Reid Ferguson

Proverbs: Warnings Against Unfaithfulness

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

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1 My son, be attentive to my wisdom;
incline your ear to my understanding,
2 that you may keep discretion,
and your lips may guard knowledge.
3 For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil,
4 but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two- edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path to Sheol;
6 she does not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.
7 And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
8 Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
9 lest you give your honor to others
and your years to the merciless,
10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
11 and at the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
12 and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
14 I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”
15 Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
16 Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.
20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
21 For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord,
and he ponders all his paths.
22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
23 He dies for lack of discipline,
and because of his great folly he is led astray
(Proverbs 5:1-23 ESV)

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 Solomon doesn’t mince words with his son.

Proverbs 5:3 “For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil”

 

As we saw in a recent sermon yesterday, Proverbs 5 is what we might call a “strong meat” passage. Solomon doesn’t mince words with his son. Since the subject matter impacts the eternal state of his son’s soul, he spares nothing. He is bold and plain in his speech.

In our politically correct day – the tendency to be overly polite has crept even into the Church, so that our words are often “defanged” in an all-costs effort not to offend anyone. Offending people has taken on the character of being the only real cardinal sin of our age. You can say anything, as long as in reality it says nothing that can bother anyone else.

The Bible treats people as more valuable than that. It assumes that what is most loving, is what is actually best for people not what may or may not make them feel best. It respects us as being able to grapple with the truth, and not needing to live in a fantasy world where all is lilies and puffy clouds. God is a God of truth. And as made in His image, humankind is to be a race of truth – hard as some truths may be.

Let me remind you briefly of two things which appear in the text above, and which were amplified in the rest of this chapter.

1. Useful for our studying the rest of Proverbs (as well as other passages of Scripture) is to bear in mind that the idea of a “forbidden woman” is not ONLY an appeal to dealing with sexual sin for men – but a picture of all temptation to sin, for men, women and children alike.

All temptation – no matter what the object, calls us to partake of the forbidden, what God for whatever reason(s) has put off limits to us. As forbidden, it is some thing (or some one) we have no right to.

With that, comes a promise of certain “sweetness” – a seductive good implied in what is being proposed. This is accompanied by arguments in the heart and mind to smooth out any objections to pursuing the proposed good our consciences, God’s Word or anyone else might propose to us. The power of which resides in the fact that our own hearts are self-deceptive: Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

2. The unmasking of sin is one of our greatest weapons in overcoming it. Seeing it for what it really is. Stripping away the illusion. It is a constant battle, and a tactic which cannot be overestimated. We desperately need to see things as they are from God’s perspective. What Francis Schaeffer used to call “real reality.”

Our culture has decided to not call sin sin anymore. We concoct an entire glossary of terms to avoid it. Alternative lifestyle. Parsing facts. Polyamory. The “disease” model for drunkenness = alcoholism. Positive self-image. Addictive behaviors. Creative or un-orthodox accounting practices. Any way of describing things so as to denude them of any moral content. So we paint sin in the best possible light. We give it a pretty, or at least a non-offensive mask to hide behind. We excuse it in others so that we can excuse it in ourselves if need be. And more than anything, we avoid connecting it with the out-pouring of God’s wrath on Christ in our stead at Calvary.

Solomon wanted to make sin as repulsive to his son as he possibly could. A tactic we need to employ for ourselves. One which should bring us back to contemplate the horror of the cross again and again.

~ Reid

Next week: Part Two of Chapter Five

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Reid Ferguson

Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.