The Seductive Path
Text: Proverbs 5
There is a third path that must be considered in addition to the upright path and the path of the wicked. Thus, Solomon once again tells us to pay attention so that we might see how to make good choices and hang on to the truth (Malachi 2:6-7).
Look Where the Offer Leads
The seductress is portrayed as an immoral woman. The word used is for a stranger who practices different customs (example: Job 19:15) – in this case practices that are against God’s Law. Many translations render the word as an adulteress because sexual seduction is what Solomon is describing. However, the advice is not limited to just fornication or adultery, it applies to seduction into any form of immorality. Nor is a seducer limited to women.
The prime weapon of the seductress is her words. They sound sweet to the ear. They flow by smoothly. You get caught up in the words, focusing on the moment, and forget to see where things lead. Therefore, the primary defense against seduction is to think about the end results.
Solomon warns that immorality leads to bitterness. Bitterness is a caustic attitude toward life or other people. Wormwood is a shrub whose oil is use as a topical antiseptic, but it extremely bitter in taste.
Immorality is also as sharp as a two-edged sword. A two-edged sword is a dangerous weapon in battle because the wielder can cut in both directions of his swing. But it is also danger to the one using the sword because it can just as easily cut the wielder as he winds up for a blow. Thus sexual immorality is not only generally dangerous, but it can hurt the person who thinks he is in control of the situation.
Ultimately her way is the way of death – both physical and spiritual.
The first part of Proverbs 5:6 can be translated referring to a female (“she”) or a masculine (“you”). The King James and New King James took the route of the masculine (“you”) and it results in “Lest you ponder her path of life.” This then explains why it is important to listen to the warning. The problem the last half does says that her ways are unstable and she does not know them. The King James and New King James changed the female in the last part to “you” to match the first part. Most other translations take the route of the female (“she”) in the first part. “She does not ponder the path of life.” The result is that even the seductress doesn’t understand where she is heading, she doesn’t even think about it. Because her direction through life is unstable, she doesn’t see where she is heading.
1. What is meant by “a smooth talking salesman”?
2. In the case of the seductress, what product is being sold?
3. What is it about fornication that leads a person to be bitter?
4. How can fornication hurt the person who is committing fornication?
5. How could fornication lead to an early physical death?
Even knowing where things will ultimately lead, there are always some who think they can come close without actually getting caught in the trap. Hence, Solomon again urges his readers to listen and do as he instructions. It would be foolish to follow someone who doesn’t know where they are going. Far better is to stay as far them as possible, just as you would the path of wickedness (Proverbs 4:15).
The Consequences of Fornication
People who don’t listen to Solomon’s warning to stay away will eventually get caught up in fornication. Fornication involves a lot of waste that you might not notice until it is too late.
You will end up giving your honor to others. The Hebrew word is hodh, which refers to a person’s splendor, majesty, vitality, glory, or honor. People respect a man who has self-control. Fornication is rightly seen as a selfish act, which lowers the reputation of the fornicator in the eyes of others.
You give your years to the cruel one. Years that could have been filled with joy and productivity are lost. Instead, you waste your time with people who don’t love you or care about you. Satan holds you ensnared for longer than you realize was possible.
Your strength and efforts go to foreigners. The Hebrew word koach refers to a person’s strength, power, fitness, or virility. Many translations render this word as “wealth,” the result of a person’s hard work. Prostitutes, of course, demand payment. Hard earned money is lost for mere moments of pleasure that gains you nothing. Even in the case of adultery or fornication, there are demands for gifts and money – nothing is truly for free.
Avoid Having Reasons to Regret
You mourn over the destruction of your body. Promiscuous sex is almost always accompanied by sexually transmitted diseases, many for which even today we have no cures. How sad to realize that the moments of pleasure were not worth it after the consequences are irreversible.
Those who refused to learn, especially from their mistakes, are the ones who fall into the trap of seduction. A lack of knowledge makes you gullible to cons. What becomes particularly maddening is to realize after the fact that you had the resources to avoid the trap but did not make use of them. Instead, you refused to listen to those trying to teach you and warn you. Recall what Wisdom said in Proverbs 1:20-32.
The man here finds himself on the edge of total ruin while in the midst of God’s people. Help was on every side; yet, help was not sought out. Now his sins becomes a public spectacle.
Yet the situation is not completely without hope. Though ruined, it is not a total loss because the person is still alive. “But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion” (Ecclesiastes 9:4).
1. Why does a refusal to admit you are wrong make you more susceptible to seduction?
The Reasonableness of Sex Only in Marriage
A parallel is made between thirst and the desire for sex. Before the advent of municipal water supplies, and still true where such does not exist, where would be the best place to get a drink of water? The clear answer is from the water at your own home because that is the water you are accustomed to drinking. You know that water is safe.
If you have a trusted source for water, it makes no sense to throw that clean water out into the streets. Back in those days they did not have closed sewer systems. When you were finished washing the dishes, you opened the window and tossed the water out into the street where it would flow into the gutter and then out of town. Finished washing the kids? The bath water would go the same place. Now if you were really thirsty, would you take your glass out to the gutter to get a fresh cup of sewer water? Of course not! The very idea should make you squirm and think how disgusting! You have no idea what is in that water or where it has been.
For the same reason sex belongs in a marriage, exclusively between a husband and his wife. Sex with your spouse is with someone you trust and you know it is safe. Having sex with anyone else ought to make you disgusted. You don’t know who else they have had sex with. You don’t know what germs they have been exposed to or are carrying.
In contrast, sex within marriage should be fun, exciting, and satisfying. It simply does not make sense find pleasure with someone you can never trust.
God Sees Everything
Sex is understandably a private matter. People who are involved in sexual sins go to great lengths to hide what they are doing from other people. Thus, they assume they have gotten away with a sin if they believe no one else knows about their sin. But what is forgotten is that nothing is hidden from God (Jeremiah 16:17; Hosea 7:2). For the righteous, this is a source of comfort, but the wicked would rather forget that God is always present.
1. If you could actually see God watching you, would your behavior change?
Men Are Caught by Their Own Sins and Foolishness
People who sin also forget that sins are wrong because there is innate harm in the action. People fool themselves into thinking they have gotten away with a sin when they believe nothing bad has resulted from their sin. Yet, eventually something unforseen happens: someone walks in and catches the adulterer or a pregnancy occurs, as happened to Judah and David.
What people also overlook is that the temptation to sin involves pleasure and chasing that pleasure can be addictive. People will typically tell themselves that they will only do it once or that they can stop at any time. However, those same people don’t stop. They are snared by the pleasure and they can always come up with a reason why it would be acceptable to continue for just a little while longer. They continue until it is too late: either they die because of their sins or their foolishness is revealed to everyone. Sin becomes the trap (Psalms 7:15; Jeremiah 2:19).
Seductive sins involve cycles. A person has a problem or desire. The sin appears to offer a relief from the problem, but the relief is only temporary. Either the problem remains or it gets worse. Sometimes trying to stop the sin actually adds to the problem. Therefore, the person returns to the sin to get relief, only to find himself caught in a never ending cycle.
1. While Solomon focuses primarily on adultery, this isn’t the only sin promoted by seduction. What other sins involve seduction?
2. List out the cycles created by these seductive sins.
3. What are ways that a person could solve the problem without getting involved in a seductive sin?
Wormwood - "Artemisia herba-alba" by ???????? - www.biolib.de and Hebrew Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Artemisia_herba-alba.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Artemisia_herba-alba.jpg
Tyler Bell, Roman Street Gutters at Work, Pompeii, Italy, 2009, https://www.flickr.com/photos/tylerbell/4099120079/