Focal Passage: Proverbs 5:3-14, 20-23; 6:23-24, 27-29, 32-34
Previous lessons relate how Proverbs’ goal was to teach the youth and young men on how to live in such a way as to be good leaders. All the warnings are directed toward the youth and young men as they are reminded of temptation they must avoid.
The temptations that are dangerous to them are money, alcohol, and sex. These three often are grouped together because they are interrelated; all contribute to a moral lesson on purity which focuses on the avoidance of illicit sex.
Solomon would have known of his own father’s sexual and moral improprieties that resulted in Solomon’s birth. David’s desire for Bathsheba was so strong he lied and committed murder to have her. It would have been a powerful object lesson to Solomon, and Solomon’s audience as well.
The object of the temptation was the “forbidden woman” whose alluring voice was smoother than oil and her lips like honey. The presence of personified evil in the person of the forbidden woman seems to cast women in an unfair role, but I believe the intent was to create awareness in the youth. There are women who become the kind of woman pictured here. There are enough of these women present who might lead the young lads away, but you can be assured that there is a male in the shadows urging her on. Sexual temptation has no gender bias. The call to be aware is well taken. Male lust makes him an easy prey to the forbidden woman. The place to combat moral temptation starts with pure thoughts in the mind. King David would surely come to know this after his tryst with Bathsheba.
What follows is the warning of the dangers of immorality. Evil has no conscience; the forbidden woman cares not that the result of her temptation will create dangers for the young men who become entrapped in her web. “So now, my sons, listen to me, and don’t turn away from the words of my mouth. Otherwise, you will give up your vitality to others and your years to someone cruel; strangers will drain your resources and your earnings will end up in a foreigner’s house” (vv. 9-10).
It may seem strange to our belief that Solomon would commend a virtuous life when his own lifestyle was a failure. Yet, he offers sound advice. He encourages commitment to marriage, and one should “... drink water from their own cistern.” That is, they should get married and remain faithful to the wife of their youth. He describes the commitment necessary for a successful marriage and reiterates that anything short of this commitment will bring one to ruin.
He instructs the parents to exercise discipline in raising their children, “…for a command is a lamp, and teaching is a light, and corrective discipline is the way of life” (6:5). Parental influence protects the young one from giving in to the temptations of life.
Modern parents have a difficult task. Our culture continues to change. The moorings of a Christian lifestyle have been weakened. The media influence is so strong and insidious that the traditional Christian standard no longer has the influence it once had. Sexual purity is often made the object of ridicule and demeaning humor. A child trying to live a life of purity has a heavy challenge. Sadly many parents do not realize this assault on the family until it is too late, often awakening to it after the child has been snatched from their influence. The call to discipline is not a call to physical force, but rather the consistent and loving teaching of the values of purity.
— Hay, a former pastor and retiree from the Tennessee Baptist Convention, lives in Dyersburg.