My son, obey the command of your father, and do not disregard the teachings of your mother.
Fasten them on your heart forever. Hang them around your neck.
When you walk around, they will lead you.
When you lie down, they will watch over you.
When you wake up, they will talk to you
because the command is a lamp, the teachings are a light,
and the warnings from discipline are the path of life (Proverbs 6:20-23 GW)
(Context—Proverbs 6:20-35 GW)
The early chapters of Proverbs have several admonitions addressed to a son but they are not gender-specific. Yes, it sure seems like it but they were written during ancient times. Women did not have the place they have now in most societies.
Many admonitions also focus on the dangers of immoral women, which sounds hypocritical coming from King Solomon who had a thousand wives and concubines. But figurative language is used a lot to emphasize a point, even overstating it.
The main point of this admonition is to avoid a destructive path by remaining on the path of life enlightened by God's Law. This is illustrated by getting involved with an immoral and seductive woman, which leads to several things beyond the person's control.
A person who seeks out a prostitute is reduced to "the price of a loaf of bread." But a man who commits adultery hands his life to the woman. This gives us a picture of the ripple effect of sin. It's not limited to one action but sets in motion a series of reactions.
If you throw a stone in a small pond, ripples go out in concentric circles from the entry point of the stone. But these ripples also return back to the center point as they rebound from the edge of the pond.
Graphic and painful figures of fire burning clothes and feet are given to emphasize the nature of committing adultery with your neighbor's spouse. Once a fire starts it spreads quickly and destructively—whether it's catching your clothes on fire, a building, or spreading through a field or forest.
The point of the illustration is that there's no resolution to the problem. The offended spouse's jealousy can't be quenched in any way. As a pastor, I've seen this play out in the lives of several people over the years. Things can never go back to how they were before.
So, how does this relate to present time and what are other destructive paths to avoid? Prevention is powerful. Avoidance is often a smart and valuable tactic when it comes to temptations or potentially compromising relationships and situations.
The truth of God—a lamp and a light that reveals the path of life—needs to be embedded and alive in our minds and hearts if we want to avoid burnt clothes and burned feet. God's Word comes alive and gets embedded in us as we read, reflect on, and apply its truth.
This requires discipline on our part—that's the difficult thing. But developing discipline is much easier than an attempt to put out a fire that's out of control.
Consider the paths you've taken in life so far. Are there some you wish you'd avoided? Learn from your mistakes and let them be motivation for you to develop the discipline to avoid destructive paths and stay on the path of life.
Read God's Word prayerfully. As you read, ask God to give you the insight to understand it and for wisdom to see how to apply it in your life.
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