My son, keep your father’s commandment,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching.
Bind them on your heart always;
tie them around your neck.
When you walk, they will lead you;
when you lie down, they will watch over you;
and when you awake, they will talk with you.
For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light,
and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,
to preserve you from the evil woman,
from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.
Do not desire her beauty in your heart,
and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes;
for the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread,
but a married woman hunts down a precious life.
Can a man carry fire next to his chest
and his clothes not be burned?
Or can one walk on hot coals
and his feet not be scorched?
So is he who goes in to his neighbour’s wife;
none who touches her will go unpunished.
People do not despise a thief if he steals
to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry,
but if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold;
he will give all the goods of his house.
He who commits adultery lacks sense;
he who does it destroys himself.
He will get wounds and dishonour,
and his disgrace will not be wiped away.
For jealousy makes a man furious,
and he will not spare when he takes revenge.
He will accept no compensation;
he will refuse though you multiply gifts.
Comment: I am challenged when reading this book of Proverbs. But I have discovered that whereas human nature hasn’t changed the background against which people grow up is entirely altered. Things are going to be different in different cultures and times and although there is a big difference in ours and Solomon’s time we need to learn the lessons which he is teaching in his writings. They are still relevant. In his time children grew up under their parents’ feet and were taught continuously their parents’ thinking firstly by example and also verbally. In our time many (?most) children are early put under professional child watchers and they and then their teachers have more input into the children’s moral training. Parents arrive home late from work and still have all their home management to do – so the children are put under the care of Mr TV or Mrs Google. Solomon’s point is that children need to learn well the proper attitudes concerning lots of things including sex. The problem today is deeper because parents are not teaching principles in the same way and often the other child watchers have different principles as well.
Sex is a large part of people’s lives. Fornication or adultery, and now a days even homosexuality seems an easy, pleasant way to satisfy those deep seated needs in both the male and female heart. It can become a way of getting enough bread to eat for the lady and cheap for the man. But playing with your neighbour’s partner causes jealousy and if the adulterer (male or female) is already committed to another partner anger and hurt is there. Cheap as a loaf of bread but the later payment is with attacks, both physical and verbal and loss of honour. I don’t like the thought of walking on hot coals with a fire in my bosom!
As I read it, Solomon could have gone a step further. Eventually wrong can be seen as right and good as evil. Our land is ruled by attitudes far different from Solomon’s Jewish background as laid out here. Sadly he didn’t listen to his own advice and ended up destroying the kingdom which David bequeathed him.
Today I have read beyond the passage but I think what I have said is true. At any rate the purpose of these short thoughts is to make us think. Feel free to answer me with your thoughts by email.
Prayer: Help me to seek and follow truth even if it makes me uncomfortable!