"My son, keep your father's command and do not forsake your mother's teaching. Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you." (Proverbs 6:20-22) The king says to his son, "Your mother and I have taught you the commands of the Lord. Never let these commands out of your sight. Memorize them and hold them in your heart, then when temptation comes you will be able to say no to it."

"For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life, keeping you from your neighbor's wife, from the smooth talk of the wayward woman. Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes." (Proverbs 6:23-25) When we reach the final chapter of the book of Proverbs we will read of the type of woman a man is to seek. She is a godly woman. She is not the wife of someone else. Many a person has been tempted and undone by a good-looking face and smooth words, but the character of a person is what counts most. "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." (Proverbs 31:30) The Christian man is to seek a Christian wife, and the Christian woman is to seek a Christian husband. If that person is good-looking into the bargain, then praise God, but beauty of character will stand the test of time whereas beauty of the face and physique may not.

Solomon now makes an unusual statement, "For a prostitute can be had for a loaf of bread, but another man's wife preys on your very life." (Proverbs 6:26) He's saying that carrying on an affair with a married woman will cost a man far more than picking up a prostitute. He isn't saying it's okay to solicit a prostitute, but he's saying that the risk of sleeping with a married woman is much greater. The married woman has a husband who may become murderously angry when he finds out.

The king likens sleeping with someone else's spouse to scooping up hot coals. It's playing with fire and the one who plays with fire is going to get burned. "Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man's wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished." (Proverbs 6:27-29)

He now compares adultery with stealing, and so he should, because it involves taking something that belongs to another. "People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving. Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house. But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself." (Proverbs 6:30-32) We can understand why a hungry person steals. We have compassion for his situation, although the law remains clear. Both the books of Exodus and Leviticus spell out the penalties for thievery. The hungry person's actions may be understandable, but he is still guilty of breaking the law. The books of Exodus and Deuteronomy spell out the penalty for adultery, which in Old Testament times was death. And although in Solomon's day this sentence was rarely if ever carried out, the consequences of adultery involve other types of death. More often than not it results in the death of marriages and of a stable family unit. It results in the death of a healthy bank account and property holdings when the family breaks up. It causes the death of a good name once word gets out. It causes the death of friendships. Most of all, it results in the death of a close relationship with the Lord, because living in unrepentant sin drives a wedge between a person and God.

Adultery sometimes even results in physical death. The thief who steals because he is hungry can work off his debt to society. He can make things right. But the person who sleeps with someone else's spouse can't make things right. What's done can't be undone. There is no way to give back the wronged spouse what he or she has lost. That's why Solomon says the person who commits such a sin receives nothing but shame and may even lose his life in the bargain, "Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away. For jealousy arouses a husband's fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge. He will not accept any compensation; he will refuse a bribe, however great it is." (Proverbs 6:33-35)

If the threat of losing his family and his financial holdings aren't enough to keep his son on the straight and narrow, perhaps the threat of losing his life will keep Solomon's son from lusting after another man's wife. The king keeps hammering this point home because he knows from family experience what devastating consequences the act of adultery can bring. Lusting for another man's wife made King David both an adulterer and a murderer. He thought he could send for the beautiful Bathsheba and spend one night with her and no one would ever be the wiser. But what seemed like a small sin to him soon snowballed into a major avalanche. Everything around him came crashing down. Solomon wants his son to escape such a situation. It's far easier to avoid a sin in the first place than to try and make things right after the sin has been committed.

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