Sunday, May 06, 2007

Wisdom: Innocently Wise

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 to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it…and you say, "How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors. I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation.”
For a man's ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths.

-Proverbs 5:3-6, 12-14, 21

This Proverb gives important insight into the ways and means of the enemy, here presented as the “forbidden woman.” Everything said about this forbidden woman applies to our old evil foe, Satan. Certainly, it is not wise or healthy to give too much thought to Satan and his ways. There is a danger in that, he likes to be thought about, it gives him an opportunity to take hostage our thoughts and turn them from Christ. However, it is also unwise to be ignorant of him.

Christ tells His disciples in Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” In this Proverb, Christ, the wisdom and power of God, is instructing us so that we may be innocently wise of evil.

What does He say in this Proverb? The words and enticements of the forbidden woman appear to be sweet and even right. This is how she will trap you. Like a Venus Flytrap that offers some bit of sweet bait to attract its prey. Be on guard against this! Test all things against God’s Word. Take Esau as an example of what not to do. He traded everything for some bread and lentil stew. He took the sweet bait, thinking it was what he needed, thinking it would keep him alive, but in doing so he lost everything. This is how the forbidden woman works. She calls with lips dripping honey and smooth words, then, once the bait has been taken, she attacks. Once the words have been swallowed it becomes bitter. The sword cuts both ways.

We are also made innocently wise by the understanding that this forbidden woman does not even realize the danger of her own ways. She desires that you listen to her and come with her, but she herself does not know the end of her path. Satan is the same way. He wants us to follow after him, thinking he will somehow still win the victory. He is ignorant of his own doom. Christ does not do this. He has blazed a trail for us through life and death into eternal life. He is our Good Shepherd who will not lead His sheep astray. He knows His ways and has revealed them to us in Holy Scripture.

Christ teaches us the folly of the ways of wickedness in a clear and understandable way. He also sheds light onto the future of the man who follows the forbidden woman. The only future for such a man is regret, anxiety, fear and destruction. Why does our good Father reveal this to us? To teach us wisdom, to spare us the pain and heartache of turning from His ways. We can know from this Proverb that the ways of the forbidden woman end in ignorant death. The ways of the man who follows her ends in ignorant regret and ruin. We can also be certain from this Proverb that God knows all of our ways. In this Proverb, the only one who is not ignorant is God, and He desires to give us wisdom, so that we may be wise as serpents and innocent as doves in the midst of wolves.

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O Holy Wisdom of God, our blessed Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ, turn us from the ignorance and foolishness of the wicked and direct us in your knowledge and instruction on the paths of righteousness. Make us innocently wise in the face of the evil foe, that we may remain blameless before You. Hear us, Good Lord, as we come before You at Your bidding.

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