Sun, May 12, 2013
16 - Sexual Licentiousness: The Path to Destruction [b]
Proverbs 5:1-23 & Proverbs 6:24-35 by Robert Dean
Run! Get away and out of here as fast as you can! This is the advice Proverbs gives when we're tempted to have sex outside of marriage. Listen to this lesson to learn the difference between Joseph's notable showdown with adultery and David's foolish, sinful downfall. Find out three categories of devastating end results to sexual sins and see how God's corrective prescription leads to genuine sexual fulfillment in marriage.

This lesson also includes Proverbs 7:1-27.

Series: Proverbs (2013)

Sexual Licentiousness: The Path of Destruction. Proverbs 5:1-23; 6:24-25; 7:1-27

 

The writer of Proverbs is a father talking to his son, and in these next two or three chapters we have a man to man focus, an insight into their conversation: the advice of the father to the son in guiding him through the treacherous steps in dealing with sexual temptation and the problems and catastrophes that occur as the result of yielding to that temptation.

As we have seen in the previous chapters there are ten basic lessons here from the father to the son in the first nine chapters. Starting in chapter ten we see individual proverbs, just a collection of wise sayings that the father is teaching to the son. In the first nine chapters there is an integrated, consistent pattern that takes place. We have gone through the first seven, and in the eighth lesson we see the emphasis on the emptiness of free sex, the emptiness of a sexually promiscuous lifestyle, and in the end a challenge to the wisdom of marriage and the importance of intimacy within marriage and keeping that within the marriage vows. In the ninth lesson, which begins halfway through the sixth chapter, there is another discourse on the problems of sexual promiscuity and the dangers of the adulterous woman. Then the tenth lesson again returns to the focus on the adulteress's seductive tactics.

So we see that this is an important emphasis in Scripture. This is one of the greatest areas of failure, especially in a culture that has been seduced by moral relativism where the divorce rate is going down only because the marriage rate is going down because people just choose to live together for whatever period of time until the go on to somebody else, and where sexual promiscuity has become the norm for children even as young as nine or ten years of age. We have a horrible problem in our culture of children having babies. Another horrible problem and epidemic that is destructive in our culture is pornography.

Once people begin to succumb to sexual temptations, once they open that door and begin to justify and to moralize their sexual infidelity, it leads to a degradation of moral values across board among young people who have no idea of the horrible danger they are putting their souls in through sexual infidelity.

Any kind of sin impacts the very core of the health of our soul—not just sexual immorality, but that is one of the most pervasive areas, especially in a licentious culture. It is one of the most destructive. All are destructive, but this one of the worst in some ways because of the weakness that we all have in the area of sexual temptation. So it is no surprise that a concerned father would address his son in this particular area and give a lot of attention to it.

With the level of repetition that we have in the text we will be starting to move away from simply a verse by verse exposition and shifting into more topical exposition. So we will be just summarizing this material in one lesson.

In Proverbs 5:1, 2 we see the introduction. It is addressed to the son. Proverbs 5:1 NASB "My son, give attention to my wisdom, Incline your ear to my understanding; [2] That you may observe discretion And your lips may reserve knowledge." This introduction is not any different from what we have heard many times before as these lessons are introduced. It is a challenge to listen to what the father is teaching, not because it is the father's opinion but because the father represents the revelation of God in these particular areas. He is the conduit for communicating the revelation of God to his son so that the son can live a wise life. The son in this instance is probably beyond the years of puberty and is susceptible to the temptations of sexual promiscuity.

We know from a later writing, the Mishnah—not written down until the second century or so AD but it reflects a long oral tradition among the Jewish people—one of the rabbis stated: "At the age of five a child should start being introduced to Scripture, at ten to the Mishnah, at thirteen to religious duties, at fifteen to Talmud, and at eighteen to the wedding canopy." So they saw marriage taking place at approximately the age of eighteen. It is interesting that in our culture we have lost sight of the fact that in the ancient world they understood that when what we would refer to as an adolescent (a modern concept) came to puberty it was the time for them to get married so that there would not be this long gap between the time they had reached sexual maturity and when they got married. As we all know, this gap leads to complicated problems.

A study back in the 1980s on American young people over the past 150 years indicated that in the late nineteenth century the average age for sexual maturity or reaching puberty was around eighteen years of age, but the average time frame for reaching emotional maturity, recognizing responsibility, was about fourteen years of age. Because in many cases the children grew up having to take responsibilities on the farm or whatever the environment was, and they would start helping with the family from a young age. So they developed a sense of responsibility and knowing right from wrong long before they faced the temptations of sexual activity. By the 1980s the average age of puberty had moved to twelve—it might even be earlier now for some, due to a lot of factors—but the level of emotional maturity was about age twenty-two or twenty-three. So there is now a ten-year span between reaching sexual maturity and having the emotional maturity to handle these problems. This had led to numerous breakdowns in society.

The problem we see from the father's viewpoint here as he is addressing his son (Solomon to his son) is that he understands that yielding to promiscuity is not just a personal problem, it is an assault on the second divine institution of marriage, on the third divine institution, the stability of the family, and on the fourth divine institution, the stability of the nation. So it is not simply a personal issue. 

As he begins he focuses the son's attention once again on listening to what he has to say. And when we think about the fact that this is Solomon the son of David and Bathsheba it takes us back to recognize that there is a whole narrative—both as a Jew and as a son of David—that lies behind this. There are two examples in the Old Testament related to adultery. The first comes from Joseph in Genesis chapter thirty-nine. In Potiphar's house Joseph was completely trustworthy, but Potiphar's wife had a wandering eye. She was a classic example of the adulterous woman mentioned in Proverbs. Her lustful eye was cast upon Joseph and she continuously tried to entice him to her bed. Joseph would continuously turn her down because he would not breach the trust of his master. One day when they were alone she tried to grab him, he fled, and she retained hold of his cloak. She used that to cry rape and to blame him, for which he was put in prison. But we see here the example of the man with integrity who refuses to yield to the temptation.

On the other side we have the episode with David and Bathsheba—2 Samuel 11 & 12. Here we have an example of a man who has integrity, who is righteous before God, and yet like all of us has a sin nature, and has a time of weakness. He has already sunk to a level of irresponsibility by not going out to battle with his troops. After the affair he puts together a plan, a conspiracy, to have her husband killed so that it won't be discovered that she has committed adultery with him and that he is the father of her child. He is then condemned by God because he has been guilty of both murder and adultery. And yet God's grace is extended to David even though there is a fourfold punishment upon David. God forgives him and gives him the grace to survive the condemnation and punishment. So no matter how we fail in life, no matter what our past failures may have been in any of these areas, we know that God still loves us and He still extends His grace in our lives. 

So the writer of Proverbs says, "My son, give attention to my wisdom, Incline your ear to my understanding." These are the same words we saw in the previous chapter in 4:20, just a challenge to pay attention, to listen. Then he says, "That you may preserve discretion." This is the word we have seen again and again: to keep, to guard, to protect. And "discretion" is the word mezimmah, indicating purpose, discretion, the application of wisdom in decision-making in one's life. "… that your lips may keep knowledge." The challenge is to be mature and wise in his life and in his actions.

As we go through these sections in Proverbs we see that there are four or five different elements. The women are described in specific detail in various terms. The men are then described as well. The enticements, how the temptation takes place, is described in specific. The specific prohibitions are given and there is an outline of the consequences both to the individual as well as to the nation. This chapter, chapter 5, concludes with the corrective, and that is to maintain and strong marriage and to be faithful and loyal to your spouse. 

The writer begins now with an explanation. He is answering the question: Why should I pay attention to you, Dad? Proverbs 5:3 NASB "For [because] the lips of an adulteress drip honey …" The imagery here of dripping honey is something that is sweet, something attractive, something that tantalizes us, something that we desire; it promotes a temptation. In the parallelism in the second line is, "And smoother than oil is her speech." The woman is identified here as an immoral woman. The word used in the Hebrew is the word zar, which indicates a stranger. It is the word used in literal historical narrative top describe a foreigner. But it is used metaphorically in wisdom literature in poetry to describe the adulteress who is foreign to the man's life. She is not married to him, there is not a covenantal unification in marriage.  The terms that we see here in verse 3 and also through this chapter are indicated in Proverbs 2:16 and 7:5 by the term isha zarah—the strange woman or the immoral woman.  That is emphasized in many parallels where she is also referred to in some cases as a prostitute, in some cases as an adulteress.

Proverbs 2:16 says that the purpose for these proverbs is to deliver from the immoral woman, the seductress. The immoral woman is the isha zara, and the seductress is the term nokri.  This gives us an insight into how this was viewed within the proverbial literature; that it was wrong to go outside of marriage to seek sexual satisfaction. Another pair of terms used is isha ra, ra meaning evil. The adulteress is viewed as an evil woman. Also there is the term zanah for fornication or an adulterer or a prostitute. These words are used to express primarily elicit heterosexual intercourse. They are mostly used to refer to women but on occasion (Exodus 34:16; Numbers 25:1) they are applied to men.

The focal point here is on the son being attracted to the adulterous woman, but the principles would apply in the other direction as well, i.e. a woman being seduced by a man.

The penalty for adultery under the Mosaic Law is stated in Leviticus 20:10 NASB "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." The reason this was a capital offence was because it threatened the sanctity of marriage and the home, which is the core stabilizing influence in a nation. It is the home, the family, that is the training ground for the next generation, and when that breaks down it has incredible unintended consequences in the destruction of society.

The adulterous woman is described in a variety of different terms. Proverbs 9:13 NASB "The woman of folly is boisterous, {She is} naive and knows nothing." She is ignorant of truth. The word "folly" is the Hebrew word kesiluth, which means stupid or foolish, someone who has rejected divine viewpoint, the teaching of God's Word. Notice: God is not politically correct in the way He describes us! Rejection of the truth means you are stupid and a fool; and that is God's opinion, not ours.

She is described as one who sets a trap. Proverbs 9:16 NASB "Whoever is naive, let him turn in here …" So the young man who is susceptible to adultery is viewed as one who is simple. This is someone who is open to any influence, any moral idea, and has no convictions of his own whatsoever and can be turned in any direction and influenced by anyone.

The adulteress is viewed and described as a sexual predator in Proverbs 22:14; 23:27, 28. Proverbs 22:14 NASB "The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit; He who is cursed of the LORD will fall into it." This is a picture of laying a trap for a wild animal. She is also described in 23:27 as a "deep pit" and a "narrow well," a place of danger where you could fall in and lose your life. In 23:28 she lies in wait for the victim and increases the unfaithful among men. She is pictured here as a predator who is seeking to destroy others with her sexual activity.

Men are described in similarly uncomplimentary ways. Proverbs 6:32 NASB "The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense; He who would destroy himself does it." Literally this means that he is one who lacks heart. This phrase is used several times in Proverbs, e.g., 10:13. It is translated by one translation on Proverbs 7:7 as a young man who lacks heart is "brainless." That gets the point across. He has no content with which to think.

Then the enticement, the way the adulteress woman baits the trap, is described in several passages. Proverbs 7:14ff this is laid out. Proverbs 7:14 NASB "I was due to offer peace offerings [some value]; Today I have paid my vows [I'm a good woman; I'm right with God]." She tries to camouflage herself as someone who is moral an upright. [15] "Therefore I have come out to meet you, To seek your presence earnestly, and I have found you." She appeals to his vanity. She is looking specifically for this one when in fact any male would do who could pay here for her services. She then shows how she has made everything in her life attractive to the purpose of setting the trap. [16] "I have spread my couch with coverings With colored linens of Egypt." [18] "Come, let us drink our fill of love until morning; Let us delight ourselves with caresses." Let's just be completely irresponsible and no pay attention to what is right or what is wrong. Let us just live for the moment and give in to all of our sexual desires.

Proverbs 7:19 NASB "For my husband is not at home, He has gone on a long journey; [20] He has taken a bag of money with him, At the full moon he will come home." There is no accountability: Let's just do whatever we want to do.

Proverbs 7:21 NASB "With her many persuasions she entices him; With her flattering lips she seduces him." The point and the correction of this is to not even listen. For the male it is to leave, to completely avoid any and every circumstance where temptation could possibly be offered. This involves every area from pornography to actually putting one's self in an position where he could be tempted or seduced by a woman.

Proverbs 5:3 NASB "For the lips of an adulteress drip honey And smoother than oil is her speech." And so the young man is warned in Proverbs 6:25: "Do not desire her beauty in your heart, Nor let her capture you with her eyelids." Don't get sucked into her physical attractiveness. Men are attracted sexually by what they see more than conversation or developing relationships. So men need to be very careful about what they put in front of their eyes.

One aspect of the temptation: Forbidden fruit, something we are not supposed to have seems to have a greater attractiveness. Proverbs 9:17 NASB "Stolen water is sweet; And bread {eaten} in secret is pleasant." The problem is that it always results in eventual catastrophe.

Scripture is very clear on adultery, prohibiting any sexual activity outside of marriage. Proverbs 5:6 NASB "She does not ponder the path of life; Her ways are unstable, she does not know {it.}" There is so much camouflage that is going on here, so much that she is not telling. All she really wants is money and to take your life. She is not concerned with you in terms of any kind of relationship, in terms of actually being attracted to you. There is much that you don't know; you are just walking into a trap. 

Proverbs 5:7 NASB "Now then, {my} sons, listen to me And do not depart from the words of my mouth." Here he moves from "my son" to "my children." He has more than one son and so he is viewing these sons as they come along and each one grow to maturity. [8] "Keep your way far from her And do not go near the door of her house." Don't ever think of putting yourself in a position where something could happen.

Proverbs 7:5 NASB "That they may keep you from an adulteress, From the foreigner [seductress] who flatters with her words." Proverbs 31:3 reinforces this by saying: "Do not give your strength to women, Or your ways to that which destroys kings." Then this idea is reinforced in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 6:18 NASB "Flee immorality. Every {other} sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body." There is something distinctive about the unintended consequences to our souls and to ourselves when we get involved in sexual immorality.

The consequences are spelled out in three ways in these passages. There are social consequences, economic consequences, and there are personal spiritual consequences. 

The father says: Proverbs 5:4 NASB "But in the end [after your moment of pleasure] she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two-edged sword." Immediately things go from great to horrible and you never know what the long-term consequences might be. They always lead to death: not physical death, not spiritual death, but to an emptiness of life—the lack of joy, the lack of fulfillment, the lack of any kind of significance in life. To yield to sexual temptation always leads to guilt, remorse, and numerous other factors. 

Proverbs 5:9 NASB "Or you will give your vigor to others And your years to the cruel one." You are spending your resources, the value of your life goes to someone else. [10] "And strangers will be filled with your strength And your hard-earned goods {will go} to the house of an alien." And so what happens is this loss of wealth is transferred to the adulterous woman. 

Proverbs 5:11 NASB "And you groan at your final end [regret, remorse and guilt], When your flesh and your body are consumed; [12] And you say, 'How I have hated instruction! And my heart spurned reproof! [13] I have not listened to the voice of my teachers, Nor inclined my ear to my instructors! [14] I was almost in utter ruin In the midst of the assembly and congregation.'" This is the expression of guilt and remorse by the person who has yielded to temptation. For once that occurs it is easier the next time, easier the next time, easier the next time. It leads to a pattern which leads to a destruction of life.

Other passages that emphasize the regret and remorse are Proverbs 6:32, 33 NASB  "The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense; He who would destroy himself does it. Wounds and disgrace he will find, And his reproach will not be blotted out."

Proverbs 6:26 NASB "For on account of a harlot {one is reduced} to a loaf of bread, And an adulteress hunts for the precious life." He is wiped out financially, and another man's wife (literally) will prey upon his precious life.

Proverbs 29:3 NASB "A man who loves wisdom makes his father glad, But he who keeps company with harlots wastes {his} wealth." So again and again the consequences that we see just economically and personally leads to business collapse and to national collapse.

Proverbs 6:27 "Can a man take fire in his bosom And his clothes not be burned? [28] Or can a man walk on hot coals And his feet not be scorched? [29] So is the one who goes in to his neighbor's wife; Whoever touches her will not go unpunished."

There is the idea that we are going to get away with it; who is going to know? But God who is omniscient knows, and God is the one who brings about the consequences of our sin.

National consequences are mentioned in Jeremiah and mentioned by the prophets, and that this is one of the characteristics of a nation leading up to the destruction of the nation in 586 BC. Jeremiah 5:7,8 NASB "Why should I pardon you? Your sons have forsaken Me And sworn by those who are not gods. When I had fed them to the full, They committed adultery And trooped to the harlot's house. They were well-fed lusty horses, Each one neighing after his neighbor's wife."

Jeremiah 7:9 NASB "Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal and walk after other gods that you have not known, [10] then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, 'We are delivered!'—that you may do all these abominations?'"

Jeremiah 23:10 NASB "For the land is full of adulterers; For the land mourns because of the curse. The pastures of the wilderness have dried up. Their course also is evil And their might is not right." Notice: Even the impact of sexual immorality in the nature destroys natural resources. 

The corrective is to remain faithful to your wife. Focus upon her and build that level of intimacy and love within the marriage so that there is no reason to look elsewhere.

Proverbs 5:15 NASB "Drink water from your own cistern And fresh water from your own well. [16] Should your springs be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets?" Are you going to run around and spend your resources on everything around you, on every woman around you, and therefore destroy your own resources and wealth. 

Proverbs 5:18 NASB "Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth." It is proverbial that as men grow older they are casting about for some younger woman. It happens too often in our culture. But when that happens it is a false hope, a false promise. There is such value in men and women growing close together, growing older together, and facing the challenges of life, building that richness of their life together so that as we come to the end of our life and we face all of the challenges that come, and as we grow older that we have a partner that we have built that foundation with to face the challenges towards the end of life.

The concluding warning is given in 5:21-23 NASB "For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, And He watches all his paths." He can't get away with stuff. God is watching; God is the eternal judge and there will be consequences. [22] "His own iniquities will capture the wicked, And he will be held with the cords of his sin. [23] He will die for lack of instruction, And in the greatness of his folly he will go astray." We think that somehow we can get away with sin, but sin has consequences and God also intensifies those in divine judgment.

In the New Testament we are reminded in passages such as Galatians 5:19-21 which lists a whole series of the works of the sin nature—adultery, fornication, lewdness, sexual sin" "those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." That doesn't mean they won't be saved, it means there will be no rewards, no inheritance, no positions of responsibility in the coming kingdom because of failure to grow to spiritual maturity in this life.

1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 NASB "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor {the} covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God."

But we are reminded that even if we have fallen prey to fornication, fallen prey to immorality or any of these other areas of carnality, that God's grace is greater than any sin and there is always forgiveness, always recovery just as with David after his sin with Bathsheba. He had to go through a series of divine discipline but God gave him the grace in order to survive and surmount those disciplines. And David went on to greater heights of spiritual maturity and growth. So whatever our failures might be we always have the grace of God that can sustain us and strengthen us, and that gives us forgiveness. That is the message of the gospel, that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins that we might have forgiveness of sins and move past whatever sins have been committed in our life and press on to spiritual maturity, and recover from any failure and glorify God.