A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, But a fool is arrogant and careless. Proverbs 14:16
Why is it wise to be cautious in our choices and decisions in life? It is because we live in a world that has fallen. I know that those of you who read this regularly in these posts may think that I emphasize this too often, but I fear that we do not fully grasp at times what mankind's rebellion against God has wrought in this world.
Today's proverb tells us that a wise man fears. That is the literal translation of the word "cautious" here. It refers to the fact that the wise man fears God. He fears God becasue he reads of God's Word - God's glory, power, majesty, and holiness - and he fears displeasing and dishonoring Him. Wisdom tells us to fear God's displeasure. Wisdom also tells us that there is a way that is evil.
Here is where we run into some very serious worldview problems with the world and its philosophies. The majority of worldviews do not take into account the fall of man into sin and the subsequent ruin of this world. They consider man's basic nature as good. As a result you will hear people tell others to, "Just trust what is in your heart." That is not wise or good advice. What is in our hearts is rebellion toward God and a bent toward sin. We will choose with an astounding regularity contrary to God's ways. This is because there is within us a bent toward selfishness - and a bent away from God. The wise man knows this - and as a result is cautious - and does fear making decisions and choices that run contrary to God's Word. This is the place he turns for wisdom - to the Word - because it gives us an objective revelation of Who God is and what He has said. Thus he takes time in making those decisions to check for God's will and favor in things.
The fool though is said to be arrogant and careless. He is arrogant because he thinks he does not need anything to make wise decisions. He doesn't need anyone to tell him what to do - especially a "God" Who knows all things. He considers the Bible to be an ancient document that has no bearing on his life or his decisions. His arrogance is manifest by how he views himself - as just fine and having NO need of refinement - let alone a fundamental change in who he is or how he makes decisons. Therefore he is careless - he does not care about God, about God's Word, about God's will. He will make his own way. His favorite verse is an interesting rendition of Proverbs 3:4-5
. It goes something like this, "Trust in yourself, and lean heavily on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge yourself and what you want. Forge your own path - make it what you want."
These two paths definitely diverge from one another. One heads toward God and sees God's Word as a road map and a guide for decisions - for life itself. The other sees nothing but self and a pursuit of what the world says is valuable. Even in instances where the world is not used as the standard - this one turns to his own desires and his own ways. Correspondingly, one path leads to destruction and misery - the other to life and life abundantly.
The naive believes everything, But the sensible man considers his steps. Proverbs 14:15
There is a way that some proceed in life that is very foolish. The wise man considers his steps - and thinks about the actions he is about to take or the words he is going to speak. He considers them to make sure that he does not enter into an evil path or make an evil statement. Let's take a look at this wise man and hopefully learn a little wisdom ourselves.
The naive man who is the focus of our verse today is one who is foolish and simpleminded. He is someone who is very naive when it comes to the complexities and challenges that a person faces in life. He does not think about these things - considering the best path to take or the proper thing to say. This leaves him open to make serious mistakes and missteps in his life. The passage here says that this man "believes everything." This kind of trust is misplaced in a fallen world. I remember early in my adult life that I just took it as a given that I could trust everyone. It did not take long to be burned enough times to change from trusting everyone to being wise knowing that mankind is sinful and fallen. What had happened was that God was taking me from being naive - to being a sensible man who considered my steps.
To be a sensible man is to be one who is prudent. He considers what is before him and thinks ahead enough to see what is coming. He looks not just at the instant gratification or the instant reward - but the long term effects as well. This is what happens when we consider our steps. We are taking the time to seriously think about what WILL happen immediately, short-term, and long-term with our decisions. The naive will be suckered into numerous problems and traps that are laid by unscrupulous men. The wise man will look, think, pray, examine things from the point of Scripture - and eventually seek to make a wise decision that will bless in the long-term - even if things look a little more difficult in the short term.
He will not accept any ransom, Nor will he be satisfied though you give many gifts. Proverbs 6:35
Adultery is always stupid. There is no amount of money or ransom that a man will accept for the love and purity of his wife. God gave us marriage and is the very essence of love - and bequeathed to us the gift of loving someone else. One of the most wonderful expressions of His love is seen when a man and woman commit to one another in marriage. That picture is used in Ephesians 5
to show the love of Christ for His church. The love that exists in marriage is supposed to be very strong - and thus breaking it is not something that can be paid back by any amount of money.
We read in Song of Solomon 8:6-7 these words that will help us understand why there is no ransom for adultery. "Put me like a seal over your heart, Like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, Jealousy is as severe as Sheol; Its flashes are flashes of fire, The very
flame of the LORD. Many waters cannot quench love, Nor will rivers overflow it; If a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, It would be utterly despised." Love is as strong as death - that is why often a divorce is described as being as devastating as a death in a family. Love is as powerful as death, jealousy is like death, and again is described as like "flashes of fire" and "the very flame of Jehovah." These are not light, fluffy passing descriptions. They are powerful and honestly, frightening! When you choose to love someone and commit to them for life in marriage, this is the power that is released. That is why no ransom will be accepted for adultery - no gift will seem appropriate. We read in Song of Solomon that if a man were to give all the riches of his house for love - the one offered the money would utterly despise the offer. Love is more powerful than ANY amount of money ever offered.
Unfortunately, a movie I know of but have not seen, illustrates our point. The move was called, "Indecent Proposal." I would NOT encourage anyone to see it - so I will describe what I've read about it. In the movie a young couple are given an indecent proposal by a rich man to pay them $1,000,000 for the wife to commit adultery once with him. After weighing what they could do with that much money, they unwisely agree to this indecent proposal. The wife commits adultery and they are paid the money. But the film examines the carnage that follows as, you guessed it, jealousy begins enraging this man over what has happened. Just like it says in Song of Solomon - no amount of money is worth love. Any amount is utterly despised. The man comes to realize too late that the purity and sanctity of their relationship is not worth any sum of money - not even a million dollars. Even a ransom of that enormous amount is something despised and abhorred by a husband and wife. Thus when one partner sins for usually far less, it is a foolish choice indeed that they are making. They are selling out their vows for nothing more than a fleeting promise of forbidden pleasure. What they will pay in the end would make them recoil from such actions. The problem is that "in the moment" they do not think, nor do they reason with any kind of biblical or moral judgment. They destroy themselves and their marriage in a bid for the illusive promise of a night of passionate pleasure. What they most likely do not know is that the indulgence will cost them more than they could ever imagine. This is why, dear saints, Adultery is always stupid.
For jealousy enrages a man, And he will not spare in the day of vengeance. Proverbs 6:34
Adultery is always stupid. This is never more clearly seen than in the reality of the reaction of the husband who has learned that his wife has committed adultery with another man. His reaction toward that man is predictable. He reacts with jealousy - in fact what is written here is that he reacts with enraged jealousy.
Jealousy, which is referred to in this proverb, is the Hebrew word "qinah." This word means zeal or jealousy. It describes an intense passion and fervor. It describes an emotion that is greater than wrath or anger. Scripture calls this jealousy a rottenness in a man's bones (Prov. 14:30
). It is used to speak of a spirit of jealousy that comes upon a man in Numbers 25:11
. But the frightening description of this word is that it is used of God's zeal which He has toward his own people - and which He has for accomplishing His own will and purpose. The word is used six different times to speak of the way God's wrath is expressed in judgment. This is a strong word - and is made even stronger by the fact that it is used in connection with the word, "enrages." This word is the Hebrew word "hemah" and it means wrath or heat. It signifies great fury, anger, indignation, poison , or rage. When put together these two words create quite a terrifying description of the emotions that come over a man who learns of an adulterer seeking to destroy his relationship with his wife.
This enraged jealousy moves this man to seek the maximum penalty for adultery. I've watched this in court battles and divorces. The injured party, when given over to this enraged jealousy, wants to make the other person pay everything possible. There is a desire for them to truly pay the highest price possible for their indiscretion. They want a "day of vengeance." That is why adultery is always stupid. It always injures someone - and makes for emotions that rival any in life. The wise man sees this and realizes that no promise of sexual pleasure will ever match the release of rage, anger, and wrath that will come when their deeds become known.
Men do not despise a thief if he steals To satisfy himself when he is hungry; But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold; He must give all the substance of his house. Proverbs 6:30-31
Adultery is always stupid. In fact adultery here is being called dumber than stealing. We are offered a comparison between these two sins - and in the end, adultery is considered the worse of the two.
This passage is interesting, because although it does compare stealing and adultery, it does not condone either. The comparison is to how the theif is viewed vs. the view of the adulterer. The thief is actually shown compassion, especially if his stealing is due to being hungry. The passage tells us that a thief is not despised if he steals to satisfy his own hunger. We all understand hunger and the drive to satisfy our appetite when we have not eaten in a while. The thing about this proverb though is that after saying this - we are brought back to justice. If caught though, the thief will have to repay sevenfold for what he has stolen. This is the case even if the thief has to given everything in his house to pay that debt. There is mercy toward his situation - but not mercy toward the actions he took to remedy it.
But the adulterer is by default NOT given the same grace. We all probably know lust as well - but to actually go out and take another man's wife to satisfy it is wickedness. The adultery is also guilty of stealing - stealing the sanctity of another man's marriage. He is stealing another man's wife - taking her affections - and taking from him the vows that were made to him in the sight of God. This is not viewed with a gracious attitude here. Whereas a thief is not despised for his actions to alleviate his hunger - the adultery IS despised for taking another man's wife. If justice falls on the hungry man for his stolen food, how much more will God's justice fall on the adultery for stealing the sacredness of marriage and a home? There is going to be a cost - and that cost is high.
Ask David and Bathsheba what that cost involves. They will tell you that the cost far outweighs the pleasure of the moment. Ask David's family who also paid a high price for the attitude toward marriage and sexuality that was unfortunately passed in that family? Ask Samson if it was worthy his two eyes to commit sexual sin and satisfy his lusts in ungodly ways? Ask the people of Sodom and Gomorrah whether it was worth it to despise God's plan for marriage and go their own way? These are all examples of those who had to pay - and some pay with the very substance of their house. Adultery costs - and to think that we can get around that cost is ignorant. That is why dear saints, "Adultery is always stupid."
Wounds and disgrace he will find, And his reproach will not be blotted out. Proverbs 6:33
Adultery is always stupid. That is the premise we are following in these last verses of Proverbs chapter 6. Here we see that adultery is stupid because it will eventually yield punishment. This refers to a day when adultery was a punishable offense in a nation. In some nations it still is a punishable offense. Where it is, the rates of adultery and divorce are far lower than in nations where marriage is no longer protected by law.
The wounds, disgrace, and reproach that are spoken of here are all due in part to the public punishment that came with adultery in biblical times. A simple review of the laws against adultery help us to see that this was considered a very serious sin. First we have God stating that this particular sin was part of the 10 commandments. "You shall not commit adultery," is found in Exodus 20
where God gives the commandments to Moses. Later in Leviticus 20
we see where God makes it clear that adultery was considered a capital offensein Israel (and in God's sight). "If there is
a man who commits adultery with another man's wife, one who commits adultery with his friend's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death." If we were to trace the damage done to not just the marriage but to families and societies through adultery, we might not look at this as too strict.
There used to be a time when adultery was seen as a very disgraceful thing. It was easy to see that what God said here is true. The reproach from being and adultery would not be able to be blotted out. There is a stigma to those who break their marriage vows by having sex with someone who is not their wife. This stigma is natural - and it is only as we have turned from God and from His truth that we have decided to try our best to erase that stigma from our society. Jeremiah's prophecy is filled with rebuke for the adultery that was rampant in the land. In Jeremiah 23:14
we read this prophetic word to God's people, "Also among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: The committing of adultery and walking in falsehood; And they strengthen the hands of evildoers, So that no one has turned back from his wickedness. All of them have become to Me like Sodom, And her inhabitants like Gomorrah." This sin, when it was ignored by God's people and by their prophets, would "strengthen the hands of evildoers." When adultery is tolerated by a society and treated as no big deal, we read that no one turns back from their wickedness. We find a soceity where the most basic bonds of relationship break down - and thus any kind of trustworthiness also breaks down with it.
In recent years we've heard a chorus of those who tell us that it does not matter if one of our elected officials has committed adultery and divorced their partner. We view it as part of the normal landscape that this happens, and in so doing, destroy the foundation upon which the home - and thereby society in general is built. The complete lack of character in our elected officials is a testimony to the truth of the Scriptures when it comes to adultery and being faithful to your vows in your marriage. We've watched as again and again that if these men and women won't be faithful to the closest bond and promise that they have made, why would we think that would be faithful to a vow to adhere to and defend the principles in the Constitution?
Some may say that this is too harsh. Jesus Himself forgave the woman who was caught in the very act of adultery. To this I would say a hearty, "Amen!" He did forgive her - and He forgives those who commit adultery today. But our problem is that we've degenerated to a point where we question if adultery should even be classified as sin. We've come to the point where we want to give the forgiveness without also stating the other thing Jesus said that day, "Go and sin no more." We watch as elected officials lie to our faces on televison that they did not have sex with that woman - and then expect the forgiveness and absolution without any repentance and confession. What we should realize is that whether we embrace it or not - adultery is going to cause very serious problems for an individual - and for a society that seeks to sweep it under the proverbial moral rug.
Adultery is always stupid. It always has consequences. It always will involve disgrace and reproach - at least in the eyes of God (and that is what counts in the end). The wise man sets a very clear boundary in his life when it comes to adultery. He not only sets a boundary, but he also sets a reminder that crossing this boundary will result in bad consequences. And since our society no longer sees fit to protect marriage in this way - we will have to do even more on the personal level to have reminders, boundaries, and warnings in our hearts to protect us from it.
The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense; He who would destroy himself does it. Proverbs 6:32
This passage deals with the stupidity of committing adultery, plain and simple. Several years ago Randy Alcorn wrote a book called, "The Purity Principle." In it I felt that Alcorn made a statement that is one for the ages. "Purity is always smart, impurity is always stupid." That is what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell us today in Proverbs. "The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense." This is a very genteel way of saying what Alcorn said. We could restate his principle by saying that faithfulness in marriage is always good, adultery is always stupid.
The actual words used here are the ones that are used often in Proverbs. The one who commits adultery with a woman lacks heart. We are being told that adultery shows that we have a heart problem more than anything else. We've allowed our hearts to be captured by lust and sexual immorality rather than by God. While reading a series of purity prayers I've run into the statement again and again where the puritans asked God to capture their heart so that they would not be satisfied by trifling affections. The heart can be captured in this way - and given to things that are so far less than what God wants to give us. The truth is what He wants to give us in Himself. We settle for so much less and so less fulfilling things than Him. And that is what the fool has done - he has settled for adultery rather than finding in God and in His provision of his wife true fulfillment.
We are also warned in this passage that, ". . . he who would destroy himself does it." The literal Hebrew says that the destruction is in this man's soul. He finds his mind strangely drawn and lied to by the enticements of the adulterous woman. He finds his emotions stimulated by a false love and false promises of intimacy and pleasure. As he foolishly begins to embrace these thoughts and these concepts he also begins to lose the war within his will to continue in God's ways and in God's path. Soon he gives in to the onslaught that is coming toward his soul. He no longer lives out of his spirit - where the Spirit of God would give him strength to resist and overcome temptation - but instead allows himself to be taken over by his body and its lusts. As he does this He submits himself to the adultery - and in so doing he "destroys" himself in the process and the sinful choice. Destroy here is the Hebrew word, "sahat" and it means to spoil, ruin, destroy, pervert, or corrupt. When you look at these ways of translating this word they all fit this passage - and all take place as this man acts foolishly by committing adultery.
For the next several days we will look at the terrible consequences and the wise warnings that God gives us in this area. Remember that this entire conversation is one that takes place between a man and his sons. How wise we would be to have this kind of conversation with our sons as they get older and begin to face the temptations of this present world. How wise we would be to also have these kinds of conversations with our adult sons who are married, as well as with our brothers in Christ with whom we share fellowship in God's church. Since these things are written about so many times in Proverbs - it is a reminder that the wise also warn one another with the very warnings given to us by God.
Do not be afraid of sudden fear Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence And will keep your foot from being caught. Proverbs 3:25-26
Sudden fear, dread, terror that comes suddenly - all these are things that wisdom will protect us from in our lives. Now please do not misunderstand that this passage is not saying that bad things will never happen to good people. We all know that we've grieved over godly people who have been killed in car accidents and in other disasters. But what is promised here is that the godly - those who build their lives on wisdom - who are guided by the north star of God's Word - will not have the "onslaught of the wicked" when they are punished for their wickedness.
Let me quote several passages of Scripture to help us grasp this concept of the Word. Psalm 121
tells us of the protective care of the Lord. Verses three and four are especially comforting to us. "He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep." (Psalm 121:3-4
) God promises great peace and protection to those whose lives are guided by His wisdom. But for the wicked God promises that this thing called, sudden terror and sudden fear will come upon them. Proverbs 1:26
-27 speaks of a "dread" that comes upon the wicked. It says that dread, calamity, and distress will come like a storm and like a whirlwind. Then again in Psalm 49
we read of the foolish and those who approve their foolish words this terrifying statement made by the Lord, "As sheep they are appointed for Sheol; Death shall be their shepherd; And the upright shall rule over them in the morning, And their form shall be for Sheol to consume So that they have no habitation." (Psalm 49:14
The above passages instruct us as to the end of the foolish who ignore and mock God's wisdom and Word. They will have a sudden end that will overtake them. In Psalm 73
David struggled with why the wicked often seem to have it so good in their lives here on the earth. He came to the point of almost losing his faith and betraying others who followed God with all their hearts. Then he said that he came into the sanctuary and saw the latter end of these who walk in wickedness and foolishness. He spoke of how suddenly they fall and are destroyed. No matter how good anyone has it here on the earth, they will one day face God in the judgment. No matter how awesome they have it now - there is a latter end for them when all their deeds will follow them to that place of ultimate payback or reward. The wicked who will not turn from their sinful ways will face this ultimate dread - but the godly who order their ways according to God's wisdom will not have this happen to them.
We are told in verse 26 that Jehovah will be our "confidence." The Hebrew word for "confidence" here is fascinating because of what is points to spiritually. The word is "kesel" and it means a sense of confidence and security. It also points to an area of the body - the midsection or specifically the area where our kidneys are located. The reason this is fascinating is because in Leviticus 3:4
; Leviticus 4:9
and Leviticus 7:4
this exact same word is used of sacrifices that were made before God. In Leviticus 3
it is used of the peace offering that was made before God. In Leviticus 4
it was the sin offering and in chapter 7 it spoke of the guilt offering. When we consider this word and its usage it paints a beautiful picture for us of what Christ does for us. These were all pictures of how these sacrifices would take care of sin and promise peace to those who confessed their sin and brought them to God for a payment for that sin. They were all precursors of what Jesus Christ would do through His death and resurrection. Thus the idea here is that our confidence is not in ourselves but rather in our Lord. That is exactly what this verse says - that Jehovah will be our confidence.
We are also told that our foot will not be caught in the snares of the wicked - in the things which their lifestyles bring upon them. Our foot will be firmly planted on a rock - the Rock Christ Jesus. We will have our lives firmly planted in the Word of God - which is the rock upon which the house that did not fall was built. The sand of the world system and its shifting views of truth and godliness will not stand in that day. Instead they will face the sudden fear and sudden onslaught of God's judgment in the end. But for those of us who love the Lord and live according to His wisdom, our ultimate fears are gone - taken away by the grace of God and the "kidneys of Jesus Christ" which were offered on our behalf as a peace offering, a guilt offering, and a sin offering which brings us into God's favor and protection. Learn to delight, not in yourself and your own strength, but rather in God who freely has given us forgiveness and grace in Christ Jesus our Lord!
When you lie down, you will not be afraid; When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24
If you have ever lost a night's sleep due to fear or worry, you know what a blessing it is to have a sense of security and peace as you go to bed. That is what God promises to those who base their lives upon His wisdom. So today as we look at our proverb of the day, we will look at how wisdom grants us that peace and ability to lie down and have a great night's sleep.
The first thing we see here is that there is a promise given to us that we will not be afraid as we lie down at night. Why would we fear though? How does God's Word and Wisdom keep us from having fear in our hearts? According to first John 4:18
fear has to do with punishment. The one who lives according to God's wisdom does not have to fear punishment becasue he knows that God's grace has removed it from us. This as true in the Old Testament in the sacrificial system, and in the New through the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God slain for the sins of the world. Therefore we know that the worst case scenario has been solved by the work of Jesus Christ.
There are other ways in which we know God's wisdom will watch over us. Much of the wisdom that we read of in the book of Proverbs deals with making wise decisions and staying away from things that are harmful to us. We are warned again and again in Proverbs that certain choices and certain paths will not be blessed. They may look good at first - and even bring pleasure initially, but in the end they are very harmful and dangerous. That is why when we give ourselves to walking in the wisdom of God that we will be able to lie down and not be afraid. We will be able to lie down and have sleep that is sweet. Basing our lives upon the Word of God - especially taking the advice and counsel of the proverbs that God has given to us truly will yield a peaceful life filled with His blessing.
I'll close today's post with a quote from the book of James, "Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so
lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." (James 3:13-18
) There it is for us in full view. When we live our lives by the wisdom that God gives to us - we will live a life that will be filled with the "peaceable" fruit that such wisdom brings to our lives.
Then you will walk in your way securely And your foot will not stumble. Proverbs 3:23
In today's world people crave security. They have security cameras, security systems that monitor doors and windows, and some even have security guards to keep them safe. The problem with all this is eventually you are going to have to leave your home or workplace - where you will have to walk around and experience a lifestyle outside of the secure parameters that you try to set up for yourself. One thing that the person who understands the fall of mankind from a Scriptural perspective is that one of the most dangerous people in our lives is . . . wait for it . . . ourselves! How can we hire a security detail to guard us against our own sinful tendencies?
What will guard us from ourselves - as well as provide protection from other outside threats is wisdom. This verse points all the way back to verse 21 and ultimately back to verse 13. Both these verses tell us that we need to keep wisdom foremost in our thinking as well as in our vision. When we set our sights on wisdom, desiring to have not just wisdom, but understanding and discretion in where we go, what we do, and what we say - we will learn that we are placing ourselves in the best security net possible.
Wisdom will help us to "walk in our way securely." Walk is the Hebrew word "halak" and it refers metaphorically to the pathways and behavior of one's life. When we choose pathways and behavior that manifests God's wisdom - we are choosing a very secure lifestyle and pathway. The security spoken of here (the Hebrew word is "betah") means a calm assurance. It speaks of an assurance and safety that comes from knowing that you have God's protection. It speaks of having a security in God that keeps us from being too self-assured that we become careless.
We are told that when we walk this way in God's wisdom that our foot will not stumble. We stumble because we do not see something in our path that might cause us to trip and fall. Scripture calls these things stumbling blocks - as well as the sin that might trip us up in life. When we walk according to God's Word in both theology as well as practical insight and wisdom - these trip cords and stumbling blocks are illumined to us so that we avoid them and do not find ourselves tripped up by them.
Want security in your life - a security that goes far beyond the physical security this world can offer? (and biblically I even wonder about that) This security only comes from knowing and following God's Word with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. It comes as you fill your mind with His Word - and learn to discern and discriminate between the things in the world that will bring either blessing or problems. That, my dear saints of God, is security. All other promises will ring hollow and empty.