Ah, the seductress, once again she visits us to tempt and deceive, to lure and entrap. Solomon uses her to paint a picture of how we can allow flattery and desire to mislead and betray us. He describes her as brazen and brash, as roaming the streets and lying in wait for just the right time to approach, using our cravings to entice us into sin. She snares us by our own folly, and we willingly follow her down the path of destruction and death.
While reading this chapter, I couldn’t help thinking of “The Lord of the Rings.” The details with which the story is related, reminded me of the tale of the Nazgûl, the nine black riders, who once were mighty kings and whose greed and lust for power became their undoing, distorting and disfiguring them, transforming them into hideous, unrecognizable creatures. Like the naïve young man in Solomon’s account, they were seduced by the promises of forbidden fruit, and through their eager acceptance of the dark lord’s gifts, they became enslaved to his will.
We have all, at one time or another, been in Solomon’s shoes, looking out upon a scene we know will not end well, watching from a distance as a loved one makes a wrong turn, seeing the outcome as if someone had drawn a diagram on a chalkboard. If only they could see what we are seeing, the traps that have been set, the heartache, the devastation waiting in the shadows. We can protect ourselves from the snares of the seductress, and Solomon tells us that wisdom’s voice is the only guard we have against her, that the temptations of our worldly desires can be waylaid through talking to wisdom as if she’s a sister, and through treating her insight as a constant companion.
Lord, in your wisdom, you call your people to purity; you know my heart, what influences me, forgive the times when sin, not your grace and spirit, have motivated me. Take my hands, my feet, and my words; use them for your good purposes. Give me the wisdom to walk away from temptation, to weigh the consequences and count the costs of my actions, to overcome it. Help me to know the peace that comes with the wisdom which is rooted in your word. Amen.
Once again, we visit the subject of adultery. So what’s with adultery, and why does Solomon seem to have been so obsessed with the subject? Maybe the story of his father and mother and how they came to be a couple played a part in his fixation, or maybe he thought the subject was of such importance that it bore repeating. Actually, if you think about it, the later does warrant some consideration. Other than to God, marriage is the most important commitment we can make, and how we handle the challenges of our pledge defines us as human beings. If we run at the first sign of trouble, if we are shallow in our obligation, or if we are cavalier about our faithfulness, it is a direct reflection upon our character, upon who we are within our heart of hearts. When you play with fire, you get burned, and if we are superficial in this, one of life’s most important endeavors, showing that we cannot be trusted to keep our word, then the consequence follows us throughout our lives.
Therefore, listen to the voice of wisdom; keep the word close to your heart, tied around your neck like a precious jewel. Dwell in the word for it is your light, and its discipline is the way to life. God’s instructions will lead you when you walk, protect you when you sleep, advise you when you wake, and following his will keeps us focused on truth, on desirable action, and on the importance of faithfulness.
After telling us that we should be as hard-working as the ant, Solomon advises which direction that industry should take. Wisdom dictates that unless we want our lives to be ruled by ruin and catastrophe, we need to avoid talking out of both sides of our mouths, saying one thing and doing another, cooking up devious plots to bring disaster on others, and being a “shit” disturber. He even outlines six behaviors that the Eternal One despises. They are:
- People who look down on others,
- A liar,
- Those who hurt the innocent,
- People who harbor evil in their hearts,
- Someone who willing takes a wicked path,
- A false witness.
Wisdom calls us to look upon others with compassion and love, never in haughty arrogance, or from a position of superiority. Liars and those who would willingly make up stories about others are people who cannot be trusted. Someone who harbors evil desires in their heart and who would harm the innocent are faithless reprobates, and are not the kind of people the wise associate with. These are all behaviors that God hates, that speak against God’s laws, and that open up a world of hurt and misfortune for those who follow their teaching. And, as if to underscore what he had just said, he adds the “shit” disturber to his list.
Wisdom calls on us to follow God’s laws, to write them on the tablet of our hearts, to live our lives every day according to His will, to seek Him first among all things.
Any discussion about wisdom has to include the subject of laziness. Solomon tells us to take a lesson from ants, that ants are the prime example of wisdom in action. Ants are one of God’s most industrious creatures, and I can attest to their tenacity every spring when they invade the kitchen. They doggedly and tirelessly go about their work, and I’ve never seen one that wanted to sleep ‘til noon, knock off early, or take an afternoon nap because they’re exhausted by their lives. An ant knows what it needs to do and works diligently to accomplish its tasks without a team leader, a boss or a king.
It seems that in our society, work is a dirty word, a bad habit, a thing to be avoided whenever possible. But without work, what would we do with ourselves? Whether it’s taking care of a family, working at the Walmart, volunteering for our church or a local charity, or directing a multi-million dollar corporation, work is an expression of who we are. It’s God’s way of utilizing the talents he has given us, and it involves more than what we do for a living.
Every day there are any number of things that just have to be done, and it’s our responsibility as stewards of this earth to see to it. We don’t get time off from life; wisdom says that we should assess the situation and motivate ourselves to accomplish what needs to be done. It is only through a mindful stewardship of life’s obligations that we can feel safe in the knowledge that we are indeed accomplishing God’s plan for our lives.