Proverbs – God’s practical guide to a joyful life
Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well.
Well, as mentioned last week, this week’s words of wisdom are once again focused on the adulterous woman. With the help of a second Old Testament guest, we will take a deeper look on this topic.
Let’s top up our coffees and dig in…
Warning Against the Adulterous Woman
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. 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.
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.
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.) 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 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.” With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.
Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.
Throughout the first few chapters of Proverbs, Solomon warns against adultery and the adulterous woman, and chapter 7 could be the movie version. As Solomon unfolds the scene before him, he describes the characters: the senseless young man, the dishevelled temptress, and the implied husband whom is currently away on a journey. To me, these characters remind me of another story where there is an adulterous woman, a husband, and the implied foolish men that fall prey to lust and her temptations. Can you guess who I’m thinking of?
About two hundred years after King Solomon’s reign, the prophet, Hosea, is called by God to physically be the husband of a prostitute. He willingly marries such a person – her name is Gomer. He loves and cares for her, protects and provides for her, and has children with her. Solomon’s movie scene is Hosea’s actual life. (You might like to read about Hosea.) Yet, the characters as stated by Solomon can be seen in light of the identities of the characters that God is proclaiming through Hosea.
To begin with, it is plain to see that without wisdom- God’s most precious guiding words- we are all in the place of the foolish, senseless young men who easily lead astray into destructive, sinful ways. Without God’s wisdom for our life, we are easily lead as sheep to the slaughter in sheer ignorance.
Then for Hosea, the adulterous wife was a reflection of the sinful, adulterous ways of the Israelites. God used his wife as an example of how the Israelites denied God’s goodness and pursued their lovers of self-indulgence, lust, and greed, but when left desolate and alone, how she returned to her husband, how they returned to their God. This analogy of his wife and Israel is also an analogy of us – you and me – and how we treat our relationship with the Lord, the bride towards the bridegroom. How easily we can turn away from beloved and turn our thoughts towards those self-indulgent pleasures and seek after our own desires and adulterous ways.
Yet there is still the husband that is the most essential character of this story. For it is the husband, who despite his fiery jealousy and his wife’s adulterous ways is faithful to his marriage vows and promises, and seeks after her. This husband is God who seeks after his people. It is Christ, our husband, who stands patiently with his arms and nail pierced hands wide open for our return. Despite our foolish sins and adulterous ways, he loves us. He enfolds us in his arms each and every time we return to him in guilt and disgrace, shame and repentance. He calls us his own and we are his. “In that day,” declares the Lord, you will call me ‘my husband’…I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.” (Hosea2:16a..19,20)
So, do not look away from your husband in order to fulfill lustful desires, whether as the foolish or the adulterous one, for there is no safer place for you than in the arms of Christ. He is with you now to guide you, to give you peace of heart and a clear conscience, and to bless you with joy and satisfaction in this life and the next. “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6b, italics added)
Prayer: Dear Jesus, my Bridegroom, help me to be a worthy bride, to keep myself from seeking after other lustful desires. To see your love for me more clearly and to trust you in all things, even those commands that I do not understand. Give me strength and courage to deny my selfish ways and to trust you fully, just as you fully fulfill your promises to me, though I am unworthy. In your I pray. AMEN!