The mouth of forbidden women is a deep pit; he with whom the Lord is angry will fall into it.
Proverbs 22:14 ESV
Adultery isn’t “a little bit of fun” or a “little bit on the side”. Adultery is a death trap. People might be titillated by the thought that someone wants to commit adultery with them. But those who do so are in danger of killing themselves spiritually.
“Forbidden women” in Hebrew is literally “foreign women”. But this isn’t Solomon being racist, after all, he married hundreds of foreign women himself. This is him communicating from bitter experience. His foreign wives drew his heart away from the Lord.
In ancient Israel, a foreign woman would almost invariably be an unbeliever in the God of Jacob. That meant she was off limits for a devout Israelite. The equivalent today would be a Christian getting into a relationship with an unbeliever.
If we fall into adultery, God is angry with us. God’s anger is not something we want to experience, because it burns the hottest in hell. It’s pretty hard to get out of the trap that adultery would land us in- only God’s deliverance can do it.
“Lord Yahweh, please deliver us from adulterous people. May we not fall into that trap, and so risk losing our souls. In Christ Jesus’ name, amen”
The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!”
Proverbs 22:13 ESV
As ridiculous as this proverb sounds, and it is, it wasn’t actually inconceivable for a lion to stray onto the streets of ancient Israel. The closest analogy in parts of America for example would be where a bear might stroll into the neighbourhood to rummage through trash. The worst we could expect in the UK is a fox!
Foxes, bears and even lions however don’t stop your average Joe from going about his daily business. The chances of coming across one are pretty slim. But the sluggard will clutch at straws for any excuse to laze around in the house.
Nowadays, with the wonders of modern technology, it’s possible to never leave the home. After all, we can even order our grocery shopping online and get it delivered to our door. But that doesn’t mean to say we could be sluggardly recluses.
I know it’s possible to work from home, but the sluggard just wants to be a couch potato. Perversely and embarrassingly, I have occasionally watched “My 600lb Life” about lazy, greedy people trying to turn their lives around. Step 1 is to step outside of the house and attempt some exercise.
“Yahweh, forbid that we should be sluggardly. May we be diligent to work hard and not make excuses for laziness, instead resolving to put our slothfulness to death. In Christ’s name, amen”
The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge, but he overthrows the words of the traitor.
Proverbs 22:12 ESV
If you want knowledge, be encouraged, because God’s looking out for you. God is on the side of knowledge. People often think that science (literally “knowledge”) and faith are incompatible. Solomon would disagree.
Science and faith are different, but not necessarily contradictory. Science looks with the eyes of flesh. Faith looks with spiritual insight. You can see the trees blow in the wind, but you can’t see the wind. You can see the virtuous work of the Spirit in someone, but you cannot see the Spirit of God.
God overthrows the words of the traitor. Anyone who denies God and doesn’t have faith in Him is a traitor to His Truth. Already Richard Dawkins’ book “The God Delusion” is being consigned to charity shops. God is overthrowing those lying words!
I’ve even heard of people who have read “The God Delusion”, researched the God who Dawkins claims to be a delusion, and come to faith in Him! Dawkins would do well to repent of His traitorous words which are already being overthrown! We too need to seek knowledge and repent of our rebellion against God.
“All seeing God, we pray that You would give us the knowledge and faith we need, and cause us to repent of traitorous words. For the sake of Your glory, amen”
He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.
Proverbs 22:11 ESV
If you love purity of heart, chances are you have a pure heart. If you love purity of heart, you’re going to seek after God’s purification of your heart. And God graciously purifies the hearts of those who worship Him in spirit and in truth.
As Jesus said, “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. What an unimaginable priviledge, that we could come face to face with Almighty God Himself! If we’re pure in heart, it follows that we’ll be gracious in speech too.
“Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks”. So out of a pure heart, gracious words flow. We want to be known for gracious words rather than always making snide remarks or coarse jokes.
If our gracious words flow out of a pure heart, authorities will want to get to know us. Powerful figures don’t get where they are without having a measure of discernment about what’s going to encourage and edify them. We want positive people as friends, and rulers do as well.
“Yahweh our God, may we be those with pure hearts and gracious words. May we be blessings to our authorities by upholding them in prayer, in Jesus Christ’s name, amen”
Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease.
Proverbs 22:10 ESV
A scoffer is a mocker or as we might refer to online as a troll. But scoffing is wider than just online. Yes, trolls might need to be blocked online. But sadly there’s trolls offline too.
Strife isn’t just found in a comments section online. It’s found in people’s homes as well. Jesus had some sobering words that He didn’t come to bring peace, but division within families between believers and unbelievers in Him.
Often, sadly, Christian parents have quarrelsome teenagers who don’t want to go to church. But there comes a point when they leave home, and the Sunday morning quarrels cease. Although Christian parents should love their children, I doubt they would miss a quarrelsome child.
Sadly, abuse is all too common in many homes. Solomon is unequivocal: if you’re suffering abuse, drive out the abuser! If that’s not possible, you might have to flee yourself. Even if someone professes faith, their family doesn’t have to put up with abuse if they’re guilty of it.
“Oh God our Lord, forbid that we should become scoffing, quarrelsome and abusive. If we are, may we repent and be transformed by Your Holy Spirit. Don’t let us put up with such things, but may we resist them, in Christ’s name, amen”
Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.
Proverbs 22:9 ESV
You might ask how someone sharing his bread with the poor is blessed. Surely he’s the one doing the blessing, not the other way around! Well for a start he gets to enjoy the company of poor people, who can be good company, especially if they’re filled with gratitude for a free meal.
God blesses people who are a blessing. As God blesses, so He expects us to be blessings. And so by blessing others we are blessed. It’s a virtuous circle!
God’s eye is bountiful, and we bless Him for it. Every blessing we enjoy is ultimately from Him, so we offer up our thanks and praise. And God expects us to be bountiful, and so to be blessed by grateful people.
I think we think in purely economic terms too often. We think of the cost of breaking bread with the poor. But by doing good, we’re gaining treasures in heaven. We don’t earn heaven, but we’re graciously rewarded for the good things we do, that have been prepared in advance by God for us to do.
“Our Yahweh, thank You for Your bountiful eye towards us. May we look bountifully upon others and share food with the poor, and so be blessed by You, for Your honour and praise, amen”
Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail.
Proverbs 22:8 ESV
We reap what we sow. So, if we sow injustice, we will reap calamity. If we bring calamity on other people by our injustice, God will bring calamity on us.
It’s nothing more than we deserve. If we have a deep desire for justice, that is because there is such a thing as objective right and wrong. If we baulk at injustice, it’s because our consciences tell us when something’s wrong.
It’s not for us to be furious. Yes, we can and should be angry at injustice, but it’s not for us to go all vigilante. In our anger, we mustn’t sin.
All too often, we repay injustice with injustice. Two wrongs don’t make a right. We end up just perpetuating the wrongdoing. We need to repent and change our ways.
“We thank You Lord that a harvest of righteousness is sown for those who trust in You. Please weed out any injustice or fury in us, for Your honour and praise, amen”