Slowly, we’re going to get back on this horse and look at Proverbs more frequently.
Today is August 5, so we’ll look at Proverbs 5. Now, I know that it’s important that we look at Proverbs as a unified book, and not just pick it apart verse-by-verse as if there is no cohesion. However, there are still nuggets to draw out.
I see Proverbs similar to a gold mine: the value of the whole is substantially greater than any individual nugget, but there are individual nuggets that can be pulled out without destroying the unity and usefulness of the whole.
Plus, a verse-by-verse look is going to highlight every verse, but we won’t neglect the overall context.
Proverbs 5 is, overall, a warning against adultery. The opening sections hit hard on the dangers of the forbidden woman. The concept is possibly either foreign women or women that are forbidden because they are not your wife. Given that Israel’s religious call was to avoid entanglements with those who did not fear and revere YHWH, the Covenant God of Israel, the prohibition works both ways.
Our focal verses for today are Proverbs 5:8, where the instruction is not only to avoid the forbidden woman but to not go near the door of her house. Got that?
Not near. Not anywhere near at all. How foolishly we play with temptations and sins—we think we can gaze from the rooftops and not be entangled. We expect to carry fire and not be burned. This foolishness has destroyed so many. Reserve your strength for the times when it is necessary, do not use it just to prove that you are strong. Every person has their limits. Why risk exceeding yours?
This is not against being involved with sinful people for redemptive purposes, but we frequently can trace those moments when our relationships cross-over from redemption to self-gratification. At that moment, it’s time to flee.
The next focal verse is Proverbs 5:18. The obvious meaning of rejoice in the wife of your youth is to stay faithful to your original spouse. This set me thinking about the difference in young marriage and later marriage.
I really got to thinking about 15 years ago when two young and not-exactly-wise people planned and executed a wedding in 5 months. We now have three children and 15 years behind us.
How many ways can we both look back and think of qualifications for our spouses that we might be better off with? She deserves a better money manager. I could use a piano playing preacher’s wife. She should have someone smarter, better-looking, and so forth…and how often do we men (especially, not that women don’t) start noticing age and thinking about younger or taller or (fill-in-the-blank on the world’s beauty structures)?
Rejoice in the wife of your youth. Rejoice in the person that you have learned to have a marriage with, rather than going out to find someone that fits your checkbox list. The person who chose to commit with you to life together rather than someone that “meets your needs.” Why? Because you’re also supposed to meet her needs.
Marriage is not about one person holding a job description and finding the right person to fill it. Marriage is about two people learning to live together for the rest of their days.
And it should be a place of rejoicing. If you can’t rejoice about being married to who you’re marrying before you marry them, don’t do it.
If you're not rejoicing because you’re being selfish—then fix it. If you’re not rejoicing because you’re in danger, then get safe. That’s a whole different discussion.