Thursday, June 8, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 15, Wisdom Helps Us Think Before We Act, Part One

Today's passage still involves the subject of adultery, which we have been studying this week, but even more so it involves the subject of wisdom's role in helping us to think before we act. Solomon uses the example of a man who is unwise, who is a simpleton, who can be easily led into trouble. He appears to be describing a scene he actually witnessed in which a young and very foolish man acts without thinking.

"My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye." (Proverbs 7:1-2) The apple of the eye is the pupil. Who doesn't automatically blink or cover their eyes when they see an object coming at their face? Solomon says, "In the same way you protect your eyes, protect your virtue. Keep my commands always on your mind, for they are the Lord's commands. Follow them and you will avoid many a disaster in this world." Our virtue, our honor, and our good name are to be defended as vigorously as we would defend ourselves against a physical attack.

In fact, the Lord Jesus tells us that our spiritual condition is far more important than our physical condition. "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." (Matthew 5:27-29) This sounds quite radical but it serves to illustrate what a serious sin adultery is and how quickly we can move from thoughts to actions. Remember how quickly David went from thinking to doing! In the same night he went from looking on a woman with lust in his heart to committing adultery with her. On that night events were set in motion that eventually led him to having a man killed. When David couldn't sleep and paced restlessly on the palace roof, he never would have imagined himself doing the things he was about to do. He would have been better off, when he spotted Bathsheba bathing, to have covered his eyes and run back into the house. He would even have been better off to have plucked his eyes out than to have committed such awful sins against the Lord and against his fellow man. Our Lord isn't advocating mutilating ourselves, but He wants us to understand that adultery is an even more serious injury to ourselves and to others than the loss of a body part.

Solomon keeps telling his son to retain godly commands in his heart. If he makes up his mind ahead of time not to do wrong, he will be better able to avoid temptation. "Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, 'You are my sister,' and to insight, 'You are my relative.' They will keep you from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words." (Proverbs 7:3-5)

"At the window of my house I looked down through the lattice. I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who had no sense. He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in." (Proverbs 7:6-9) Solomon says, "I watched this dummy go to the house of the neighborhood loose woman. Why didn't he stay away? It's easier to avoid sin if we avoid the situation altogether. He's already put himself in danger by going near her. Plus he's come at dark, thinking no one will see him."

"Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. (She is unruly and defiant, her feet never stay at home; now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.)" (Proverbs 7:10-12) This loose woman is in sharp contrast to the godly woman of Proverbs 31, of whom it is said, "She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." (v 27)

"She took hold of him and kissed him and with a brazen face she said: 'Today I fulfilled my vows, and I have food from my fellowship offering at home. So I came out to meet you; I looked for you and I have found you! I have covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. Come, let's drink deeply of love till morning; let's enjoy ourselves with love! My husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey. He took his purse filled with money and will not be home till full moon.'" (Proverbs 7:13-20) This woman gives an outward appearance of godliness at the temple. She has made the required offerings. But her heart is far from God. She is the type of person who sins, then goes to the temple to make an offering for sins, then goes right back out and commits the same old sins. She is not truly repentant but is making only an outward show of being religious. Again we see a major difference between her behavior and the behavior of the godly woman of Proverbs 31. That godly woman would never betray her husband, for it is said of her, "Her husband has full confidence in her." (v 11) The godly woman's husband can go on a business trip without a worry in his head, because he knows his wife is faithful.

Tomorrow we will look at the second half of the story about the simple-minded young man. But today we will conclude by looking at this verse, and we're going to look at it from the KJV, "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof." (Romans 13:14) This verse seems more descriptive in the KJV than the NIV, since it specifically commands us not to make sinning so easy for ourselves. The simple-minded youth of Solomon's story made sinning easy for himself. He could easily have stayed at home that night. Or if he was out and about, he could have taken a route home that didn't pass by the adulterous woman's house. But he deliberately placed himself in harm's way by skulking about in the twilight near her door. I'm reminded of a story the late J. Vernon McGee told on his Thru The Bible Radio show. It was a story about a mother who caught her young son in the pantry with his hand in the cookie jar. When she asked him what he was doing, he replied, "I'm trying to avoid temptation." It's a bit late to try and avoid temptation once our hand is already in the cookie jar. It's a bit late to try and avoid temptation once the simple-minded youth is already outside the loose woman's house. We aren't to set circumstances up in such a way that we place ourselves in danger.

The simple-minded youth made provision for the flesh. He orchestrated the situation in such a way that he couldn't avoid temptation. He intended to go out at night and to be near this woman's house. He wanted her to come out and proposition him. He wanted to go in the house and sleep with her. He planned everything out so that he could become carried away and could say yes to anything she suggested. Let's try and keep our hands out of the cookie jar, so to speak. Let's stay out of the pantry of sin altogether. We can better avoid being tempted when we keep ourselves away from the thing that tempts us.

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