Proverbs 5-6| Week 3: Living with God-Awareness when Sin Entices
Author: Jody Green
“Listen to me, son! Pay attention! Remember what I have said.” How many parents have parroted these words, only to hear, “I forgot” from their child after they’ve disobeyed? Solomon’s wisdom foresees this as a real possibility, this momentary madness, engulfing his son’s decisions when he inevitably crosses paths with an immoral woman enticing him to sin. The wise are not naïve; they prepare for sin’s inevitable enticement.
Parents must not assume their children will overcome all life’s temptations. Rather, they must equip them for realities they may potentially face. In this Proverb and others, Solomon suggests young men are particularly susceptible to sexual indiscretion. He fears life-destroying opportunities will cross his son’s path long before knowledge has seasoned into wisdom with time and experience. He warns his son to flee temptations.
Keep your way far from … the lips of a forbidden woman [that] drip honey … and do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless … and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed. (5:3, 8, 11)
Since males are the targeted audience for proverbial instruction, Solomon uses contrasting women (e.g. Woman Wisdom/Folly; immoral/virtuous women) to personify the many ‘Voices’ his son will encounter in life. Each ‘Woman’ symbolizes a gate to a path with lifelong ramifications the young and simple may not envision in their youthful naïveté. Each young adult, embarking on their life, chooses to follow godly wisdom or not.
Recalling the book’s theme, “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,” we realize Solomon’s warning against sexual immorality is for all who desire to live in a reverent relationship with God. As we add up the wise instructions for believers so far, we recall: hold fast “to a guarded heart" (4:23) … [staying] on the path of the righteous (4:11) in the midst of a sin-drenched world, we are also told to pay attention to wise counsel (5:1-2), and continue to trust in Yahweh wholeheartedly. The urgency in wise instruction seems to rise in chapters 4-6:
Keep your heart with all vigilance (4:23) … Let your eyes look directly forward (4:25) … Turn your foot away from evil (4:27) … save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter (6:5) … [For]... man [cannot] carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned (6:27).
Less overt, but far more imperative for believers of all ages, is the hidden gem of God-awareness exposed in this text. “For a man's ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths.” (5:21) When a person gains a visceral sense of God’s holy Presence in his or her life, it’s a game-changer. Living with God-awareness – consciously aware of God’s Presence in your life – the realization that every thought, action, motive and word we chose are open, exposed and seen by the Lord, exposes the lie of ‘hidden’ sins. The bait of a “forbidden” act and Satan’s deception that any sin is ‘hidden’ are dismantled by a healthy God-awareness. Wise parents will prioritize this in their child-rearing. All believers can grow in this God-awareness through prayer, meditating on Scripture and exchanging ‘self-talk’ with prayerful communication with the LORD.
“My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding … listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth.” (5:1,7)
If we are honest with ourselves, each of us have had times of ‘momentary madness’ when what we know to be a wise choice, such as trusting the Lord rather than worrying or finding ourselves in a situation we could have avoided if our mind was attentive. Thankfully, not every mistake ends with “wounds and dishonor, and disgrace [that] will not be wiped away.” (6:33) Yet, some do. What can we do? Listen attentively to God’s wise counsel, trust His Word, not our own understanding and remember our “ways are before the eyes of the Lord.” (5:21)
Dear Lord, thank you for delivering us when we unwisely fall into life’s traps and forgiving us when we foolishly ignore Your warnings. Help us live in increasing awareness of Your holy Presence, realizing ‘hidden sins’ like adultery, laziness and sowing discord are seen by You. (6:9-18) When sin entices us, may we live aware of You.