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Proverbs 5:21-23

5:21-23

This last word of wisdom makes the point that the Lord sees sin and judges it. This is an essential part of “the fear of the Lord,” reverently believing the God of the Bible, exclusively loving, obeying, and worshiping the One you will give an account to. He sees everything you do (21), so be controlled by the fear of the Lord, not exciting feelings and situations. God. Is. Watching. The punishments of verses 22–23 are not bad luck but certain events for those who reject the Lord. You may think you hide your tracks from everyone else, but your ways and paths are deeply rooted wagon tracks clearly seen by the Lord. Not only does the Lord see what you do, he judges sin (22–23). God very rarely judges sin with the lightning bolt; most often he lets sinners go their chosen way, and the path and way of sin is death. What a sobering thought that God judges sinners by letting them go their way. Love your spouse and no one else; God sees all—avoid a fall!

1. When does God get tired? What in all creation does God miss or forget? With this in mind, think and meditate on v. 21.
2. A practical help might be to write v. 21 on cards and put them in different places to remind you of that truth. Regularly move them around.
3. If you’re not passionately controlled by your spouse’s love (v. 19), what will you be controlled by (v. 22)?

Proverbs 5:15-20

The last aspect of avoiding immorality and loving your spouse (5:1–23) is love your spouse and no one else (5:15–20). To avoid the pit of death that adultery leads to you must be faithful to and love your spouse. Listen to three solid reasons why you must love your spouse and no one else. First, marital faithfulness is better than promiscuity (15–18). God provides marriage as the only “arena” to know and enjoy the blessings of physical intimacy (15). Don’t bring your love and desire to anyone else other than your spouse (16–17). Second, martial faithfulness provides great delight (18–19). The husband and wife fill and refresh each other (18). Marriage involves mutual joy and fulfillment. Be “addicted” to your spouse’s love—that is God-given protection from illicit, unlawful passion (19). There is never a time or circumstance when you should look for physical intimacy with anyone other than your spouse. Third, marital faithfulness protects from infidelity (20). The road leading to adultery looks good at the turn, but its end is corruption and death (cf. vv. 4–5, 9–14). Why would you be your own worst enemy, preferring poisoned and stolen puddle-water instead of the pure living waters of your own well?

  1. Slowly read through this section, and think about this: Which is put on public display and which is enjoyed privately, promiscuity/immorality or marriage? Evaluate what you see and hear in the world today by this.
  2. Where does God say is true enjoyment of intimacy? Why don’t more people believe this?
  3. Note that verse 19 commands what you are to be satisfied, enraptured, intoxicated, ravished, and exhilarated with. Who created marriage? Does God know what is best?
  4. When both spouses have this commitment, what kind of relationship will they have? Contrast this with the situation in verse 20—what kind of relationship will that be?
  5. Where—and with whom—do you enjoy intimacy? Are you in line with God’s will and gracious provision?
  6. What changes do you need to make in your relationship with your spouse so you both enjoy this gift and protection from God?

Proverbs 5:7-14

5:7-14

God’s will stated in this talk is avoid immorality and love your spouse (5:1–23). There are three essential aspects of this, the first is be saturated with biblical wisdom for protection from sexual seduction (5:1–6). The second given here is to stay away from immorality before its too late (7–14). You must hear and heed God’s Word, being controlled by Scripture rather than fleshly senses (7). To disobey God’s commands is to “depart” from his Word. Your life must be characterized by obedience to God’s written Word—bring your desires and affections in line with it! God’s written will is to stay far from immorality (8), there is no debating this. If God’s clearly given, written will is ignored there will be tragic effects: loss of life (9–11) and too-late-regret (12–14). When you live by sense rather than Scripture you lose the best years of your life. You can’t judge life by immediate appearances; take the long look, keep the “end” in view (ask, “Where will this lead?”). The regret in vv. 12–14 is “too late” because the end it points to is final and eternal.

1. If you don’t know God’s will as given in the Bible, are you “off the hook” for your ignorance? Why?
2. Compare verse 8 with 1 Cor 6:18; Eph 5:3; 1 Thess 4:3–8; 2 Tim 2:22; and Heb 13:4.
3. What specific items are mentioned in verses 9–11?
4. Why is the warning about sexual immorality addressed to young people?
5. What are some practical ways of implementing Matt 5:28–29 and Rom 13:14 regarding sexual immorality?
6. Hating and spurning God’s Word is to depart from the faith. Check out Num 15:31; 2 Sam 12:9; 2 Chr 36:16; Ps 107:11; Prov 1:25, 30; 12:1; 13:13; 15:5; Isa 5:24.

Proverbs 5:1-6

Fearing the Lord—how should that be seen in you morally and sexually? The fifth “talk” teaching the correct, skillful application of God’s Word (“wisdom”) addresses this crucial aspect of life: avoid immorality and love your spouse (5:1–23). There are three essential aspects of this. The first (5:1–6) is be saturated with biblical wisdom for protection from sexual seduction. Being saturated with biblical wisdom involves careful (1a) and exclusive attention (1b). “Giving attention” and “inclining” involve intentionally directing yourself to God’s Word and away from everything ungodly. Many things will affect, direct, and turn your heart. You must determine to go exclusively in the Lord’s way. You must do this in order to gain and retain the needed discretion and knowledge (2). “Discretion” is the ability to see things as they really are and make correct assessments. The point here is that this is a life-long effort: you can lose discretion and knowledge. The reason why you should be saturated with biblical wisdom is given next (3-6), to be protected from sexual seduction. Since this is a fatherly “talk” to his son he talks about an “immoral woman.” The seducer’s speech drips with honey and is smoother than oil—this is flattery (3). The only way you’ll see his/her true character is if you’re saturated with biblical wisdom. Sin never shows itself for what it really is. It always hides its true character. What is their speech really like (4)? Where will seducers and those they seduce end up (5–6)? They say they’ll take you places, but what place (5)? They say they know where they’re going, but they really don’t (6).

  1. Are you intentionally devoting attention to God’s Word? What is the opposite of intentional?
  2. What will happen if you incline your heart toward self-gratification (1 John 2:15ff)?
  3. Where does the path of temptation always lead (James 1:14-15)?
  4. Is it wise to judge based on appearances? Why?
  5. The sexual seducer is self-deceived and lives for the moment. Do you have the discernment to see through the seduction? The devotion to Christ to resist it?

Proverbs 4:20-27

Seeking God’s wisdom and staying in his paths (4:1–27) requires receiving and retaining God’s Word (1-9) and following righteousness while avoiding wickedness, as there are only two paths and two destinations (10-19). This requires devotion on your part: be entirely (20-23) and exclusively devoted to God’s Word (24-27).

Entire devotion to God’s Word means giving God your ears (20), listening only to God’s “words” and “sayings.” Give God your eyes (21-22). You should always look to God’s Word—it shouldn’t be a distant outpost (like Antarctica), it should be the very command center of your life (Washington D.C.). Your “ears” and “eyes” are the doors of your heart, and you must give God your heart (23). Whatever enters your heart affects your life. Your desires, decisions, and direction are determined by your heart.

Exclusive devotion to God’s Word involves your words (24), they must be completely in line with God’s character. What you say reflects and reinforces who you are. Don’t talk like an unbeliever or listen approvingly to godless talk so you are not harmfully influenced by such. Exclusive devotion involves what you see (25); there will always be things to distract you from what you should focus on. There are so many distractions in our time—you must discipline yourself to have a laser-like focus on Jesus Christ. Lastly, exclusive devotion involves what you seek (26-27), you must stay only on God’s path. This is not “staying between extremes,” but complete separation from what is wrong and entire commitment to what is right.

  1. What you see, listen to, say, etc. not only influences you, it reinforces and trains your direction in life. Is everything you hear, see, think, and say in line with God’s character?
  2. What is the most valuable, precious thing you own? How do you care for and protect it? What about your heart (4:23)?
  3. Check out Luke 6:43-45. What do your words, emails, social media, texts, etc. say about your heart?
  4. Think about what you read, watch, and listen to. Do they express and help you with entire and exclusive devotion?
  5. Do you think about the direction of your life (v. 26)?

 

Proverbs 4:14-19

The second necessity of seeking God’s wisdom and staying in his paths is to avoid wickedness (4:14-19). You need to do this at all costs (14-15)— the six commands here emphasize how important it is to avoid wickedness at all costs. There are no “redeemable” aspects of this wicked, sinful world. While walking the path of righteousness you should never look at the path of wickedness longingly. The reason why you must avoid wickedness at all costs is because wickedness thoroughly corrupts (16-17). These verses describe how addicted those given to wickedness are—they live to sin, can’t help themselves, can’t keep it to themselves (evangelists of evil), want to harm others, it is what they think about at night and live for during the day, they are thoroughly corrupted by sin. God clearly says there are only two paths, only two destinations (18-19). Righteousness—living wisely, by the fear of the Lord—enable you to see where you should go in life. Only God’s way is safe and gives peace of mind. Life is full of trips and traps, but those who live by their own wits never see why they fall for “they do not know,” they are spiritually blind.

  1. Think about what an unbeliever eats and drinks and lives for. Is that what a person who fears the Lord should look for?
  2. You can know your “destination” by the “road” you’re on; what road are you on? What’s the “scenery” look like?
  3. You can know your destination by the company you keep. Who do you like? Allow to influence you?
  4. What do you think about when you go to bed? What do you live for?
  5. If you are on the wrong path, get off it now, immediately!
  6. Do you ever see someone willingly drive with his eyes closed? That might give a thrill, but it is always fatal. How does this illustrate this passage?

Proverbs 4:10-13

This fourth “talk” of chapter 4 emphasizes that you must seek God’s wisdom and stay in his paths. What are the basics involved with that, and why should you? You must follow and continue in righteousness for only in that “path” are found safety and life (10-13). The specifics are given in chapters 10-31; chapters 1-9 give the basics you first need to hear and heed (young children are not told the details of adult life, but unless they first learn to obey, they won’t listen to the details later on). Following God’s righteousness requires hearing and welcoming God’s Word (10). Hearing without welcoming isn’t true faith. The path of wisdom is the right way to go (11). You don’t just “know” it—you must be taught (11a) and taken by the hand (11b). It’s not just head knowledge, you must do it. Following righteousness is God’s way, and his way is the best way (12). Only the Lord’s way gives true freedom and ease (“not hindered,” “not stumble,” 12). Truly seeking God’s wisdom and staying in his paths requires discipline and effort (13—note the three commands here!).

  1. Who is wiser, a two-year-old or a parent?
  2. Why isn’t hearing without welcoming true faith (v. 10)?
  3. Think of a way to illustrate the foolishness of knowing what is right but not doing it (vv. 11-12).
  4. Read, think about, and meditate on v. 13. What are you doing now about that? Think about both activity and attitude. What is the reason given in v. 13 why you should do this?
  5. Do you have this “basic” commitment to fearing the Lord, to growing in wisdom?

Proverbs 4:1-9

Chapter four contains the fourth father to son “talk” about biblical wisdom. Practically speaking, fearing the Lord means seeking God’s wisdom and staying in his paths. There are three aspects to this:

  1. Receive and retain God’s Word to enjoy God’s blessings, 1–9
  2. Follow righteousness and avoid wickedness, 10–19
  3. Be entirely and exclusively devoted to God’s Word, 20–27

Seeking God’s wisdom and staying in his paths means you must receive and retain God’s Word to enjoy his blessings. God’s wisdom in Scripture is characterized as being good, upright, sound (2b). Because of that, you must “hear,” “give attention,” and “not forsake” His Word. Each generation tends to dismiss not only their parents, but especially their grandparents as irrelevant. That is not the case with God’s wisdom! In verses 3–9 a “grandpa” speaks, showing that it doesn’t matter what point in human history one lives in, God’s wisdom is essential. The mind, heart, and will must be involved—they cannot be separated. Sadly, our proud minds, hard hearts, and stubborn wills tend to dismiss God’s Word. God’s wisdom is essential for life (4). When you prioritize God’s wisdom, he protects, helps, and graces you in life (5–9).

  1. Think about the legacy you’re leaving for generations that follow you. What will your children and grandchildren remember (v. 3)?
  2. What is the most important thing to you? How are your priorities seen in your time and attention? What you think about and plan for?
  3. Who do and don’t you “embrace”? Why? Now, would you describe your attitude and action if “wisdom” walked in the room as an “embrace” (v. 8)? Proverbs gives God’s wisdom! Embrace it!

Proverbs 3:31-35

This section closes the “talk” that began in verse 1 by drawing a back-and-forth contrast between one who lives for himself (“oppressor,” “perverse,” “wicked,” “scornful,” and “fool”) and one who lives for God (“upright,” “just,” “humble,” and “wise”). This passage explains and shows the real state of things from God’s point of view to encourage you not to envy evildoers but to fear the Lord.

If you live for yourself you are an abomination to the Lord (32), deserve his curse (33), experience none of his mercy but all his scorn (34), and will lose everything you lived for, gaining nothing but shame forever (35).

However, when you live life focused on God, fearing him, he makes his will and wisdom known to you (32), showers his blessings on you (33), gives grace that supplies your every need (34), and grants eternal glory (35).

  1. Re-read this entire chapter, remembering that this “talk” teaches that fearing the Lord involves living life focused on God, not yourself. As you re-read the chapter, think about these last verses!
  2. Remember, this concluding contrast is from God’s viewpoint. Your tendency is to judge by what you can see now. By seeing how things will turn out then, how should that affect how you live now? Does it?
  3. Think about what the world promises—it may deliver on some things, but how long will they last? What will happen to you if you live for yourself, heeding the world’s wooing? Cf. 1 John 2:15–17
  4. Is the momentary thrill, buzz, and excitement really worth a lifetime and possibly an eternity of suffering and regret? Listen to Jesus’ words in John 12:25–26.
  5. Review the tremendous blessings that come with living life focused on the Lord Jesus Christ! What are you waiting for?

Proverbs 3:27-30

What does a life focused on God, not self (3:5, 7) look like? You won’t neglect (vv. 27-28) or harm your neighbors (vv. 29-30). The “do not’s” of these verses practically describe what loving God and your neighbor looks like (cf. Lev 19:18). This is how one who fears the Lord lives with and among others. On the one hand, you won’t neglect your neighbors (vv. 27-28). Nothing specific is said here, so this is a principle that can be applied to many different circumstances. “Good” can be any act, thing, or decision—money, tools, skills, physical help, time, etc. Don’t go to the extreme of giving a “blank check”—Proverbs condemns those who are lazy sluggards. The point here is that when your life is focused on God you care about the needs of those around you, particularly brothers and sisters in Christ (Gal 6:10). On the other hand, you won’t harm your neighbors (vv. 29-30). The picture in v. 29 is someone who trusts you, who has no reason to expect you to harm him or her. If you were to unexpectedly cause harm, what would that do to the mutual love and trust between you? It would be lost! So think about how you live with those in your sphere of life—does how you live among them show that your life is focused on God, or on yourself?

  1. Think awhile about and on verse 27. Does God withhold good from you?
  2. Meditate on verse 28. Is this loving? Who knows the heart?
  3. Is verse 30 saying never to deal with wrongdoers?
  4. What needs do brothers and sisters in your church have that you can help with? Are you?

Proverbs 3:19-26

What is the practical importance of living a God-centered life, not a self-centered life? Think about this: God’s work of creation was accomplished by his wisdom (vv. 19-20). When we think of God’s act of creation our focus is usually on his great power. Great power, however, must be correctly and constructively guided, directed, focused, and aimed, otherwise destruction, not creation, will result. Because God created life by his wisdom, you must live life in his creation by his wisdom! If you don’t live by the fear of the Lord—live a God-centered life—you’re depending on yourself, you think you’re smarter than God! When you do live by the fear of the Lord (vv. 21, 26), God’s wisdom guides and guards your life to help you:

  • Live correctly, v. 22
  • Make decisions, v. 23a
  • Avoid problems, v. 23b
  • Be safe and secure, vv. 24, 26b
  • Know how to respond to unexpected challenges and issues, v. 25

The things of life can never teach you how to live life, nor protect you from its many dangers and traps. The proverbs in this book will apply the fear of the Lord to dozens of situations and issues of life—live life focused on God, not yourself!

  1. If wisdom was essential to God’s creating all of life (vv. 19-20), what place should it have in your living life (v. 21)?
  2. How “smart” is it to trust the Lord of creation instead of creation? Re-read verses 19-26 and think through this.
  3. What is your responsibility (v. 21)? Take a few minutes to think about the admonition of v. 21b.
  4. What will the results of verses 22-25 be if you don’t do v. 21 or have v. 26?

Proverbs 3:13-18

Why should you live life focused on God and not yourself? Because it is essential for living! It is of greater value than anything in this world (13-18). While happiness in this world depends on getting things, wisdom brings true lasting happiness (v. 13). The effort you invest in gaining wisdom always pays off and is always valuable (vv. 14-15). What makes gold and silver so valuable is their rarity and the effort to get them; no dollar value can be put on wisdom! Nothing in this world is so valuable that it challenges wisdom (v. 15b); money buys things, wisdom gives life. Wisdom is the source of anything good in this life (v. 16). Wisdom always guides one toward true “pleasure”—peace, life, and happiness (vv. 17-18). Wealth and treasure may enable indulgence, some temporary security, the ability to live a little longer, and give some temporary pleasure, but they can be exhausted, stolen, or not fully enjoyed. Wisdom, however, is independent of circumstances and alone has the promise of life.

  1. Remember that biblical wisdom is the correct, skillful application of the fear of the Lord to daily life.
  2. What kind of effort are you putting into investing in wisdom? Is it your “business” or a “hobby”? What is the difference between the two?
  3. Think about the things you want in life, and think on verse 15.
  4. If you’re offered a new job you want to know pay, benefits, etc. Re-read these verses—what are the “pay and benefits” of wisdom?
  5. From verses 11 and 18, what are your responsibilities?