Heavenly Father, source of wisdom and love, fill my heart with your devotion, guide my steps in your ways, and keep my mind focused on your will. Help me to recognize the seductress in all her forms, so that I may steadfastly turn my back on her ways. Show me how to keep my sacred promises, honoring my relationships with love and understanding, showing others the faithfulness that you show to all .
After warning us off the path of the seductress, Solomon goes on to talk of faithfulness, of the wisdom of dancing with the one who brought you. Sometimes we can convince ourselves that things are better and the water is sweeter in someone else’s yard, but usually, if we go ahead and climb that fence, it doesn’t take long the realize what’s what. That beautiful field of green with luscious fountains is in reality only painted asphalt with flowing streams of vinegar. Wise council advises us that not only should we be wary of the enticements of temptress, but we can also find the happiness we seek right in our own back yard with those to whom we have pledged our faithfulness. Solomon instructs us to “drink from our own well” and to be “intoxicated” with the love of our wife/husband, to delight in their affection. This is the path to contentment, this is the way of the wise, and all esle is but foolish thought.
Here again the subject matter can be interpreted on many levels. At the surface it’s about marriage, about honoring your commitment to your spouse, but on another level, it’s also about life’s commitments, about keeping all the promises you make. Christ made many allegorical statements about our relationship to God as that of the bride to the bridegroom, and in that light, Proverbs 5 becomes a guide for not only our personal relationships to each other, but also our relationship to God.
Most commentaries associate this section of Proverbs 5 with the most common and widely held definition of adultery, which is specifically sexual sin, but the Latin root word adulterare (a-dul-ter-air) simply means to adulterate or to corrupt something. In ancient times, it was applied to sex outside the marriage bed between any man (married or not) and a married or betrothed woman, thus “corrupting” the issue (baby) from said woman. In other words, since they didn’t have paternity testing, and since fatherhood had legal and moral ramifications, they had a less cavalier attitude about the “Baby-daddy!”
Here again, Solomon uses the image of a woman to illustrate his point, and it’s interesting to me that he can so masterfully enliven the personification of the seductress. He describes her as having lips that drip with honey and a voice as smooth as oil, evoking the portrait of a beautiful woman who entices with sweet words and smooth promises of ecstasies untold. It’s a powerful, provocative image, one that is meant to convey how dangerous seduction can be, because while she appears to be smooth and polished as sweet as honey, she is, in reality, bitter and distasteful, as dangerous as a double-edged sword, and highly unstable, enticing us down a wayward path that leads to death and destruction.
While I understand the strong legal and moral associations linking adultery to sex, adultery is so much more than just sex. In fact, idolatry, covetousness, and apostasy are spoken of as spiritual adultery in many places in the Old Testament (Jer. 3:6, 8-9; Ezek. 16:31-32; Hos. 1:2; Isa. 1:21), and we can be seduced into all sorts of corruption. We can be enticed into compromising relationships, into nefarious activities, into revering anything and everything but God. Corruption abounds in this world in many forms, and it’s through listening to the voice of God through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, and steadfastly striving to live the life He would have us live that we may avoid following in the wayward footsteps of the seductress; a road that leads to bitterness, regret, loss of respect and ruin.