to keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words. (Proverbs 7:5)
I’m sure you’ve noticed that Solomon personifies both Wisdom and Foolishness; both represented as women. Wisdom being the voice of that which is right and good and of great value. Foolish the voice of evil, wickedness, and destruction. Two women, two voices, two paths.
Last week we talked about the path that leads to destruction and the ways we can avoid the temptations that await us. Today we are going to take a virtual walk down that second path. We’re going to meet three characters who live on Temptation Street. Through the words of Solomon, we will discover what one can expect to find when they submit to, rather than fleeing the voice of temptation.
As you approach each character, I encourage you to first read the verses that are referenced.
The Observer (verses 6-9)
In my 70 plus years of life there is one thing I have learned: people just don’t listen. Oh, they will come and ask your advice, they may even agree with your counsel. But more often than not, they go ahead and do what they had set their mind to do in the first place. When this happens, especially with someone we care about, all we can do is watch and pray. We see in these verses an example of what it’s like to see someone heading for disaster and being unable to stop it. Perhaps you have been the Observer, or perhaps you have, at some point in life, been the one on the other side of that window.
Study Word: Perceived (v. 7). Advise self. Appear. Approve. Behold. Consider. Discern. Have experience. Gaze. Take heed. Regard.
The Temptress (verses 10-20)
This is what temptation looks like. Solomon [graphically] describes it as a prostitute, an adulteress. As we study the passage, we realize how temptation, all too often, steps out of the dark, confronting and enticing without warning.
Study Word: Wily (v. 10). Conceal. Besieged. Hidden thing. Subtle. Watcher.
The Prey (verses 21-26)
If only this young man had chosen a different route. If only he had gone the way of the wise rather than the way of the fool. If only he had taken the counsel he was offered. If only he had listened to the warnings he had been given. If only…
Study Words: Compels (v. 21). Mislead. Strike. Inflict. Draw away. Cast down.
Victim: (v. 26). Prey. Quarry. Tricked. Swindled. Target.
Mighty: (v. 26). Great. Mighty. Strong. Powerful. Fearsome.
Now that we have looked at the characters, let’s talk about what lies at the end of the street.
The Kill (verse 27)
As followers of Christ we have the assurance that even when we fall short, as we all do, and even when we succumb to temptation and choose to take a walk down the path of darkness, there is forgiveness and restoration for the penitent heart. How loving is our Lord to have His servant write for us words of grace and redemption:
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:1-10)
Christ has paid the penalty for our sin so that we are not condemned by it. But, as we keep learning from our study of Proverbs, when we sin, when we ignore the voice of wisdom, there will be consequences; those we cannot escape. As Solomon writes in verse 27, the consequence can even be physical death.
Study Word: Sheol (v. 27). Underworld. Hades. Grave. Pit.
The past few weeks have been an extremely challenging series of lessons. It is my prayer that all we’ve discussed has served to help us grow in wisdom and in turn, grow in our faith. As we study and are convicted (never condemned) by God’s word, let’s just remember James’ exhortation: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Lacking nothing – that includes wisdom. Amen?
In our lesson next week, we are going to take another walk, only this time we will be walking on the “sunny side of the street”.
- Has there been an occasion where you have been the “Observer” and tried to warn someone of the danger of their decision? Looking back on the experience, what might you have done differently?
- Has there been an occasion where you have been the “Observed” who failed to follow wise counsel? Looking back on the experience, what did you learn from the consequences of your choice(s).
- As you review the study words and their definitions/antonyms, do you feel you have a greater understanding of the gravity of this week’s passages?
READING FOR NEXT WEEK:
Read Proverbs Chapter 8.