Friday, June 19, 2009

Proverbs 7: 1-5

The Wiles of the Harlot
My son, keep my words
And treasure my commandments within you.
Keep my commandments and live,
And my teaching as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
Say to wisdom, "You are my sister,"
And call understanding your intimate friend;
That they may keep you from an adulteress,
From the foreigner who flatters with her words.

Today's Thought Verses

Before reading this chapter, ask God to speak to you uniquely and specifically regarding these verses. If Solomon wrote the following verses, or all of the verses in Proverbs regarding adultery, two things about him will give us added insight into this topic:
  1. God promised Solomon that he would be given wisdom and discernment unlike any other man before him or any man to come. (Read I Kings 3: 10-12 and I Kings 4: 29-34.)
  2. Solomon's downfall was women. (Read I Kings 11: 1-8.)

Don't you feel as though you could almost repeat this invocation to your children? Praise God when you know you can!

Verse 2, "[Keep] my teaching as the apple of your eye." We use that expression today to refer to someone very special or cherished. Where does the expression come from?

"The eyeball, or globe of the eye, with pupil in center, called 'apple' from its round shape. Its great value and careful protection by the eyelids automatically closing when there is the least possibility of danger made it the emblem of that which was most precious and jealously protected. [Used in the Proverbs passage, refers] perhaps specially to the pupil, probably from “the little image one sees of himself when looking into another’s pupil.”"
--International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

This description is what parents hope to see when looking into the eye of their child. Not themselves, but the Godly instruction that they have passed along! It's as if God Himself were staring into our eye and looking to see an image of Himself in the reflection of how we live. What a marvelous expression!

Verse 4 continues Solomon's personification of wisdom. Call her your "sister." If you have a sister, you know that God really thought about that relationship; it's that special! "...Understanding your intimate friend," meaning a friend you know through-and-through [like a sister! I have 3; I'm a little knowledgeable here.].

At first, I was a bit put off by this personification. Wisdom (capital W) is not part of the Trinity or a disciple or anybody like that. The Bible talks about love up and down, but it's not personified like wisdom is. It comes across a little like a Greek or Roman god, actually. But, the idea is that we should embrace God's wisdom with the intention of having a relationship with Him. We need to keep wisdom in our hearts as if the most cherished person we know on earth--meditating, praying, pondering as we live. Maybe it clicked when Solomon said, "Sister." [LOL!]

Verse 5 is the introduction of the adulteress to chapter 7, described here as a "foreigner." The word can also mean stranger or alien, and all point to the fact that her "talk" is not part of God's Word, and is therefore foreign or outside the realm of Godliness. Makes me think about how many times the Bible uses the expression "cast out" or words likewise. Adam and Eve, out of Eden; Jesus casting out demons; "the ruler of this world will be cast out." (John 12:31) Sin must always be outside the presence of God.

Our study authors also gave us some additional Scripture to read for more background in understanding Solomon and the emphasis on adultery in his writing.

The passage in I Kings 3 explains how Solomon is unique among the wise. God blessed him with ability that was never before seen until he was granted this in his prayerful request. We will never see another individual with such ability in the remaining days of earth either. That one man would have such blessing is a phenomenal thought in itself. (Makes you wonder who else might be blessed with a different attribute and the same magnitude).

But, then, that this man would write, and his words would be captured for us to read and learn from, thousands of years later--no tuition or book money required--what does that say about what we are receiving?! I Kings 4 illustrates Solomon's tremendous capacity for knowledge on countless subjects and how well-respected leaders sought his presence.

Must quickly add, though, back to I Kings 3, that Solomon's prayer was pleasing to God, because it was not self-serving. We could spend a few weeks talking about these passages in regard to a bountiful prayer life! Another this is all for naught.

The tie to adultery? Solomon! (Sigh!) Would you think that one who received the most amazing amount of knowledge and discernment ever to walk the earth would, in the sight of God, commit adultery?

"He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been."
--I Kings 11: 3 & 4

For some, that might be enough to shut the book and say, "Well, if he can't, then...." What happened? The taking of many wives was not uncommon for a king in Solomon's day, but it was completely against God's law. What makes things worse, as the passage concludes, is that Solomon had become an idol worshipper--building idols for his wives and choosing to worship them himself, too.

This is very difficult to swallow. But, Solomon's testimony in words and in life shows us that discernment is so much greater than the mere acquisition of knowledge. The heart is the key! The I Kings 11 passage cuts to the chase--"his wives turned his heart away."

His words were pure, God-given thoughts--honoring His commandments and fortifying His teaching! But had he bound the words to his heart? The flattering words of his adulteresses let them slip far, far away. Not even the teaching of his humbled, repentant father David would be kept or treasured.

"Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak
and blameless when You judge."

--Psalm 51: 1-4 (A Contrite Sinner's Prayer for Pardon. For the choir director. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.)

* * *

Tomorrow's Scripture Focus and Thought Questions:

Proverbs 7: 6-23
  1. The writer places before us a scenario of an adulteress and a young man. Describe the two people. What things about their character do you think led them into this particular area of sin? What can you learn from this?
  2. Verse 7 states that the young man lacked judgment. Do you think this justified or excused his behavior?

* * *

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation, specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB). I will quote other sources if used in a post.
I also use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (with notes from the King James Version).


Chatty Kelly said...

I'm not commenting much, because frankly you say it all and I don't have any wisdom to add. But just watned to say I am reading your breakdowns and enjoying them.

Sue J. said...

And I was hoping you'd having something else to say about I Kings? (Have you done that one yet in your Bible in a year?)

I was glad the study authors threw those verses in there, but I realized that there was a lot about Solomon's background that I wasn't going to get to and still publish daily posts! That's what's great about the Word--so much, so much connected, so much new even upon a return visit. Unfortunately, this one gal can't cover everything!

Thanks for checking in here!

Carmen said...

I've always wondered about Solomon's adultery later in life. Such a wise man, and yet such a human! I can hear Paul's voice ringing in my ears..."I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Then in Rom. 7:25, our answer. It's only through Christ that we are saved and made righteous.

Any kind of sexual sin has such a strong hold on people. Anything to feel good, I guess. That, of course leads to other things, like idolatry. In fact, sexual sin is a form of idolatry; a lusting after self-gratification. It's such a snare for so many.

Anyway, talk about stating the obvious!

Have a wonderful weekend Sue!