This is the first in a series that will ultimately publish and provide commentary for each chapter of the book of Proverbs. The inspiration for this is the new book entitled “The Richest Man who Ever Lived” by Steven K. Scott. It's the best book I have read in a long time and is already changing my life.
Author Steven Scott has been through it all. He lost 9 jobs in his first 6 years out of college and was tagged as a hopeless corporate failure. On the advice of his friend Gary Smalley, who was also a nobody at the time, Scott read one chapter of Proverbs each day for 2 years. Scott changed from being a loser to being a winner and went from making $18,000 to $7 million a year by following the principles in the book of Proverbs. He made mistakes along the way and has lost his entire fortune 5 times in his life — each time by ignoring the principles of Proverbs — but has turned around and regained his fortune plus more each time. Not only that, but he has learned self-control and is a better husband and father than he would have been otherwise.
It most definitely is not a book on how to get rich, nor does it teach that Jesus wants everyone to be wealthy. If it did, I would not give it a good review because I despise the “prosperity gospel.” In fact, it is a solid Christian book on how to use the wisdom contained in the book of Proverbs to make you successful in your relationships with God and with other people as well as bring wisdom with how you handle your investments and your job.
Enough talk about the book, though I highly recommend it. Let's delve into Proverbs 7 and see what it teaches us. Why do I start with Proverbs 7? Because there are 30 chapters of Proverbs — essentially one for each day of the month — and today happens to be June 7th.
Proverbs 7: Warning Against the Adulteress
7:1 My son, keep my words
and treasure up my commandments with you;
2 keep my commandments and live;
keep my teaching as the apple of your eye;
3 bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
and call insight your intimate friend,
5 to keep you from the forbidden woman,
from the adulteress with her smooth words.
6 For at the window of my house
I have looked out through my lattice,
7 and I have seen among the simple,
I have perceived among the youths,
a young man lacking sense,
8 passing along the street near her corner,
taking the road to her house
9 in the twilight, in the evening,
at the time of night and darkness.
10 And behold, the woman meets him,
dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.
11 She is loud and wayward;
her feet do not stay at home;
12 now in the street, now in the market,
and at every corner she lies in wait.
13 She seizes him and kisses him,
and with bold face she says to him,
14 “I had to offer sacrifices,
and today I have paid my vows;
15 so now I have come out to meet you,
to seek you eagerly, and I have found you.
16 I have spread my couch with coverings,
colored linens from Egyptian linen;
17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh,
aloes, and cinnamon.
18 Come, let us take our fill of love till morning;
let us delight ourselves with love.
19 For my husband is not at home;
he has gone on a long journey;
20 he took a bag of money with him;
at full moon he will come home.”
21 With much seductive speech she persuades him;
with her smooth talk she compels him.
22 All at once he follows her,
as an ox goes to the slaughter,
or as a stag is caught fast
23 till an arrow pierces its liver;
as a bird rushes into a snare;
he does not know that it will cost him his life.
24 And now, O sons, listen to me,
and be attentive to the words of my mouth.
25 Let not your heart turn aside to her ways;
do not stray into her paths,
26 for many a victim has she laid low,
and all her slain are a mighty throng.
27 Her house is the way to Sheol,
going down to the chambers of death.
The first 9 chapters of Proverbs contain 12 “instructions.” Chapter 7 is the 10th instruction. The first verse begins with the typical address to "my son" and urges him to "treasure up" this commandment. The Hebrew word translated as “treasure up” means to hide something of great value for protection against evil purposes. It is the same word used in Exodus 2:2 to describe hiding and protecting baby Moses for the first 3 months of his life.
Verse 2 describes this teaching as something that is essential to life. It is to be treasured up and stored in one's heart. Doing so will protect us from our passions and Satan's attempts to snare us.
The rest of Proverbs 7 warns us against the dangers of youthful lust. It is the story of a young man ensnared and ruined by an adulteress. The youth is described as foolish because he purposely throws himself into a situation of temptation. By intentionally walking through the neighborhood of harlots, the young man is exposing himself to temptation and danger. The woman is described as subtle, with pretensions to piety (the references to making her sacrifices), and she entices the young man through the description of her beautiful couch and linens and her perfumed bed. She uses smooth words and seductive speech to get him to follow her home. He follows her home as an ox going to the slaughter, not knowing that it will cost him his life.
Let's face it: There are certain situations that we simply cannot handle. And I'm not just talking about illicit sex either. With all sorts of sins there is a line where, once crossed, we cannot handle the temptation. We need to know where those lines are and back away. When we accidentally find ourselves near these lines we should flee as fast as we can. The lines may be different for different people. For example, my wife has ministered to prostitutes and to very scantily clad young women at Mardi Gras. There is no temptation for her but, if I were to do the same, it would tempt me to impure thoughts at the very least. I would be a fool to try such a thing.
There are other situations that I can handle. I get huge hangovers after only one or two drinks. I have no moral problem with an occasional drink but I rarely indulge in it myself because I generally have a bad physical reaction to it. I love the taste of good, dark, German and British beers (and single malt Scotches) but I will often go 2 or 3 years between drinks. The headache and nausea the next morning pretty much make me avoid drinking altogether. Bars are not a problem with me, but for many people they are. People addicted to alcohol should stay away from bars and stores that sell alcohol.
The essential story of Proverbs 7 is staying away from illicit sex but the story can be extended to other situations as well. If we put ourselves in a place where we may be tempted to sin, then we are foolish. Too many lives, marriages, and careers have been ruined by putting one's self in proximity to temptations of various kinds and then yielding to those temptations. Think of all the politicians, business executives, actors and actresses, and preachers have all had their lives ruined or have killed themselves by foolishly exposing themselves to harmful temptations. Bill Clinton will always remain a joke. Jimi Hendrix, George Harrison, Janice Joplin, Jim Morrison, and John Belushi are all dead. Jimmy Swaggart is a symbol for all TV preachers who have been disgraced.
If we have God's wisdom of Proverbs 7 treasured up in our hearts, we will avoid putting ourselves in situations where we can be tempted to sin.
(Open trackbacks to Third World Country, Conservative Cat, NIF, The Dumb Ox, TMH's Bacon Bits, Adam's Blog, Stuck on Stupid, Blue Star Chronicles, Linkfest Haven, Church and State, Conservative Cat, Sed Vitae, Jo's Dungeon, and Basil's Blog.)