Last week we saw the results of receiving God’s wisdom; we’ll be delivered from those who would deceive us. This week Solomon takes us to someone else who we’ll be delivered from:
‘So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed; none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life.’ (Proverbs 2:16-19)
Now, we’re getting into a bit of an analogy here – is Solomon talking about an actual adulteress? The answer is yes and no.
Let’s not be silly here: lust is a massive problem. It’s a problem for men and for women, just in different ways; men are (generally) lustfully stimulated visually, while women are stimulated emotionally. Men may fall into habits of looking at pornographic magazines, watching videos, or stalking their hot friends on Facebook. Women may lust over imaginary men presented in chick flicks or romance novels, or over friends’ apparent perfect relationships. Of course, these figments of our imagination have ‘smooth words’ which entice us. They’re willing to forsake one partner to be available, whether in a porn film, a book, or in our imagination. They not only ignore God’s covenant but ignore any moral code about remaining faithful to one husband or wife.
The truth is that when we are invited into lust’s ‘house’ we’re committing ourselves to something terrible. By our actions we’re turning away from the joy promised by Jesus, and are pursuing our joy elsewhere, but this house ‘sinks down to death’. There’s a stern warning here: ‘none who go to her come back’. If we continue to pursue lust over our relationship with God, no good will come of it.
But there is a wider meaning to this passage. It is about adultery, but it’s also about idolatry. Throughout the Bible the relationship between Israel and God is described as a marriage in which Israel is the wife, but Proverbs turns this round: Wisdom (who represents God) is a woman, so Israel has become a man for the purposes of this analogy. And, just like Gomer in the book of Hosea, Israel is tempted to be unfaithful. Idolatry can come in many forms; whenever we’re tempted to put anything in front of God, be that lust, or money, or career, or family, or self, or politics, or whatever, following through on that is idolatry. Every moment of every day there are a million temptations being thrown at us; how will we respond? Fob God off with excuses? Or honour Him as the glorious King of all creation who is worthy of our passionate praise?
Of course, reading this article it would be easy to think that this passage is intended to basically shout at us…but that isn’t it. This passage isn’t screaming ‘DON’T DO THAT!’ Rather, it’s encouraging us with what we will be delivered from if we receive God’s wisdom. If we truly seek God’s kingdom first, we won’t succumb to these temptations. And believe me, the temptations themselves aren’t going away any time soon. We should be aware of the enemy’s tactics but that shouldn’t discourage us, it should lead us to realising that this battle belongs to the LORD, and He has already won it for us on the cross! Let’s respond in faith, and thank God for His unending love for us.