Youth and Lust – Proverbs 6:20-35

Our focus in this study involves one of man’s greatest temptations: Lust.
The word “lust” is defined as “an intense, self-indulgent, insatiable sexual desire that craves gratification.”

Verse 20
This portion of scripture is addressed to “My son.” for both mother and father assume the son is paying attention in their attempts to formulate his character. Note that a good dad will deter his son from wrong paths. Listening to a Christian dad is a basic prevention for immorality. Many, however, cannot say today, “Take an example from me, your dad.” No man ever gets too old to learn this lesson on lust, for dirty old men actually do exist.

Verse 21
“Bind the laws of mother and father around your neck.”

Bind God’s commandments close to you or you will be bound by sins of lust. Do not simply bind them on your hand, as Moses said in Deuteronomy 6:8, but they must be bound upon your heart and neck. Some feel that this is an allusion to the throat or one’s voice, indicating men must be careful of what they say to women. A good dad will teach his son to respect women.

Verse 22
“The law will guide you”

It can only guide as you obey it. The phylacteries that some Jews wore on the hand to remind them of God’s Word were of no value if what they represented was not in the heart. The responsibility is on the young man to choose according to loving parental counsel.

Verse 23
“Reproofs” refer to disciplinary correction. But the severest reproofs can lead to the greatest happiness. Correction is presented to this young man as “the way of life.” That is to say, God provides correction throughout our lives, through godly instruction, to refine character.

Verse 23
This passage shows that commandments are given for a specific reason as a safeguard to prevent something from happening. The Father’s argument here is dissuasive. He is directly warning the young man and he gives the reason: “It is for your life. Son, this is a life-and-death matter!” Note that the Father doesn’t downgrade sexual sin to “an affair” or “turning a trick.” Heaven or hell will be the reward or punishment, for the Father demands moral cleanness.

Verse 24
The Father clearly states His reason for issuing His command: “to keep you away from the harlot.” The specific object of his Fatherly talk is to guard you, to keep you from harm, to protect you, for His commands are always based on love. The Father’s goal is to keep you from women with loose morals. He gives His law “to keep you.” Then you cannot say later, “She tempted me, so it’s not my fault.” Read James 1:13-14 to discover if you can blame another person for your own lust. Since God wrote down His law for you, it is wisdom to avoid her as He commanded. The Father’s rule is to resist by avoidance. The Word of God is your only protection from this type of woman and this chapter has kept many young men pure before God because they obeyed it. Read the story of the woman who attempted to seduce Joseph in Genesis 39. What did Joseph do in verse 15? In verse 9, Joseph asks her, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” Joseph knew immorality displeases the Father. What does Paul command young Timothy to do in II Timothy 2:22?

This is good advice found in both the Old Testament and New Testament.
The Hebrew phrases “evil woman” and “strange woman” in verse 24 both refer to “an immoral woman; a wayward wife; a loose woman; the wife of another who seeks to seduce; a woman of evil and vileness; a woman of depraved moral character; a woman who has a wicked disposition and is addicted to evil.”  The word “strange” in Hebrew is nok riyyiahand means a harlot; an adulteress. The Bible calls her an evil woman because she is willing to fornicate, although she is another man’s wife. Note that the Father was not speaking out of both sides of His mouth: the Father does not speak with a forked-tongue. This dad was not giving his son a condom or just warning him about STD’s and AIDS. He is concerned about his moral character. No father can counsel his son against sexual immorality if he himself is addicted to internet pornography or X-rated movies.

Our Heavenly Father clearly states that you must not put yourself at risk by keeping company with women who have no appetite for the laws of God. This same attitude prevails throughout the New Testament. Read II Corinthians 6:14 where Paul tells the Corinthians not to date unsaved people. Many young wives bemoan the fact that they married a young man “because I thought he would become a Christian.” If she had obeyed God’s laws concerning dating and courtship, she could have kept herself out of a miserable marriage. God’s Word is written down in black-and-white to help us, not to hurt us.

The word “flattery” in verse 24 means “smoothness; slipperiness.” We are commanded to avoid the smoothness of her persuasive arguments. When the young man goes to the topless bar or goes cruising, he deliberately puts himself at risk. The entire warning in this passage refers to the fact that, while she pretends to seek your welfare, she will ruin you. Where will the companionship of such women lead you, according to Proverbs 7:27?  The good news is that you can have a wonderful life as you obey God’s crystal-clear moral instructions.

Verses 25-35 give a powerful warning against seduction. The Father reminds the young man of the punishment attached to this sin and refers to “fire and burning” (verse 27). Remember that heaven or hell is the reward or punishment for avoiding or committing immorality. According to I Corinthians 6:9, what will adulterers not inherit? The young son is told not to let lust take root in his heart. The term “lust” means “to desire; to covet.” The same Hebrew verb is used in Exodus 20:17 where the Father commands that “You shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.” Note that you are not to lust after her “in your heart,” from deep down inside you where no one sees except you and God. Jesus taught in Matthew 5:28 that when you lust after a woman, you are an adulterer already. The wise Heavenly Father knows that even a casual relationship can soon flame up into adultery. The bait she uses is her charms and beauty. The wording in verses 24-25 refers to her body language, smooth talk, good looks, her rapid batting of the eyes, etc. To “take you” means “to captivate, snare, and beguile you with her glances.”

Verse 26
What is the price of indulging in sexual sin?  Your life. The “whorish” woman (zonah) is a direct reference to a seductress and can refer to married or unmarried women.  The term “precious life” refers to your immortal soul.  Jesus asks what a man will trade for his soul (Matthew 16:26). In Deuteronomy 22:22, capital punishment is promised for adultery. If sexual sins are casual, why does God attach the death penalty to them? (Read Leviticus 20:10). If a young man gives in to immorality, he is “brought to piece of bread.” The term here refers to the smallest piece of bread. Sexual indulgence will cost you everything. An ancient Hebrew maxim says, “A whore will perform for a loaf of bread.” This may mean that the young man, when entrapped by her, will be reduced to much less than a loaf of bread. In any case, the picture here is his extreme destitution as a result of being ensnared. Note also that this type of female will “hunt for the precious life.” The term means to lay in wait for; to entrap; to take; to capture. The Father is speaking to a young son. As a general rule, older harlots prefer younger men and are therefore targeted by them. There is an old American maxim that says, “If you play with fire, you will get burned.” That slogan originated from Proverbs 6:27. A young man will get burned morally when he plays with the heat of lust and passion.

Verse 27-28
The teachings contained in these two verses are impossible to miss: escape from the consequences of illicit sex is impossible. The double question in verses 27-28 serves to emphasis the foolishness of sexual sin. It is as if Solomon is saying, “You think it’s absurd to think of playing with fire and not getting hurt…what about adultery!?” The illustration of fire and hot coals here carry the same idea of the absolute certainty of pain resulting from immorality. What “affair” ever has a happy ending?

Verse 29
Solomon tells us here that guilt is also certain. The idea of “touching” here means to go all the way. If you touch her, if you fornicate with her, you are not innocent. The punishment that follows the affair is inevitable and painful. Many plants and animals also seem sweet and tender, but will kill you just as certainly as the adulteress.

Verses 30-33 show another downside of adultery: the angry husband. We discover in these verses that fornication is worse than stealing. There are two appetites represented here:  food and sex. In one case, one steals food; in the other case, one steals sex. The analogy is clear. If stealing is inexcusable, so is adultery. The point here is that all pre-marital sex is stealing. The happily married man doesn’t think of stealing another man’s “bread.”

Verses 30-31 teach that, just as restitution for theft involves the material world, there are spiritual and social consequences for sexual sins as well. The fornicator can’t claim “hunger for sex drove me to this” and expect mercy, as the starving man could plead. You might steal to feed your hunger, but no such need exists for fornication. Sex is a controllable desire. Problems arise when young people place themselves in compromising situations. If a young lady does not get into the front seat of a car with a man of questionable character, she cannot end up in the back seat. The Christian marriage bed is the only place on earth such desires can be completely satisfied.

Verses 31-32
To discover Solomon’s point concerning his “seven-fold restoration” statement in verse 31, we must examine some other Bible passages. Although there is no law in the Old Testament that demands a seven-fold restitution for stealing bread, the idea here is that of completeness. “All the substance of his house” might be required if a full restitution is demanded. In Exodus 12, sheep stealing required a four-fold restitution (see II Samuel 12). Restoring something that was stolen by double or quadruple repayment was not uncommon, for it helped to demonstrate the sincerity of the repentant man. The Greeks and Romans often demanded a two-fold restitution.  Moses wrote that one must restore a stolen ox five-fold, and a stolen sheep five-fold. After hearing Nathan’s parable, David demanded the man restore the poor man’s lamb four-fold (II Samuel 12:6). A repentant Zacchaeus told Jesus he would restore four-fold what he had stolen (Luke 19:8). If sins of stealing material goods incur such severe repercussions, what does God think about immorality?

The point here is that while one might try to make restitution for stealing, even by giving all one has, adultery is in a different category in God’s sight. Punishment for sexual sin is not the same punishment as you would receive for stealing material things. A fornicator sins against God, the other person involved and himself. Why does the fornicator fornicate? Because he “lacks understanding” (verse 32) and does not comprehend that such sins “destroy his own soul”. Thus, adultery is a sort of spiritual suicide. Under the laws of Moses, both fornicators are to die as punishment (Leviticus 20:10). American society has become so permissive it has ceased to care how the Lord views sexual sin.

Verse 33
Here we learn that “a wound” is attached to such sin—a wound to your name and dishonor to you and your family. In this passage Solomon and his wife both seek to avoid the permanent corruption of their son’s character. One may think a sex scandal won’t stick, but God’s Word declares otherwise. When your good reputation is lost, it is impossible to recover it fully. One who is morally weak enough to indulge in adultery never walks away unsinged by its fires (verses 27-28).  Such reproach is never “wiped away.” While God can and will forgive such sin, the taint remains, for people will remember your immorality even after you are dead. Lost trust is extremely difficult to recover. What is the solution? Stay true to God and enjoy a morally clean life through the Word of God. If God did not love us so intensely, He would not warn us so straightforwardly and clearly.

Verse 34
Just when one might think Solomon’s warning can’t get more severe, it does. Read verse 34 and note the concepts of jealousy, rage, and vengeance. Adultery promotes other sins, for it provokes rage and murder from a jealous husband. He cannot simply be bribed or paid off. Lust involves heat. The sin of jealousy is seen as a burning fire and anger as red as hot coals. Sin can inflame and engulf everything. Paul speaks of homosexuals burning in lust for one another in Romans chapter one. Here, the adulterer is burned by the fire of the husbands rage. Being “found out” evokes the strongest feelings of anger in a husband, for it is a personal affront to a man when he discovers his wife prefers someone else. God has inbred in us that we are to be monogamous with our spouses. When wronged, this type of jealously is often unmerciful in seeking vengeance, for another man has violated the most sacred of all areas of marriage. One man has stolen from another that which cannot be appeased or compensated for. This drama had made billions for Hollywood, for deep inside, everyone knows there is something terribly wrong with adultery and thus instinctively understands the rage Solomon refers to here.

Verse 35
Here we find that there is no acceptable form of compensation that will appease the wronged husband. To steal from a husband is to make an enemy you cannot pacify. There is no stopping him until he nails you for it. Even though one begs for mercy, he will still face the husband’s wrath. Coupled with respect for God’s laws concerning morality, fear of the husband’s rage should be a powerful deterrent. But divine punishment is as unavoidable as pacifying a mad husband. The husband won’t rest until he gets you, for his resolve will continue steadfast until he finds you and deals with you.

Solomon’s point here is that if there are such carnal and natural consequences for sex sins, what does the Lord think about it? Paul tells the Corinthians (I Corinthians 3:17) that God will not allow a fornicator to go unpunished. The Bible emphasizes that making amends for sexual sins is a very difficult thing. What is the solution? Don’t put yourself at risk. She may be sweet to talk to, but she isn’t worth the pain, the shame and the punishment that will inevitably result. God has put such straightforward passages in His Word, for He knows the extreme tendency for young men to be impure. He who knows human nature best warns us severely and clearly. The interesting thing about this passage is that it deals more with the natural consequences of sexual sin, hardly even touching how such sin affects your relationship with God. For that, we must examine the many other Biblical passages on this subject.

In our dad-less American society, many cannot understand how a father could be so concerned for his son. If you have godly parents, treasure them and listen to their warnings. The point of Solomon’s admonitions is not the wickedness of the woman pictured here, but the consequences of disobedience to a loving Father’s warning. To keep out of the fires of lust and its entanglements, consult the Father’s Word and obey it. His admonitions will “keep you and give you life” (verse 23).

Maxim of the Moment

The bankrupt man is the man who has lost his enthusiasm. - H.W. Arnold