Two weeks ago, I was thinking that I would simply expound these verses, as I did the first part of the chapter. But as I was looking at it, it became obvious that an exposition might be more problematic than an outline. So, once again, we have a brief, devotional sermon. I haven’t been giving these messages titles, but I probably should have. If this was to have a title, I would call it “Arguments for a Godly Morality,” or something along that line.
Leaning away from what I hope are obvious lessons, let’s think about the Lord and His will.
First, consider God’s omniscience.
Verse 21 – “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.” Obviously there is a corollary to this thought, “the ways of women are also before the eyes of the Lord.” Even though Solomon may have been thinking about wayward leaning sons of his, there are lessons here for the “strange woman” who was introduced to us last week. As foolish as it is, fathers often think it is impossible for their daughters to fall into sinful immorality. But knowing their own hearts, they can picture their sons. It’s always other man’s daughters who tempt our sons into sin. But, as I say, it’s foolishness on the father’s part.
Both sons and daughter must remember “the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.” The “ways” and “goings” of God’s creatures are as clear to the Lord as the sun shining above the clouds. “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” In His infinitude and majesty the Lord knows every step, action and deed you and I ever take. Despite angels watching and witnessing all we do, the Lord doesn’t need their reports. – He is omniscient. And the verse adds the idea that God PONDERS everything we do as well. He sees, weighs and understands them. He knows why we do the things we do – what motivates us to do them. In other words, the Lord knows our hearts as well as our deeds. And by that I don’t mean that He permits our good intentions to ameliorate the sinfulness of our actions. He knows us and what we do better than we do.
But the Lord is not like some surveillance camera recording you as you enter into that strip club. He is not an audio device, catching your lie or your para-blasphemy. He is not a crime scene technician pulling your finger-print off some piece of evidence.
No sir, He is the perfect interpreter of our sin – and our supreme judge.
The omniscient, omnipotent sovereign God has determined that OF the wicked – “His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.” God has decreed and guaranteed that the wicked shall not escape their iniquities and sins. Let’s say that there is no sin in eating a good piece of chocolate. Are we agreed with that? But there comes a point, when the next piece of chocolate becomes an indulgence. And indulgences are of the verge of sin. At some point the next piece of chocolate, adds another tenth of an ounce to our weight problem. I’m not an expert, but it might be that the next candy clogs an artery, or pushes us closer to a stroke. I’m sure we could think of illustrations in nature, where a tree, an animal – something invites a small seed into its life, and eventually that seed will overpower its host and kill it. “His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.”
And there will be no second chances. “He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.” Oh, it’s not that this young man hasn’t been instructed – he has heard the gospel and been warned about sin a thousand times throughout his youth. But those days are over and syphilis is destroying his brain to the point that there is no room or reason for any more instruction. He was warned about marijuana, but he didn’t think it was important or that the arguments were valid. But long ago he moved to cocaine and then to meth, and now his heart has been destroyed. “In the greatness of his folly he (has gone) astray” and there is no coming back. There is no Catholic purgatory; there is no spiritual purgatory; there is no actual purgatory. There are no second chances – no mulligans – no do-overs. Solomon says, “My son, begin your life properly, and continue it properly.”
What is God’s will according to this scripture?
Among other things, it is God’s will to rightfully, and thankfully, enjoy what is yours. “Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.” This principle applies to just about every area of our lives. Don’t be a thief. Eat your own food, don’t be stealing your neighbor’s corn or potatoes. Don’t be a gambler, trying to take the “investment” of all those other greedy people. Learn to live on the income you have earned; don’t be embezzling from your employer. If you think that your cistern or well isn’t giving you the best water possible, then take what steps you can to improve the situation. But you have no excuse to take what is properly another man’s.
Of course, Solomon is speaking metaphorically of a man and his wife. “Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth” – verse 18. Your wife should be your closest friend; you should laugh and rejoice more with her than with any other person on earth. And you should do all within your lawful ability to make your wife as happy and contented as possible. That should be twenty-four hours a day; at 9 a.m. breakfast and 3 in the after noon; at 6 p.m. supper and 10 p.m. bed time. And I will add, don’t be thinking only of yourself; remember – “a happy wife makes for a happy life.” In verse 16, Solomon says, “May the Lord fill your house and your city be with your children.” “Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.” Then he adds, under no circumstances should you have children with that strange woman. “Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee.”
“Oh, but immoral behavior is common today, society doesn’t mind these things.” In history some of those strange women were called “concubines,” and then they became “mistresses.” Today, a may man have children by four different women, and a woman has three children by different fathers. It is as common as pine trees in North Idaho. But we are not pine trees, we are special creatures in God’s kingdom. And this paragraph ends with words of divine condemnation upon such wicked creatures. Society has never been given the authority to determine what is right or what is moral. “He shall die.” “It is appointed unto men once to die and after this the judgment.”
And this leaves us with God’s question.
Verse 20 – “Why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman.” As I was typing this word yesterday, my fingers hit “ravaged” – “why will you permit yourself to be ravaged ( ie. destroyed) by this strange woman?” That is usually what results – even when confined to “innocent” pornography – disaster. But it’s not “ravaged,” it is “ravished.” And that Hebrew word is rather complex. Twice it is translated “ravished,” but eleven times it is rendered “to err.” And it is also “wander,” “cause to go astray,” “sin through ignorance” and “to be deceived.”
Solomon asks, “Son, how can you be so foolish, so dumb, so stupid, as to permit yourself to be lead astray by the smarmy, oily words of this stranger to righteousness? In the light of God’s omniscience, will you follow this evil person into sin? Why do you toy with painful and perhaps fatal disease? With the potential destruction of your future happiness, will you chase this woman into immorality?
Choose a bride, an help-meet, or conversely, a husband, and dedicate yourself to that person for the rest of your life. Avoid the judgment of God. Rather, in His will enjoy His marital blessings “as long as you both shall live.”