While at school I had to learn and recite what felt like hundreds of Gaelic proverbs. The literal translation for a proverb from Gaelic is ‘Old Words’. Some of them still come back to me even though they’re a bit random. Here’s a couple to think about.
- ‘As kind as the seagulls’
- ‘As mean as a dog’
You’re probably siting there thinking: What? But when you think of them, they’re true. Have you seen the seagulls at Porty beach when someone leaves behind some of their fish supper? They’ll be squawking away inviting all the other gulls to come and join them for a feed. But if a dog finds a treat, she’ll growl at another dog who comes near her. We would use these proverbs to describe kind or mean people. So actually, these old proverbs aren’t so foolish after all.
So how is the book of Proverbs in the Bible any different from these wise old words?
The Unique Wisdom of the Book of Proverbs
Eric Lane in his commentary says: “They are the wise words of everyday wisdom for everyone.”
You just need to glance through the chapters, and you will see Proverbs speaks about every aspect of our lives: laziness, gossip, lying, flattery, sex, anger, friendships, charmers, neighbours, parenting, money, quarrels, food, drunkenness, gluttony, marriage, adultery, and so on. They are short, and to the point, with no beating about the bush.
So you could just call it a book of wisdom, a guidebook, and leave it at that. But if you visit any book shop nowadays, you’ll see shelves filled with guidebooks on everything . . . how to find inner peace; how to meditate; how to lose weight in three days; how to transform your body; etc. I recently read about Grace Beverley who, at 24, is a CEO of three Instagram businesses. She’s written a book called: Working Hard, Hardly Working: How to Achieve More, Stress Less and Feel Fulfilled! That’s just the title so who knows what’s in the actual book.
So how is this book of Proverbs that speaks about every life topic you will face any different from what you will read in these guide books? Well, the practical wisdom taught here is God-centred. It’s the wisdom from heaven that James speaks about.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.(James 3:13)
Eric Lane again says: “It’s the wisdom that is born from the fear of the Lord, found in God himself and stamped on his creation.”
In this series of blogs, we’re going to look at how a woman knows wisdom from foolishness when it comes to purity and immorality. Let’s look at Proverbs 5 together.
Warning Against Adultery
5 My son, be attentive to my wisdom;
incline your ear to my understanding,
2 that you may keep discretion,
and your lips may guard knowledge.
3 For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil,
4 but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path to Sheol;
6 she does not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.
7 And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
8 Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
9 lest you give your honour to others
and your years to the merciless,
10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your labours go to the house of a foreigner,
11 and at the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
12 and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
14 I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”
We’re going to look at this chapter in 2 parts and think about how they apply to our situations today.
Verses 1–6 (While these verses speak to a son, they apply to us as daughters/women.)
“My daughter, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well and turn your ear to my words of insight.” (Prov. 5:1)
When I read this verse, it reminded me of when my kids were younger and how often I would say: “Are you listening to what I am saying?” In fact, I would bend down so I was at the same height level with them and say: “Look me in the eyes when I’m speaking to you.” One of them would often start listening if I was giving instructions but would start moving away before I would finish.
That’s what the writer is doing here—he is saying: Listen up, give careful attention to what I am saying because these words are important and insightful. They are God’s wisdom. So, listen carefully! And don’t be one who starts to listen and then walks away. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
And why does he want us to do that? Because this teaching will help you to act with discretion. But what does that mean? It will help you to act carefully and in a disciplined way. We want to live as godly women in this dark world, and that affects every part of our lives. We want to behave in a way that demonstrates that we have good moral standards, and by moral standards I don’t just mean common morals like we speak kind words, keep promises, etc., but rather Biblical moral standards based on the Ten Commandments and the teaching of Jesus.
This is part one in a series on Proverbs and how wise women maintain purity. Stay tuned for part two next week.