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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Proverbs 6 – Summons to Marital Fidelity

“Can fire be carried in the bosom

without burning one’s clothes?”

~Proverbs 6:27 (NRSV)

Scarcely has one single person—male or female—who’s in a marital relationship, or in the position to contemplate same, not considered what it would be like to have an affair, leave a marriage, or take up a different life. The thought is common place for all.

Continuing the theme initiated in the previous chapter is the repetitiveness known to the Proverbs’ Wisdom approach. Indeed, this theme will continue into Proverbs 7 and it’ll occasionally recur throughout the book. Clearly we’re slow learners, and particularly with such important issues as these nothing’s to be left to chance!

The Lust of the Eye – Our Snare

One of the ever present dangers of enjoying relationships with others is the fleeting attractions that capture our attention. How else are most of us to come close enough for sexual temptation?

We’ll generally know the person who we’re perhaps to become later ‘entangled’ with.

Even though Proverbs 6:20-35 centres on ‘the prostitute’ it’s clear that when two people accede to the want of a fling or an ongoing affair that both ‘prostitute’ themselves away from the partners of their youth (Proverbs 5:18); those they’ve chosen for life.

After all, one has given cause for affection and the other’s given way to it.

Neither person recognises the inherent danger and consummate folly of such activity; even if they do, they choose blindness for a fleeting tremor of ecstasy. But, oh how hearts will burn for this ‘little’ misdemeanour! Both, and indeed others, will be burned. The aggrieved partner(s) will not be assuaged; their anger will revile the situation (verses 34-35).

If only those who were party to the infidelity knew how these interactions would turn out!

Going Beneath the Deed of Infidelity

Often times our hearts hinder our progress; beneath our awareness they devise schemes that would quake us, let alone the partner or anyone else who knew our thoughts.

The heart belongs to the mind as the mind belongs to the heart. Both reinforce what’s seen in the attraction. But in these we’re persuaded and broken down over time. Suddenly what was once mere suggestion has grown with our imaginations and now before us stands the opportunity we perhaps dreamt of.

This is as insidious as it is inflammatory. No wonder we’re chided to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) and renew our minds (Romans 12:2)!

Two Varieties of Sin

Condemned not is the person who steals bread to feed their family—yet, they’ll pay sevenfold, even to bankruptcy (verses 30-31).

Still again lower, on a completely different scale, is the pathological sin of serious contemplation and wilful disobedience to the laws of life. Not only has the sin been pre-meditated it was flaunted in full view of the birds (Proverbs 1:17). It invites destruction (verse 32).

Neither sin will go unpunished, but the latter one will also attract condemnation. Only the Lord can forgive this of a person; and only then with genuine repentance—which is often more than people are willing to pay.

© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

Postscript: This is an excerpt from my e-book, Grow In GOD, a devotional, chapter-by-chapter commentary on Proverbs, published in March, 2011. All author proceeds from this e-book go to Compassion Australia to assist some of the world’s poorest children and families.

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