In this chapter, we have an exhortation to the study of Wisdom, which runs in a similar strain to the last chapter. The blessed effects of that study, as well as the sad consequences of the neglect of it, are strikingly set forth here.
Solomon gives a special caution, particularly to the young, to abstain from fleshly lusts and immoral desires. The adulterous woman also stands as a picture of idolatry and false doctrine, which will lead astray our minds and manners; but the direct view here in this chapter is to warn against sins against the Seventh Commandment. Not only do these sins lead to the destruction of the body, but they also lead to the torments of hell; and so we must carefully avoid everything which may be a step toward them. Although those who are guilty of them take pleasure in indulging therein, yet – sooner or later – they will bring sorrow. By a miracle of mercy, true repentance may prevent the dreadful consequences of such sins; but this is not often, for many persons die in the same way that they have lived.
A delightful feature throughout the entirety of the Book of Proverbs is that the instructions given therein are all for the purpose of making the soul wise unto salvation, through faith in Jesus Christ! Just as the one great object to which the wise man directs our whole attention is Wisdom – or rather, Christ under the character of Wisdom – so also, the precepts which he enjoins are all with an eye to Him as well. It is as if Solomon had said, “My child, if you attend to Wisdom, and are sweetly taught by Jesus; then all these blessed effects will follow, which mark the life of the faithful ones.”
Having shown the great evil in adultery and fornication, Solomon also prescribed remedies against these destructive vices. If we seek the Lord’s direction and blessing from His Word, and act with true and unselfish love; then we may enjoy, with satisfaction, the comforts of lawful marriage! No one can complain that God has dealt unkindly with us by forbidding those sinful “pleasures” which we naturally desire, for He has graciously provided for the proper and pure enjoyment of far greater pleasures! In restricting marriage to one man and one woman for life, the Lord has been so far from putting any hardship upon the human race, that He has actually ensured their best interests. So the young man who is single is encouraged to marry “the wife of thy youth” (verse 18). And the married man is exhorted to be fond of his wife, and to love her dearly (verse 19). He should desire no better diversion from severe study and business than the innocent and pleasant conversation of his own wife. This is what is meant by the reference to quenching your thirst with the pure water out of your own cistern or well (verse 15). Such a man may easily scorn the offer of forbidden pleasures from “a strange woman” (verse 20) when he is always charmed with the mutual love between himself and his faithful, virtuous wife!
Even though these verses may be read and applied literally in regard to the marriage-relationship between a man and his wife, it will be even more beautiful to read them in a spiritual sense as well; for in both views, there is great loveliness in them! As believers, we are the Bride of Jesus; we belong to Him by right of purchase and also by gift. And He also belongs to us by gift and by marriage, for He has engaged Himself to be the Beloved of His people forever (Hos. 2:19). Surely such an alliance will induce us to be faithful to Him! May He give us grace to follow the Apostle Paul’s exhortation in Philippians 4:8, and to keep our minds on those things that are pure, wholesome, and lovely.
Another remedy that Solomon makes note of, in order to preserve oneself from partaking of forbidden pleasures, is to see the eye of God always upon us, and to let His fear rule in our hearts (verse 21). Those who practice such sins as these promise themselves secrecy (Job 24:15); but what purpose does that serve, when their doings cannot be hidden from the all-seeing eye of the Lord? He will call the sinner to an account for those sins which people dare to do against Him in His sight, which they would not dare to do in the presence of another human being like themselves.
Since neither the fear of the Lord nor the joys and pleasures of married life will prevent some hardened persons from continuing on in their paths of wickedness, the wise man concludes this chapter by projecting a glimpse ahead into the certain ruin of such people who persist in their trespasses. The sins that are referred to in this chapter are sins from which men – when they have once plunged themselves into them – very hardly and very rarely ever recover themselves. They are sins which must be forsaken, or else the sinner cannot possibly escape the punishment of them; they will unavoidably be his ruin. Those who are so foolish as to choose the ways of sin are justly left by God to themselves, to go on in them until they come to that destruction which they lead to; and this is a good reason why we should watchfully and resolutely guard against the allurements of our fleshly desires.
Lord, we give thanks to You for Your blessed institution of marriage, through which You convey one of Your greatest blessings to humanity! Thank You for the great blessings which You have bestowed upon us, when our homes abound with the purest piety! We pray for grace to be content therewith, for happiness cannot be found so well as beneath our own roof and in our own heart. Amen.
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