We long for someone, anyone, to cling to; to grasp; to claim, in a sense.
There's a strong sense to desire and be desired, and not just in a sexual sense. Deep down, this gnawing sensation of longing is in every human being. I would argue that even those we've seen on the news found as hermits or vagabonds, or those we encounter every day that seem like permanent loners are all, in some small way, trying to connect with someone or something. I don't think it matters whether you're SUPER introverted or extroverted.
In Proverbs 5, the theme of keeping to the wise path continues:
"My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge." v. 1-2But suddenly, this imagery of a father talking to his son slips into a warning:
"For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path of Sheol." v. 3-6***Now, to all the ladies (if there are multiple people reading this blog), this is NOT on indictment on you. This is just an analogy regarding something bigger. It sounds a little sexist, but remember this was written in poetry language several thousand years ago. The culture is a LITTLE different than ours. ***
Who is this woman? This passage can be taken a few ways.
1. This is practical advice from a father to a son; possibly a grown son. Throughout Proverbs so far, the father-to-son advice is a nice rite of passage we can all identify. But here, I think it's very practical. "Stay away from the loose women!" is how I see it. She may seem enticing, but being with her is "folly." Perhaps the son is a grown man who's married... and he's having a rough marriage. There's all kinds of shame/honor culture stuff going on behind marital strife and possible divorce, but I don't have the time to get into it. But we can see the temptation. In fact, we can see this story flipped: A married woman falling for a very suave, seductive, smooth-talking man. In this moment, the father is reminding his son:
"Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love." v. 18-19Taking into mind the strange nature language of this poetry, the father's saying, "DUDE, be enthralled with your wife! In the context of marriage. the covenant relationship you've vowed to before her, your community, and to God, LOVE YOUR WIFE with all you've got: Soul, Mind, and BODY!" Because look what the father says,
"Why would you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?" v. 20Why waste that good thing you have in marriage with something that is harmful?
2. Within the theme of wisdom so far, I see a deeper meaning, not that I'm against the sanctity of marriage. We've seen this contrast between the blessings of following Godly wisdom, which in context was the ultimate gift God bestowed upon the main writer of Psalms, King Solomon, son of David, and the curses of rejecting wisdom. In fact, it's address several times in Proverbs 5 that the consequences of ignoring wisdom and walking astray will have their own consequences; and they can be destructive.
"For a man's ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths. The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray." v. 21-23Why did I bring up personal connections? Well, for one, this passage address covenant faithfulness, like a marriage. Our tendency as human beings, however, is to look for greener pastures as soon as things get rough. Secondly, it might not necessarily be people with whom we're desiring to connect. It could be status, or possessions, or pride. When we aren't grounded in God's wisdom, we'll be lead around by the bit we happen to be chewing everywhere.
This is something I've had to learn the hard way. Constantly, I'm forgetting about my identity in Christ. Subtly, or not-so-subtly sometimes, I've allowed certain situations define who I am: Youth leader, efficient production manager, school photographer, sarcastic snark, boyfriend, goofball... whatever's in season. This is my struggle.
Let Christ anchor you in His love, wisdom, and sacrifice for you. The grass is green on His side. He is for the redemption of all things, including you and anyone who calls him LORD.