Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Proverbs 7 So what's with adultery?

Before we move into this next chapter of Proverbs, I just want to update you on my former student, Jacob. Good news! His latest PET scan was negative for the cancer, and he is officially in remission from the Hodgkin’s! He has been through so many rounds of chemo since September, so this is amazing news. He will begin radiation in a few weeks, and will hopefully be able to go back to his freshman year in high school before long! Please pray for continued protection and that his body would respond well to the radiation. Pray that he will feel strengthened and that he will feel the joy of the Lord! Pray that he will be able to now patiently wait as his body builds resistance so that he can return to school. Thanks for your faithful prayers!

Today we are reading through Proverbs 7. Again, Solomon warns the reader to hold on tight to God’s Wisdom - to make it your closest companion and sister - and to flee from the adulteress. He paints the picture of a senseless young man wandering through the neighborhood of this woman who was just waiting to tempt him. I’m going to look at Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase from The Message:

As I stood at the window of my house

    looking out through the shutters,

Watching the mindless crowd stroll by,

    I spotted a young man without any sense

Arriving at the corner of the street where she lived,

    then turning up the path to her house.

It was dusk, the evening coming on,

    the darkness thickening into night.

Just then, a woman met him—

    she’d been lying in wait for him, dressed to seduce him. (Proverbs 7:6-12) 

Why is Solomon spending so much time on the topic of adultery? Many of us would say that we can’t imagine that being a problem with us. Why can’t Solomon seem to move off of this subject? First of all, the minute we convince ourselves that some particular sin would NEVER be our problem, we have a problem! That kind of arrogant pride is the beginning of just such a fall! NONE of us is immune from any kind of temptation, and we must always be humbly on guard against Satan’s tricks! And adultery is the ultimate form of unfaithfulness. Anything that leads us from complete devotion to God is adultery in God’s eyes. Israel was constantly being compared to an adulteress by the prophets of the Old Testament for her unfaithfulness to God. Solomon had first-hand experience with it, so he knows what he’s talking about! 

In this particular passage, the adulteress is brazen when she meets the young man:

She threw her arms around him and kissed him,

    boldly took his arm and said,

“I’ve got all the makings for a feast—

    today I made my offerings, my vows are all paid,

So now I’ve come to find you,

    hoping to catch sight of your face—and here you are!

I’ve spread fresh, clean sheets on my bed,

    colorful imported linens.

My bed is aromatic with spices

    and exotic fragrances.

Come, let’s make love all night,

    spend the night in ecstatic lovemaking!

My husband’s not home; he’s away on business,

    and he won’t be back for a month.” (vs. 13-20)

Look at how she makes a pretense of religiosity! She has just come from making her offerings and has paid all her vows! But instead of sharing her spiritual life with her husband, she’s using it as a lure to this young man. It is a good warning to us that even in the midst of Christian fellowship we can find temptation! There’s a reason churches have women’s Bible studies separate from men’s. The intimacy that comes from sharing God’s Word and His work in our lives can be a place of temptation. The friendship that starts over a Bible study can lead to something more. Solomon’s advise? Don’t even get started in that kind of relationship! 

So, friends, listen to me,

    take these words of mine most seriously.

Don’t fool around with a woman like that;

    don’t even stroll through her neighborhood.

Countless victims come under her spell;

    she’s the death of many a poor man.

She runs a halfway house to hell,

    fits you out with a shroud and a coffin. (vs.24-27)

In the next study, we will see Wisdom again personified as a different kind of woman, the kind of company we should be keeping.  

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