Proverbs 5: Keep a Path Far from Her
August 5, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Ezra 7, Proverbs 5, Luke 14:15-24, 1 Timothy 3:11-18
Perhaps one of the most important chapters in the Bible today. We are told today—subtly, implicitly, overtly, and explicitly—that sexual liaisons, of various and many kinds, without the boundaries of a committed life-long marriage of a man to a woman, is healthy and beneficial. Adultery, fornication, sexuality of multiple kinds, multiple divorces, and more that this brief devotional cannot survey, let alone diagnose, are the issue du jour of our twenty-first century. If there is an idol we worship today, then surely it is the idol of sex.
And yet when we come to this chapter, it warns of adultery in such stark and poignant terms that it is like a splash of cold water across our faces. When you read this chapter, you need to read it against the backdrop of the overall message of the Bible about marriage, as defined by Genesis chapter 2. “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Anything outside of that proscription of a married commitment—that begins with a public wedding (“leave his father and mother”) and is lifelong and committed by the bond of sexual union—anything outside of that is, by the Bible’s standards, failing. It is a good thing that we believe in a God of grace, and his grace calls us to faithfulness in this area of our life towards God’s commandments.
In particular, this chapter warns us against adultery specifically for some very practical reasons.
Adultery may seem sweet to begin with, but in the end, it will lead to bitterness and—if not repented of—death (5:3-6). I have seen this over and over again with people who are momentarily infatuated by their adulterous relationship; they need to realize that soon enough such sweetness will be replaced by terrible bitterness.
Adultery will cause you to lose honor and respect from other people and will even affect your finances (5:9-10, in the context of verses 7-14). When you break a marriage vow, it is hard for people to think that they can still trust you not to break other promises—in business, in friendships.
Adultery is foolish (5:15-20). Why drink from someone else’s well? At the heart of many adulterous liaisons is a basic lack of contentment and trust that what God has given you is good. School yourself in the joy of your husband or wife, and do not be so foolish as to think the “grass is greener on the other side.”
Adultery, and all its supposed privacies and secrets, are fully visible to God (5:21-23). There is no hiding from him. Therefore, live your life as if God sees all—for he does see all.
What is the solution to adulterous temptations?
First, once again, it is listening to God’s Word (5:1). There is no better way to guard against temptation than to fill your soul with the truth of God’s Word, regularly, daily, frequently.
Second, embrace discipline (5:12, 23). Self-discipline seems harsh and annoying, but without it we can’t do things of much value, and by it we can protect ourselves from many foolish traps. Be disciplined with what you watch. Be disciplined about whom you spend your time with. Be disciplined with your thought life. Be disciplined with your time. Discipline is not the path to restrictive imprisonment, but to personal freedom.
Third, rejoice in your spouse. Take the time, the thoughtfulness, and the energy to enjoy your wife or your husband (5:18-19). Anniversaries matter, birthdays matter, taking time to date each other and to talk to each other matters. Speak words of kindness to each other. Listen to each other. Rejoice in each other, and you will find that your marriage relationship will gradually and continually grow from strength to strength.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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